Around the World (Wide Web): It’s a Brand New Series

Phillip Barnett —  June 8, 2010

Jun. 06, 2010 - Los Angeles, United States - epa02190052 Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant reacts as his team trails during the second half against the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, USA, 06 June 2010. Boston won 103-94 to even the best of seven series.

THE BLOGS

From Kevin Arnovitz, TrueHoop: In Game 1, Ray Allen scored only 12 points in 27 minutes after battling foul trouble in the Celtics’ sluggish loss. With two days off before Game 2, Allen had to carry his ineffectual performance around with him. He tried to play golf, but said he couldn’t focus because his head was spinning with recursive thoughts like figuring out how to guard Kobe Bryant, or capitalizing on opportunities the Celtics had missed in the series opener. “Throughout the day it would just flash in my head,” Allen said. “Whatever I’m doing I might be spaced out. Somebody might be asking me a question and I’m not right there at that moment.”

From Henry Abbott, TrueHoop: If you haven’t yet seen Kevin Arnovitz’s breakdown of how Ray Allen got open in Game 2, stop reading this and go watch that. And it brings up an interesting little playoff point: Winning a series is often about making opponents think, which often means coaching adjustments. The more I watch that, the clearer it is that Derek Fisher really can’t guard Ray Allen. Not if the Celtic big men are going to get away with all those moving picks away from the ball. Kobe Bryant can do a good job of it, though. And as Arnovitz demonstrates, the Lakers can stay closer to Allen on the break, and help a lot more as he’s coming off screens.

From Saurav A. Das, Silver Screen and Roll: Hmm, nice of the Boston Celtics to show up to the party, hey? Unfortunately, simultaneously the Lakers decided to go on break at various extended periods throughout this Game Two (except for Lamar Odom, who’s currently in Vanuatu with his wife Khloe Kardashian, and has been all Finals, but more on that later), and thus the basketball world still hasn’t seen that glorious display of perfectly matched poetry on the hardwood that this series has the potential to provide. The result of the Celtics’ showing up like the hardworking intern while the Lakers’ showing up lazy and often taking smoke breaks like the veteran manager who can

From Kenny Masenda, Ed The Sports Fan: It is with great sadness, anger, disappointment, frustration, and dismay that I write today’s post. What I am about to say is something that has been said by plenty in the past year, as well by Pau Gasol recently, who, even though he told the truth, should still shut the *bleep* up, because he’s a second-fiddle for the other team. The ugly truth is one of my childhood heroes, The Great Kevin Garnett, is dying a slow basketball death right before our very eyes, and there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it.

From Kelly Dwyer, Ball Don’t Lie: It was almost comical, this stereotype gone mad. One of the worst shooting exhibitions I’ve seen, at this level, in a long time. Tossing out the “in a long time” qualifier, by the way, because I can’t think of anything worse than it right now, and I’m hoping I’m wrong. I’m hoping there was something worse than this. There probably wasn’t. Ron Artest shot 1-for-10 in Game 2, scoring six points, turning the ball over three times and fouling out in the process. It wasn’t just that he shot miserably in a game that should have been a notch in his belt (holding Paul Pierce on the other end to 2-of-11 shooting), but it was the way he put up those 10 shots. Terrible looks, mostly uncalled-for, seriously team-crippling.

From Chris Tomasson, NBA Fanhouse: As the saga continues whether Lakers coach Phil Jackson will return next season, it’s not out of the question Jackson on Sunday sat on the bench at the Staples Center for the final time. Not that Jackson specifically noted that to his team following the Game 2 103-94 Finals loss to the Boston Celtics, but the master of motivation did touch on something that pulled no punches. “P.J. came out and told us it might be the last time we play (in Los Angeles this season),” Lakers center Andrew Bynum said of the defeat that left the series tied 1-1 with the next three games in Boston. “I think that woke everybody up.”

From Sekou Smith, Hang Time Blog: Have the purple and gold crocodile tears stopped yet?  Has anyone found the shamrock green pacifier? Two games into the NBA Finals and you can tell the latest incarnation of Lakers vs. Celtics must already be a doozie, because the coast-to-coast wailing from both sides is making for the most unpleasant loud noise heard since the Concorde was grounded and Rosie O’Donnell went off the air. In Game 1 it was the Celtics who were hosed.  Poor Ray Allen was shackled to the bench with foul trouble almost before the national anthem was finished and, of course, that meant Boston never had a chance. Never mind that the Celtics shot 36 free throws in the game to the 31 for the Lakers.

THE PAPERS

From Kevin Ding, OC Register: The Lakers were in Indianapolis in late January, and Kobe Bryant had Peyton Manning on his brain and football in his dreams. Quite calmly, Bryant declared that he could’ve been a football star. Had he begun playing football at age 5 the way he started basketball, Bryant said, he could’ve made it big playing that sport instead. Asked if he would’ve been a wide receiver, Bryant agreed that his build would’ve made that the logical position for him. (Just imagine Kobe’s wrath directed at the quarterbacks not getting him the ball.) Firmly believing he has NFL potential just goes further to show Bryant’s confidence that he can do anything.

From Mark Heisler, Los Angeles Times: A funny thing — tweet! — happened — tweet! — on the way — tweet! — to the NBA title. Not that “funny” is the word Ray Allen would have chosen after fouling out of Game 1 in 27 minutes on some ticky-tack fouls he hadn’t seen since UConn. Nor was Kobe Bryant any happier after having to leave at a key moment of Game 2, after a ticky-tack call he might not have gotten at Lower Merion.

THE MAJORS

From Arash Markazi, ESPN Los Angeles: “3 Mo.” After Game 1, the phrase written on the dry erase board in the Los Angeles Lakers’ locker room served as a source of motivation. After Game 2, it remained on the board, unchanged, serving as a reminder that the Lakers remain three wins away from winning the NBA championship, and a reminder that they must now to travel to Boston for the next three games. If the Lakers are to win “3 Mo,” they must win at least one game in Boston, something they were unable to do two years ago, when the Celtics not only won all their Finals home games but also came back from a 24-point deficit in the third quarter to steal one in Los Angeles.

From Art Garcia, NBA.com: The Celtics left Los Angeles with the split every playoff team hopes for on the road. With the home-court edge now in Boston’s corner, the Lakers have to be feeling the pressure as they prepare for the trek east. Well, not necessarily. As disappointing as losing Sunday night was for the defending champs, especially after winning Game 1 in blowout fashion, history suggests the Lakers still own the upper hand. Since the NBA adopted the 2-3-2 format for The Finals in 1985, splits have treated the home team well. On 10 occasions over the last 25 years we’ve seen the series tied 1-1, with the last being the Pistons-Lakers in 2004. The team that began with the home-court has gone on to win seven. The only three teams to claim the championship after splitting on the road are the Lakers (1985), Bulls (1998) and Pistons (2004).

From Jack McCallum, Sports Illustrated: To an extent, covering the NBA in the 1980s meant covering the Lakers and the Celtics. For the better part of that decade, I could set a preseason agenda of travel to L.A. and Boston — with some side trips to Chicago (a guy named Jordan was playing there) and Detroit (the Bad Boys first turned baaa-d in the mid-’80s) — and be pretty much on the money. And it came, conveniently, full circle in my final year as a full-time NBA beat writer when it was Boston-L.A. in the 2008 Finals. As you’ve been reading (perhaps ad nauseum) here and other places, there was nothing like Lakers-Celtics. It goes without saying that their rivalry made it special, but the personalities of the players, coaches, execs and even fans made them newsworthy on their own.

From Todd Behrendt, Fox Sports: Even when the going is good during the postseason, Kobe Bryant isn’t exactly chatty when he steps to the postgame podium. And when the going gets tough, well, Bryant’s interviews take on the tenor of a wisdom tooth extraction. After the Lakers’ Game 1 win, Bryant joked with reporters about his occasionally surly demeanor during his playoff press conferences. After the Celtics evened the series with a 103-94 win in Game 2, Bryant’s surliness was no laughing matter.

Phillip Barnett

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21 responses to Around the World (Wide Web): It’s a Brand New Series

  1. Darius,

    I don’t understan Phil, Lakers made an adjustment to Allen after first half, it is too late. In the 4th quarter, Phil did not call time out to help players, Doc Rivers ran out to the floor, he was a little bit crazy but he wants to win now, we don’t need a coach to sit in the press room and tell us, yeah, we did not to do this do that,…, in the 4th quarter. I feel sorry for Dr.Buss, somebody still don’t appreciate 12 million dollars a year.

  2. The Referees Tonight via Kevin Ding’s Twitter:

    http://twitter.com/KevinDing/status/15704531763

    Danny Crawford, Bill Kennedy, and the dreaded Bennett Salvatore

  3. It’s buzzing in Boston, and frankly, making me a bit nervous as a Laker fan.

    The Celtics are going to be doubling and swarming Gasol and Bynum.

    Someone from LA not named Kobe has to step up from the perimeter — both knocking down shots and getting back in transition. The Farmar/WoW monster and/or Sasha need to play well.

    Boston bench generally plays well at home.

    And Lamar, please — please — stay out of foul trouble and bring it tonight. His play is going to be decisive tonight.

    Needless to say, this is a huge game for this series.

    Pencil Kobe in for 35, but it’s incumbent that another guard step up.

    Boston is going to be energized by the crowd and will look to push. We need to match that intensity from the open.

  4. #1. bluesky,
    Where were your complaints about Phil not earning his money when the Lakers won game 1? This is what frustrates me about fan’s take on Jackson. He’s a tremendous coach, but only when he wins? He’s the same guy all the time! He doesn’t change. His methods, over the long haul, are proven to work. This guy is worth every penny, imo. Three straight Finals apprearances, 4 championships in 6 Finals visits (and in the hunt for a 5th) and yet it’s still “he doesn’t call time outs” “I don’t like his substitutions”. Okay, I get it. He’s unconventional and when he loses it seems as if it’s his fault. But in the end, his style works. It’s not the easiest for fans to understand, but we only see the stuff in the game and even then we only get a glimpse of what’s going on. We’re not in the huddles. We don’t know what he’s saying to the players. We don’t know what was discussed in practice or what the players should know. We don’t know. This isn’t to say that criticizing Phil is out of bounds (it’s not), but it is to say that it’s just too convenient to point at the things he always does and then say “he’s not worth 12 million” – when it works so often. It’s a cop out argument.

  5. I actually like (relatively, considering the NBA need a major overhaul in refereeing) the 3 guys going tonight.

    I think they’re all unfazed by the home crowd bias.

    (Note: Anyone beats Joey Crawford — I swear he thinks he’s part of the attraction. Even his traveling calls are dramatic and slow, as if to say, “No one caught this but me, the keen-eyed genius.”)

  6. Adam,
    Good luck on your wishes. They are just that.

  7. Funky Chicken June 8, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Darius, your reply to bluesky is simplistic. Criticism is more likely to follow a loss rather than a victory, which is why PJ was not criticized after game 1 (although some of us did criticize him, but got the same kind of response from you). It is also why KG was savaged in the media for his game 1 performance, but not so much after game 2 (when he didn’t improve at all, but his team won).

    Moreover, you seem to take the opposite approach, by suggesting that when the Lakers win it is because Jackson is a great coach, but when they lose it is poor execution by players. Seems to me that the Lakers have the most talented players 1 through 6 in the league, and that more than anything else explains their success (Jackson wasn’t so successful with this group before Pau arrived).

    I’m not saying he isn’t a great coach. He has had a ridiculous amount of success. However, one thing is very clear to anybody who watches the Lakers play: this team, as most Jackson teams with the Lakers, simply does not play with consistent passion. Why isn’t that blamed on the coach? Isn’t the coach supposed to have his team ready to play?

    No doubt that there is a benefit to not freaking out Stan Van Gundy style, but perhaps Phil’s “zen” approach is also what causes this team to play with such a lack of urgency.

    You may look to last year as evidence of Phil’s greatness because it produced a title, but within that success you saw plenty of evidence of his shortcomings. The Lakers nearly lost to an absurdly overmatched Rockets team that just played harder, then blew two road games against Denver. In both series, when their backs were against the wall, they responded with appropriate effort and won easily–and that’s the point. PJ has the talent to win games easily. So how come they don’t do that consistently….?

  8. @4

    Hey Darius,

    Great answer and I absolutely agree that Phil gets a pass pretty much all the time. However, now I will turn around and break my own rule and say I’m still wondering how he left Shannon Brown in to make the same mistake over and over on Ray Allen.

    Even so, the Lakers had the lead with 5 minutes to go, but in the regular season he would’ve yanked Shannon so fast his shoes would still be on the court. It was really painful for even me to be watching Shannon run away from Allen in real time, I have to believe Phil saw it too. Just perplexing.

  9. #7. Now we’re in a debate about Phil? Man. The game needs to start already. The problem I think most fans have with Phil is that the team doesn’t win the way that *they’d* like for the team to win. Fans want every game to be won easily. Fans see the enormous talent and think that if this team just played hard all the time they’d win every game. Sorry, but no team wins every game. But, I’m pretty sure this team wins a lot. And it’s still not good enough for some because it’s not in the manner that they’d like. Spoiled fans, we Lakers supporters are. I’m over the Phil Jackson talk. The man is considered the best for a reason – he wins more than anyone else. That’s enough for me – especially when we’re at the stage that we are now and all but two teams are watching on TV. Simplistic or not, it’s where I’m at. Unlike some fans, I remember the days when the Lakers didn’t have Phil or Riles. I know what a difference great coaching makes. Folks will be sorry when he’s gone. Just like folks will be sorry when Kobe’s gone. These guys are legends and too often we take it for granted because they don’t do things the way that we’d want them too or because the result isn’t always a success. That’s the point of being a fan – you don’t always win, but you want to have the pieces in place that give you the best chance. If folks think that it would be better if Phil wasn’t the guy, there’s a rude awakening coming one day soon.

  10. Gotta be ready for a Pierce breakout tonight. When Allen’s shots not falling, the Celtics O is going to become Pierce Centric and Ron is going to have to do his best to avoid the Pierce Offensive Foul (I mean sideways jump pump fake), and play smart, steady D.
    Will be interested to see the contributions from Bynum today on less rest, and will be real interested to see the Lakers demeanor in the tip off. They can’t play scared. In fact I think they need to play pissed, and on a rampage, and dive at people for loose balls, and knock people down on fast breaks.
    It actually might be a good thing is KG doesn’t get into foul trouble in the 1st Q tonight – which i very much doubt he will. He has been much better in the 4th Q the last two games because he has gotten so much rest throughout the game, and I actually think Sheed is a better defender on Pau at this point. Here is to attacking guys, time to get 1 back.

    The comments about Phil are absurd, btw. And I actually think that all of you are blaming Shannon a little too much – he did make stupid mistakes, but so did Sasha, Farmar, Odom, Kobe, Artest, Bynum, Gasol, and Fisher. We win as a team and lose as a team guys, stop trying to make a goat at every loss and a hero after every win. This is the finals, every possession matters, we have to outplay them on more possessions tonight.

  11. PJ has the talent to win games easily. So how come they don’t do that consistently….?

    Because, contrary to popular belief among Lakers fans, other teams have talent too. They also have the ability to execute, and they have the drive and they have the will to fight through adversity.

    Sometimes I think that Lakers fans get so wrapped up in how awesomely great and invincible our team is, that we forget that in order to make it to the playoffs in the first place, those other teams would have to be pretty good too.

    I don’t get Phil’s methods. I really, really don’t. But if I knew as much as he did, and understood basketball as well as he did, I’d be in his job, not doing computer tech support eight hours a day, five days a week.

    Yeah, we lost Game 2. It sucks. It’s easy to blame Phil, Ron, Lamar, or the green chicken that crossed the road four weeks ago and jinxed the game. But the bottom line is that we lost Game 2 because the Celtics are a very good team, and they played harder and played better.

    We’re in the NBA finals. If the Lakers can’t take a loss in stride, bounce back and fight back, and take at least one of the next three game, they don’t deserve to win the trophy, because if they can’t do that then they’re not the best team in the league. Simple as that.

    Now. I have my new Lakers Girl shirt all ready for tonight, brand new purple eyeliner, cold beer, and a fully charged laptop battery. Bring it on Boston. I am ready.

  12. Darius, I gotta agree.

    One merely has to consider the path of destruction Don Nelson leaves in his wake, as one extreme example.

    Stan Van Gundy’s record of persistent under achievement is another, lesser, example.

  13. I’m really surprised by all the consternation and worry, bros.

    You don’t overcome superior athleticism, hostile environments, precision offenses, and deadly perimeter shooting by accident.

    You don’t get thrown off a mountain in 08, claw your way to the top in 09, and make your way to the summit the year after that by accident.

    You know what the Celtic gameplan is? Hope the Lakers don’t show up, and hope the Lakers beat themselves.

    There is nothing they can do to beat us.

  14. Darius,

    I’m in agreement with you in post #4 where you mention Jackson getting more criticism after losses than wins, but…

    …in post #9 I think you’re slaying major strawmen. Criticizing Jackson for coaching decisions and so forth is NOT the same as fans insisting the Lakers win every game easily, and if they don’t that Jackson isn’t a good coach.

    FWIW, I think in the ‘maco’ sense PJ is absolutely fantastic. He’s able to create a very stable framework that allows teams to grow, work through their troubles and develop a greater ability to achieve. In the ‘micro’ sense of making X’s and O’s tactical changes in-game I think PJ is good, but not great. I get the sense he leaves that stuff to his assistants. I would also tend to agree with Funky that PJ’s ‘zen’ style may be at least *partially* responsible for the Lakers not always playing with as much energy as they should.

    Anyway, I agree with you that people will almost certainly miss Jackson when he’s gone. I have a hard time seeing his replacement being his equivalent.

    On another note, what are people’s thoughts on the fact that since the NBA went to the 2-3-2 format, in each of the ten times the series was tied 1-1 the winner of game three went on to win the series?

  15. The reality is, given the quality and experience of the teams involved and the characteristically-uneven nature of NBA officiating, any team can win any game in this series on any given night in any given building. Maddening for sure, if you’re a fan of either team, but a great basis for an epic Finals.

    Here’s hoping the Lakers come out with their chins up.

    Kobe goes Mamba and LO dips into the candybag for a huge game 3 win tonight!

  16. Darius,

    Any particular reason you would remove my comment and link to the Deadspin article? Is there not validity to those opinions? Or does it have something to do with the misdirection of attention here away from some pretty glaring errors that have occurred going both ways in both games of the Finals thus far? Just curious.

  17. #16. Pig Miller,
    Email me off line and I’ll explain. I’m going to be a bit busy for a while but I will get back to you. Just hit the “contact me” button in the right hand side bar.

  18. I am more than happy with the players we have and with the coach we have.
    I am more than happy with being 3 years in a row in the finals.

    Lakers are the best team. Effort, execution, focus on their style, what they want to do and little things (again effort and desire).

  19. Agreed, Phil is up there with the coaching legends… and his zen style seems to prep the players for the long run. But there might be something to say about it also resulting in the occasional semi-flat performance. It might be a tradeoff for the balance that is so important in 7-game series.

    I am SO ready for the game tonight. I think it will be the first game of the series were both teams give it their absolute best shot. Its going to be a war.

  20. kobe takes a jump shot and misses. 10-29? He’s not as good as he thinks he is or you think he is. stop ray allen and we win, let big baby beat ya’ll. Sacha puts 2 clutch free throws in the bisket with the basket. MVP .04 Fish