NBA Matchup: Charlotte Bobcats @ Los Angeles Lakers

Charlotte Bobcats at Los Angeles Lakers Fri. March 4, 2011 10:30 p.m. EST

The two-time NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers are on a roll and getting hot at just the right time. Heading into the NBA All-Star break, Kobe Bryant and company were really starting to struggle as they had lost three straight to three teams they should have beaten in the Orlando Magic, Charlotte Bobcats and arguably the worst team in the league in the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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Fortunately, the All-Star break may have been just what the doctored ordered for the defending champs as they got out to fresh start in the final stretch of the NBA regular season. With five straight wins, three of which against playoff teams, the Lakers have started to make the rest of the league pay attention as they have flipped the preverbal switch.

It is uncertain whether or not the Los Angeles Lakers have what it takes to pull the three-peat in Phil Jackson’s farewell season, but things are definitely looking up right now as Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Ron Artest and Andrew Bynum are all starting to fire on all cylinders. Even though this team says that there is no “switch” that they pull in the second half of the NBA regular season, the results beg to differ as they are playing

Kobe Bryant of the Lakers
Image via Wikipediaas well as any team in the league right now.

On Friday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the defending champs will be tested once again as they will go head-to-head against the Charlotte Bobcats. Despite the Bobcats being arguably one of the worst teams in the league this season and recently trading away arguably their best all-around player in forward Gerald Wallace, Charlotte is one of two teams (Boston Celtics being the other) in the league that have a winning record over the Los Angeles Lakers all-time.

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With that being said and the fact that the Bobcats recently beat the Lakers in Charlotte, Stephen Jackson and company might have a legitimate of pulling off the upset once again. In my opinion though, the Lakers are playing at an extremely high level right now and seem to be back to championship form.

As of right now, the Los Angeles Lakers are favored to come out on top in this matchup with a -12.5 point spread. This spread is way too high in my opinion as the Charlotte Bobcats will almost certainly give the Los Angeles Lakers a run for their money on Friday night.

Ultimately, the Lakers should win their sixth straight as I don’t see them losing that many games before the NBA playoffs, but there is a possibility of an upset here considering the past between these two teams.

So if your betting the spread, taking the Charlotte Bobcats at +12.5 would be a wise decision as a blowout of this magnitude is unlikely.

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Can the Orlando Magic pull off the sweep of the Charlotte Bobcats?

Staff Writer for Basketball Betting - A true Lakers Fan
Staff Writer: Ryan Ward

Last season was a breath of fresh air for the Orlando Magic as drafting center Dwight Howard with the number one overall pick a few years ago finally paid off and the franchise was able to get back to the NBA Finals.

Everyone was on the Cleveland Cavaliers bandwagon last season as no one thought any team in the Eastern Conference could get the best of LeBron James and company in the playoffs. The Cavs were dominant on their home floor all season long and at times they just looked like they couldn’t be beaten.

Even though this was the consensus around the league, Dwight Howard and company believed in their squad and absolutely dominated the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals and advanced to the NBA Finals against the eventual NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers.

Coming into this NBA season the Orlando Magic had a chip on their shoulder as they believed they were the best all around team in the league. Unfortunately, the Cavs became the number one overall seed in the East once again and the Magic will have an uphill battle for the second straight year.

Despite being the second seed in the Eastern Conference heading into the playoffs, the Orlando Magic might have one of the easiest paths to the second round as they face the inexperienced Charlotte Bobcats in the first round.

All season long the Charlotte Bobcats have exceeded expectations with future hall of fame head coach Larry Brown calling the shots on the sidelines. This isn’t a surprise for Brown as he has been able to do this with multiple NBA franchises during his career, but it was a surprise for the rest of the league as the Bobcats have been arguably one of the worst teams in the league ever since the team was created.

Along with heading into the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, the Charlotte Bobcats went through some other drastic changes throughout the season by getting a new owner in hall of famer Michael Jordan and brining in scoring machine Stephen Jackson from the Golden State Warriors via trade.

Fortunately, the gamble to bring in Jackson and allowing North Carolina native Jordan to buy the team has been nothing, but a step in the right direction. As a result, the Bobcats are in the playoffs and the future looks bright in Charlotte.

Even though everything seems to be heading in the right direction for the Charlotte Bobcats, I believe they will be going home earlier than expected as I can’t see them winning even a single game in this series with the Orlando Magic.

The Bobcats have one thing going for them right now as they are arguably one of the best home teams in the league, but the Magic just have too many weapons and are extremely tough to contain. Charlotte might be able to give Dwight Howard and company a run for their money on their home floor, but ultimately the Magic will advance 4-0 in my opinion.

NBA Playoff Previews – Eastern Conference

Staff Writer: Jeremiah Ira Yap

Cleveland Cavaliers vs (8) Chicago Bulls

Wow, the Cavs already won Game 1 without much of a hiccup. Stop the presses. Is this surprising to you? Well, it shouldn’t be. The Cavs played great with Shaq back in the lineup. O’Neal looked like he didn’t miss a beat after sitting out most of the second half of the season. His performance was reminiscent of the Shaq of old rather than old Shaq.
The testy but valiant Bulls may actually catch the Cavs asleep and steal a game but that seems like wishful thinking. Did you see how focused LeBron James was? He finally has the fire in his belly to compete for a championship. James learned a thing or two from Kobe Bryant during the Redeem Team’s Olympic run – talent isn’t everything, it’s inner drive that makes you a great basketball player and wins you championships.

Confidence will not be enough for the Chicago Bulls. Cavs advance to the second round in four games.

Orlando Magic vs (7) Charlotte Bobcats

This is probably the most intriguing match-up in the playoffs. The versatility of the Bobcats against the new look, but still motivated Magic. Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis against defensive minded Gerald Wallace and the unpredictable Stephen Jackson. With so much focus on how Vince Carter will perform in the playoffs, the Magic’s real key to success is Jameer Nelson. Nelson wasn’t close to a hundred percent in the Finals against the Lakers, this year he’ll get the chance to prove how valuable he is to Orlando’s title hopes. He needs to attack the rim and hit his threes, similar to what Rafer Alston did for the Magic last year.

Orlando is a deeper team with Matt Barnes, Ryan Anderson, Jason Williams, Brandon Bass and Marcin Gortat as their bench players. They also have bigger and more athletic players – expect them to outmuscle Charlotte in the paint. Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown will keep things interesting, but his team lacks the fouls to use on Dwight Howard.

Dwight Howard’s size in the middle will be too much for Charlotte. The Magic advance to the second round in six games.

Atlanta Hawks vs (6) Milwaukee Bucks

The Hawks came out the gate and blitzed the undermanned Bucks in the first half – they scored 62 points and held the Bucks to 40 points. A ton of blocks and defensive stops paved way for the Hawks fast break points.

Atlanta’s first half performance was nearly perfect, but they almost wasted it with a lackluster second outing. The Bucks outscored the Hawks 52 to 40 in the second half. Rookie Brandon Jennings carried most of the scoring load with Andrew Bogut and Michael Redd suffering season ending injuries. Jennings scored 34 points and there was not one Hawk who could guard him. Jennings may have to score 55 points again for the Hawks to even have a chance in the series.

Jamal Crawford scored 17 points in his playoff debut. All five of the Hawks starters scored in double digits.

The Hawks inability to close out opponents almost haunted them in Game 1. The Bucks might actually steal a game before succumbing to the deeper and more talented Hawks. Hawks in five games.

Boston Celtics vs (5) Miami Heat

Dwyane Wade had a great game against the Celtics in Game 1 of their playoff series. He scored 26 points on 11 of 18 shooting, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out six assists. Despite throwing the ball away seven times, he was efficient both ways of the floor. That’s the main problem why the Heat lost. Only Wade had a great game. Quentin Richardson was the other Heat player who scored in double figures. Miami’s other starters, Carlos Arroyo, Jermaine O’Neal and Michael Beasley combined to make nine of their 27 shots for 20 points.

If I were D-Wade, I’d already be asking if LeBron James is willing to go to New York with me. Miami has failed to surround Wade with the supporting cast he has been asking for all season. If Miami gets swept, there’s no doubt that Wade will bolt to another team this summer.

Kevin Garnett scored 15 points, grabbed nine rebounds and threw one elbow that hit Richardson’s jaw. Things got chippy after Paul Pierce fell in front of the Miami bench. Richardson stood directly above Pierce and Garnett took it as disrespect.

With Wade doing everything for Miami except the laundry, the Celtics will likely wear him down in a seven game series. O’Neal and Beasley will have two big games to keep Miami from getting swept. Other than that, the Celtics will beat Miami in six games and win their last playoff series with the Big Three.

NBA Playoff Preview: Orlando Magic vs. Charlotte Bobcats

Staff Writer for Basketball Betting - A true Lakers Fan
Staff Writer: Ryan Ward

It has been another successful season for Stan Van Gundy’s Orlando Magic as they have done nothing but improve and increase their chances of winning that elusive NBA title.

Even though the Orlando Magic seem poised for a title run in the playoffs, they still have a ways to go before they can even get in the Eastern Conference finals to defend their conference title, but the outlook of the postseason is looking good so far as the will face the Charlotte Bobcats in the first round of the playoffs.

A lot of people questioned the moves made by the Orlando Magic this past offseason when they traded away young talent in return for an injury prone superstar in Vince Carter, but since joining the Magic, Carter has accepted his new role and has been able to stay relatively healthy for the majority of the year.

Needless to say, with the Orlando Magic heading into the playoffs as the second seed behind the Cleveland Cavaliers, this season has been a success and the trade has only prove to improve an already dominant offensive basketball team.

Obviously, the Orlando Magic will be gunning for the Cleveland Cavaliers once again in the postseason as LeBron James and company are the only team really preventing Dwight Howard and company from reaching the NBA Finals for the second straight season, but the Bobcats of Charlotte might pose a threat to give the Magic some trouble early in the playoffs.

Even though the playoff run the NBA Finals last season was a relatively easy one for the Orlando Magic, the one team that gave them trouble, unexpectedly, was the Philadelphia 76ers.

This time around, it just might be the Charlotte Bobcats that turn out to be the thorn in their sides.

The Bobcats have been a solid team in the Eastern Conference all season long, still a team with a lot of work to do to compete with the best of the best in the league, but arguably one of the best home teams in the NBA and a force to be reckoned with in Charlotte.

The only real chance of an upset in this playoff series by the Charlotte Bobcats is the potential of Larry Brown’s squad dominating the Magic when they come to Charlotte.

Personally, I believe that no matter what happens the Charlotte Bobcats will not be able to prevent the Orlando Magic from advancing to the second round of the playoffs, but the Bobcats can definitely extend this series with solid play at home.

The one big problem the Bobcats will have against the Magic, which will be a huge problem for any team Orlando will face, is the presence of Dwight Howard in the paint and the Magic’s shooting touch from outside.

The outside shooting of the Orlando Magic is something that can be contained, but Dwight Howard is something the Bobcats will be helpless to stop and ultimately the reason for the Magic being able to advance.
Series Prediction: 4-1 Orlando Magic

What’s the key to the Thunder’s sudden resurgence?

Ryan Ward - A true Lakers Fan

Staff Writer: Ryan Ward

The Thunder will make their first playoff appearance in its young existence. Oklahoma City is currently the sixth seed in the west but are locked in a three-way battle with the Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs. Well, it doesn’t really matter what seed they will end up in because the Thunder are young, athletic and skilled, which makes them a very dangerous first-round opponent.

Obviously, their success can be attributed by the sudden explosion of Kevin Durant. Durant went from rising star last season to an MVP candidate. He will likely win his first scoring title this season. Forward Jeff Green is averaging 15 points a ball game and Russell Westbrook is having a career year. These three young guns are a big reason why the Thunder find themselves in the playoffs.

It’s their offense that gets a lot of recognition, but its actually the Thunder’s defense which makes them dangerous. The Thunder allows only 97.6 points a game, which is good enough for 11th in the league. There’s not one individual on Oklahoma City that is a great defender. But as a team the Thunder are a cohesive, effective defensive unit.

Against the highest scoring team in the league, the Phoenix Suns, the Thunder held them to their lowest scoring output in the second half – the Suns scored only 34 points. The young Oklahoma City Thunder also held the Suns under 100 points. Two-time MVP Steve Nash and All-star Amar’e Stoudemire were forced into committing five combined turnovers.

All you need to know about what the Thunder defense did to the Suns offense is this: the Suns shot 58 percent in first and second quarters. After that, Phoenix shot only 31 percent. Durant and Green had seven steals – amazing considering they are both forwards.

This years Thunder reminds us much of last seasons Portland Trail Blazers. Exciting crowd, budding superstar in Durant (in the Blazers case Brandon Roy), and a core group of young talented guys. All of this resulted in first-round fodder.

Durant, in particular, had no turnovers on his way to scoring 35 points. It’s been a joy to watch Durant this season. There are already talks that is he the second best player in the league – yes, in front of Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard. This statement might be a reach considering Durant has played at this level for only one season. Plus, greatness can’t be measured during the season, it is seen where it counts – in the playoffs.

Durant and the Thunder will get the opportunity to prove exactly that as they make their first playoff appearance in history.

Are the Charlotte Bobcats going to make the playoffs?

Ryan Ward - A true Lakers Fan

Staff Writer:  Ryan Ward

Every single season in the NBA we see a lot of same teams do a lot of the same things. The title contenders contend for titles, perennial playoff teams make the playoffs and the worst teams in the NBA and I’m looking forward to the draft. This is just the way things work in the NBA and in the majority the sports in the country, but occasionally some of these teams that are used to paying amongst the worst in the league start to turn around either by getting a big name player which is having enough time together to create some team chemistry in order to become a better basketball team.

This season we have seen quite a few teams start to turn around in the NBA in both conferences. The one team to make more headlines than any other team for doing just that is Kevin Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder who have gone from one of the worst teams in the Western Conference to one of the best in just one season. Impressive to say the least, as the Thunder were guaranteed non-playoff team ever since moving to Oklahoma City couple years ago.

With Kevin Durant in the Oklahoma City Thunder get all the attention for being an underdog that has been able to turn around the season, some of the other teams around the league have kind of flown under the radar even though they’ve done the exact same thing the Thunder has been able to accomplish.

In the Eastern conference third two teams have been able to turn into playoff teams after being arguably amongst the worst in the league. The Milwaukee Bucks failed to do that with the emergence of center Andrew Bogut and up and coming rookie point guard Brandon Jennings.

But then in Jennings running the show in Milwaukee, the Bucks had become a legitimate playoff team once again in Eastern conference and could be a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs roll around. They started off great, hit a rough patch in the middle of the season, and now have gotten back on track as things are starting to look really promising in the second half of the season and for the future of the franchise.

The other team in the Eastern Conference that has also started to make waves has been the Charlotte Bobcats who NBA legend Michael Jordan has just agreed to buy.

Over the years the Charlotte Bobcats at that plenty of promising young and talented players, but just haven’t been able to get it done on the basketball floor and as result are a team expected to miss the playoffs of an annual basis.

This season times are a changing as the Charlotte Bobcats are quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern conference with Gerald Wallace becoming All-Star and Stephen Jackson coming to town giving the Bobcats extra offensive punch the needed so badly.

Even though the Charlotte Bobcats been able to turn around the season they are still in danger of missing the playoffs as they seem to be bouncing back and forth for winning record to a losing record. As of right now the Charlotte Bobcats are the sixth seed in Eastern conference and chances are high that they will make the playoffs this season, but having one of the worst road records in the league has been somewhat of an Achilles’ heel for Charlotte this season.

Despite playing terrible the road, the Bobcats are one of the best home teams in the league with only eight losses on the season which bodes well for them come playoff time.

The Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors and the Chicago Bulls will be competing with the Charlotte Bobcats in the second half of the season for the last three playoffs spots in the Eastern Conference. Even though the Heat can be a great team and the Raptors seem to be turning it around, I believe the Bobcats will make the playoffs this season for the first time in franchise history.

Possible NBA Playoff matchups in the Eastern Conference

Staff Writer for Basketball Betting - A true Lakers Fan

Staff Writer:  Ryan Ward

The NBA regular season is quickly coming to an end with less than 15 games left for most of the teams around the league. With the regular season ending all the playoff bound teams in the NBA are either trying to hold on their seeds or improve their position before the postseason.

Here are how things shape up in the Eastern Conference if the playoffs were to start today:

#1 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. #8 Toronto Raptors

It would be hard to argue that the Cavs aren’t the best team in the league right now. LeBron James and company have the best record in the league and will almost certainly head into the playoffs that way, but the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers might be able to close the gap if Cleveland begins to struggle.

Right now the Cavs are red hot and riding high as LeBron James is on his way to winning his second straight NBA MVP and Cleveland is gearing up for what might be a championship run in the playoffs.

There first opponent will more than likely be the Toronto Raptors who have played well at times this season, but won’t be able to put much of fight against LeBron James and company.

The health of Shaq and Antawn Jamison will determine the outcome of this series. I really can’t see Chris Bosh and company being much of a challenge, but if Shaq and Jamison aren’t 100%, Bosh might have a good series.

Series Prediction: 4-1 Cleveland Cavaliers

#2 Orlando Magic vs. #7 Charlotte Bobcats

The defending Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic are poised to make another run at an NBA title this season as they will come into the postseason with a lot of confidence knowing they dominated the Cleveland Cavaliers last season in the playoffs.

Before the Cavs and Magic face off, they will have to contend with the up and coming Charlotte Bobcats in the first round. The Bobcats, like the Magic, could give the Cavs a run for their money if they meet in the playoffs, but I am not sure they will be able to compete with Dwight Howard and company.

The Magic will have the edge in the paint and on the perimeter which means they could quite possibly sweep the Bobcats in four games.

Series Prediction: 4-0 Orlando Magic

#3 Boston Celtics vs. #6 Miami Heat

The Boston Celtics aren’t getting any younger and this season was a big indication of that as they struggled with injuries to their big three (KG, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen), but they saw Rajon Rondo get even better as it has become more and more apparent that the Celtics will be his team in the near future.

Despite not being the dominant team we remember from a couple of seasons ago, Boston can still hang with the best of them and will almost certainly advance to the second round of the playoffs.

The Miami Heat will come into this series once again trying to prove they can play with the big boys in the East, but even though they have Dwyane Wade, who will be a matchup nightmare for the Celtics, the Heat still have a ways to go before they can become a title contender once again.

Series Prediction: 4-2 Boston Celtics

#4 Atlanta Hawks vs. #5 Milwaukee Bucks

I believe the series between the Atlanta Hawks and the Milwaukee Bucks will be the most intriguing of all in the Eastern Conference as both of these teams are young squads on the rise!

The Hawks have the better all around team with a more polished game plan and chemistry, but the Bucks have Brandon Jennings who could very well be a wildcard in the playoffs as he is explosive and unpredictable. With Jennings on the floor, anything can happen, but in the end I believe the Hawks experience outweighs the Bucks talent.

Series Prediction: 4-3 Atlanta Hawks

Are the Charlotte Bobcats a serious threat in the Eastern Conference?

Staff Writer for Basketball Betting - A true Lakers Fan

Staff Writer:  Ryan Ward

For quite some time now the Eastern Conference has been by far the worst conference in the NBA as they have taken a back seat to the West ever since the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers traded NBA title back and forth over the last decade or so.

Even though the Boston Celtics were able to win the NBA title a couple of seasons ago, ironically against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Eastern Conference still has taken a back seat to the West and will do so for the foreseeable future.

It’s not that the Eastern Conference has top teams they can compete with the Western Conference, but the teams in the West are much more competitive and a lot more talented all around as one through ten or eleven can have over .500 records.

This season the same can be said about the Eastern conference as there are a couple title contenders like the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Orlando Magic, a few dominant teams like the Boston Celtics Atlanta Hawks, but from there on down the East is pretty much mediocre is all the rest of the teams that will make the playoffs have done so subpar records and subpar basketball.

There are two teams in the East though that I believe if they peaked at the right time could compete with the best in the conference and be a force to be reckoned with come playoff time.

First team is the Milwaukee Bucks will burst back on the scene with a flamboyant rookie point guard Brandon Jennings who could light up the scoreboard on any given night and lead his team to victory. The Bucks are still young team and they will be without their leading scorer in Michael Redd who is out for the season once again, but I believe they could make the second round and possibly even Eastern conference finals if they can find a way to beat either the Orlando Magic with a Cleveland Cavaliers.

Another team in the East that is burst onto the scene similar to the Milwaukee Bucks is the Charlotte Bobcats. Ever since the Bobcats became an expansion team in the NBA they have been amongst the worst teams in the league year in and year out, but the state season many things have changed in the Charlotte Bobcats organization as they have a new owner in Hall of Fame guard Michael Jordan and have been able to turn things around this season.

At the beginning of this NBA regular season, the Charlotte Bobcats really struggled with their offense of production as they just simply couldn’t score points or enough points to win on a consistent basis. Fortunately, they were able to turn things around after making the trade for scoring machine Stephen Jackson from the Golden State Warriors.

Stephen Jackson is always been a wild card in the NBA and not considered team player, there is since he has arrived in Charlotte, the controversial scorer has been happy with his role and kept his mouth shut.

As a result, Gerald Wallace, Raymond Felton and Stephen Jackson have been come a deadly combination which will most likely lead them into the playoffs for the first time in franchise history,

The one thing that has been most impressive about the Charlotte Bobcats this season has been their ability to dominate in Charlotte with only eight losses on their home floor and have been able to beat the Eastern Conference leading Cleveland Cavaliers three out of four times this season.

With that being said, if they can somehow get matched up with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs have a good chance of beating them in a seven-game series which definitely makes him a force to be reckoned with and a serious threat to upset the Cavs.