The Lakers dominated the Denver Nuggets tonight, taking the series 4-2, and advancing to their 30th NBA Finals. The Nuggets were a tougher opponent than I predicted earlier, but ultimately the Lakers found a way to pick apart Denver's defense and gain the upper-hand. For the most part, I was satisfied with the Lakers' effort, and I'm pretty sure they'll be the favorite in the Finals.
Now the question is who the Lakers will play. I think Orlando poses a much tougher matchup than Cleveland. The Lakers swept the Cavs 2-0 in the regular season, but were swept 2-0 by the Magic. Cleveland has shown in the Eastern Conference Finals how over-reliant they've become on LeBron James, whereas Orlando has proven to be a more balanced team. Still, having home court advantage against Orlando would be nice, and the Magic will be without Jameer Nelson who led Orlando in scoring in both Laker-Magic matchups this season.
For now, the Lakers should feel good about themselves for reaching the Finals, but not allow last year's overconfidence and early sense of accomplishment to get the better of them. Having six days off will really help, especially Lamar Odom who needs to rest his back.
I'll have a complete NBA Finals preview when we know the matchup. In the meantime, you can listen to my weekly Saturday radio show from 12 PM to 2 PM on KSCR 1560 AM and KSCR.org, where we'll discuss the Lakers in greater detail. Andrew Kamenetzky of the LA Times will be our guest at the top of the show.