A Second Round Sneak Peek

Darius Soriano —  April 29, 2011 — 59 Comments

With the Hornets vanquished and the Mavs on the horizon, we find ourselves waiting a few days before the Lakers return to action. So what better time to look forward, with nothing but time on our hands? With that, some random thoughts on what we’ve seen and learned from round one, how some of that may translate to round two, and some other thoughs on the series ahead…

*Much like the WCF vs. the Suns last season, the Hornets offered the Lakers a master’s class on pick and roll play. Unofficially, the Hornets ran their bread and butter set 150% of the time and severely tested the Lakers’ ability to cover one of the more bedeviling sets in basketball. By the end of the series the Lakers had cracked the Hornets’ code on this action, smothering Paul coming off the pick, collapsing the paint to limit big man touches, and leaving open Ariza and Belinelli to try and beat the Lakers from the wing. Both Phil and Kobe remarked post game that this allowed the Lakers to sharpen their coverage techniques with the implication being it would help them agaisnt the Mavs. While we’ll cover this in more detail in the coming days, this assertion may not actually be true. Paul and Kidd offer two different types of guards when running this set and the primary goal of the Mavs is usually to set up Dirk in isolations in pick and pop situations. Can the Lakers recover to Dirk without switching? Will there be an overcompensation to Dirk that opens up other very capable players? Only time will tell, but my mind is already trying to look at all the angles on this.

*Dallas’ bench is a much different beast than the one that the Lakers just faced. If you were to look at both the Mavs and Hornets reserves, the odds are you’d take 4 Mavericks before you even looked at the Hornets direction. Terry is one of the better bench performers in the entire league and after him Barea, Haywood, and Peja all offer more consitent play than Jack, Gray, or Willie Green. When you throw in Beaubois and Cardinal on the Mavs side, I might take the entirety of the Mavs bench before choosing anyone besides Jack from the Hornets. All of this is a long way of saying the Lakers reserves will be severely tested this series and which group plays better will likely be a major factor in who advances. If Blake, Barnes, Brown, and Odom can’t keep up with their counterparts it will throw off Phil’s rotations and create a domino effect that will be difficult to overcome. Needless to say, I’ll be watching intently when that 6-8 minute stretch from the end of the 1st quarter to the middle of hte 2nd quarter (as well as the same stretch from the end of the 3rd to the middle of the 4th) occurs every game.

*Speaking of benches, will Caron Butler be ready to play? He’s vocal about wanting to suit up and contribute but I have my doubts it will actually happen (and if it does happen that it will matter). Since that fateful season that he was a Laker, I’ve been a fan of Tuff Juice but a torn patellar tendon isn’t something folks normally effectively come back from in 5 months. We’ll see if he actually can advance past the non-contact phase of his rehab with enough time to actually play in this series, but I would think the Mavs are planning to face the Lakers without him.

*Beyond any X-factors or X’s and O’s, a major storyline of this series will be Kobe vs. Dirk. Both are undisputed Hall of Famers and while they will likely only guard each other when cross matching and defensive switches force it upon them, it’s an interesting “match up” nonetheless. Think about the top 5 to 10 players of the last 10-15 years. The names that immediately come to mind are Kobe, Duncan, Shaq, Garnett, Dirk, Kidd, Iverson and the newer age stars of Wade, LeBron, Durant, Paul, and Williams (maybe I’m missing one or two names). Besides LeBron and Wade (who have been in the East for their entire careers) and Shaq (who was a teammate of Kobe’s before going East himself), Dirk is the only guy on that list that Kobe’s never faced in the playoffs. Considering both players have been in the Western Conference for their entire careers, it’s kind of amazing that their teams have never faced off. Now, before both hang up their sneakers, we finally get to see it. As a fan of basketball, I’m excited.

*Tangential to the Kobe vs. Dirk match up is the fact that the Mavs have long been a team that Lakers fans have wanted to face in the playoffs. Maybe it’s the running “feud” between Phil and Mark Cuban, the fact that the Mavs have consistently identified the Spurs and Lakers as the teams to beat and have built their team to compete against, or that fans have always viewed the Mavs as a team that wilts in the post-season and have wanted the Lakers to inspire that in them for once. What ever the reason, that chance is now front and center. I must say, however, that this incarnation of the Mavs is one that I’ve respected since the season began. Before Dirk got hurt mid-year, the Mavs were right there with the Spurs at the top of the conference. With the addition of Marion and Chandler, they’ve gained some physical toughness while the past failures of their core players have surely added some mental toughness as well. No further proof of this is needed than how they bounced back from a crushing game 4 comeback by the Blazers to win the next two games (including a clincher on the road at the Rose Garden). They’re deep, seasoned, and hungry for more than they’ve achieved to this point. Ultimately, I don’t fear this team but I do see them as a legitimate challenger and one the Lakers will have to beat rather than just observe folding in front of them.

*Carrying those last two points one step further, there’s a definite sense of bad blood between these teams that should make this series a great one to watch as the intensity ratchets up a level from round 1. In the last Lakers/Mavs game Jason Terry pushed Steve Blake to the ground and all hell broke loose to the tune of 5 ejections and Matt Barnes getting suspended for an additional game. With a trip to the conference finals raising the stakes, I have a hard time believing the games won’t be even more sprited. Physically and mentally both sides will be tested and I’m going to enjoy seeing who rises to the challenge and who self destructs. Monday can’t get here fast enough.

Darius Soriano

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59 responses to A Second Round Sneak Peek

  1. If Caron does come back for this series, I think it’ll actually help the Lakers. He won’t be in any kind of decent shape, timing will be off and has to get used to the knee. If Carlise tries to get him into a regular rotation, I think it’ll throw off the rest of the Dallas bench.

    I’m envisioning something similar to 09 Orlando. Magic were playing great, Alston was as in control as I’ve ever seen him his entire career. Making great decisions and scoring efficiently. Rushing Jameer back because he tore up the Lakers earlier in the year was a fool hardy decision. Especially giving him so many vital rotation minutes instead. Alston being mentally weak was affected. The team was distracted and didn’t play as smoothly.

    Caron has played well against the Lakers in the past and I can see a similar reasoning to trying to bring him back early. Especially if he’s pushing hard for it. But if he gets key rotation time, I think it’ll only benefit Lakers.

  2. The two games the Hornets won in the series, Chris Paul was dominant, better than any player in the game by far. In the four Lakers wins, the guards did a good job defensively keeping him under control. I suspect it will be the same way against Dallas, but Dirk is going to be the one to keep under wraps. Odom and Pau are gonna have to step up on the defensive end. Lamar was especially good last night, so he’s gotta keep that up. Hopefully Pau can keep his momentum going and forget a terrible start to the New Orleans series. Check it out:


  3. OT, but does anyone here care to share their rooting interest in Heat/Celtics? As much as it pains me, I have to say I find myself hoping the Hated Ones pull it out over LBJ and Co.

    Part of this is that MIA scares me more as a potential Finals matchup should we be lucky enough to get there, although I think both teams will have a hard time getting past Chicago.

    Please… I need something to distract me so Monday doesn’t seem like an eternity away… I absolutely cannot wait for LA v DAL– this is going to be a very fun series.

  4. If Steve Nash plays for Dallas right now, they have a chance to beat Lakers. Last year Rondo carried Boston to NBA Finals, this year Bynum will do the same thing. This is the true test for Dallas, do they have mental toughness to beat Lakers ? Lakers in six.

  5. lil’ pau – I’m hoping for an agonizing seven game series between the C’s and the Heat, every game running into multiple overtimes, a series that leaves the eventual winner physically drained, spiritually broken, and morally bankrupt.

    If all that happens, it won’t much matter who wins the series.

  6. 3 – Hoping the C’s pull it out. Miami makes me really nervous. In fact, assuming the Lakers win the West, Boston is my preferred opponent. I like LA’s chances against them. Plus, the Lakers would have home court. Out of Boston, Chicago, and Miami (sorry Atlanta you guys have no chance) I would take them in that order.

  7. I think Charles Barkley is a keen analyst of basketball but I was surprised to hear him pick Dallas to win the series. I was especially surprised to hear him say the reason was because Dallas creates more mismatches against the Lakers than vice versa. Huh?

    Dirk is probably going to outplay Gasol, but I don’t expect it to be a wipeout (even though he was white swan against the Hornets). After that I think the Lakers have the advantage at every other position.

    Also, came you really see Dallas winning this series specifically because of their bench? Me neither

  8. @7, Archon, I’d disagree that Barkley is a keen analysts. He gives great sound bites. But he’s often wildly wrong about his observations and recollections. A lot of it is based on highlight viewing and not in depth game watching. He’s implied so a few times. His thought process may be solid but if he’s basing it on bad data, it’s going to be a faulty conclusion more often than not.

    Lakers bench has been somewhat inconsistent. But if Blake can recreate his performance in regular season in defending Terry, it’ll go a long way. Terry has consistently lit up Lakers in the past and often was the difference maker in Dallas winning. When he’s had bad games, even if Dirk and others had a good game, Lakers could outscore them. But when Terry pours in an efficient 20+ points, hard for Lakers to outscore.

    In a small sample size, Blake seemed to do well in harassing Terry into low scoring or inefficient shooting games. He does that and Lakers margin of error to win is much larger.

  9. Dallas is solid.

    Kidd can back down Fish, Artest and Marion will be interesting, Bynum will hopefully overpower Chandler, and I don’t think Kobe will have a walk in the park.

    Where I have a fear is when our 2nd unit starts up against theirs. Hopefully we won’t just give away any leads we have obtained against these guys.

  10. Dirk has to guard Gasol too.

  11. @9. I would hope that Kidd would try to back down Fish. He can’t score inside the paint very well anymore, so the Lakers should tempt Kidd into doing that and not send any doubles to help Fish. I’d rather have Kidd shooting contested 12-footers than Dirk or Terry shooting open mid-range jumpers or threes.

    PS – I’m hoping that Kidd’s son shows up at a game or two and we get some crowd shots. I’m interested to see if his head still has satellites orbiting around it 😀

  12. I like this matchup because we have so many different guys we can throw at Dirk and make his life difficult. Pau and Odom are above average defenders. We can also throw Ron at him, and if anybody remembers the playoffs 1st round 2007, a big reason the Warriors upset Dallas is because Matt Barnes gave Dirk fits on defense.

  13. Also, they have nobody to defend both Ron and Kobe. Shawn Marion guards one or the other, and Jason Kidd gets stuck on an island either way. Ron is in a great offensive groove and Kobe had his way with Trevor the last couple of games, even with the ankle sprain.

  14. One thing I like about TJ Simers is that he shares the same opinion about Plaschke as I do 😀

  15. I think Kobe will guard Kidd when Terry is in the game. Not a tough cover at all at this point in Kidd’s career, while chasing Terry through screens is something Fish is better at than a gimpy Kobe.

  16. Did Barkley really pick Dallas? He hadn’t said that before I turned him off last night. I gave up on TNT when he said Chandler and Haywood would give Bynum fits.

    Apparently Sir Charles didn’t watch the last two times these teams played. A quick recap: March 12, Lakers won a close game as Bynum scored 22 with 15 rebounds. (Chandler and Haywood had eight points and 14 rebounds – combined).

    And on March 31, the Lakers ran Dallas off the floor as Bynum dropped 18 with 13 rebounds. (Chandler and Haywood combined for 13 boards to match Drew’s total that night. But they scored a whopping seven points, all by Chandler, between the two of them.)

    Advantage, Bynum. So much for Barkely’s keen analysis.

    As an aside, if last year’s Western Conference theme was on Kobe’s chance to take out a prior playoff nemesis (Utah, Phoenix and Boston), this season is shaping up as the year Kobe can take down a player he’d once likened to a “little brother” — Trevor Ariza and next, Caron Butler.

    Maybe we should hope to see Memphis in the Conference Finals, just to complete the little brother theme with Pau and Marc? (If that means no more Oklahoma City, I’m all for it.)

  17. Travis @ 12 – Speaking of Matt Barnes in ’07, in his own words via Twitter: “Me & the Golden St homies laid out the blueprint on how to beat Dallas.. “PUNK’EM” Aint $h!t changed homey.. So enough w/the small talk”

    By the way, was Matt’s look vs the Hornets scary enough?

  18. Hi All, I’ve been following this blog since 2006 (during the Kurt days). I’m also a Lakers season ticket holder who won’t be able to attend Game 1 or 2 due to work. If anyone is interested I have 4 tickets located 17 rows from the court in Section 115 row 7. Please email me at amit@jelloisjiggling.com if you are interested in purchasing either 1 pair or all 4 tix. I figure since I can’t go to the game, I might as well ask my fellow FB&G folks if they want my tix. Thanks and Go Lakers!

  19. from the last post & comments series, I just wanted to post this in support of Fish and those who feel that he had a pretty good 1st round series in these playoffs so far.

    Times Picayune: Chris Paul stating that, “Much of the problem Thursday night, Paul said, was the defense played on him by Lakers point guard Derek Fisher and Los Angeles’ lane-jamming front line that took away his ability to penetrate. ‘They did a really good job of closing the lane down,’ Paul said, ‘and I think a lot of credit goes to Derek Fisher. I told him after the game, unbelievable defense he played the entire series. D-Fish gets up on one side and while you can drive by him, you’ve got the twin towers (Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol) down there waiting on you. They use that length to their advantage. I still tried to find my spots, but the lane was packed. And D-Fish was in my pocket all night long. The only way you can get guys off of you is to try to play physical. I tried that early in the game and got an offensive foul.'”

    Fish was also the best defender on Paul in the Sunday match where Paul went 1-7 with Fish was on him. Against other Laker defenders (including Bynum) Paul was 6-of-7 for 22 points.

    Who would have thought? Fish not only stepping up his offensive game and raising his shooting percentages as he does every playoffs, but his defense on one of the best pg’s in the league was also pretty good.

    I’m not saying he’s all of a sudden a fast pg stopper, but it’s just nice to give credit and acknowledgement when it’s due.

  20. I agree Lakers have multiple defenders to help slow Dirk and make things a little harder for him. I just worry how long it will take the Lakers to figure out the mavs zone which will inevitably come. We definitely need our bench to step up and play well.

  21. Zone D doesn’t worry me. It can be effective in spurts, but there’s a reason most NBA teams use man-2-man defensive schemes the majority of the time. Zones, once solved, aren’t very effective against balanced offensive teams.

  22. Lakers in 6. And we should be rooting for Boston over Miami. That is the only team I DO NOT want to face from the East. However, OKC who will beat either Memphis or the Spurs will be the real test. I guess not to look ahead though

  23. Memphis is really coming out of the gates swinging!

  24. So is Mike Breen racist or just willfully ignorant? He’s been pronouncing Vasquez like Vas-kwez the entire game. Didn’t anyone prep this guy? How can anyone in the year 2011 be this ignorant regarding Spanish names?

  25. The dude abides. That just doesn’t get old. It’s funny every time I read it.

  26. Hey Mike Breen, 1960s and 70s sex symbol Rakwel Welch thinks you’re cute!

  27. 10 – People are forgetting about that part. Dirk has to guard Pau. Now who do you think Pau would prefer to have defending him, Carl Landry or Dirk? Dirk is not the kind of defender that gives Pau problems. No, he won’t just roll over for Pau. But he won’t be nearly as effective as Landry. Look for Pau look like, well, Pau Gasol in this series. And should he do that the Lakers will take this one in six games.

  28. The Dude is loving Mike Breen almost as much as I do Andrew Bynum. That’s tough. But Breen does have a certain qualityto him. Almost like he thinks of funny off color things to say often during games and holds his tounge. it’s official… I have a man crush on Bynum. The last time I’ve felt this was Kobe during the quest for his second title. I’m falling hard.

  29. Dude, I know you wouldn’t have made that mistake with Jesus Kwintana.

  30. 3: Easy. I’d like to see the rubber match between the Lakers & Celts, but I obviously can’t root for Boston or Miami to win the series, so what I’m hoping is that enough of the Miami team gets sidelined with trivial, non-career-threatening, but injuries serious enough in the short term that sideline enough players so that they have to forfeit the series.

    It could happen.

    On a side note, I’m flying to Boston tonight. Today I went out and bought two Lakers shirts and hats that a friend and I are going to wear at Fenway on Sunday. Wish us luck!

  31. @28 – Aaron, is there something you want to confess to us? 😀

    @29 – Eight-year olds, jodial.

  32. Spurs have missed 32424 bunnies in this game

  33. I guess we’re the #1 seed in the west now

  34. i find it odd that all the news stories i’m reading are basically giving the spurs a free pass for losing to an 8 seed. the spurs have been a pretty poor post season team for 4 years running now. if you look at the last 5 series they’ve played they’ve lost 18 out of 26 games. how do tim duncan (and gregg popovich) get a free pass on this? obviously i’m a laker homer but phil and kobe would get crucified for a performance like this.

  35. I’m really happy for Zach Randolph. He’s just heroic these days.

    OKC is in trouble. They aren’t going to get a lot of fastbreak baskets against this Grizzlies team.

  36. Every playoff series there’s always an ancillary player who goes off on the Lakers for one or two games per series. I’m hoping that Peja and/or Barerra don’t go off for 15+ points. If our bench can control them and stay home on the 3-pt shooters, we should handle the Mavs fairly easily.

  37. Rahul – If I was to hazard a guess (which I am clearly about to do), I would explain that media spin by looking at the whole “narrative” that the media tries to frame sports with these days.

    You can build Duncan up to be a great, as there’s no sacred cow like Jordan who made his name at the same position (PF). Karl Malone was great, but no titles, and there are no other real “greatest PF of all time” contenders. So when Duncan spends 4 post-seasons going 8-18 by your numbers, it’s not a story.

    But when Kobe, the closest thing we’ve seen to Jordan, and closing on his 6th title, happens to lose, that fits the narrative of the upstart who is not as great, and never can be.

    But those numbers you mentioned were eye-opening to me. For a team like San Antonio to have struggled in the Playoffs like that for 4 straight seasons really surprises me.

  38. We (Laker fans) will be in the Spurs fans’ seats not far from now.. watching our legendary future HoFer in serious decline, unable to win a series by himself.

  39. No one – certainly not MJ – ever wins series by themselves.

    If Wilt couldn’t do it then no one can.

  40. One thing the Lakers will have to account for against the Mavs, especially with Bynum, is that they really like to shoot the mid-range shot. Nowitzki and Terry get most of their offense from there, so defending them over picks will have to be handled a little bit differently than against the Hornets.

    Marion has come alive a bit in the low post with his array of push shots and floaters, but if Artest is the one guarding him, Marion won’t get to nearly as good a spot as in round 1.

    I have officially adopted the Grizzlies as my second team in these play-offs. I don’t care too much about the “losing Rudy Gay” angle, and the “redemption” angle for guys like Randolph and maybe Tony Allen.

    But I’m a sucker for teams who have developed a true identity, where you can see how they come together under the banner of “grind and grit” in this case, and don’t care anymore for minutes and shots. This is a real team 1 to 10, and OKC will have their hands full. Westbrook-Allen (as I’m guessing MEM will not put Conley on him when it counts) and Durant-Battier as well as Ibaka-Randolph should all be fun to watch.

  41. Rahul-considering what we’ve done in the last four years, I could give a rat’s abs about the Spurs or whatever “free pass” Timmeh has received. That’s a quality organization, quality players, they actually have some hardware. Anyway…whatever…we have more than them.

    As to the East, whatever. Whatever will happen will happen and I cannot, from a moral standpoint, bring myself to root for the team which rhymes with Smeltics. Therefore I am hoping that in the very near future that some new information comes to light about St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland, warranting a seven day drinking festival in Boston, which KG, PP, Ray Ray, LBJ, Bosh, and DWade are unable to resist or recover even a little bit from, forcing the series to be decided by the play of Troy Murphy and Joel Anthony.

    Anyway…….yeah, in this series, I don’t see the Mavs posing a great threat to the Lakers. As someone said, Charles does not do in-depth analysis. He is on TV because he has opinions, he is often right, but when it comes to tightly-focused, analytical hoops analysis, he’s often wrong.

    Perhaps their bench is better than ours….perhaps…but with Andrew and Pau doing work over Tyson and Dirk, perhaps Kobe being D’d up by Marion and Stevenson defending Ron Ron….I just don’t see this team challenging us much with regard to starters. With our bench (Shannon Brown I’m looking at you) performing much better in the post-season than for much of the regular season, I’m not worried about how the Laker bench will do.

  42. Another excellent article FB&G, definitely really enjoyed the Laker-Dallas matchup analysis. You guys on here should check out my blog analyzing the matchups in the conference semifinals when you get a chance. Hope everyone is having an excellent weekend!


  43. Great points by all. I agree Caron’s return may benefit us as he wil certainly disrupt their chemistry. As far as Dallas depth, you can only play 5 at a time and I think our 9-man rotation is solid.

    I enjoy Barkley’s comments but he wasn’t totally sold in picking the Mavs. Kenny Smith was ribbing him coz Barkley was seemingly unsure of himself.

    Hate to look too far ahead but I’d like to face and defeat the Bulls. What a perfect way for PJ to exit. Then Kobe can have 6 different taxidermied heads on his mantle: Reggie Miller, Iverson, Kidd, Dwight, KG, then D. Rose.

  44. I forgot who said it first, but from what I watched, it wasn’t an upset – Memphis was just flat out a better team. Pop did a fantastic job to get the Spurs to win as much as they did, but they just flat out did not have the talent to defend. If Memphis says they did not tank their last regular season games to get the Spurs, they are lying. It clearly worked out for them.

    FWIW, I’m confident we would beat the Grizzlies in the playoffs, but would not be at all surprised if it took us 7 games to do it, so… high-fives all around. 😛

  45. 38. Thats where the evolution of Drew ,so to speak, will be paramount in the next couple of years. Duncan didnt have the inside help over the last few years that would have compensated for his shortcomings age took away. When the Spurs drafted Timmeh, David Robinson was at a similar point in his career. Duncan was able to help David ride off in the sunset and never look back.

    I am hoping that Bynum will do the same for Mr. Bean in the near future. I can envision Kobe dumping it down to Drew and everyone moving out the way. If this scenario holds true #24 will be able to play and compete for a championship til he’s in his late 30’s.

  46. I believe J. Terry’s antics, during the last game against LA, will help motivate the team. An engaged and focused LA sqaud is not what Dallas, or the league in general wants to see. A first round tune up in New Orleans should not be the barometer in which this team should be measured against on how well they will play here on out. Getting motivated for a one man team(CP3) compared to a Dallas squad that has to prove they belong and are not just the same ole Mavs by tossing your teammate to the ground is like the difference between night and day. Let’s see if Mr. Terry will have all that swag when he goes to lane and finds Drew, Artest, or Barnes waiting to fold him up like a chair. I cant wait till Monday.

  47. The insightful and timely comments from the followers of this blog continue to impress this longtime Lakers fan. I actually learn stuff … to all you contributors: keep up the good work! I can hardly look at other “homer” blogs from other teams’ fans, where animosity and name-calling seem to be standard fare. THANKS DARIUS for being a great moderator.

    Lakers will wear down Dallas. Front line match-up will be the key, as always and if Drew continues his quality play, we win in 6 games.

  48. I don’t think most of the media were expecting much out of the Spurs anyway, to be honest. The majority had them losing in the 2nd round to the Thunder. So it’s a surprise they go down this early, but I don’t think people were expecting things like they did out of the 2007 Mavs or they do now out of the Lakers. Hence the lack of outrage.

    If the 2005 Spurs go down in the first round, it’s a much bigger story.

  49. The Lakers are focused in – I hope. As such, no amount of antics by Terry is going to make any difference to the team. Maybe the fans will get upset, but the team – led by Kobe and Fish – are just too focused in on their goal of another championship to let ‘bulletin board material’ alter their attention.

  50. So who’s the lesser concern for us fans? OKC or MEM? Who are we rooting for?

  51. Look out for a more aggressive Kobe this series,which will be highly acceptable against Mavs’ backcourt.

  52. @ #8, Chownoir: I’m in total agreement regarding your observation of Terry. Playoff basketball dictates that, depending on the opponent, at least 1 individual has to be marked and basically eliminated/nuetralized. IMO, Dallas only has 2 players that can make a solid impact (@ least offensively) every game and those 2 players are the aforementioned Terry and of course, Dirk. While we do have the personnel that can contain Dirk, I’m of the mind-frame that he’s a good enough offensive player to eventually get his numbers. Terry, on the other hand, is basically perimeter oriented. His game (more so do to his size) isn’t as diversified as Dirk’s. If his jumper is off and we play disciplined ball (few turnovers), which would keep him out of the open court, his game suffers tremendously. Between Fish, Blake and even Shannon (might be reaching a bit with that 3rd option), we have enough defenders to make life miserable for Terry during the duration of this series. Which, by the way, should be over in 6.

  53. FYI, Phillip and I are still finalizing our preview for today. Expect it up by 1pm PST today.

    As an aside, I’m loving all the tidbits in the comments for the past couple of days. Ya’ll are raising your game in the playoffs as well.

  54. Alright, I will say it.

    I hope that the Celtics sweep the Heat, and utterly embarrass them.

    As much as I normally root against the Celtics, at the very least I respect them. I have no such respect for Miami, and anything that makes “The King” look bad is good for me.

    I am so ridiculously tired of the LeBron vs Kobe debate. If the game doesn’t matter, sure, Lebron is a phenom. Once it does matter, Kobe is the one with 5 rings.

    I am very hopeful that Boston, aging, dirty, cagey veteran, heart-of-a-champion Boston, beats the Heat so badly that it causes them to tear themselves apart during the off-season, and forces Wade or Lebron to be traded to the Clippers…

    (I really dislike the Heat, and all of the hype. Win something, then I will think about respecting you.)

  55. Hey guys it shouldn’t matter if the Celtics or Miami win! Point is if you are a true competitor and champion you should want to DEFEAT the best (not by default either).. So if we are the BEST and I believe we are, bring on the best out of the East. I wish no injury on the opposite teams players. That’s weak. When we hold that tropy up this summer I want it to be because we DESERVE IT!

  56. Agreed with a couple of the previous comments. Terry can be very dangerous when he gets hot, especially in crunch time, and he can turn a game. I’m terrified of Shannon Brown trying to play his unique version of centerfield, followed by his poor close-outs. Terry just needs a little bit of space to catch fire.

    Put Barnes on Terry. That should be fun to watch, and you know Barnes won’t give him an inch of space to work with.

  57. “Where do the Spurs go from here?” cry the pundits.
    well, to start with, they dump Jefferson and McDice. Duncan can still play a bit, but not with that kind of sorry support up front.

  58. @55: That is a sentiment I can agree with in theory, but in practice, nothing plays out like that.

    So far, the Lakers are the ones that have been plagued with small nicks and bruises lately – four on Kobe alone during the NO series.

    These things add up over time, even for the Black Mamba.

    They’re the 2nd oldest team in the semi’s, playing the oldest team in the playoffs, and therefore, I don’t predict that speed or aggression is going to be found in any abundance.

    However, the last thing we need is another hyperextension to Gasol, Bynum, Artest, or Barnes. Not to mention Odom’s recent back problems, Blake’s recent recovery from the chicken pox, Ebanks’s injury (not that it counts for much) or Ratliff’s slow recovery from his knee injury.

    Sure, the Mavs have Butler out, and Dirk suffered some midway through the season, but to be honest, the Lakers are capable of beating that team in 5 games even if the Mavs were at full health.

    Moving on however is where it gets scary. I guess what I’m trying to say is that this whole “the best teams make for the best match-up” is not exactly sane.

    The best match-up is one where the Lakers have the clear advantage. This is not just how the fans interpret things (well maybe not the diehards), but also the GMs, training staff, scouts, and even the players themselves. Hence why before the playoffs began you had George Karl coming out and saying he’d rather his team play Dallas.

    I wouldn’t get too bent out of shape if the Lakers got beaten by the clearly better team, but there’s loads more that goes into that, and fair or not, health is a big issue.

    Rooting for an 80% team to play a 90-100% team that also has HCA is just biting off more than you can chew IMO.

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