Around the World (Wide Web): NBA Finals Eve

Phillip Barnett —  June 2, 2010

Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Lakers.


From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: Orlando thought they were ready — they were a confident team coming off two playoff sweeps, their offense was clicking. Then reality hit hard — Boston’s defense was overwhelming at the start of Game 1 for Orlando. Long arms and quick feet were everywhere. The Magic were coming off a long layoff, and there just is no way in practice to simulate what Boston does. The Celtics were up 7-1 in the blink of an eye. They led by 10 in the first quarter, as Orlando struggled to adjust. The lead got up to 15 and stayed in double digits for much of the second quarter. The Magic adjusted — or Boston got sloppy, or some combination thereof, chose your own narrative — and almost came back to win. But that was an uphill climb

From Rey Moralde, SLAM Online: And here we go again. It’s the Los Angeles Lakers versus the Boston Celtics for the 12th time in NBA Finals history. People are saying this match-up is played out. That we don’t need to see this. Maybe it’s because I’m from Southern California that I relish this series but, truth be told, a lot of us grew up on the Lakers versus Celtics duels in the ’80s. First off, if you’re truly a fan of the game, you have to love this. The history is there. The star power. The rivalry. And, most of all, appreciate on how these two teams are the best of the best. They didn’t get here by accident. I personally waited two years for this rematch. Sure, we saw the Los Angeles Lakers go up and down throughout the season. [Note: Rey is a fantastic writer and has done great work at The above is his first post at SLAM Online. He’s a huge Lakers fan and a good basketball mind, make sure you check him out at his new online home.]

From Kenny Masenda, Ed The Sports Fan: There are plenty of things that can be said about this recent version of the Boston Celtics. They have their young floor general, and, after Game Six, they have a reliable back-up point guard. Of course, they have Paul Pierce, the staple of the Celtics for the past 12 years, and also have the greatest shooter in my lifetime, in Ray Allen. However, there are two players on this team that have been near the top of my favorite players list for the past 15 years. They came in the league together, and with four more wins, will be able to win a championship together. Those two players are none other than Rasheed Wallace and Kevin Garnett.

From Sebastian Pruit, NBA Playbook: Throughout the Western Conference playoffs, the Lakers have played against three of the better point guards in the NBA.  They faced Russell Westbrook in the first round, Deron Williams in the second round, and Steve Nash in the Western Conference Finals.  People are going to point to Rajon Rondo and compare him to Russell Westbrook due to the similarities in the two players.  This is going to lead a lot of people to say that Kobe Bryant needs to cover Rajon Rondo, however I don’t think this is the answer for the following reasons:

From Saurav A. Das, Silver Screen and Roll: “Looking at the other team, these two teams might as well be staring into a mirror.” – That’s what C.A. said in his piece commencing coverage on the Lakers-Celtics series, and that’s the most apt description of this series I’ve heard. Both teams struggled during the Regular Season. Both teams had their doubters, with the so-called ‘experts’ favouring the flashier teams or the teams that better filled a stat-sheet, without as much as an acknowledgement of the concepts of ‘experience’, ‘clutch’ or ‘will’. But look who’s left standing. For the 12th time in history, these two clubs with legendary levels of history are facing off for all the marbles on the hardwood, in what has historically been a one-sided contest. Both teams are the most successful in NBA history, both teams have a legacy that is unparalleled in this sport by any team other than each other. Both teams are used to winning.

From Matt Moore, NBA Fanhouse: Kobe Bryant is a natural disaster. By that I mean he’s not something you can prevent. You can’t deter him, swing him off course, anticipate or limit. He’s going to happen to you. And when he does, it’s going to be unfortunate for you and your loved ones. You can only really hope to survive him. Sometimes that means making him into the sole offensive option and trying to sucker him into a high usage night where his shot’s not falling. Sometimes it means frustrating him by pressuring his teammates into bad decisions. But as far as stopping No. 24, there’s little to nothing you can do.

From Tommy Heinsohn, Hoopshype: Stats analyst John Hollinger has picked the Los Angeles Lakers to beat the Boston Celtics in the 2010 NBA Finals, which in itself is no big deal except that it has set off nervous tweets among L.A. fans everywhere. It’s an omen, they say. That very silly mindset sums up the bizarre relationship between the NBA’s two most successful teams. The Lakers have whipped up on a lot of opponents over the decades, but when it comes to the men in green, it’s an entirely different story.


From Kevin Ding, Orange County Register: The Boston Celtics have knocked off the only two teams with more victories this season than the Lakers: first Cleveland and then Orlando. The Lakers are very appreciative of Boston’s effort, not just because they want revenge for their 2008 NBA Finals loss to the Celtics now, but the Lakers got home-court advantage in the 2010 NBA Finals that they wouldn’t have had against the Cavaliers or Magic. After rising up against Cleveland and Orlando, will an older team such as Boston have enough left to throw at the Lakers now? A common rule in sports is that it’s very difficult to “get up” three consecutive times for anything or anyone and be your best, but that’s what the Celtics must do against the Lakers. The unity and productivity Boston has displayed since its ho-hum regular season has given abundant reason to believe it can.

From Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times: LeBron James was the king. The injured, hobbled Kobe Bryant was merely a member of his court. A little more than a month ago, the Cleveland Cavaliers had zipped through the regular season and topped off the Chicago Bulls in the first round while Bryant and the Lakers limped around against the young, feisty Oklahoma City Thunder. James received his second consecutive most-valuable-player trophy a week after Bryant scored 12 points in a playoff loss against the Thunder, his lowest postseason output in six years. He looked exactly like a guy who had logged more than 44,000 minutes in over 1,200 games.

From Broderick Turner, Los Angeles Times: This is why Ron Artest joined the Lakers last summer — to play for an NBA championship. It’s why the Lakers signed Artest to a five-year, $33.9-million contract — to put his physical defensive prowess up against small forwards such as Boston’s Paul Pierce. It’s all in place now, for Artest and the Lakers, as L.A. prepares to play host to Boston in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night at Staples Center. Or not.

From Gerry Callahan, The Boston Herald: When it comes to worshiping at the size-13 feet of one Larry Joe Bird, you can just go ahead and get in line behind this reporter. I’m not afraid to admit it: There were times when I looked at Bird the way Eric Massa looks at Scott Brown, or Barack Obama looks in a mirror. If you were around here and you were of a certain age, you know what it was like: Bird did more than draw crowds and win titles during his time in Boston. He changed the attitude. Each spring, as the NBA playoffs rolled around, he gave everyone in New England a sense that they were going into a street fight with the baddest mother in the school yard, as David Ortiz might say.


From Dave McMenamin, ESPN Los Angeles: Andrew Bynum spoke to reporters after practice Tuesday while wearing his complete Lakers home uniform for promo spots for the Finals. But his outlook a day after having 2½ fluid ounces drained from his right knee Monday, or “a couple syringes worth” as the Los Angeles starting center put it, wasn’t quite as bright as his crisp yellow jersey. “It feels about the same, to be honest,” Bynum said about his right knee that has a slight tear of the meniscus that will require surgery to repair it in the offseason. “The procedure was good. I think I just need to fight through it until we get the surgery done. This is the last hurrah; this is the last show, so I’m ready to give everything.”

From Arash Markazi, When Kobe Bryant was asked about playing the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals shortly after eliminating the Phoenix Suns, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “I didn’t give a damn who we played; didn’t matter to me.” It’s an answer he routinely gives when asked about opponents or situations he doesn’t want to admit he’s thought about. He’ll usually add an astronomical twist to drive home the point. When he opted out of his contract in 2004, he said, “I’ll play anywhere. I’ll play on Mars.” When he asked to be traded three years later, he said, “At this point, I’ll go play on Pluto.” And last month, when he was asked who he’d like to see in the Finals, he said, “I can play against E.T. I don’t care.”

From Mark J. Spears, Yahoo! Sports: The Los Angeles Lakers had eliminated the Phoenix Suns to secure their third consecutive trip to the NBA Finals, and Pau Gasol was on his way to the team bus. He knew where he was headed, but also where he had come from. Gasol is increasingly recognized as the game’s greatest power forward, but he hasn’t forgotten that more than a few people questioned two years ago whether he had the mettle to help Kobe Bryant win a championship.

Phillip Barnett


to Around the World (Wide Web): NBA Finals Eve

  1. That’s an interesting take by Pruiti, advocating Fish on Rondo. But I actually think Rondo is the better matchup for Kobe (instead of the normal reason, that Kobe is the best matchup for Rondo). I don’t want to see Kobe chasing Allen around screens. Moving that much can be draining, and the Celtics punish guards with their illegal screens. I don’t want Kobe hurt or fatigued at the end of games.

    And I have a hard time seeing Kobe locked into guarding Allen for the entire game. I think he’ll try to keep sight of Rondo to help on dribble drives, and if 100% of his attention isn’t on chasing Allen, Ray will get free.


  2. Snoopy, I agree. It would be to draining on Kobe to chase Allen through multiple (illegal) screens, where he is bumped, held, and pushed. I’d put Kobe on Allen for a short stretch if he got really hot and tell Kobe” don’t give him an inch”. Kobe is certainly capable of doing that, but I wouldn’t do it for a whole game.


  3. I actually think Allen is an x-factor for the Celtics team. He alone can get their O going, and when he misses a few in a row, they get real stagnant. Reddick did a relatively good job in the last series chasing him around, and basically making him the 4th option. I think that the Celts are going to try and attack the weaknesses in the Lakers D, which would be a speedy PG, and if Kobe is covering that, then a KG/Allen pick and pop. Don’t be surprised if Allen becomes option #2 offensively against us (Rondo #1 and Pierce 3), and the onus will be for us to chase him off the line and get a hand in his face.


  4. I’m generally feeling pretty ‘up’ as we approach the start of this thing, but. it has to give pause when you consider that the Ls have never defeated the Cs in a playoff series without Magic!

    (now there’s a loaded statement..)


  5. I know many of you have sworn off Bill Simmons until after the Finals, but this morning’s podcast with Adande is worth listening to:

    My jaw was on the floor listening to Simmons concede that Kobe has to be in his Top 10, maybe higher after these playoffs, and he could not bring himself to pick his Celtics to win the series (but then again, Adande’s picking the Celtics in 6).


  6. Well… its gonna come down to how much the Lakers trust Andrew Bynum. I have some insider info from a friend who reps Doc Rivers that Perkins will indeed be spending most of his time on Gasol because they feel the Lakers don’t take advantage of Bynum on smaller guys. The Celtics know like everyone else on earth that Gasol is not very effective against true Centers. So they are going to hope that the Lakers won’t attack Garnett with Andrew. We shall see what happens.


  7. Podcast on espn with Simmons and Adande as well for those who want to see Adande countering Simmons homerisms.


  8. Aaron,

    If Gasol is in the high post Perkins will be at a distinct disadvantage. While Perkins is listed at 6-10, I have heard a few sports writers point out that he is really closer to 6-9. Gasol, OTOH, is a true seven footer. When you consider Pau’s face up game, and his running hook shot Perkins would be out of his element out there. Of course, If Pau is under the rim that is another story. But that is the benefit of having Drew out there. Gasol gains the advantage on either Perkins or KG when he is moved out to the high post.

    Speaking of Pau, I expect to see the World Class Pau Gasol in this series. While he may not be the killer that Kobe is Pau is a proud competitor. He will relish the chance to bury the memories of 2008.


  9. Aaron – nice bit of info, very interesting if that pans out.

    T. Rogers – it would seem like Gasol has an advantage at the high post but I’ve rarely if ever seen him drive past Perkins. He usually takes the 15 footer or gets cut off and has to pass back out.


  10. I could see, Perkins being on Gasol and KG guarding Drew, especially with Drew being hobbled. However, when Pau is in the high post he should be able to drive past Perkins put up his running hook and if KG comes over to help Drew can roll to the basket for the pass and dunk.


  11. 5: Can’t say I heard the podcast(since I’m at work), so take that for what it is, but I imagine it’s just a “jinx” for him to pick the Lakers.

    The Lakers are good, real good. But not so good that no one in the world would bet against them good.



  12. I don’t see how Perkins on Gasol helps the Celtics at all. When Bynum is out and Gasol has to play the five all the time, I get it, but not with Bynum there. Furthermore, it is on defense that Gasol really got beat up by Perkins.

    I will be surprised to see this actually play out.


  13. Gatinho takes us on a trip down memory lane with the new post that’s up.


  14. Couldn’t sleep last night like a (rich) kid on christmas eve. I just gotta get this game 1 out of my system. I think this is the most important game 1 of all time! Seeing PJ’s 47-0 record when ahead 1-0 in a series makes the seconds feel like minutes until this game starts.

    If I here or read one more thing talking about 6ft 1in Rajon Rondo, stopping Kobe Bryant, (who kills short defenders with mid range pull ups) I swear I’m gonna make someones ugly green jersey look like an away bulls jersey. The only guys I will give respect to defending Kobe in this series will be Tony Allen and Paul Pierce, who probably won’t do anything Hill, Richardson, Sefilosha, and Durant haven’t already tried.

    Lastly, Abbot over at ESPN keenly stated how Lakers have such a problem with talented point guards and how Rondo may be a nightmare for us… Let’s see, didn’t we sweep the team with the best pg in the league (Deron Williams.) Didn’t we just take out a team with a future HOF point guard and very talented backup. Not to mention Westbrook, who is arguably the fastest point guard in the league. Very keen insight Abbot, that’s why these guys get the big bucks.


  15. To all the LeBron haters out there, enjoy:

    All Flail the King


  16. Really interesting bit of info there, Aaron. It’s a smart move by Doc Rivers, and it could throw our bigs off mentally if they’re not expecting it. Garnett’s such a good defensive player (with such a huge wingspan) that I don’t know how easily Drew could score on him with a bad knee, even if he weighs more.

    I agree with T. Rogers – Pau should attack Perkins from the high post rather than trying to bang down low. Pau’s jumpshot will be critical this series. When he’s taken out of his rhythm (either by a banger, or by a swarming defense like the Suns’ in a couple games), his jumpshot goes awry. He’ll have to hit that for our offense to flow, or it’ll all fall to our perimeter players.


  17. Podcast on espn with Simmons and Adande as well for those who want to see Adande countering Simmons homerisms.


    Interestingly, Adande picked the Celtics. Simmons’ preview is up, and he said he is not making a prediction.


  18. the logic that the celtics will be able to handle kobe because they handled three other MVP candidates can also be used to show that the lakers can handle rondo. it’s a wash, imo.

    i like fish on allen and kobe on rondo – kobe’s better on the ball than off, and fish gets more chances to pick up illegal screens on the c’s as he chases allen around.


  19. We think you missed the best series preview thus far and we don’t feel that way because we wrote it. We feel that way because we’ve read your site.

    The Crack Staff