I Think I’m Going To Boston

Kurt —  January 31, 2007

I Think I’m Just That Tired. Both teams come into this one a little tired, this is the second night of a back-to-back for both teams. Boston lost last night in Indiana, the Lakers lost in New York.

The one guy who shouldn’t be tired — but will be fired up — is Kobe. I’d put that in the plus column for the Lakers.

I Think I Need A New Town. That’s what Greg Oden and Kevin Durant are thinking, or at least Celtics fans are hoping so.

This season has been a disaster for a proud franchise, which is kind of hard to watch. I want the Lakers to crush Boston, every time, but I want to beat them when they are good. As of this morning the Celtics have lost 12 in a row and are 10 games behind the Raptors. Think about that.

I’ll add this — the Celtics may have the most prolific and dedicated group of bloggers out there. That really says something about the fan base considering this season. At the top of the list is Jeff and Celtics Blog, where there are smart commenters and a passionate readers on what I consider the best team blog in the NBA. But also worth noting are Celtics 17, Celtics Pride 24/7, Loy’s Place, I Heart Celtics, Can Danny and Red’s Army. And I’m probably acciedentally leaving someone off.

And when you read those blogs, the talk is often about the draft and getting a top pick — Oden or Durant. They are tired of losing but not angry with Paul Pierce sitting injured because their draft stock is going up (no PP tonight). The “Fire Doc Rivers” calls are put on hold because his coaching could lose them a few more games still.

Oden or Durant in Boston would be good for the NBA.

To Leave All This Behind. The Lakers need to leave behind the memories of the last three games. After two tough overtime losses the rest of the guys didn’t step up when Kobe was forced out. Last night struck me as the kind of game where, because others were off, Kobe might have taken on more of the scoring load and righted the ship. Without him, well, we get the ball in Smush’s hands (you commenters were right, the fourth quarter run died when Smush came in for Farmar).

Also, based on my previous comments about playing Radman now to get the benefits later — Cook was +10 (one of only two Lakers in the positive with Sasha) and Radmanovic was a team-worst -13. I’d like to say its just one game, but this is a pretty consistent pattern.

I Think I Need A Sunrise. The Celtics do have a few young players whose careers are just starting to shine.

At the top of the list is Al Jefferson, who in the past 10 games is averaging 16.4 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. He’s developed into a solid double-double guy in the paint nightly and is a beast on the boards, grabbing 19.3% of the available rebounds, the seventh best rate in the league (he’s in KG territory as a rebounder). In the last 10 games Jefferson is shooting 47.9% from the floor. I’m curious to see him and Bynum match up (and if Bynum can stay out of foul trouble).

Other guys who have been less impressive so far but I’m curious to see are Gerald Green (he was a team-best +6 last night in Indiana), Rajon Rondo and Ryan Gomes.

By the way, the other Celtic playing well of late is Delonte West, who is averaging 17.7 points per game on 54.5% (eFG%) shooing in his last seven games.

Boston, Where No One Knows My Name. Actually, I think everyone in Boston still knows the Lakers name, and still thinks of them as THE rival.

I should add though that the team basketball the Lakers are playing, the more mature game Kobe Bryant has displayed, is winning over some converts.

Check out what Henry at True Hoop was saying yesterday:

No, the only time I really feel uncomfortable about being a sports fan is when I run across a Laker fan. When I put my basketball fan hat on, I have always just hated the Lakers. They have been the architects of my pain. They have also always seemed to just have it easy. All those stars sprinkled all over the court, the sidelines, and the entire stadium for that matter.

When a casual basketball fan seems be becoming a Laker fan, especially if they are not even from L.A., I have to fight the knee-jerk urge to consider that person ignorant….

But, well, as I pointed out in the headline (when am I ever going to get to the point here?) something has been happening. Slowly, over the last few months, the Lakers have become a team I kind of find myself pulling for.

There, I said it….

And here’s why: they’re defying expectations through personal growth. If Kobe Bryant had always played like this, we’d all like him a lot. He is wiser, and more generous than ever, and it’s often beautiful. More importantly, gone are the pouty halves of games when he refuses to take a shot.

He’s also attempting to show that he can carry a good team solo. Jury is still out on that, and the struggle is the fun part to watch.

Lamar Odom is likable. Even if you don’t see it that way, you have to agree he’s very tough to hate after the tragedy of his infant dying last summer. Andrew Bynum is giving much where not much was expected. Jordan Farmar was clearly a good pick, although many doubted him. And guys like Smush Parker, Brian Cook, and Sasha Vujajic? They have to work their asses off to get the result the team needs. When they do? My hat’s off to them.

This post was done with all apologies to Augustana


Kurt

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