A Rivalry That Spans Generations

Gatinho —  June 4, 2008

It’s the late 50’s and a pattern begins. It involves an emerging professional basketball league, and a team that is about to drag it out of the smoky arenas and into the consciousness of the American sports fan. It involves a team that will draw attention to the new league by its singular and, in retrospect, ridiculously one-sided dominance. 11 banners in 13 years. 8 championships in a row.

In our modern sports lexicon, we carelessly bandy about the word “Dynasty”. If 3 in a row or four in a decade is considered a dynasty, then those early Celtics were an uber-dynasty.

As the ’50’s turn into the ’60’s, and Bob Short moves his Minneapolis Lakers west, another piece of that pattern becomes painfully evident for the Los Angelinos who filled the seats of new owner Jack Kent Cooke’s Fabulous Forum.

As much it is hard to imagine a franchise dominating for an entire decade, it’s even harder to imagine that every year they would be vanquishing the same team.

“I still see green people,” Jerry West said in a recent interview on the Dan Patrick Show. “It definitely left me emotionally scarred.”

The Lakers and Celtics would meet in the finals from 1961 to 1969. They would push the Celtics to 7 games three times, but never get their hands on the trophy.

And the Celtics would do it with the same “Seven master plays” of Red Auerbach. With future Hall of Famers filling the Celtic’s and Laker’s roster, the short answer for this dominance is answered in two words: Bill Russell.

But what about Wilt? There’s a simple answer there as well. Wilt intimidated everyone and dominated all comers…all except Russell.

West and Elgin Baylor would take turns filling the bucket, scoring 60 plus, hitting half court shots to send games into overtime, but to no avail.

Frank Selvy is a name few Laker fans may recognize in 2008, but he was the goat of ’62. If he hits a wide open jumper in that game 7 in ’62 at the end of regulation in the Garden… but he doesn’t. And teammate “Hot Rod” Hundley consoles him in the locker room with,

“Don’t worry. You only cost us $30,000 dollars. (their playoff share). You b*stard.”

They would push Havlicek and crew to 7 games again in ’66 only to have Russell score 25 points and pull down 32 rebounds in the pivotal game.

Until ’69…

This would be the Laker’s year. They finally had the home court advantage. Jack Kent Cooke would have the USC band there to play “Happy Days Are Here Again” and balloons would drift down from the rafters of the Forum.

Russell would look up into those rafters and see those balloons and, as the mythology goes, say…

“Those balloons are going to stay up there a hell of a long time.”

And so they did.

But Russell would retire, and Baylor would as well. Leaving West and Chamberlain to lead the team to their first ‘chip in L.A. It would do little to satiate West after so many years of Garden-variety abuse.

Mr. Clutch’s sole ring would come against the Knicks, and he would be coached by a Celtic legend, Bill Sharman.

Bill Sharman, A Celtic player with 3 rings would be the architect of the first Los Angeles team to win it all, and use Auerbach’s blueprint by convincing Chamberlain to imitate Russell: focusing him on playing defense, rebounding, and throwing the outlet pass to start the break.

As the Lakers scuffled through the ‘rest of the70’s after West’s retirement, Auerbach would retool with his ability to flummox other owners on a regular basis for their best players, and utilize his uncanny knack for drafting players late who would turn into the key cogs of a team that would capture two more titles in the 70’s.

If you’re keeping score, that’s 13 to 1.

A Small Amount of Redemption

It’s 1979, and the rivalry that would save the the waning and increasingly NBA, is in its nascent stages.

Magic Johnson’s Michigan State team is man handling Larry Bird’s Sycamores.

Auerbach, in another one of his savvy thinking ahead of the curve moves, drafted Bird when he was a junior using a loophole.

“…a player who expressed interest in entering the draft early could return to college even after being selected.”

Auerbach’s unsurpassed shrewdness would surface again when he traded the first pick of the draft, Joe Berry Carrol, to the Golden State Warriors for the third pick, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parrish.

The rivalry is set when prospective owner Jerry Buss tells outgoing owner Jack Kent Cooke that if he picked Sidney Moncrief with the number one pick, the deal was off.

The Lakers would add their second banner in Magic’s rookie season.

The Bird led Celtics would garner their first title by defeating the Rockets in 1981.

As Bird, McHale, and Parrish would gel, Showtime would begin its extended run…

Head to Head Once Again

1984 would be the first time that the two teams would meet since the crushing loss of ’69. The Lakers would play the Celtics close but reminiscent of the 7 game losses of the ’60’s, a handful of plays down the stretch would decide the outcome. A too slow cross court pass by Worthy that Gerald Henderson stole in Game 2. A clothesline of Rambis by McHale after Bird referred to his teammates as “sissies”.

In defeat, missed free throws and turnovers by Magic would grab the spotlight. The sports writers pounced and questioned the moxie of Johnson. Sure he was great player, but he had crumbled down the stretch in the crucial moments.

“…take a last look at one thing the series settled: Earvin (Magic) Johnson, L.A.’s superstar guard, simply is not a clutch player…When the very biggest games get to be their very closest, is Magic’s unreliability chronic? Show us it ain’t so, Earvin.”

The Die Hard Garden Curse

In 1985, the two 60 plus clubs would clash again, the Celtics looking to be the first team to repeat since the Russell-Cousy teams. The Lakers would look to wash away the pain of ’84. The Celtics would have home court advantage and would throw the first punch.

It was a hay maker that has been ensconced in the psyche of Laker fans as the Memorial Day Massacre. Celtics 148-Lakers 114. Kareem would score 12 points and collect 3 rebounds. He would apologize to his teammates and promise that he would never play like that again. The loss was surprisingly just what the Lakers needed.

Kareem would redeem himself, averaging 30 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists, and two blocks in the four Laker wins.

“Abdul-Jabbar was old enough to invoke the most felicitous analogy. “It’s like the Dodgers beating the Yankees in 1955,” he said. “Celtic pride was in this building, but so were we.”

It is still the one and only time that an opposing team has claimed a championship on the Celtic’s home floor, and the smile that would adorn the mug of the normally stoic Captain would tell the whole story.

The demons and jinxes of 8 straight years of losses could not be squashed with one win, but it was a small amount of redemption for both the current and past Lakers.

But even that would be short-lived. The Lakers would be shocked the following year by the Houston Rocket’s Ralph Sampson’s desperation heave and the Celtics would again capture the title.

Junior Junior Sky Hook

1987 would be the final match up between the Bird-Magic incarnation of the rivalry. The Lakers would hold home court advantage and snatch the first two games in LA. But the defining moment of the series would come in Game 4.

The Celtics had let a 16 point lead slip away, and the Lakers found themselves with the ball and a chance to win. The play was called for Kareem, but McHale would switch out onto Magic away from the basket. And Chick would capture the moment as only he could…

“Magic down the middle, just like I thought. A hook shot of 12. It’s goood.”

The Laker struggles of the 90’s would lead to a return to prominence in 2000, as the Celtics would struggle, attempting to recover from the tragic death of Number One draft choice Len Bias less than 48 hours after he was picked.

Here We Are Again

Looking for redemption. A modern vindication the likes we haven’t seen since ’85.

For some it evokes memories of Sunday afternoons, and the rivalry that would galvanize our love for the Lakers and basketball.

For some it will remind them of the long ago pain of 8 straight losses.

This match up has now passed the Yankees and Dodgers for the most times professional franchises have faced each other in a final.

How much does it effect the current series?

Lakers 15
Celtics 17

Ask any Celtic fan, and they would tell you they were dying to return to relevance. After winning 16 rings in 30 years, they hadn’t been to the Finals in two decades. This mini-dynasty will solidify their prominence by having it span eras.

Ask any Laker fan, and they will tell the consistency and titles are just too much to argue against. The ghosts of those long ago losses fading into ancient history.

Because a good rivalry with a storied history adds excitement to a game.

Simply put, familiarity breeds contempt.

-Scott Thompson aka Gatinho

Roland Lazenby’s “The Show”, “My Life” by Earvin Magic Johnson, “24 Seconds to Shoot” by Leonrad Koppett, and The SI.com vault were used in the writing of this post.


Gatinho

Posts

to A Rivalry That Spans Generations

  1. Wow. Excellent post Gatinho. That was a great slice of Lakers-Celtics history that I’ve only experienced through stat sheets on basketball-reference.com. Very fun to read, well written, and it sure did get me pumped for tomorrow!

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  2. Great, great post.

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  3. whatever the outcome…I am so excited to watch this series. There certainly is a lot of history and ghosts involved in all of this. But…the modern story line of each team and how they got here…Ray, KG and Paul…all fantastic players…just missing the right pieces for so much of thier carrer…the promis land just out of reach. Kobe and the trade talk…slamming team mates…Kobe desire to win…and to get out of the Shaq shadow…the team finding themslves and playing far above expecations…the injury to Bynum…the trade for Gasol…winning the Fierce Western Conference…Kobe the MVP…not to mention D-Fish part of the story…

    The NBA couldnt have scripted this…all these pieces…and now we get to watch to great teams…not just storied franchises but GREAT teams…with great players on both sides of the scoring table…I can hardly contain myself…I woke up this morning saying to myself “is it Thursday yet?…oh man…only wednesday”

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  4. Just a great post. Made me think back to when I was a kid and how sweet 87′ was after the bitter loss in 84′. I had forgetten how Magic wasn’t “clutch” until after game 4 of 87′. Crazy to think that now.

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  5. red auerbach has 9 titles, not 10.

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  6. That is a fantastic job, Gatinho!

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  7. Thanks, I need to fire my editor.

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  8. BTW, I meant my internal editor, not Kurt…

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  9. espn played game six of the 87′ finals last night and I watch it from start to finish. I actually see a lot of similarities between that team and this years team. The trade mid season for Michael Thompson ( the Pau trade ) the fast passed offense, and the teams great bench. Now the outcome of this years finals as we all know is still very yet to be determined but watching the game last night gave me a greater respect for the past and the way that they controled the game. I’m only 26 so the 80’s for me are simply ‘games on dvd’s’ that I can remember vaguely watching with my dad on the couch not yet having the want or ability to analize the game.

    So here is to setting a new future and never forgeting our past.

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  10. the other Stephen June 4, 2008 at 10:33 am

    always a pleasure to read

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  11. TrueHoop linked to this website:
    http://arbitrarian.wordpress.com/2008/06/04/the-road-to-the-nba-finals/

    and you can see how often Garnett rises to the top of contributing to his team. This is probably why Jeff from CelticsBlog wasn’t worried about KG.

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  12. Great stuff, Gatinho. It’s been a long road with these two franchises…

    Oh, and I got chills when you quoted Chick….

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  13. #3 – The NBA couldn’t have scripted this?

    Interesting article about the Laker/Celtic trades at
    http://www.nbcsports/msnbc.com/id/24940292/ about the so-called “conspiracy theories.” But the writer leaves out one fact:

    The NBA TV contract with ABC/ESPN/TNT, for 4.6 BILLION dollars just expires after the 2007/08 season. Each team got over $100 million under the old deal. Would a small market team that is going nowhere trade an expensive contract to a high-profile franchise to increase that payout over the next few years? Did the league and the networks just get lucky?

    No accusations here, just facts.

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  14. That link didn’t work. It’s on the MSNBC sports page.

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  15. SO MUCH TO READ ONLINE! ACCOUNTING FINAL TOMORROW !! (summer school) ARGHHHHHHH!

    -sorry, needed to vent and feel comfortable here.

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  16. What’s funny is how the passage of time and time of life shape perception. When I think about the Magic-Kareem Lakers, they feel like the real Lakers playing the real Celtics in all of their glory. All of the hoopla and history was so front of mind back then (for me at least).

    This version of the Lakers has not YET grown into what I hope they will be since this is the first year Kobe is making his teammates better, Lamar has just now found his place, Gasol is new, Bynum is next year, etc., and the Celts, other than Pierce, have a similar newness albeit with a much more limited shelf life that it just feels different.

    Seriously looking forward to this series just commenting on the faux-rivalry aspects.

    Of course, I may completely change my tune as soon as the first nose gets bloodied (game 3?). 😉

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  17. Classic post, Gatinho. You truly evoked the spirit of this rivalry at its best. Well done.

    As for the David Stern conspiracy theories, like most conspiracy theories, they rely on a fundamental misreading of human nature. The level of coordination to not only create the set of circumstances leading to a Lakers/Celtics final, but to keep it secret, is unimaginable. Particularly when you are relying on public figures to forgo their reputations and endure the spurns of their community for…mmm, let’s say the rest of their lives. Kevin McHale may (or may not) have dealt with the Celtics out of his deep seated-love for the franchise, but that was his decision to make (and not the result of any outside influences). He has paid for his Celtic pride mightily in the court of public opinion, as he is probably the most hated man in Minnesota right now. What would be the incentive for him to take so much heat and put his team in the toilet? I don’t think a man who was punished so severely for paying Joe Smith under the table has THAT much loyalty to the NBA front office.

    The Gasol deal is a little bit more nuanced and complicated–which is exactly why it is highly unlikely the league had anything to do with it. Gasol was not going to lead the Grizzlies to the playoffs on his own. Period. They are a small market team who needed cap room and wanted to build for the future. To do this, they needed expiring contracts and draft picks. Yes, they probably could have gotten more for Gasol (especially since they were willing to deal in the W.C.). But, to hear the GM talk about it, nobody else was making them such hypothetical offers. And, if you’ll notice, the coaches and GM’s who have complained about the deal being too one-sided come from teams who didn’t offer Memphis anything at all. Now Memphis is one of the great laughing stocks of the league. When the Lakers win a title, they will look even dumber. Unless, of course, they use the Kwame Brown cap space to sign some good players… And use the L.A. draft picks to land decent role players… And Javaris becomes the kind of player that we all expect him to be. But, after all the heat they’ve taken for this, someone in that organization would have cracked by now if there were foul play involved. If George Bush can’t keep Scott Mclellan and Richard Clarke from writing tell all books, then it’s highly unlikely David Stern could prevent word from leaking out about such a plot. Especially since dozens (if not hundreds) of people would have to be involved to pull a conspiracy of this caliber off.

    BTW #12, my critique is not aimed at you, as you were simply sharing info.

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  18. Great post, amazing Gatinho.
    Altought, you made one mistake (sorry I can’t find the properly words and this may sound severe but it’s not my intention): Cousy played his last season in the Celtics in 1963.
    But, wonderful writing. I hope you can write a lot of this kind of notes in the off season…

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  19. Thanks Pato, correction made.

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  20. #12 …ok…we will never hear the end of the consipracy of the Gasol trade. But that is just one piece in the big picture.

    D-Fish and his daughters cancer..leaving millions for her…sings with Lakers…and is now in the Finals

    Ray Ray and his uber sweet shoting stroke…getting out of Seattle in the nick of time it seems…traded for a pick…finally in the Finals…

    KG (how come we dont hear the same consipracy trade stuff between McHale and Ainge…to the level we do about the Gasol deal)….but KG getting out and going to a real contender…

    Paul Pierce getting a real supporting cast…

    PJ Brown…one of the greatest guys in the NBA has his chance finally…

    Lamar….redeming him self…playing his heart out…after fighting thru injury last season…and the loss of his kid…

    Kobe…falls from grace with the rape stuff…then the collapse of the lakers to Detroit…then the Shaq debalce blamed on him…3 years of nothing really…shinning bright but not making a differnece…the redemption of 07/08 with the MVP…winning the western confernce and in the finals…when no one thought this team would have really made the playoffs.

    but maybe I am just crazy…maybe the NBA did give Fish daughter cancer and killed Lamars kid and pulled the strings to orchestrate the Allen/KG and Gasol trades…and sent that girl into Kobes room…and stabbed Paul all those years ago and forced him to stick it out in Boston.

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  21. #16, no problem, I appreciate the response.

    I can only say that, as an attorney, my professional experience has made me somewhat cynical and wary. Also, I resent being manipulated by the media.

    There are legitimate reasons for those trades – at best, though, all that proves is that the deals were a win-win proposition for all involved or affected. The real thing is, there need be no “plot” or “conspiracy” in the obvious or crude sense. The owners of NBA teams are very rich people involved in a multi-billion dollar business (what do international rights to NBA games go for to say, China or Europe? Or what about “League Pass”, etc.? Local team cable deals?). The relationship between the NBA and media is mutually profitable. A “meeting of the minds” can be reached in a very subtle, very deniable way. There would be no “smoking gun” memo or conversation.

    Of course I don’t know the truth about this one way or another. So while I am going enjoy and be very intense about this series, I’m going to keep sober about all the “it’s too good to be true” hoopla. After all, it might be.

    One last thing: If the Lakers win the title and, after the season, Jerry Buss decides to get rid of Odom or Bynum for “salary cap reasons,” I, for one, will be pissed off.

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  22. #19 – You forgot Turiaf and his open heart surgery!

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  23. BurningJoe you are alright with me! It’s not a conspiracy, just Stern’s everlasting dream come true. The guy can do no wrong. The ref scandal never materialized and at a point when everything could go wrong, things work out like this. Unbelievable, except that it happened. Bring on the Celtics!

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  24. laughing hard June 4, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    19 — I think people hate the Lakers a lot more than they hate the Celtics — hence the disparity in conspiracy talk.

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  25. Regarding the much talked about Gasol trade – Everyone should really take a look at Detroit’s trade for Rasheed Wallace that helped them win a championship just 4 months later.

    The similarities are to many to ignore.

    Detroit gives up a 2 backup guards (Hunter and Sura), a backup C (Rebraca), and 2 first round pics for a backup guard (James) and Sheed. Lakers sent 1 backup guard (Crittenton), 2 backup C’s (M. Gasol and Kwame’s expiring contract) and 2 first round pics for Gasol.

    How come nobody ever mentioned that trade to be a part of an NBA conspiracy? Is it because it didn’t involve the Lakers, Celtics, or Knicks???

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  26. #20 I agree that it is possible…and even a little fishy at times…I just dont see it possible thou…as #16 said

    #21…oh yeah the heart surgery…which truly is a great story in of it self…and the hustle he provides and the best dancer in the NBA!!!! (though…Kwame and the Cake Incident is truly a hilarious story).

    #22 and yes there is no doubt that this is a dream come true for the league overall…the two anchor teams…at it again…

    #23 and I agree that the Lakers are just hated more…like the Yankees and Manchester United…they have crushed more hearts…and are so easy to hate becasue of that alone.

    no mater what…its going to be great to watch!!!

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  27. #25 – Don’t forget Phil Jackson trying to surpass Red Auerbach’s record of 9 titles, – against the Celtics of all teams!

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  28. About the Gashol trade…I understood at the time that the Memphis owner was trying to sell the team and not having any luck.He thought getting rid of a big contract of a disgruntled player and making the price lower would help him sell it.

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  29. What’s funny is that the Ariza trade was a steal too. Brian Cook was useless in the Lakers system.

    I’m still in awe that the Lakers were able to change Smush, Cookie, Mo Evans, Kwame, and JCrit into Fish, Ariza and Pau.

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  30. What do you guys think are the pros and cons of matching Odom up with Perkins and Gasol on Garnett?

    The Lakers kind of went to a similar scheme in the Utah series with Odom-on-Okur and Gasol-on-Boozer. I’m going to look at that series and try to identify any benefits.

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  31. If Kevin McHale decided to trade KG to the Lakers (for LO and Bynum) instead of Boston, do you think the Lakers would be in the Finals this year?

    Mitch would never have traded for Pau. The lineup would’ve been

    C – Kwame/ Benga / Mihm
    PF – KG / Turiaf
    SF – VladRad / Ariza
    SG – Kobe/Sasha
    PG – Fish/Farmar

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  32. .
    .
    Phil Jackson has been asked numerous times already how much the first two games with Boston (both double-digit losses) matter in respect to the NBA Finals, but he saved his best answer, by far, for today’s media session:

    “I think we had Thanksgiving Thursday here and played on Friday. We were full of turkey. It showed in our game. We weren’t very competitive that night.”

    As for the second game, on Dec. 30, Jackson said, “That was much more reflective of the team. However we wore those short shorts that night and lost our attitude early in the game… I think the guys got a little tight.”

    🙂

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  33. #27 – an extra 15 to 20 million dollars in TV revenue a year would hurt the value of your asset either.

    Info on TV contracts at:
    http://www.insidehoops.com/nba-tv-contracts.shtml

    (I hope the link works).

    28. The Ray Allen deal was a real steal too.

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  34. Wouldn’t hurt, not would hurt.

    #27 – They would have been pretty tough but not a potential dynasty as now.

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  35. Oops, number 30, not 27. LOL, too much conspiracy for one afternoon!

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  36. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/basketball/2008-06-04-128694582_x.htm

    according to this report, the celtics will not double-team kobe.

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  37. Win or lose, who could have asked for a better matchup. We havent had a good finals in a while. Last years finals, admitedly was terrible. David Stern is probably extremely relieved that we arent going to have another boring finals like last years.

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  38. The not double-teaming Kobe strategy is based on the “conventional wisdom” that Kobe is better when he facilitates and doesn’t look to rack up big numbers. However, his facilitating works because he is a threat to go for 50 or 60 on any given night. Therefore, at least in my view, Kobe needs to be very aggressive and every now and then throw up some big numbers to show he CAN win a game almost “by himself.”

    But, what does not double-teaming him mean? Whatever they call it, he will attract a gang of Celtics every time he makes an aggressive move.

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  39. Inwit,
    The Celtics probably are going to double team Kobe, and they are probably going to do it with Ray and Rondo. Phil needs to pick up on this and tell Derek to flash the key and pop out for the jumper. They probably will stop doubling him because you know that somebody is going to get open. The Lakers are too good of a team to not take advantage of that.

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  40. Renato Afonso June 4, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    The real conspiracy in the NBA is allowing KG to travel 50% of the time he goes one-on-one. Honestly, check it out… See some tapes… He just travels… Why noone complains about this I don’t know…

    Gatinho, awesome post. Honestly, very well done.

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  41. Correct me if I’m wrong, but i think that Ronnie is the only one on the Lakers (besides bynum) who can stop KG effectively on both ends. No disrespect to Vlad, but against the Celtics, he will be useless. He is a forward, and he does not have the size, strength, or defensive ability to stop KG or Paul Pierce. Because of that, I think that Ronnie should start in place of Vlad as a power forward on KG, and put Lamar at small forward against Paul Pierce.

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  42. #38 – Yeah, of course they will double him. I think it is disinformation so that the Lakers will be unsure exactly WHAT doubleteam sceme they will use.

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  43. 41 – Thats why they need to figure it out, and take it apart. As much as it is up to Phil to recognise it, it is also up to the players to read it and figure out how to stop it.

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  44. Any comments on switching Ronnie and Vlad for the starting five?

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  45. #37–In the first loss to the Spurs, Kobe’s supporting cast shot poorly from the field. As a consequence, Kobe had to dominate the ball. Lacking confidence and touches, the supporting cast never were able to get into a good rhythm and contribute. I believe that’s the kind of scenario Boston wants to duplicate all series long, based on the assumption that their defenders will lock up their assignments.

    I expect Pierce and Rondo to body up Radmanovic and Fisher and take them out of their comfort zones. So, it will be up to those Lakers to create space through movement, penetration, and drawing fouls.

    I expect Garnett to guard Pau one-on-one. I don’t anticipate Pau scoring heaps on KG. But the Lakers will need his decision-making and passing to be sharp. It will fall to Odom to use his speed and length and take advantage of Perkins.

    I expect the Celtics to do a lot of switching. This isn’t much of a gamble on the perimeter, considering that Radmanovic and Fisher aren’t going to consistently get by Pierce, Rondo, or Allen.

    Allen is going to give Kobe a lot of space to better defend against penetration and entice him to shoot jumpshots.

    It seems like a pretty sound strategy. Do any of you see any flaws in it? How do the Lakers counter it?

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  46. #43–Turiaf doesn’t optimize Laker spacing; Radmanovic does. As it stands, it will be difficult enough scoring against the Celtics. And with Turiaf out there, the Celtics can really pack the paint with defenders.

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  47. Turiaf, with Odom and Gasol would create a real log jam within 15 feet of the hoop. Vlad has played decent defense in the playoffs (when he doesn’t sag off 3 point shooters).

    Besides, they need Turiaf’s energy off the bench.

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  48. 44-45 The thing is though, that I just think they need another big man down on D. Although Vlad has been playing great D, he does not have what it takes 2 guard KG

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  49. I hear you Ben, but they also need Turiaf on Perkins, Big Baby, and Powe. He has to avoid foul trouble.

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  50. Maybe bring in Ariza or Mihm at PF

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  51. the other Stephen June 4, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    oh, but he sags off of em.

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  52. Ariza is somewhat of an all around. He might step up.

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  53. I think that Luke is due for a good postseason series. His game is extremely underrated and tends to disappear at times.

    But, if he is on, the Lakers get exponentially more difficult to guard. He finds the open man very well, and passing is the key to dissecting the zone-type of D that Boston excels at. Much as Gasol’s passing out from the top of the key makes opposing defenders scramble, Luke can force a zone defense to work really hard and expend lot of energy chasing the ball around the court.

    I often see KG seeming tired late in the game, and let us not forget they (a) have played more games and (b)are on average older than us.

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  54. The Dude Abides June 4, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    Ben, the Lakers are a “big dog.” Starting Ronny over Vlad, before the series even starts, would be an Avery Johnson move. It would signal to the Celtics that Phil doesn’t think the Lakers can beat them, just as Avery signaled to Golden State before last year’s first round that he didn’t believe his 67-15 team could defeat a 42-40 team using his normal starting lineup.

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  55. I gotta say, after a wonderful post here that highlights the history and great tradition of this upcoming series, I’m stunned by some of the nonsense I’m seeing elsewhere. As a “special” to Yahoo Sports, this Peter May idiot from the Boston Globe (I believe) goes off on a rant of Mark Cuban-like proportion about the “disrespected” Celtic team. Myopic rantings seem to be coming more and more from the pages of popular “real” media. I’ve heard it’s them trying to complete with the blogs, but I wish they’d read this blog here for their examples. Otherwise, I think they’re getting bad information and a skewed perceptive. Read his nonsensical rant here:


    Boston B.S.

    What an idiot this guy is. Derek “The Flopper” Fisher can’t stay in front of Rondo? The Celtics D has been “inconsistent mainly due to venue? The Bobcats played the Celtics better this year than the Lakers did? I can’t quote all of his b.s. and not spend an hour on it.

    This guy is clueless. How about some mutual respect? I’m sick of the one-sided rants from pseudo writers that don’t value gamesmanship or understand circumstance. It’s going to be a great series and I just hope this big dumb empty headed guy isn’t even a little bit right. I haven’t noticed idiocy of this nature coming out of L.A., at least not at first glance. I think it’s Boston fear. They feel it, it’s real. Go Lakers!

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  56. TrueHoop’s Stat Geek Smackdown:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/playoffs2008/news/story?page=Smackdown08

    Hollinger, Ilardi and Kubatko all picked Lakers in 6.

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  57. Great post Gatinho, well done, gets me ready for the Finals.

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  58. Ben, I don’t think we should tinker too much with the lineup that has gotten the team this far. RadMan’s been playing well and has started games strong for us recently. Also, I think chibi’s point about spacing is right on. Our spacing is what makes the team so difficult to cover. When we have RadMan on the weak side wing, his man has help responsibilities when the ball penetrates the paint, which leads to open jumpers for Vlad. We can still have some of that spacing with Odom, but not with the same consistency and range on the jumpshot. I really think that we should play our game, and hopefully the Celtics have to adjust to what we are doing and not the other way around. I mean look at what Dallas did in last years playoffs against the Warriors…they changed their lineup before the first game and never got it together in that series, especially mentally. They lacked the confidence to win and some of that was bred from the coaches distrust of his guys (who had gotten it done up to that point) do get the job done.

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  59. It’s going to be a good series. I think both these teams are solid from positions 1 thru 5. Rondo and Perkins deserve respect as well. Rondo is quick, fast, has handles, has hops, and can dish. I would not underestimate him. Perk is physical, and can punish you as well. He taught Bynum some lessons. Both teams play team-ball, solid D, and there is no reason to question which Boston team is going to come out….no question at all. It is THE Finals… It will probably take a game or two for both of these teams to figure the other one out…and that’s when it could get interesting. Go Lakes!

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  60. There are a few facts about the Leprechauns that they try their best to disguise:

    1. They are not really that “long.”

    2. Allen and Pierce have overlapping skills.

    It leads them toward having an “offensive team” and a “defensive team.”

    The Leprechaun defensive team relies on Kendrick Perkins to substitute his bulk for the lengths and quickness of the “bigs” from other teams. Like a young mini-Shaq, Kendrick is still quick enough to come forward to defend the pick and roll AND still get back–for awhile. Kendrick only played about half a game (26 minutes) during the regular season. An extreme form of the “defensive” team would add Posey at small forward and put Allen on the bench, keeping Kendrick in the game..

    The Leprechaun “offensive” team substitutes Posey for Perkins, with Garnett playing center. Although the Celtics can “show” other players from the bench to provide rest, almost all of it is done with 6 players, keying off of Kevin Garnett.

    The Lakers may be the first team that can seamlessly challenge Boston by either switching with them or forcing them to adjust. The key players for the Lakers will be Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom vs. Kendrick and Kevin. It appears that Boston will defend Gasol with Perkins and Odom with Garnett, but the Lakers will defend in the reverse manner.

    It will put Doc in a quandry. If he goes with Perkins and Garnett for most of the game, Kendrick may get pooped by the fourth quarter–though that’s what Boston did against Detroit.

    If Boston substitutes in Posey for Perkins, the Lakers may try to exploit their size advantage. If Boston substitutes in Posey for Allen, they may have a scoring problem. The Lakers are likely to exacerbate the situation with further substitutes–including the bench mob.

    In terms of this series, Pau Gasol, not Lamar, becomes the X factor this series in terms of his ability to Limit Kevin Garnett on offense and force him to switch (to Gasol) on defense–leaving Kobe to do his thing.

    Sorry. Just musing.

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  61. I listened to Jamaal Smooth-as-Silk Wilkes, The 20 Foot Layup, on 570 radio tonight… what a class act. He touched on rivalries, and how, yes, it was personal back then. On top of the Celtic/Laker rivalry, there was the Magic/Bird one. The 80s were something else because while the Showtime Lakers had already won titles, they still couldn’t get past the C’s in ’84. The mystique of it all, the physicality, the Rambis clothesline, the Boston egos were too much to bear. You HATED….HATED… those guys. They were bullies, they were physical, they were brash, they let you know it, and they were ugly. And you hated their fans who would throw beer on the players, yell insults, trigger fire alarms, etc… Two free throws on that Rambis foul. Today, you get T’d up for TAUNTING(??) To me, that’s a little too “metro”…. but whatever…let ’em play, headgames and all.

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  62. I’m about to take a really tough management final with all these forecasting equations and job allocation formulas and I’m here spending time on the forum just waiting for the game to start.

    I think I’ve got my priorities straight.

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  63. hertagnism, you are not alone by any means…

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  64. It was the USC band not the UCLA band.

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  65. Renato Afonso June 5, 2008 at 7:43 am

    Yep, and you are lucky… Today’s game will be played at 2:15AM, in my country, and I’m watching… I might be fired for sleeping while my screen had FB&G, ESPN and Yahoo open at the same time. But my priorities are straight as well…

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  66. FOUR WINS FROM THE TITLE!!!!

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  67. Great post Gatinho. I really think work is an afterthought today (as opposed to every other day, ahem). It’s more of an excruciatingly slow countdown to tip-off. Really, as a kid who got into basketball as a 10 year-old in ’85 I had never hated anything more than those Celtic teams. I didn’t learn the more cellular, almost unconscious dislike for the baseball Giants until perhaps a bit later. But hating Larry, Ainge, those fans….man, that was a lesson in sports which has stayed with me till this day. However, this is another Celtics team. It’s another era. Those guys are too likable and the game allowed for the level of animosity which could be sustained at a higher level back in the ’80s. If they’d let these guys play a bit more, perhaps they’d be easier to hate. Anyway……of course I realized that I actually respected the hell out of them…and time only deepens the respect. Those were two very well-matched teams with a higher proportion of Hall of Famers within two teams than in any other two teams certainly since. That and they were well-prepared and obviously lived to play each other. I remember the build-up even before the regular season games at the Gah-den. I guess it was ’87, or perhaps ’86 the regular season game, one just knew it was a preview of the Finals. Anyway, it’s great for the Celts to match up against the Lakers, but it’s not, at least until these guys have played three times in the Final, a serious rivalry…and unless we get in a time machine, it’s not comparable to great rivalry of the ’80s.

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  68. Come on, Warren, make your post!

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  69. it’s already nervous-time at the Forum……

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  70. I just stopped over from Jeff’s Celtics Blog. Excellently written piece. Thank you.

    All true Boston fans have respect for the Lakers, same as we expect you’ve got respect for us. Good luck (just not as much good luck as we get 🙂 )

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  71. Kristen Gray (aka. Robo) June 10, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Nice Job Scotty T. And I gotta say, I got chills when you quoted Chick too. Tonight’s the night…

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