Lakers/Celtics First Thoughts

Kurt —  May 31, 2008

I can’t tell you how excited this matchup makes me, I feel like a kid five days before Christmas. This is going to be a fun series — the two best teams of today, two teams with a long history, two teams with great fan bases.

Between now and Thursday we will of course talk matchups and strategy, but also there will be discussions of the history and insights from the other side. I’m falling back on bullet points to get this all started, just to try to organize my thoughts a little.

• Kevin Garnett remains the main lynchpin in the Celtics attack — so far in the playoffs the Celtics are +22.4 points (per 48 minutes) when he is on the floor, no other Celtic is even in double digits. (For some comparison, Fisher leads the Lakers at +31.5 and all the Lakers starters except for VladRad are in double digits.)

• The Celtics are a jump shooting team, in the playoffs 67% of their shots have been jumpers (compare that to 60% fot the Lakers). The Celtics are shooting a pedestrian 44.8% (eFG%) on those jumpers, but the good news for Lakers fans is that they have held opponents to 37.9% on jumpers. If the Lakers can play that kind of defense on the perimeter in this series they will get the wins.

• Boston’s defense has been very good in the playoffs, giving up 101 points per 100 possessions. Compare that to the 109 of the Lakers or the 107 of the Spurs.

• The Lakers have been playing about 10 possessions faster per game than the Celtics in the playoffs. Part of that is skewed by the speed of the Denver series, but the Lakers would do well to push the pace. Perkins cannot run with Gasol, for example, and the Lakers bench should be faster.

• There are a wealth of Celtics blogs, befitting the large and passionate fan base they have. We’ll be poking around them looking for information to bring back, but the dean of those bloggers is still Jeff at Celtics Blog. A good blog, great community of fans (and Jeff is just a good person, even if I have to despise everything he stands for during the next few weeks).

• By the way, apparently after his last piece Celtics fans have disowned the “sports guy” Bill Simmons. I’m not sure we want to claim him as our own, however.

• Rebounding will be key for the Lakers, the Celtics are beasts on the boards. In the second half of the San Antonio series the Lakers started to really crash the boards hard, that needs to continue.

• Darius had a few early thoughts about the matchups worth passing along:

* I honestly think the Celtics will have to put KG on Odom and put Perkins on Gasol. Earlier during the year this is how Boston played us (except it was Bynum instead of Gasol) and I expect to see the same matchups. I think this works in our favor as Gasol is much more skilled than Bynum (and just has a much more diverse offensive repertoire) and Perkins is going to have his hands full with this matchup. I know that Gasol has had his offensive struggles lately, but I do not think Perkins has the savvy or quickness to disrupt Pau the way that Duncan did. So I expect us to run the offense through Pau (similar to the Utah series) and for us to turn up the execution on offense to make Boston work on D. This will also open up our high P&R offense with Kobe/Gasol as Perkins is solid there but KG is beastly. If we can avoid KG defending the screen and roll it will be much more successful. I also think that Odom is going to keep KG occupied and try to drag him away from the basket with our spacing. If we can occupy KG and draw him away from the basket, it will open up Gasol for more singled up looks against Perkins and also open up driving lanes for Kobe.

*I think Phil is going to give Rondo the Kenyon Martin treatment circa 2002. In that championship series, Phil made Kenyon a jumpshooter and funneled the offense to him. I expect Fisher to be our defensive roamer and for all rotations to come off Rondo. Now, Rondo has greatly improved his jumpshot (he hit a huge one tonight) and has gained a ton of confidence in his own offense. But he still prefers to drive and create for others, so I think if we make him the scorer it will do a lot to slow their attack and disrupt their flow on offense.

Kurt

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110 responses to Lakers/Celtics First Thoughts

  1. Will Allen wake up? If he doesn’t, I don’t see how KG & Pierce could be more devastating than TD & Parker.

  2. way off topic: CW — good news about White moving on!

  3. Looking at this match up the thing that really has me worried is keeping Perkins off the boards. Especially the offensive boards. He seems like the type of player that we seem to lose track of. I’m just worried about him getting a bunch of garbage buckets. Pau’s gonna have to make sure to keep a body on him. Other than that I think right now we clearly look like the better team, as Simmons said.

    One point Simmons made in the article about Rivers not playing his normal rotation and “coaching by feel” I think is a grear indicator of the difference between the two coaches. Even when the Lakers were down 17 in game 5 Jackson went with the Baby Lakers. It’s a great example of a great coach putting players in a position to succeed when on many other teams they would never get that opportunity. It’s been interesting these last two years seeing Jackson help develop and build a championship caliber team rather than just coach an already assembled one. It’s one less silly “Jackson isn’t a good coach he’s just had good players” argument for his detractors.

  4. I worry about guarding both Allen and Pierce. This is where I wish we had a fully healthy Ariza. Either that or we may have to start Sasha instead of Vlad.

  5. I feel like a fat kid in a candy shop. This is going to be epic! For some reason, I see this series going down a bit like the SA series. I think the C’s will definitely keep the scores lower, but we have the best closer in the game and really the only proven CLUTCH superstar on the floor. I think this series is pretty close from a talent perspective, but the big difference is the championship experience that Fish, Kobe and Phil represent.

    Collectively the players and coach on the Celtics haven’t won anything. That’s kind of a double-edged sword though. On one hand, we have proven talent. On the other, the celtics may be hungrier. However, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player with as insatiable an appetite as Kobe.

    All I know is, this is going to be better than getting dogpiled at the playboy mansion.

  6. I enjoy Bill Simmons and have read enough of his stuff over the years to know that he actually believes in jinxes and reverse jinxes. Given his long documented history of antipathy for the Kobe and the Lakers and passion for the Celtics, I am convinced that his article was his attempt at a reverse jinx. Of course, the day that the cosmos start to revolve around the irrational phobias of a middle age transplanted Bostonian in LA, we are all in trouble.

    The celtics are similar to the Spurs

    5. Utility center. Garbage plays. Perkins is a better defender and rebounder.

    4. Dominant big man. Smart, good passer, excellent defender. Of course Garnett plays on the perimeter more than Duncan

    3. Ginobili/Pierce. Healthy, both very similar. Good 3 point shooter, penetrator, flopper. Pierce is the only Celtic who can get to the line.

    2. Ray Allen – Eddie House / Michael Finely – Brent Barry. 3 point shooting machines. Though Allen is more active. Stick Sasha on him and we should be ok.

    1. Quick, penetrating guards. Parker is shoot first. Rondo, pass. Rondo’s shot is more erratic, although this year he can stick the open 15 footer

    6. Bowen/Posey. Obvious parallels..

    Where they differ is in coaching and defensive philosophy.

    Tom Thibodeau has adapted his system to hide the Celtic’s weaknesses, namely individual defensive ability (with the exception of Garnett). Hence they play a quasi-zone. This Celtics zone bothered the Lakers in their 2 encounters. But given enough preparation, the Lakers’ offensive scheme is perfectly suited to shred this zone, especially with a passing big man in the post.

    What a fantastic outcome. Even if we lose, I am happy about this season. But I think we will win as PJ versus Doc is a no contest and Kobe has ascended to the next level in front of our eyes.

  7. I didn’t mention this in the main post yet, but maybe the best matchup for us in this series is Phil vs. Doc.

  8. The best thing about Simmons article is that someone finally recognized the value of the Laker fans in Staples. They might not be as loud (or annoying) as Utah, Sacramento or Boston but they know exactly when to be loud and how to rattle the opponents at the perfect time.

  9. Without a doubt Kurt. No disrespect to Doc but he’s the one who coached a Celtics teams that stunk up the eastern Conference last year.

  10. Thursday!!! I can’t make it that long! Not possible.
    I quit hating the Celtics years ago. They became irrelevant. I was glad to see them go. Just another team these days although the thought they fear us is satisfying.
    Lakers in five.

  11. Like most fans old enough to remember the 1980s, as well as most ABC-TV executives, I am very excited about this. Also, if the Lakers win, Jackson passes Auerbach. Auerbach is a unique figure in the game’s history no matter what (as is Jackson, in a different way) but beating the Celtics to break that tie would be an extra sweetener.

    Three things jump out at me:

    People have been asking me about the matchups, and the player that jumps out is Perkins. With Bynum gone, Perkins’ physicality will be a big problem. I think Jackson will have to try to get him in foul trouble, but Perkins wil wreak some havoc right around the basket in this series.

    The second thing that jumps out, as Kurt said, post 7, is the coaching matchup. Rivers has his plusses–he commands the respect of the players, keeps things on an even keel, etc. 66-16 is nothing to dismiss, no matter how weak the East is. That said, like Joe Torre in baseball, Rivers is not a chess player, and Jackson is, and that matters this time of year.

    The third thing, related to #2, is Rivers’ rotation. Basically, I think he needs to play Posey, Cassell and Brown less, and Powe, House and Davis more, but I doubt that he will and hope he doesn’t.

  12. I don’t see why we can’t switch Kobe off onto Pierce some of the time in order to handle him. I think the Celts might really focus their offense on Pierce if we stick VladRad on him. Ray Allen isn’t the fastest mover and I think Vlad could stay with him. That said, perhaps starting Sasha in place of VladRad is not a bad idea. As some others have said though, the Celts get a lot of offensive boards and we need a lot of aggression from Pau to prevent those sorts of lapses. Also, the Celts play very good team defense and they help each other well. I think we’ll need to move the ball, create lots of movement, in order to respond to this good team D. I think we’ll do it, but I’m just sayin’..

  13. Whew…it’s interview every Boston affiliated sportswriter or announcer day on ESPN News.

    Reading the history of this rivalry is great. I feel like I cheated myself by only becoming a basketball fan in 1990. Course I was 9 then and my father wasn’t a basketball fan so I never got to watch games when they were on.

  14. as I’ve mentioned, I’m a Bulls fan first. so the first thing i have to say is:

    Jax for 10!

    next, I hope Allen stays on the floor as much as possible, even if he hits some shots. I don’t want to see Pierce at the 2, or Posey against Kobe.
    If they play that lineup with Posey at the 4, Lamar has to post him hard, every time. Like he did to Marion. and Kobe has to go to the rack.

    and to echo, it’s time to see what Ariza’s got, there’s no more saving him. Obviously I don’t want him to get hurt, but i hope Phil gives him all he can handle.

  15. I think something that is being overlook when looking at how we fared in the regular season and what has changed is realizing that the edition of Gasol has had the most impact on Lamar. When we played Boston earlier, he was playing mediocre, and the Gasol addition has really opened up his game. Not only will boston have to account for Pau, but also an entirely more effective player in Odom who really seems to understand his role in this offense and how to be most effective.

  16. 12) I agree with the radmon on allen angle. at this point, allen is a slow jump shooter. best to put a taller player on him to disrupt his shooting. then with kobe on pierce, fisher frustrating rondo, and KG shooting jumper our defensive situation looks quite strong. I forsee a bunch of close first halfs, followed by lock down 3rd quarters where we hold the celts to about 15pts and establish a solid lead.

    I just can’t see these celtics beating us if they’re trailng in the 4th by more then 6 points?

  17. Phil passing Auerbach with a series win is huge. I wonder if Doc will invoke a “win one for the Gipper” speech and try to motivate them by protecting the old coaches legacy. I also remember instances of Red and PJ not really getting along too well. In fact, I think they hated each other before Red passed away. Anyhow, just another big piece of a very exciting puzzle that’s going to make this series a classic showdown for the ages. Get ready for Thursday Laker fans!

  18. I think the Lakers have an edge over Boston. At this point in the second season, they are probably fresher physically, have more Finals experience and have a superb coach. Regardless of what some Celtics fans would like to believe, it’s not an accident Phil has nine rings.

    Perhaps L.A. has less pressure too. Who expected them to make the Finals a year ago?

    And, the 2-3-2 Finals format limits or downright erases the homecourt edge the Celtics would otherwise enjoy by virtue of their regular season record.

    L.A. in six.

    .

  19. I think the 2-3-2 format doesn’t eliminate the homecourt advantage, but changes it. A team MUST be able to win road games to survive this, but if Boston gets beyond game 5 they have a very large edge.

  20. Kurt, one question. Where do you get the +/- player stats specifically for the 2008 playoffs? I looked at basketball-reference and yahoo sports but could not locate this stat in either of those places.

  21. Hi Craig,

    Yes definitely true, a team has to be able to win road games in this format.

    Also, I’d be surprised to see L.A. win all three at home.

    However if LA goes to Boston up 3-2 I like their chances!

  22. (11) Robinred,

    you say,

    “With Bynum gone, Perkins’ physicality will be a big problem. ”

    You may have forgotten the regular season games between the Lakers and Celts, but I haven’t. Perkins absolutely KILLED Bynum both times. One of them was a career game for Kendrick. Bynum’s problem was that he hadn’t yet learned how to rotate on defense or establish position. Bynum was never a great rebounder–even as he got better during the season.

    Perkins, Baby, and the other Boston Beefies can be handled with quickness. Perkins is about the same size as Ronny–who may get some minutes against him.

    You may have forgotten that in recent playoff game #5 against San Antonio, with Thomas and Duncan playing heavy minutes, our skinny, weeny, center, Pau Gasol got 19 rebounds–including 9 offensive rebounds–while being criticized by bloggers during the game for not being physical enough!

    Pau is quite a bit taller than Kendrick, and is even a good size and quickness match for Garnett–who can be a bit of a weeny at times himself.

    If you look at playoff totals so far, Boston has no significant rebound advantage over opponents even though their shooting percentage is pretty crappy.

    Maybe those facts have something to do with ALL of the experts picking the Lakers over those old oversized Leprechauns?

  23. 20. I got it at http://www.82games.com.

    One thing regarding the talk of putting Kobe on Pierce — I don’t think you can do that all game because Pierce is strong, would go right at Kobe and would get him in foul trouble. I think you have to pick your spots putting Kobe on Pierce, maybe at the end of the game. I think Vladrad can do better than some think.

  24. Here are a couple of links I thought you guys would be interested in looking at.

    interview with tom thibodeaux, architect of the celtics defense

    http://www.basketballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=235

    analysis of the defense

    http://www.basketballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=91

  25. I agree you don’t want kobe on pierce all game. but, I still think with kobe on pierce and vlad on allen, we can seriously slow their offensive production for large good fraction of a quarter. and I think that’s all we need to beat them. they just don’t have the fire power to recover…

  26. It’s Winnin’ Time. Ck out http://www.bigdaddysportsfan.com. War LAKERS!

  27. Did anybody see espn.com? All the “experts” picked the Lakers to win the series.

    I also saw an early spread for Game 1, Boston is favored by 3.

    I didn’t get a chance to watch either Boston/LA regular season game. Are there any good takeaways from those games that are still relevant? I know Pau wasn’t there, but I noticed Kobe had a very low FG % – was the Celtic defense that good?

    My biggest worry is how are we going to handle the strength of Perkins.

  28. The Dude Abides May 31, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    I stated in the previous thread that PJ might put Kobe on Rondo. The more I think about this idea, the better I like it. Fish can be the one who chases Allen through the screens, Kobe can roam by playing off Rondo and daring him to shoot a jump shot, and also do a little doubling of KG and PP. Playing off Rondo can both keep Kobe rested and keep him out of foul trouble, plus allow him the ability to freelance and disrupt PP and KG. I think PJ will start Vlad on PP, then work both Sasha and Trevor on him. Under no circumstances should Luke guard PP. Pierce absolutely owns Luke at both ends. I think Luke’s playing time this series should mostly occur with PP on the bench.

  29. Bill –
    I wouldn’t get carried away with the ESPN experts??? all picking the Lakers to win the Championship. Weren’t these the guys who all picked the Lakers to finish between 8th and 10th in the Western Conference at the beginning of the season? They don’t have a history of being very accurate, just ‘bandwaggonie’.

  30. I’m with Kurt on RadMan/Pierce. Obviously RadMan is not Battier, but he’s tall, has good foot speed, and has shown recently that he’s a willing defender. I don’t expect him to put the clamps on Pierce or anything, but I think he can at least execute the plan that Phil and the staff devise for him and try to force Pierce to areas on the court where he is less effective.

    As for Perkins, I think his bulk may help him on the the offensive glass, but hurt him on defense against Gasol. When we iso Gasol on the weakside of the offense on the mid-post, and he turns and faces, Perkins is going to have to stay with Gasol’s quick first step and his ability to finish going both left and right. If Gasol can exploit this matchup at all, the screening/cutting that (should) happen on the other side of the court and the spacing that we play with should enable us to get good looks off the attention Pau draws when he makes his move or at the very least get good one on one play from Pau on Perkins. I happen to like our chances if that occurs.

  31. At least we won’t have to deal with Duncan-like defense on Gasol in this series.

  32. It’s easy to overlook what Rad has given the Lakers lately, but I disagree with those who’re calling for Sasha to start in the Finals for several reasons.

    The Lakers coaches have a specific role for Radmanovich, and with the exception of his very streaky shooting, he’s done a pretty good job. (Not so good to validate the huge contract, but that’s another story…)

    He’s played solid defense, opened up the first quarter with some back-of-the-lineup scoring when others are focused on Pau, Lamar and Kobe, and his size has allowed to disrupt other players and grab a few boards. In short, he’s doing what they need him to do, hence the 12-3 playoff record against two very good teams and the Nuggets.

    People rip Rivers for “coaching by feel,” as they should. But Phil would be just as foolish if he were to disrupt the flow that’s worked so well with no evident reason to make a change. Radmanovich knows his role, as does Vujacic, and they’re contributing. Why disrupt that? You know Sasha’s going to be a de-facto starter playing deep in the fourth quarter anyway, so calling for changes now just makes no sense.

    It’s not broken; don’t go tinkering with it.

  33. Strangely enough, Hollinger has been dead on for the past two series.

  34. I’m less concerned about who Kobe guards than who guards him. I think when Posey isn’t in the game they have to use Pierce on him. That would go a long way to helping to defend Pierce if Kobe can wear him out andget HIM in foul trouble. Pierce was quoted saying he believes he’s underrated as a defender, so he’ll take pride in the assignment, which will only make Kobe more determined.

    Obviously, they’ll use the whole team on Kobe, but I’m interested to see how they go about it. Do they play him physical and try to intimidate him the way that Utah tried? Or do they try to keep him off the line and make him a volume jumshooter the way San Antonio did? Or do they put KG on Kobe like Denver. I’m guessing they don’t go that route. What can we learn from how they guarded Joe Johnson and Lebron? How they choose to guard kobe helps determine the entire offense for us, it seems…

  35. I’d keep the starting line up as it is now. Pierce is a tough match up no matter who we put on him, so why mess with the chemistry and rotations. I would put Kobe on him at times, and Sasha on Allen. Sasha is quicker than Allen and has shown that he is capable and willing to fight through screens. I also like the Idea of putting Kobe on Rondo for stretches allowing him to be the “roamer” on defense.

    I think the Lakers are the better team, they are deeper, younger and more athletic and they have this guy Kobe who is pretty good. But I also think Boston is good enough to win this series.

    I think the biggest difference is the huge coaching advantage the Lakers have. Lakers in 5 or 6.

  36. @33

    A huge coaching advantage is an understatement.

    Sure he’s a great guy and all, but Doc seems more of a figurehead on that staff. The real brains behind the Celtics is Tom Thibideau (sp?).

  37. I’m not worried about the regular season meetings between the two teams. These are completely different teams now, and I’m not referencing the acquisition of Pau or the Bynum injury or even NBA Finals experience. The Celtics were able to win road games in the regular season. They’re not the same team now, they peaked too early. That earlier team wouldn’t have merely squeaked by the Cavs (?) and the Hawks (?????). Sure, they handled the Pistons a little better but were they ever going to win an ECF under Flip Saunders? No, sorry.

    Lakers in 5 or 6. I’d love to see a split in Boston to open, even if we had to grab G2. I don’t think these Celtics have the glue our Lakers have, and definitely don’t have a comparable head coach. Match-ups are match-ups, and when the chips are down it’s going to become the intangibles, just like always. I’ll follow our MVP anywhere and expect success: Denver, Utah, San Antonio, Boston, Beijing…he’s got us.

  38. The fact that the Lakers know who their opponent is with a week to prepare will hopefully accentuate the coaching advantage. PJ and Tex Winter are probably holed up watching a small mountain of tape today. That’s a vision that gives me a lot of confidence.

  39. 23 – I agree Kurt with your reasoning for not having Kobe on Pierce all game. I do think it’s worth putting him on him some of the time, however, as you suggested. I think you’re right, VladRad might be a little underrated as a defender, but still, against Paul Pierce, I think Pierce will be salivating at the idea of facing Vlad Rad. What I’d really like (though probably Phil won’t do it) is for Ariza to get the task initially of facing Pierce. I think with Sasha, VladRad, Kobe, Ariza, and Luuuuke all getting a shot at Paul, we should be able to put a dent in his production.

  40. What I would give to be a fly on the wall in those rooms with Tex and Phil…

  41. The Lakers have a bunch of exploitable matchups, starting with Kobe against… anybody. As many have noted, he is not going to see a better defense than what the Spurs threw at him, and he still managed to get the job done in the WC finals. The Celtics will have to pray that Allen gets off early and often, and that the long layoff rejuvenates their vets. My fear is that it will… for a game or two. However, they have played 5 more games than the Lakers this season and they are an older, less athletic team. Additionally, the Lakers have not had to play their core as much because they possess a much deeper bench and have played in far fewer close games. Playoff basketball is a war of attrition, and the Lakers have a lot more of their resources left.

  42. It took a day to sink in for me, but the Lakers are really going to play the Celtics in the finals!

    Even though I never ever saw those great series in the former eras of Magic, Kareem, West and Elgin (l started following the Lakeshow in the Van Exel, Eddie Jones, Ceballos era), when the Celtics started chanting “Beat LA” after winning the East, I understand now the implications of this series. It’s not just the Finals anymore. The stage is bigger than that. It is a rivalry that is as old as basketball itself. These next games will be the biggest that any of the players have ever played in. Let that sink in for a while and know that this Finals series will have more at stake than anything for the past decade. It is not just about the 2008 championship anymore, it is bragging rights to the greatest franchise in NBA history (even though Celtics have not been relevant for the past decade or so).

    This will be remembered as an intense and epic series and I will not accept anything than the Championship in LA….where it rightfully belongs. And I am so glad that we have the greatest player in the game today in Kobe Bryant to lead the Lakers.

  43. Never change your starting lineup to adjust to the other teams starting lineup, unless one or more of your starting lineup is injured. Otherwise stand ‘pat’! Sasha in the starting lineup throws the entire rotation off. VladRad will rise to the occasion and do a solid job, long enough for us to give different looks to the other team.

    Our bench has been the one constant that the other team is unable to match or dissect.

    Leave the rotations alone!

    Lakers in 6!!!!

  44. Warren Wee Lim May 31, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    Last year, the regular season meeting between San Antonio and Cleveland was 0-2. We all know how that turned out. Its a sign :)

    LA vs Boston is the super duper ultimate wet dream. Not only will ABC rack up this summer, commercials rates would soar.

    I like Hollinger’s eye on these playoffs… at least on the Spurs and Lakers he was spot on. Now he is predicting that the Lakers win it in 6. That would mean: Boston goes 2-0, then the Lakers win all 3 at staples, win game 6 at Boston. The only other variant would be: the Lakers steal game 1, Celtics win game 2, Lakers lose one at home and get another one in the garden.

  45. (24) Hi Chibi,

    I love the way you took on some of those Celtics Homers on CelticsBlog. I also like your links that describe Boston “D”. What I notice from Celtic fans is a preoccupation with defense and matchups. We don’t hear about a Leprechaun bench bunch or tempo or even what type of offense they run. Just who can or can’t guard who.

    That’s their problem: balance. As Boston’s defensive genius Thibedeau said in his interview, there must be a balance between offense and defense. It was interesting to note that in one article, the author pointed out that when the Celts lost to the Wizards, it wasn’t because they played subpar defense–it was because their Celtic offense was terrible.

    I believe that the Lakers have better balance between offense and defense than Boston, more appreciation for tempo, a clearer game strategy, and more options. As a team they are younger, taller, and quicker.

    The Lakers should be fresher in the fourth quarter than the Leprechauns.

    The Lakers defnitely have a chance to win.

  46. Series needs more of this:

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=3nHAuZdEH9Q

    (and more of these announcers – they are awesome)

  47. dr rayeye

    I hope you are right, and you may recall I was right with you in the off-season wanting to get Gasol.

    But Perkins is improving, and he is a beast around the rim. Gasol will provide a matchup issue as well, but I look for Perkins to get some monster dunks inside and clear horizontal space for himself. Bynum, in spite of his reg season perf against Bos, would be nice to have to help with that.

  48. the other Stephen May 31, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    mondo censorship.

  49. 45 – Thanks drrayeye. I was hoping a fan or two would give me some insight. They’re OK, though. The homer exaggerations are amusing. Someone claimed Kendrick Perkins was a better defender than Tim Duncan, for instance.

    Based on that stuff on Thibodeaux, I think it is imperative the Lakers run the triangle well. The Celtics do good work denying passes; if the Lakers don’t move off-the-ball purposefully, that will only serve to frustrate and isolate Kobe. If he has no choice but to go 1 on 4, a la Lebron, he falls right into the Celtics trap.

  50. er, 1 on 5. Sorry for the doublepost.

  51. Jeff of CelticsBlog (or whoever is writing) seems way too happy to just be in the finals. The Lakers know better-a finals loss, even in 7 games, is a letdown. Only a parade down Figueroa will satisfy this team and this city.

  52. Thrillah_from_Manila June 1, 2008 at 1:00 am

    I think the celtics had it easy in getting their 60+ win record because they had more games against horrible teams in the east (e.g. Heat, Bucks etc.) They even struggled eleminating the Atlanta Hawks who had a sub .500 record, I think the celtics will be suprised in game one and will be blown out because they still haven’t played the lakers with gasol and a VERY HUNGRY Kobe Bryant if the lakers win game one on the road this will over in 5 or 6.

  53. As mentioned before, the biggest advantage we have outside of Triple Ocho, athleticism, and overall talent is the coaching staff. With Boston never playing against a Pau-included Lakers team, Phil & Co will be able to exploit options that much more. If Perkins guards Gasol (which he may have to w/ Lamar out there), The pick & roll should be pretty effective between Kobe & Pau. But the more I think about it, Boston will probably just trust Perkins on Odom and force him to make the midrange jumper, while clogging up the lane. Let’s hope Doc is as bad as Simmons says he is (hes not very good).

    I like Kobe on Rondo. This will definitely rattle Boston a bit, their point guard getting a little uncomfortable w/ Bryant shadowing. Just need to watch backdoor, Rondo can get to the rack.

    Boston’s defense cannot be emphasized enough. While they were in the East & I feel they would have had a tough time exceeding 60 wins in the West (considering the grind that it becomes to negate boston’s “20-5″ west record or whatever it is), They are tough down to the defensive rebound. Keeping our shooters comfortable and confident will be very crucial. They need to know where to space to throw off this defense a little bit.

    Overall, I really believe we’re a better team. Maybe they’re a 9, we’re a 9.5 -Lakers in 6! Let’s steal game 1!

  54. Until I started doing some comparing, I didn’t fully realize why the Leprechauns slowed the game down yet didn’t get that many rebounds. After all, with shooting percentages down for both the Celts and opponents, there are plenty of opportunities. The final answer is shocking–even though it’s pretty obvious: they’re smaller and they’re older. Let’s compare with 9 guys who will play (incl. bench):

    Celtics Lakers

    C Perkins/Davis 6′ 9+”(23) Odom/Turiaf 6′ 10″ 27

    PF Garnett/Brown 6’11″(35) Gasol 7′ 28

    SF Pierce 6′ 7″ 31 Radmanovic 6′ 10″ 28

    PG Rondo 6′ 1″ 22 Fisher/Jordan 6′ 1″ 28

    SG Allen 6′ 5″ 35 Bryant 6′ 6″ 30

    bench

    SF Posey 6′ 8″ 31 Walton/Ariza 6’8″ 25
    SG Cassell 6′ 3″ 38 Vujacich 6’7″ 25

    height: advantage Lakers (about 1″)
    age: Celtics 4+ years older

  55. robinred, glad to see you posting again!

  56. Renato Afonso June 1, 2008 at 5:29 am

    52. A-Town,

    As much as putting Kobe on Rondo would be great to take the youngster out of his game, you must consider the toll that defending a point guard takes on one’s legs. You’ll be in the basic defensiveposition more time than you’re used to… Not ideal when we need Kobe with fresh legs.

    However, I do feel that in some periods of the game, we should try Kobe on Rondo and Fisher on Allen. Just not the majority of the game.

  57. The Celtics play in the easier conference, but their big three have a lot of experience

    Lane
    http://LosAngelesSource.com

  58. I doubt Kobe will guard Rondo all that much. Beyond the fatigue factor there’s the issue of potentially confusing defensive assignments esp if Kobe drives and Rondo starts a fast break in other direction. Someone as active as Kobe will have a hard time getting to Rondo in quick transitions. IMHO,Kobe should be glued to Ray Allen and try to keep him from getting off.
    Fisher and Farmar should be able to hound Rondo and Sasha will prob be part of a tag team on Pierce,w/the hopes Sasha gets under Pierce’s somewhat thin skin and uses his hands to contest Pierces dribble.
    One other reason I don’t see Kobe on Rondo is Boston has n’t the best ball-handling skills in the world,so I expect to see alot of ball pressure as Boston brings it up. Having Kobe play centerfield is much better than him picking up a couple of fouls trying to apply pressure.

  59. The Celtics have looked like a team ready to fold since the playoffs started. Maybe, as their fans should hope, this was their learning curve in figuring out how to play together in bigger games. I don’t think so. The Lakers are young, sure, but they have two champions at the guard positions that have started every game together all year. That, coupled with the best coach in NBA playoff history, and suddenly these guys start looking a little more ready than their green adversaries (pun intended).

    I believe some of us rode the Bynum injury into a “wait till next year” sort of mode, that was heightened when it was confirmed that he was down for the year. Maybe that’s not true, maybe it really peaked when we began to struggle against Utah or late in the regular season against some bad teams. Anyway, the timing was close. I digress…

    My point is this: The people who should be considering a “wait till next year” posturing are truly the Celtics. This Lakers team, given some of the things I’ve attempted to outline in the opening paragraph, are just more ready right now. Probably playing their best basketball of the season. The Celts, well…they stink of an early peak to me. I think some of the things they could learn by losing this year in the Finals can make them a more formidable contender in ’09. The Lakers had to lose in round one for two years in a row, after a year out of the playoffs. Growth occured. This would be great for Boston, but there’s another problem for them. Andy’s back next year and they may have to resign themselves to ruling the East and falling to the West.

    I see back-to-back championships here. Then, Kobe will opt out of his contract and go play for the Mavericks.

    Just kidding.

  60. perkins gasol-gasol might be better than him on paper but perkins has a bigger frame than gasol and is very active on defense along with the rest of the celtics when i watch gasol i always see him post up but he misses alot of shots the only way he gets shots is when kobe drives and dishes it to him i think gasol will be better than perkins on paper but perkins wont be far behind

    lamar garnett-garnet will trash him just like he trashed josh smith ben wallace and rasheed wallace he becomes rentless when in his zone as well as the rest of the team too he gives them energy along with pierce. garnett isnt given credit for his post game because he takes those mid range jumpers so much but hey hes open hes gonna shoot but when he wants to post up hes nasty odom will have problems scoring on the defensive player of the year also..garnett wont let any easy baskets and im sure the rest of the team wont either allen pierce and garnett will play their hearts out and so will the rest of the team their more hungry for a championship.

    radmanvic pierce- this isnt even close pierce will s*$% on him just like tayshaun prince and wont let radmanvic score those easy baskets radmonvic shouldnt even be on the same floor as peirce pierce is one of the most underrated players in the game becuase of his weird style of play that seems sloppy but somehow he still gets it done

    allen kobe-once again might look better than him on paper but allen aint too far behind kobe..kobes awesome but allen is really good too allen is a great scorer when feeling it and can be a great defense player when he has to

    fisher rondo- rondo will give fisher problems all game with his quickness and big defensive play ability fisher will prolly make some 3s but thats all he will do rondo will blow by fisher and throw it out to garnett for a jump shot like he usually does rondo got this matchup the only thing fisher got on him is exp. but look what rondo and the celtics did to detroit with billups some people say he cant shoot but when open hell knock it down just as good as any 1

    benches-
    pg-celtics have 2 point gaurds they can turn too house giving them instant scoring and quickness and cassell giving them experience and ball handling
    -the lakers got farmer hes a pretty good back up that will get his share of time and production but otherwise he doesnt have too much exp. and isnt a big play guy

    sg- house can play here also or they have tony allen who hasnt seen to much time but can be productive similar to farmar he has great quickness and defensive abilty and is very athletic he can play solid when called upon
    -vuagcic enough said with the hair -makes an ocassional shot

    SF- posey is a good player hits the three ball very well plays defense great and has good energy he can also drive when he has too
    walton- too much hype because hes bills kid hes pretty solid but has no quickness or atheleticsm hes ok nothing good though .does some dirty work hits a shot every know and then

    PF- leon powe is very underrated does the dirty work knows how to finish and gets rebounds well. they also got glen davis big body who finishes well and rebounds well hes also a good team defender
    -turiaf brings some energy to the lakers but isnt too solid .finishes well decent rebounder kind of like leon powe

    C-pj brown can play both Center and forward the celtics use him as a center though. has exp. good rebounder hits an occasional shot good post defender and does a little dirty work. they also have scott pollard to turn too if needed
    -chris mihm is decent doesnt do much though good size

    i prolly forgot some more players for both teams but those are the 1s that come to mind i think the celtics win in 6 or 7 becuase they know there the underdogs in this series just like detroit and they have so many players that didnt win a championship and their very very hungry for one(peirce allen garnett) especially .it comes down to homecourt advantage and energy which both teams are even at for the most part but when boston is in the garden and playing well its hard to stop them i think when the celtics are on the road they will win at least 1 game people forget how gasol and bynum are almost the same player gasol kind of just filled in for bynum the celtics beat them twice with bynum 1 of those games were on the road and then the lakers traded peanuts for gasol and might have gotten a little better but people forget the celtics got sam cassell and pj brown too when its all set and done the lakers made some great moves with getting gasol but the celtics also got better with 2 players of their own cassell and brown so i think the lakers failed by getting better than boston…..celtics will win

  61. Game 1 will be the most important game of the series. 41-0 when Phil Jackson’s teams win game 1.

    The Celtics lack individual defenders. They have a great team defensive system, because they are quite athletic despite being older than the Lakers (on average). They overplay passing lanes and try to put hands on the ball at all times. The entire team is quite strong as well, and will attempt to use their physical strength to intimidate us. But, the Celtics have no one that can check Kobe. They can isolate Kobe at any time during a game and let him go to work on anyone that defends him. This is a huge advantage to say the least.

    Kobe and Ray have had a feud going back a few years, so when the Lakers are on D, Kobe will most likely check him. Pierce is the biggest problem while the Lakers are on D. We are going to have to force him to pass the ball and shoot from the perimeter as much as possible. If Pierce is getting to the line, he is going to force the defense to collapse, which will open up Allen and Posey for the three.

    I think that Pau’s length is going to be a big problem for the Celtics on D, as neither Ray nor Rondo are strong/quick enough to cause problems for Pau. Their only real big is KG, and as his fans and detractors are well aware, tends to stay away from the paint when the Celtics are on offense.

    I am going to be greedy and call for the Lakers to win a close game one and a blowout game two. Kobe pulls us out in game one and Luke Walton goes nuts in game two.

  62. Tex Winter says Kobe’s D will be crucial . . .

    From Kevin Ding’s blog:

    The Lakers almost surely will start out with Vladimir Radmanovic on Pierce, but if they want to give Sasha Vujacic extensively playing time once again — with the idea that Vujacic can hound Boston sharpshooter Ray Allen the way that he did Manu Ginobili last round — then Bryant will slide to small forward a lot again and match up with Pierce. If it’s Pierce, Winter said Bryant has to “stay attached, which is hard for Kobe to do.”

    http://lakers.freedomblogging.com/2008/06/01/tex-winter-kobes-defense-will-be-key/#comments

  63. 60. Just a few corrections (on basketball, not punctuation and grammar because I don’t have all night).

    If you think Pau and Bynum are the same player, you are very naive about Pau. He has a much more diverse set of post moves than Bynum plus Pau can hit the 15-18 footer and will pull Perkins away from the basket. Odom will do the same thing to Garnett, take him away from the basket so he can’t help off of him and make him pay if he does ignore him. If you think Ray Ray is anywhere near where Kobe is right now, you didn’t watch a lot of Lakers games lately. I have watched a lot of Celtics in the playoffs, and I expect the fact only Rondo can handle the ball well will mean turnovers and easy baskets for the Lakers. And, please, jump the passing lanes a lot against a team that likes to backcut.

  64. It has been too long for this rivalry to return. Though the history favors the Celtics….this time the Lakers will triumph because of a younger bench, Pau’s post play,,Kobe’s offense and Phil’s coaching. The Celtic triad will certainly be motivated to complete an amazing reversal of last season, but they will eventually run out of gas. The Laker defense is cooking now. The 2-3-2 schedule format favors the Lakers and they overall are more ready to win the championship. It is their time. Allen and Garnett will just have to wait another year.

  65. The Celtics have only scored over 100 points 4 times in the playoffs and 3 of those time were against the Hawks. That being said much like San Antonio I just can’t see the Celts putting together enough offense to beat us. The Celts will also be the first team we’ve played in the post season that don’t have a world class point guard (if you count AI as a point). No disrespect to Rondo but I’m sure Fisher is going to have a much easier time containing him than anyone else he’s guarded in the post-season.

    I think Boston’s role players and bench will bring more to the table than the Spurs did, but the Celts at this point in the season don’t seem to be nearly as well rounded a team as we are.

    Also if we can win this series we’ll have 15 titles to the Celts 16. It’s a nice little subplot to the series.

    I’ll follow Hollinger and take Lakers in 6.

  66. 60 – WOW – I’m speechless. I’m going to take a wild guess and say that you’re actually a Laker fan because I doubt Celtic fans would want to claim you as one of their own. BTW – notice my decision to use the word “their” and not “there”…. but I digress.

    I see the Lakers having a distinct advantage at PG, SG, C, bench, coaching and intangibles while the Celtics have a leg up at PF, SF, and homecourt…..although I think homecourt isn’t much of an advantage at this stage of the playoffs.

    Lakers in 6 and the 1st of 3 championships in the next 4 years. I think NO or UTAH will win one too.

  67. @65

    I seriously hope you mistyped. No way 60′s a Laker fan. More Celtics than anything else. Ray Allen close to Kobe? Eddie House playing defense? Notice how he mentions Sasha Vujacic when all Laker fans are aware that he is “The Machine”. Yeah, he’s a Celtics fan.

  68. 60- I can only guess that you started watching the Lakers periodically during the Spurs series (perhaps for the first time all year). Gasol did miss a lot of easy shots… against Time Duncan! On the whole, the dude has had an amazing shooting percentage since becoming a Laker, and this is only partially due to the fact that Kobe hits him for chippies. To say that he is only better than Perkins “on paper” is a statement that nobody who has watched both of these players consistently would dare to make. And comparing Ray Allen to Kobe Bryant does not even deserve a response. I like it when fans of other teams come to this site for some goodhearted debate, but please bring your common sense with you. I would never in my life say that Kevin Garnett is only better than Lamar Odom “on paper” just because Odom is better at one or two particular facets of the game (i.e. dribbling). Look up some stats. Watch some tape. Compare the records in the playoffs and the competition they both faced and then, by all means, craft a sensible argument for why the Celtics will win this series.

  69. Darren,
    Please come with some real facts about the Celtics and don’t just do a comparison with the Lakers. You obviously don’t see many Laker games and I haven’t seen too many Celtic games. Therefore, I would like to know a little more about our finals opponents. What I promise to not to do is assume I know much about the Celtics. This blog is about an exchange of information and we have had bloggers from all our opponents during these playoffs. Everyone is welcome, but we enjoy information, not fans shouting about how good their team is and how they will just overwhelm us. Oh, incidentally, how come you have the Celtics taking 6-7 games to dispose of this clearly inferior basketball team?

  70. 60 – interesting post.

    if allen was ‘not far behind’ the Celtics would have swept their way to the finals. right now, allen is just as productive as the injured version of manu.

  71. 60. It is usually a good idea to double check your post to make sure that there are not a lot of grammatical/spelling errors. It makes the posts easier to read.
    From reading your post I take it you have not watched any of the Lakers games during the playoffs. This is the only way that I think you can say that Allen is close to Kobe. Kobe is playing at a different level; far above any one else during these playoffs. This was especially evident during game 5 against the Spurs. That was one of the greatest basketball performances I have seen.

  72. 66-I think that 65 was being sarcastic about 60 being a Laker fan.
    60 – I have to agree with 63, that Pau is a much more complete offensive player than Bynum. Not to mention he is far more experienced and a more cerebral player. No disrespect to Bynum (I pray he is healthy next year to start another dynasty!) but I would rather have Pau in this position at this point in their careers.

    You mentioned that Rondo “when open hell knock it down just as good as any 1″ That is just not true. He missed 41 out of 63 field goal attempts versus Detroit.

    “allen aint too far behind kobe” Really? You’ve got to be kidding me. Here is a brief statistical comparison from the 2008 playoffs: Streaky Allen (14.2, 3.4, 2.8) vs. MVP Kobe (31.9, 6.1, 5.8). Enough said.

    Comparing the additions of Cassell and Brown, to the Spanish Acquisition is just laughable.

    I could go on and on about that horribly bias blog, that looks to have been written by a 3rd grader, but I will stop now, as I prefer to discuss this exciting match up.

    I agree with all of the posts that Perkins and the Celtic’s overall physicality is aa Celtic advantage. Although I think that Pau proved himself against Duncan in the latter part of the series and the Lakers displayed against Utah that they will not let a more physical team divert them from their execution. (Kobe’s favorite word)

    Kurt, I know that Doc is a good coach to have gotten his stars playing so well together so quickly. They have become a very good defensive team under his guidance. However I see a huge advantage to the Lakers. Doc has never been on this stage before and Jackson is Mr. NBA Finals and soon to be in a league of his own with a ring for every finger!

    I think 3 out of 7 at home is never an advantage, but if we can take one of the first two in Bean Town, we’ll have a great opportunity to take control of the series at home, as we have not lost in LA since March!

    I’ll leave the X’s and O’s to the rest of the great fans on this blog. I predict Lakers in 5 or 6, because game 7 on the road scares me. It is great to see Kobe playing in June again and this is his time to shine. No one will stop him; he just has to make sure his teammates are as fearless as he his. Go Lakers!

  73. I think Darren (#60) is guilty of severely underrating the Lakers while overrating the Celtics. While some of what he said can be seen as valid (dig in their and you can find 1 or 2 points), the majority of it is extreme hyperbole and should just be taken with a grain of salt. He’s got a lot of “TimmyDtheRealMVP” in him from our last series. Hopefully we’ll get some less bias Celtics heads over here to talk Finals, but maybe that’s less likely for this series, considering the stakes of the Finals and the mutual feelings between the fanbases…

  74. Darren’s (60) just trying to stir the pot. I don’t even think HE believes what he wrote.

    Celtics fans may be myopic (just like Laker fans can be) but they’re not stupid.

  75. There are stupid fans everywhere, and I think I qualify too, since most of the time my reaction is ‘holy $h!T’ as opposed to ‘ah, that was suchandsuch’s fault aided by teammate suchandsuch’s unseen help…’

    Anyway, why can’t the series just start? the anticipation i have is unreal.

  76. Interesting post from some guy on Celticsblog answering my question about how the Celtics deal with up-tempo teams.

    “Utah is the only team with the mixture of the open court game and halfcourt dominance to compare to the Lakers team. They were the one team that was consistently able to create good shooting attemtpts in the halfcourt. Watching the games you legitimately felt that was never going to change no matter how many times the two sides played. The big difference was Deron Williams, he was too good for Rondo and gave their offense so many extra options. So different emphasis of attack which hurts the comparison. The Jazz’s ability to move without the ball off the help defense and get shots close to the rim was a pain in the C’s backside. That’s something LA can do but sometimes get caught falling in love with their three pointer.” Who fr. Celticsblog

  77. “once again might look better than him on paper but allen aint too far behind kobe”

    60.Can you elaborate further? Are you talking in terms of basketball, height, no of championships, playoff appearances, MVPs???

  78. Kurt, are you and nomuskles doing any game planning for a live blog or two. The last one topped everything you guys had done before.

  79. 60 Darren sounds like either a bandwagon Celtics fan, a fan of another team, or…he has no knowledge of basketball whatsoever…

  80. 60 is just looking to get a rise from someone, maybe it’s John R…no, his punctuation was way better… and his knowledge too.

  81. I haven’t been on this site so much lately (been busy), but I figured I’d stop by. I’ve read a few recaps and threads here so I’ve stopped by on occasion. I’ve been really enjoying these playoffs. Freakin Kobe has been absolute bananas. LO has been playin really well since Gas came aboard, even tho he reverts back every couple games. Everything’s just been going good.

    Anyhow, since I live on the East Coast, I got tix to games 1 & 2 in Boston. Can’t wait…never been to the Finals. Go Lakers…

  82. LEPRECHAUN ALERT!

    (60) Darren,

    There is no doubt that the Celtics are a great team. Earlier in the season, my greatest thrill as a Laker fan would have been to simply have the Lakers make it to the championship round–even if the Celts swept us in four.

    But things have been changing in Lakerland. You write about individual matchups as if we would be playing a series of one on one encounters–writing mostly about who could defend whom.

    The Lakers talk about both offense and defense in terms of team rotations. The Lakers play a triangle offense, and they emphasize passing–through Pau Gasol as much as possible. When the Lakers do it right, the offense and defense are in balance, and players score off of assists from their teammates as well as provide strong defensive pressure. The Lakers have two separate “teams” who play different styles of the triangle. You will find the “bench squad” is a bit more up tempo.

    Once we have played game 1, feel free to com back. Let’s compare notes.

  83. 61) I like the way you think! Once again Luke can and will be a difference maker in the finals. Next to Phil, Kobe and DFish he has the most big game experience.

    Look for Luke to be the x-factor the intangible that the scouts can not prepare for.

    One difference I envision a game 1 Laker blowout and a 2-4 point win by the Celtics in game 2. Lamar will get 15pts and 16 rebounds and 4 assists because he will no longer be manhandled. Unless the Celtics decide to put Perkins on him at which time he will pull him away from the basket dribble drive and DUNK at the rim

    Then if the Celtics decide to send Rondo or Allen to double he will dish for open 3′s for Fish, Vlad, or Sasha.

    Caution: the Lakers must utilize the triangle to its fullest move the ball for quick passes, make the older Celtic’s play east to west on defense using their legs and energy. By the middle of the 4th quarter we will be able to exploit them by opening up the running game. Do NOT play into the Celtic’s hands by missing one pass shots, thereby giving them the opportunity to get easy baskets without having to play defense for 15-20 seconds!

  84. Thought I’d run this strategy by you guys and get some feedback.

    1. Rondo and Pierce are at their most effective when they are creating opportunities for others or creating high percentage shots for themselves. So, by denying them the ball or forcing them to pass, teammates not known for their ballhandling like Garnett, Allen, and Perkins become responsible for creating opportunities for others.

    2. Play like Utah* on the offensive end. Leave it to Kobe and Fisher to penetrate; anticipate the direction the help defender will come from; cut to the basket; hit open men.

    *Utah blew out Boston at the Fleet Center this year; they narrowly lost to Boston earlier in the season on the 2nd night of a back-to-back without the services of Kirilenko.

    –”Tex” Chibi

  85. Warren Wee Lim June 1, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    Kurt, is there an “ignore” button you could place somewhere? #60 is hurting my values of writing and journalism altogether – not to mention how I have heart attacks reading shotgun sentences that actually are paragraphs. LOL.

  86. I have the Lakers in 5 games. They will win game 1 lose game 2 and sweep the 3 at home. Thats what I think. They could also easily win in 4 games. I wouldn’t be surprised. I also think this will be the first of 5 straight championships.

  87. Haha. I see that many of us are responding to that short-sighted and severely biased post by Darren #60. I just can’t help but have a good laugh when I read stuff like that. I think it’s best if we scroll right through that post and treat it as a waste of cyberspace.

    I’m sure some people have mentioned this fact, but both the Lakers and Celtics have never TRAILED in these playoffs. Yes, Boston has been tied on numerous occasions, but they’ve never experienced a series deficit, and neither have the Lakers. So whoever loses Game 1 will be in a completely new territory in these playoffs.
    I wonder how that will matter at all in preparing for Game 2.

    Also, the player that scares me the most on the Celtics is Pierce because he is a true proven clutch player who can be the second-best closer in these playoffs. If the game is close coming down the stretch, I want our best defender – Kobe – on Pierce even if that means Sasha guarding KG. (I know that makes no sense, but I’m trying to deliver a point)

    Two reasons I am cautiously optimistic is that 1) we have Kobe and 2) we have Phil. I can almost safely say that Phil’s teams are extremely hard to beat and Phil rarely gets out-coached if his team’s talent is roughly equal to their opponent’s. Even our collapse in 2006 is not such a devastating experience if we consider that we had no right to be up 3-1 in the first place.

    Anyway, I can’t wait for the finals to begin. One terrible thing is the timing of the whole thing when my quarter is about to end and our final examinations start next week. Best case scenario : Lakers sweep and I get a 4.0

  88. The thing with the Celtics are that, as the playoffs go on and on, they become weaker and more exposed.

    Other than Detroit, who were suffering health-wise, every team in the east took them to seven, and the Cavs nearly beat them except that PP exploded. Then, although they took the series in six, against Detroit they even manage to lose at home!

    Lakers? Sure we struggled after Denver, but we closed the deal in Utah, then actually did one better and won game 4. Not to mention that we’ve clawed back from 20 and 17 point deficits, and have seen just about everything.

    Big deficits. Big leads evaporating. Close games that went to Overtime. Wire-to-wire leads. On-again, off-again performances by key players. By bench players. Prevailing despite opposing role players stepping up. Prevailing despite opposing key players having huge nights.

    The only thing the Celtics have, that we don’t have, is game 7 experience. And while this should worry me… it doesn’t because i think we’ll finish them in 6. Or even 5.

  89. Re: live blogs – I don’t know yet. I don’t usually know until the day before the games whether i’ll be watching the game with my gf or alone. Doing a live blog while watching with my gf seems a little rude to her. She’ll be out of school when the fimals start so the chances are slim that I’ll be doing amy more live blogs unless I decide to watch the game twice.

    What about the last one was better than the others? Any and all feedback is appreciated.

    As far asthe series goes, I am terribly twittedpated and can’t wait for this thing to get started. Win or lose it has been a spectacular season. Capping the season with a championship trophy would be absolutely perfect. Si se puede!

  90. Warren Wee Lim June 2, 2008 at 12:59 am

    Boston made strides very early and they sent a message to the whole league that Beantown is back. Celtic Green is here to “jinx” everyone else’s luck and that KG may soon realize his dream. With how their team was made up, it’s hard to imagine how they won’t win it all especially after going 66-16 even on the weaker conference.

    Oh and the leprechaun boy that Finlay always has hiding beneath the WWE canvas is actually Mr. McMahon’s illegitimate son.

    If you think the Celtics are all that and more, check out how they did in the playoffs. (in relation to how we did).

    Atlanta Hawks 35-47 in the regular season stretches the series to 7 games. Are you kidding me?

    Denver Nuggests 50-32 were swept and sent home crying – literally.

    Cleveland Cavaliers 45-37 in the regular season once more made a run for Boston’s money.

    LA faced a would-be championship caliber team Utah that mauls you with physicality and finish them off in 6 on their homefloor.

    Detroit Pistons 59-23 and all battered up. Chauncey had the bad groin, Rip had the silly elbow. It was more like Detroit losing this one rather than Boston winning it.

    San Antonio Spurs 56-26 and defending Champs. What did we do? Oh simply won it in 5 games and with fashion. Oh did I mention they were the defending Champs?

    Celtic Pride can soar all they like, but Lakers showtime is in town. Hate to say it, but gotta say it. Lakers in 5.

  91. nomuskles,
    Well I am sure I am not just talking for myself but I enjoy your live blogs, they are better than the other sites, for me, anyway. Maybe your just getting better with experience or something. The in-game one last was cool because I could follow it while watching the game and get extra enjoyment out of the whole experience. Thank You, very much and enjoy the Finals, you have earned it.

  92. One interesting way to evaluate strengths and weaknesses of teams is by budget. This is especially interesting with Boston because of their “budget breaking” big three. Garnett, Pierce, and Allen set the Leprechauns back approximately:

    $24 m +$16m+$16m= $56m

    They are already at the salary cap with three players.

    Perkins at $4.5m puts them over $60m. The other 11 players split $13m–all money spent grudgingly over the salary cap. In other words, they wildly overspend on 3 players–especially Garnett–so they underspend on salaries for the rest of the team.

    It shows in minutes played. Against Detroit in game 6, Pierce played 43 minutes, Garnett 35, Allen 35, and Perkins played 36. The only small money player that played heavy minutes was Rondo at 36. The only bench player with 20 minutes or more was Posey. Old and cheap Cassell and Brown added 12 minutes each.

    The big three for the Lakers (Bryant, Gasol, and Odom) earn almost $10m less than the Celtics–which means that the Lakers have almost $20m for 10 players–almost double the Celts.

    I believe that higher average pay, having most of their team playing together for years, and having starters who have already been to the NBA finals give the Lakers advantages in leadership and team unity.

    The Lakers can go deeper, and that gives them clear advantages with the point guards (where they have two regulars against one poorly paid near rookie), and with the bigs. Kendrick Perkins is a force inside, but for how long can he carry that 300 pounds around before he loses some of that quickness? How willing is he to come out on the pick and roll? How quickly can he rotate back? During the regular season, his playing time was in the 20′s–not 36–for good reasons.

    They keep him oncourt because, at 6′ 10″, he is their only really big inside guy besides Garnett. It will be interesting to see how well Perkins does against the Laker bigs in the 4th quarter.

  93. The Dude Abides June 2, 2008 at 5:01 am

    I think the Lakers are going to win this series, but it’s quite possible that the Celtics are going to play better in the Finals than they did in the previous three rounds. Reason? The pressure is off. Even if the Celtics do play better, I still don’t see this series going back to Boston for Games 6 and 7.

  94. I think Darren may be a little overzealous in his evaluation, but you knew that. Kobe and the Lakers are a fantastic team. With that said, I still think the Celtics will win, and I give my reasons on my blog today. Feel free to comment.

    http://www.celticsblog.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3263&Itemid=189

  95. Kwame a,

    Thanks.

    I thought it was interesting that ALL of the ESPN guys picked the Lakers. If nothing else, I thought a couple would pick the Celtics just to start debate. I think the logic is that the Lakers:
    –have been the best team in the NBA since the Gasol deal and have been the best team in post-season
    –have Phil Jackson as opposed to Doc Rivers
    –have Kobe Bryant to get to the line and or close the deal late in the game/shot clock when the offense breaks down and the pressure is on

    Weighed against this, I think, are the facts that the Celtics overall team D is better than the Lakers’ and the Celtics have homecourt.

    I will be interested to read what Hollinger says, in that prior to the playoffs, he called the Celtics “one of the greatest teams of all time” and picked Utah to win the west. He did say that Lakers/Utah was a virtual tossup, and the winner would be in the finals. Hollinger is wrong sometimes, of course, but in my exp he is right more often than he is wrong, and when he is right, there is usually a good reason for it.

    IMO, you have to assume that Pierce and Garnett wil get theirs, so the Lakers need to focus on containing Allen, Rondo and Perkins. I think Perkins is the toughest matchup of those three for the team and that is what I will be watching in Game 1.

  96. Addendum: Tim Legler became the first ESPN guy to pick the Celtics–1 out of 10.

  97. I have seen enough Lakers-Celtics finals to be concerned. This series just doesn’t run to form. It is a battle, like Utah, with a 4-leaf clover looking over your shoulder. Perhaps the best news is that most of these players are too young to have actually had to sit through one of these things. Jerry West not being able to attend game 6 in Boston (1985) is an example of just how physically and mentally exhausting these games become. There is just no way us ‘old farts’ can gleefully predict Lakers in 5, just no way.

    With 12 years in the can Kobe will not be denied this series – he just needs the others not to panic – Lamar your number has been called.

    The last two in Boston does give me shivers, but we have been through everything but a game 7 this year and I really have confidence our guys are now battle tested. This… this series, is where Phil earns his $30million. This is why Jerry Buss paid him all that money. This is for Bill Sharman, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, even more than Magic and Kareem. This makes you the undisputed greatest coach in NBA history – go Phil – go Lakers.

  98. Just saw a recent topic on celticsblog forum asking for a good lakers blog…someone with an account over there should go and advocate here to them so we get more people like who and maybe even jeff *gasp* over here! :D

  99. Renato Afonso June 2, 2008 at 8:31 am

    Yep, the pressure of the Finals will make some players look better than before and will make others look worse. However, I fear that our players will be the ones more prone to play at a different level… except for KG… It all comes down if he will rise to the occasion or not. I, personally, believe he won’t, but he can prove me wrong.

    Almost everything has been said about the emotion and the individual matchups and the history between the two teams… Soon, after the first game, it’s the time for X’s and O’s, and then we’ll see who can adapt and who can’t.

    Prediction: Lakers win game 7 by 4.

  100. 97. Don’t worry, by tomorrow afternoon this place will be crawling with Celtics fans. Trust me.

  101. Simmons chatting right now on ESPN.com and returing to his homer Celtic roots.

  102. the other Stephen June 2, 2008 at 10:53 am

    NO MORE WEENIE BRIGADE. PLEASE.

  103. I’m looking forward to hearing from some more Celtic fans. Time has dulled much of my hatred for Boston. I have even come to appreciate how great the mid-eighties Celtics teams were (exactly 60% as great as the Showtime Lakers, based on # of Finals won). I want to be fuming by the time Thursday night rolls around, and I think our East Coast counterparts can really help in that department.

  104. “Don’t worry, by tomorrow afternoon this place will be crawling with Celtics fans. Trust me.”

    Interesting. By “crawling” do you mean posting, or just lurking? I read celticsblog often but have never posted a comment there.

  105. Great article over at Truehoop on Kobe vs. Celtics. Abbot basically says the Celtics won the two games against the Lakers this season by making Kobe shoot outside and not get to the line. The result: two easy wins for the Leprechauns. Kobe shot like ch-rap.

    He mentions that the Spurs tried the same tactic and still lost. We’ll see what they employ on Thursday.

    http://myespn.go.com/blogs/truehoop/0-32-261/When-the-Celtics-Played-the-Lakers.html

  106. The peculiarity of the 2-3-2 format is that the road team has three of the first five games at home – it is therefore imperative for the road team to be up at least 3 to 2 after game 5. Has anyone ever won the last 2 on the road in this format? The Lakers did at home, against Detroit in 88, but what a struggle that was!

    Regarding how the Celtics would attack the Laker defense, this season has revealed that point guard penetration has caused the most trouble for the Lakers. Also, other than Garnett and Pierce, Rondo is their only player that can create off the dribble and cause the defense to collapse off the outside shooters. Thus, even though Rondo is not Iverson, Williams or Parker, I think Boston will look to get him in the open court and hope he can disrupt the defense. Otherwise, it is difficult to see how the Celtics will be able to score enough against the Lakers.

    Therefore, I think Fischer plays Rondo, not Kobe (fearless prediction). Of couse, Kobe straying off Ray Allen is not a pleasant thought, but letting Rondo loose would open things up for everybody else.

    On offense, if the Lakers move the ball and keep good spacing, their superior firepower (all 5 players can score on both first and second units) will tell eventually (and because the offense, in the Triangle, can run through Pau, Lamar or Kobe).

    Boston has looked close to collapse all playoffs long, but nobody has been able put real pressure on them. If the Lakers win one of the first two, they win the series. Otherwise, it will be very difficult.

  107. (105) Hi Aaron,

    I’d say NOT great (but confused) article by Abbott, who sums his article up by saying:

    “If the regular season is any guide, there’s a championship in the balance.”

    He never tells us why the regular season even should be a guide, but it’s not hard to see how confused he is about the dynamics–and I can go from memory. I still remember the disappointment. I’m sure that Lamar still remembers his “football” move against Ray Allen. I certainly don’t remember Kobe being “outsmarted” by Doc Rivers due to the advice of Thibideau.

    The first game was Bynum’s first big time test, not Kobe’s–and he flunked badly–worst game of the year for him. The main defensive problem was that Bynum didn’t switch on defense very well–and Kendrick got dunks. The offensive problem was that Andrew was not yet ready to play the triangle role of distributer and was not able to execute down low–otherwise Kobe would have had some assists–and a path to the basket.

    Kobe was still coming to the rescue rather than using his teammates. In the second game, the Lakers just weren’t ready–even though they should have been–and Kobe was still unsuccessfully trying to be Superman. He was not the victim of diabolical Thibideau.

    Abbott did notice that the early season Lakers were struggling even as the early season Celtics were rolling, emphasizing their veterans rather than building a team, like Popovich would have been doing. Doc was playing the veterans long minutes while Phil was experimenting and exploring.

    Now let’s switch to Laker late season and playoffs with Pau Gasol vs. the Celtic brain trust. Roles are reversed. The Lakers seldom lose–even against the elites. The Celts are struggling. Why? Because the Celts have not fully integrated their players into a team concept, and think one-on-one defense/offense.

    Abbott apparently doesn’t think too much of his own argument.

    He’s picking the Lakers to win the series!

  108. drrayeye, if Kurt can get away with calling it a “great piece” in the new post, then so can I ;) . Good points though.