I know that us fans are champing at the bit to get the western conference finals started. The Suns represent the organization that bounced the Lakers from the playoffs in back to back years nearly a half decade ago and litterally laid the foundation for this franchise’s trip into offseason hell that I’d rather not even get into at this point. So, it goes without saying that revenge is on the mind of us fans, and surely on the minds of some of the players that were on those mid-aughts Lakers teams.
However, revenge will have to wait as the Lakers won’t get the chance to face the Suns until next Monday. After sweeping the Jazz and Spurs respectively, the Lakers and Suns are now on a mini-vacation for another week. That’s a lot of time off for two teams that have really been playing strong ball. Which leads me to the question – is there such a thing as too much rest?
I mean, when teams have it going like the Lakers and Suns do, you would think they’d want to get out there and play every couple of days to keep that good feeling going. Isn’t it possible that the long layoff can hurt one (if not both) of these teams? Manny P touches on this concept from many angles in the comments:
The biggest problem I see here in the short term is Game 1. Our Laker teams have traditionally been very sluggish after a long rest and this 6 day vacation will make them even more slow. The Suns, on the other hand, have proven to be quick out of the gate. On top of that, our bench has been less than perfect while theirs has been on fire. While I think our starters have what it takes to take us over the hump, I would not be surprised if no team weans consecutive games and the series goes to 7.
Read that again. There are about 3 different examples of how the rest can both positively and negatively affect each team. Let’s break down Manny’s comment into parts and explore the concept of rest vs. rust a bit more deeply:
1). The biggest problem I see here in the short term is Game 1. Our Laker teams have traditionally been very sluggish after a long rest and this 6 day vacation will make them even more slow. The Suns, on the other hand, have proven to be quick out of the gate.
This obviously points to how the rest can be a problem for the Lakers. I tend to agree with Manny in that the Lakers haven’t always looked sharp after a long layoff. Being somewhat of an aged team that runs a precision based system, they don’t always seem to be fully on top of their games when they’ve been out of action for too long. And while I can’t speak to Phoenix’s success in these types of situations, their fast breaking/P&R style seems geared to rev itself back up at a moments notice. Could this be an issue for the Lakers? Can the Suns really turn their game on after over a week of rest? What do you think?
2) On top of that, our bench has been less than perfect while theirs has been on fire.
Here is how the rest can actually hurt the Suns and benefit the Lakers. The Suns players (especially their bench of Dudley, Dragic, and Frye) are playing the best they have all season (or at least close to it). Will the lay off cool them down? Will the rest disrupt their rhythm? As I mentioned above, when a team is playing as well as Phoenix is, do you really want to stop playing for over a week? As for the Lakers, our bench has been a work in progress (to put it nicely), but they’ve played some of their better ball when they’ve had some time to get their practice reps. When the Lakers coaches are able to stress the game plan and work on the intricacies of a focussed attack, I think it helps our guys. So, will this rest help our bench guys fine tune their roles and get a better feel for what’s expected of them in this match up? Can a greater attention to detail in both the film room and on the practice court help our role players step up their games or is this just wishful thinking?
3). While I think our starters have what it takes to take us over the hump, I would not be surprised if no team weans consecutive games and the series goes to 7.
And what about our starters? Fisher is 35. Kobe has 40,000 minutes on his legs and is still recovering from his various ailments. Bynum is still nursing his partially torn meniscus. Ron’s been playing with a banged up shoulder and has more tape on his hands (bad thumb, perpetually sprained fingers) than at any point this season. These guys could use some extra rest, no? When asked about the potential to get some extra rest after the game, Kobe seemed downright giddy at the notion that he’d get all this time off. And while these guys aren’t starters, I think we should also mention that the Lakers are still waiting on Sasha to return from his badly sprained ankle and that it looks like Odom (shoulder, knee?) could also use a few extra days off to heal up. And what about the Suns? Nash just got his eye busted up by a Duncan elbow. Couldn’t he use some time off to stop looking like he went a few rounds with Pacquiao? And then there’s Robin Lopez and his bad back. Before he went down with his injury he was the Suns’ starting Center and was provding a solid interior presence on defense and on the glass. Won’t this extra week give him a chance to fully recover and be ready for game 1?
At this point, the rest seems like it will do more good than harm, but you never know. Athletes thrive on the set schedule that is put in front of them. Most guys love to get out on the court every other day (or every few days) to play and keep that good rhythm going that only comes from game action. Will either team suffer because of the rest? Will the extra time to heal and rest weary legs trump that potential loss of sharpness? What do you guys think? Is there such a thing as too much rest?
chris h says
This one’s for Warren!
seriously though, remember the mid-80’s Magic led team that swept the whole west playoffs? Riley took them to Hawaii for some non-distracted workouts, and I guess he pushed them so hard that Byron came up with a pulled hammy. so we finally face the Pistons, but without Scott, we have some issues, more weight for Worthy to carry, and Magic, and don’t ya know it, Magic comes up lame too.
so we swept our way into the finals and were swept out of them that year.
so, my feelings are, some time off is good, as long as Riles isn’t the coach.
Funky Chicken says
I think the point about the Lakers running a precision based system is perhaps the second most salient point (with rest for the injured being #1).
The Lakers play well when they are in a rhythm, which is easier to achieve when you play every other night or so. However, the team’s overall talent level makes effort a more important factor in my mind. Effort takes two forms: the amount of energy you expend physically (boxing out, hustling back on defense, etc) AND the mental discipline to actually run your sets and not go solo and jack up jumpers early in the shot clock (talking to you, Kobe, Shannon and Jordan).
The effort is what has always worried me about this team. When it isn’t there (Houston last year, games 3 & 4 against OKC this year) the Lakers are totally beatable by a team like the Suns. When it is there (the last 6 games), it will take a very special effort by the opponent to beat them.
Maybe I am naive, and maybe I’ll kick myself for trusting these guys, but I do think that they have “flipped the switch” in terms of effort. I think the Thunder put a scare into the Lakers, and got Kobe’s attention in particular, and for that reason I think we can expect the Lakers to come out with the right kind of intensity in game 1, laying to bed any concerns about too much rest.
But much more than any of that, if you watch Kobe Bryant play, I think this is an easy question. Kobe is getting old, and he is certainly playing hurt. To give this guy a week off to rest up and to think about how the next opponent embarrassed him (losing a series you led 3-1 is not something a guy like Kobe is going to forget) the last time they matched up in the playoffs is a recipe for greatness. When you add the hand injuries to Artest & Brown (didn’t Lamar have one too?), LO’s shoulder & knee, Sasha’s ankle, and Fisher’s overall age, a week off is probably as much of a blessing as the relatively weak draw the Lakers got in the Western Conference playoffs….
lil' pau says
There definitely is such a thing as ‘too much rest’. I’m really struggling to focus on work, it’s hard to talk about things other than basketball, my sleep is a little erratic, my Laker flags are getting ragged from the wind…
oh, you meant for the *players*? my bad.
Its too much rest for me. What am I supposed to do for the next week with no Lakers game. Go to bed early? I didn’t finish last nights game til 12:30 (two hours difference from LA), then I had to get up at 5:45 to go to work. I’m getting too old (29) for that.
Is there such a thing as too much rest?
Not for this team.
my feelings are, some time off is good, as long as Riles isn’t the coach
My understanding with Bynum’s injury is that rest won’t improve it; it will take surgery. Is that correct? If so, he is going to be worse off with this break, because he still hasn’t gotten his rhythm back from the hamstring injury. On the other hand, Vujacic, Bryant, Fisher, and Gasol (and possibly Walton) will benefit from the rest, so overall I think it works in the Lakers favor.
In addition, with the first two games at home, that takes away some of the advantage of the “quick out of the gate” Suns; as long as the Lakers can squeak out a win in both of the first two games, they should be OK.
Joel B. says
When a team is banged up, rest is never a bad thing. It doesn’t matter how you try to rationalize the negative effects a long lay offs. Health is the most important factor and the Lakers have a chance to get relatively healthy. Andrew’s injury wont get any better, but as far as Odom, Kobe and Artest, they have injuries that rest will definitely help.
On another note, Hollinger and Stein over on Espn predicted the suns to beat the lakers in 6 games, really? Are they basing their predictions on who they really really really want to win. Playoffs are about match ups. The Lakers match up with the Suns, the Suns don’t match up with the Lakers. The lakers can defend, the suns can’t. Both teams can score but the lakers have a healthy Kobe. Can Jason Richardson shoot 50% and average 20 points with Kobe and Ron Artest on him? No he can’t, not when the lakers have held him to 9 points 30% from the field and 15% from three in the regular season. Can and will Kobe explode versus the Suns yes. Kobe shot 54% in 4 games versus the Suns. That means he gets what he wants, when he wants. Kobe averaged a higher shooting percentage only against the Grizzlies, Wizards and Nets.
And I haven’t even mentioned Gasol yet. Amare is not a good one on one defender and especially can’t defend Gasol nor can he, Frye or Collins defend Bynum.
I believe if Nash starts to get hot then the lakers will throw both Kobe and Artest on him.
The games will be tough and hard fought, NOT PHYSICAL as Ray mentioned on the previous bored. The Lakers will win in 5 or 6 and I’ll be a bit surprised if it goes 6. There’s nothing the Suns can prevent the Lakers from doing, they just have to hope they shoot 48+ % and 40+ % from three and hope the Lakers miss. I can’t wait for the more detailed breakdown in the next few days, but thats what it boils down to, MATCH UPS.
Is it just me that’s been wondering about the effect of Kobe’s fathers sudden prescence at games? I don’t know anything about their relationship but I have to say it seems like Joe beeing there to watch Kobe play, really has a tremendously positive impact on his game and motivation. Maybe it’s coincidence, maybe it’s not. But one shouldn’t underestimate the importance of playing in front of a parent (unless it’s pretty much every other game). I like it, seems like Kobe enjoys it and that’s a good thing.
I think the rest, in this case, benefits the Lakers much more. The Lakers know what their mental focus should be like in the Playoffs and recuperating their bodies to aid in that goal should only help. I don’t see them noticeably slipping in Game 1.
I noticed that, when the regular season ended, Phoenix was one of the hottest teams. Then, I heard somewhere that having the next 4 days off before Game 1 will hurt them somewhat. It sort of did because the Blazers pushed them and a supposedly easy series was more competitive than it should have been. Subsequently, they played the Spurs after 5 days off. I think the result of the series sweep was more on account of the Spurs not playing as well as many people were expecting (Tim Duncan for one) them to play. The Suns’ bench players especially got going at this point.
Game 1 on Monday tells me that the Lakers will have composure and be motivated to beat the Suns. Many players are injured on both sides but recovering will mean more to the Lakers in a 7-game series. The Suns play 10-deep while the Lakers play 8-deep. This shorter bench depth shows that not having injuries to worry about (for Drew, Ron, and Kobe ~ higher quality players) will yield much better results. Also, don’t forget the Lakers still have home court advantage!
Joel/#6: Don’t discount the Suns renewed commitment to D. They’re never going to be the 2008 Celtics or even this 2010 Lakers, but they are playing much better D than I have ever seen from them. So the question becomes – will that be enough? Will a better effort on D, combined with that combustible O, be enough to offset the Lakers length and individual matchup advantages? I don’t think so, but I think it could be a long series just the same.
As for the issue of how much rest is too much, when you have a team that is as banged up as the Lakers are, and who run as complex a system as they do, I don’t think you can ever have too much rest. Kobe, Ron, LO, etc., can all heal up and get treatment. The coaching staff has plenty of time to break down the Suns and work on matchup tweaks, and to coach up the bench on running the sets. It may show up in our shooting and rhythm early in Game 1, but that is only a temporary detriment, which in my mind is more than offset by the advantages.
lil' pau says
does anyone understand what the $%#@ is going on? I get the networks wanting to delay game one until Sun (that would give them two sunday games at least and maybe a third if the series goes a full 7), but delaying a week to start on a monday with game 2 on a wednesday?! are these really big ratings nights? I thought sun afternoon was prime time for the playoffs?
>Hollinger and Stein over on Espn predicted the suns to beat the lakers in 6 games, really?
undoubtedly based on the likes of PER and point diff. also, they weren’t likely to pick them in 7, what with HCA belonging to the Ls – that would just look like lack of attention to detail!
Judge Crater says
BTW it’s “champing at the bit,” not “chomping at the bit.”
Champing at the bit (or mistakenly as chomping at the bit) refers to a tendency of some horses, when impatient or nervous, and especially if being held back by their riders, to chew on the bit, often salivating excessively. This behavior is sometimes accompanied by head-tossing or pawing at the ground. Because this behavior was most often seen by the general public in horses who were anxious to begin a horse race in the days before the invention of the starting gate, the term has become popular in everyday speech to refer to a person who is anxious to get started or to do something. Because some impatient horses, when held back, would also occasionally rear, a related phrase, “raring to go,” is also derived from observations of equine behavior.
As for how the series will go, I think the Suns have the same problem that the Jazz did: They’re just not long enough up front. Really, we could not have asked for a better road to get to the WCF in terms of how well our prior opponents have prepared us to face the next one.
The one glaring advantage the Suns have is at the PG spot. But that is no surprise – that has been the case with the prior two series as well, and arguably the entire season. (The Lakers are outmatched at the point? Must be Tuesday). But having already faced Westbrook and then D-Will, the Lakers should be more attuned to what it will take to slow down Nash, in terms of walling him off. And let’s face it – as great as Nash is, he’s not nearly the physical mismatch that Westbrook/Williams were. He won’t penetrate as easily, nor can he outmuscle/outjump anyone on our squad. Where he does surpass the previous two PGs we have faced is with his shooting and overall BB IQ and veteran wiles. But still, this team is as primed as it will ever be to limit his looks and the overall damage he will cause.
The other big advantage the Suns have is when the two benches as a whole are compared. Dudley and Amundson give them great effort on D and on the glass, along with occasional scoring. Dragic has been a revelation at the backup 1, and Frye can be a dangerous streak shooter, and, or course, Barbosa is also very dangerous. I expect Phil to open up the rotation to 9 as needed, and add Sasha in to the mix, but still, only Shan-Wow and LO have given the Lakers any production off the bench, and they have not done so as consistently as the Suns backups have.
But even with a decided edge in bench play, I don’t think it will be enough. For one, the Lakers will do everything they can to slow the tempo down to their liking, which serves the dual purpose of not only taking the Suns out of what they like to do, but also to keep the starters fresher. Kobe, Pau, and Ron will probably be looking at 40 mpg for this series.
Two, the Suns are at a decided disadvantage in the frontcourt – whether or not Lopez plays – as Stoudamire/Collins/Frye/Amundson are all significantly smaller and less talented (aside from Amare, of course) than Pau and Bynum. And they have no one who can really guard Kobe if he is at full strength. Simmons seems to think (as of his latest podcast) that Hill and Dudley can limit Kobe, but I just don’t see it. And there’s a real question of how long the new and improved Amare
s defensive effort will go when Pau is systematically breaking him down. We saw what happened to Boozer.
On the other end, we can do some serious damage to their attack when we need to by putting Kobe on Nash and Artest on Hill (or vice versa), and Fish on Richardson (which would be a big problem if Richardson were most of a post-up threat, but since he likes to shoot jumpers most of the time we should be okay with this), leaving Andrew and Pau to switch up on Amare as needed depending on foul trouble and the game situation. I would expect Kobe to start out on Richardson, but depending on how much damage Nash does, Phil will have the option of switching.
This series is over, rest or no rest. Sorry, the Suns are as outmatched as the Jazz were.
You’ve got your Amare and Nash. Amare can’t get his own shot, but is a great finisher. Gasol and Bynum can run with him and are long enough to bother him at the rim. The real challenge will be Nash, who we can throw Kobe or Ron at if we really need to shut him down. Guys like Ron and Shannon brown can chase down shooters around the 3 point line all day long.
They have no defender who can challenge Kobe, Gasol, Odom or Bynum in the paint. Their only chance is to outrun the Lakers, which is hard to do if we’re scoring in the paint. And rely on Channing Frye, Grant Hill, J Rich and Dragic to hit a lot of threes.
I predict a sweep.
@11, lil pau
Maybe it has to do with not wanting the east finals to fall far behind the west finals given the CLE/BOS series potentially going 7??
Who knows?! It’s madness, I tell you.
Funky Chicken says
Brian, I am curious, have you actually seen a renewed commitment to defense by the Suns? I ask because this seems to be one of the story lines of this year’s playoffs, and I hear it over and over, but after watching several Suns games, I just don’t see it.
What I see is a team that took a while to readjust to their old run and gun style, but they are completely back. Earlier this year, the “residue” of the Shaq era still seemed to be there, and they didn’t show a real commitment to the D’Antoni style that predated the Shaq experiment. By the midpoint of the season, however, they clicked and went on a huge run.
To my eyes, it is a return to the run & gun style more than a commitment to defense that has helped the Suns. That offensive approach was always their recipe for success, and when you look at their regular season and early round playoff record during those years, they did great with it. It isn’t a championship winning style, of course, but it can be used to rack up wins in the regular season and first round or two of playoffs.
The reputed commitment to defense resulted in “holding” a very old Spurs team to the exact same scoring average that the Spurs achieved during the regular season. San Antonio was no great offensive threat this year, but even in a slower pace of the playoffs they managed to score just as much against the Suns as they did everyone else during the regular season.
Just curious what signs of defensive commitment others are seeing, since I’m obviously missing it.
RE the schedule: Follow the money. The Finals dates are already set in stone and the conference finals were already set too (our series wasn’t supposed to start until next Wednesday) and only got pushed up by everyone (league/TV execs) agreeing. So this comes down to being all about TV. Understand that TNT has exclusive rights to the WCF – will they really want a Sunday day game?
Joel B. says
10. I understand the Suns are a better defensive team then in the past, but effort just won’t be enough. Are the Suns a better defensive team then the Jazz? The Jazz and the Suns are similar in the respect that they don’t match up at all with the lakers and they have to out score the Lakers to beat them? The big difference is that the Suns rely on the three, and over the history of the NBA, that just doesn’t work when you get deep in the playoffs. Especially against a half court team like the Lakers.
Also the rest helps the lakers in another weird way. That’s the return of Lopez. That’s only going to benefit the lakers because Bynum won’t have to defend Frye on the 3 point line nor Stoudamire in the P & R.
I think the time off will hurt the Suns in a strange way. Listning to Dudley on the bs report. he sounds alot more interested in the scene than in the game.
most of the suns are not ready for prime time. Have fun tweeting around LA and going to bill simmons house dudley. The Suns win game 3 and that is it. The suns are soft and I have not seen the great d that everyone is taking about either.
Truth be told, with this current Laker team, there is absolutely nothing negative resulting from a long rest.
Kobe “Bruce Willis” Bryant actually answered Craig Sager with the word “Heavenly” when asked how it would be to rest 6 days.
Kobe “There’s nothing wrong with me” Bryant
Kobe “If I can play, there’s no excuses” Bryant
This team BADLY needs the 6 days off.
Kobe needs it because he got his finger wacked again in Game 4 (not to mention additional days for his ankle and knee).
Bynum needs it, because his knee is clearly bothering him and he’s back in a funk. 6 days off will (hopefully) help him clear his head.
Odom needs it to get his shoulder and knee healthier.
Artest needs it to get his shoulder healthier.
Shannon Brown needs it to get his hand healthier.
Fish needs it because he’s got old legs.
Get the picture?
When your team is as banged up as the Lakers, there’s no such thing as too much rest.
They might come out a little sluggish in the 1st Quarter, but so will the Suns.
And when the Suns realize that they’ve got no one to guard Pau OR Kobe, Hollinger and Stein’s prediction is going to look pretty foolish.
Unless Kobe decides he’s going to single-handedly beat the Suns to avenge the playoff losses and hogs the ball like the 19 year old version of himself the entire time, this series will be over in 5.
The key to the series will be offensive rebounding. If the Lakers can pound the glass, get a few put backs and tip-ins, then the Suns won’t be able to get out and run. While Bynum or Pau are hitting the glass, the other guys will be getting back and into defensive position. Overall, offensive rebounding will not only get us extra possessions and easy points, but they will also help us set up our defense. And if the Suns go against in the half-court, they are dead.
Umm, does anyone in their right mind actually value Hollinger’s opinions/predictions anymore? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe he said that, based off his stat calculations, the Jazz had a better chance of winning the title this year than the Lakers. Can you say no credibility whatsoever?
re: playoff schedule
additionally, ABC/ESPN have the rights to the ECF and Sunday games.
With the WCF/ECF being on alternating nights, that means WCF on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.
The Finals,as always, will be Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays.
Depth/bench is not nearly as important in the playoffs as in the regular season. This is especially true when you have starters who can play at a high level for long minutes, and the Lakers do. (Bynum being the exception, but with Odom on the bench and Gasol able to play either PF or C, that doesn’t really matter.) So that effectively neutralizes one of the greatest assets of the Suns.
For all of the Hollinger bashing, he’s actually leading TrueHoops statgeek smackdown by picking the most correct winners (and even nailing a couple of series results exactly). So, I’d say he’s a pretty smart guy. Sure, he may be fond of his stats and formulas, but he also watches a ton of hoops and is a pretty informed observer.
Sure, his formula may have said that Utah had a better chance of winning the west, but when push came to shove and the Jazz’s injuries showed up, he picked the Lakers to win.
Also, for those Lakers fans that are calling for a sweep or an easy series, I don’t see that at all. We’ll start some of our in depth previewing tomorrow, but the Suns are a very good team that will give the Lakers some problems. Problems that are not easily solved just because we’re “tall” or “have Kobe”. Without giving away everything, the Suns system is quite unique and they have the personnel to run it flawlessly. They are the best offensive team in the league. If anyone thinks slowing that down will be a walk in the park, I think that’s an off base assumption.
Also, for the Suns fan that got your comment deleted – don’t come to the site looking to rile people up with a name/handle that pure baiting and then write a comment that, while making some good points, also has insults at the players in them that are just looking to piss off Lakers fans. We don’t have baiting at this site. Sure, there are Lakers fans here that are confident about LA’s chances, but that doesn’t mean intelligent arguments can’t be made for the Suns chances. If I felt like it, I could make them myself (and likely will when breaking down what I think the Lakers need to concern themselves with in this match up).
>but I believe he said that, based off his stat calculations, the Jazz had a better chance of winning the title this year than the Lakers.
that must have been before the playoffs, while the Jazz were still intact; he picked the Lakers in 7 (the entire ESPN panel of ten picked the Ls in 5 to 7) over the Jazz. (also, TrueHoop’s entire Stat Geek panel picked the Ls over the J, but none to sweep.)
-joe (just the facts, ma’am) friday
I think Burgundy said it best. When Kobe is eagerly looking forward to a week off, the whole team badly needs it. Enjoy your rest guys. Take it easy. Heal. And then march in the Conference Finals with new energy, rested muscles, and that complete lack of focus that you always get after a week of and that we love to hate you for.
I say Lakers in 6. One, maybe two blow-outs, the rest of them close. Let’s not both insult and help the Suns by taking them lightly. They are a very good team, and most importantly, unlike the Jazz did, they genuinely believe they can beat us. Fear the Suns, people. Fear them.
Funky Chicken says
Burgundy, you mirror my thoughts perfectly.
Darius, Lord knows that we have the time to get into it later, but winning the series in 5 games does not necessarily mean “easy” series. I think the games can be challenging, but in the end I don’t see this Suns team winning more than a game. They might be the best offensive team in the league but:
(i) the same could be said for the team that was dramatically slowed by the “Inside Man” approach a few years ago with a team sporting no more an inside presence than Kwame Brown(!); and
(ii) the Lakers are the best defensive team in the league (right now) by opponents’ field goal percentage, and that did quite a nice job in slowing down a Utah Jazz team that was the top scoring team in the first round.
Nash is great, but Williams is better, and DWill was coming of an historic first round performance against a guy like Chauncey Billups. However, when playing against a team defense like the Lakers, aided by proper spacing and ball movement on the offensive end to prevent runouts, Williams was nothing like the guy who single-handedly beat the Denver Nuggets. So it will be with Mr. Nash, I predict.
swedishmeatballs @ 8
Refreshing. My friend Reed and I noticed almost simultaneously a few days ago that, while we had always known about Kobe’s father and his heroic role in his son’s heroic journey, the real and contemporary Kobe seemed sort of antithetical to the idea of having been fathered, it’s more like he angrily came to being on an onyx tower in a lighting storm somewhere. SO, seeing his nice, gentlemanly dad in the stands had the mildly jarring effect of humanizing Kobe for us. The thought that he’s been playing his best in part at least for his dad humanizes him that much more. It’s a thought I hadn’t thought of. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if you’re right.
Jerry Sloan’s system is also unique and his team runs it flawlessly. He had an all star PG and all star PF and role players that fit in well around them.
Not saying it will be easy. Sweeping the Jazz wasn’t easy. But we swept them. And we have the same exact advantages over Phoenix that we did Utah. So I guess I’ll say that if we don’t sweep, it will be because either our injury situation got worse (which rest will help) or because the regular season apathy set back in.
To piggyback on Darius, Hollinger’s predictions have actually been pretty good thsi year, as the “samckdown” standings show. He picked the Suns from the start, had DAL losing to SA, said ORL would crush ATL.
He has been a little off on Boston and the Lakers (slightly underrating them) and Utah (slightly overrating them).
As far as PHX, they can play the Lakers tough–particularly with Bynum’s being gimpy. He and Lopez are among 3 or 4 X-factors in this series. The Lakers should be favored, but not overwhelmingly so.
Watching the Celtics – Cavs and I must admit I’m rooting for the Cavs to lose (of course I’d never, ever root for the Celtics to win).
Also reading BS’s column and it’s nice to see that he called out Utah fans for their Fisher booing.
Los Suns are a good, confident team right now. They believe in what they are doing and are playing together as a team. That said, nothing discourages a team more than two 7 footers flanking two of the best perimeter defenders in the league. When Odom replaces Bynum, our team becomes even quicker and without losing too much length. What I’m trying to say is that there is a world of difference between SA defense and the Lakers defense. While SA has been a great defensive team, probably the best two or three in the last 30 years, their age and lack of size really caught up to them this year. Los Suns did whatever they wanted to on offense, not only because they are a good offensive team, but the Spurs really had trouble guarding the rim with past his prime Tim Duncan and whoever played 5, be it McDyess (too old), Blair (too young, too short), and Bonner (too everything).
Against the Lakers, the easy layups and dunks won’t come so easy for Los Suns. I believe the difficulties Utah experienced in running their offense will surface for Los Suns as well because of the length and guile of our team defense. PJ knows how to coach his team to defend in the playoffs, our veterans will follow it.
If Los Suns can turn it into a track meet, then they have a shot, but the Lakers simply will not bite that bait nor fall into that trap. Their half-court offense and the defense will be the difference in making this series another near sweep. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this series go 6 just because Los Suns can play inspired basketball, and their shooters can get hot one or two games. However, the Lakers defense and inside game will be too consistent for Los Suns. I expect it to be over in 5.
That said, I must say that I’m really enjoying watching CLE v. BOS as I don’t care who wins because one of my least favorite teams will lose and the other will get to play well rested ORL in ECF. Talk about a dream scenario for the Lakers. I expect the ECF will be more competitive than WCF for sure, and we will have more rest after this series is over. However, we shouldn’t look too far ahead. We need to take care of Los Sun first next week.
BTW, that Steve Nash’s left handed floater bank shot is a thing of a beauty, isn’t it?
what happened to these 2 supposed heroes? lebron/rondo?
What is the significance of LA scoring 111 three games in a row?
Am I the only one who thinks elbowgate is a big charade on lebron’s part to get himself a guilt-free ticket out of Cleveland?
check out this blog! http://courtpress.blogspot.com/
Rondo has at least resurfaced in the second half. LeBron? Not to much.
What the heck is going on with the Cavs? I mean, I’m definitely happy to see LeBron and Cavs losing, but their incompetence tonight is just so shocking that I can’t even enjoy it…
mo williams and the lebrons come up short again on the big stage. how is that surprising? this time add an old fat shaq
Lebrons last game at the Q as a Cav?
BOS is up on CLE by 24 in the 4th quarter at the Q? I’m buggin.
what would be more satisfying as a Laker fan than having a chance to beat the Suns in the WCF, then avenge the Celtics in a finals rematch of 2008?
Presumes a lot, I know, but the idea is making me giddy.
LeBron can’t score from the elbow!
-joe (I’m just smirkin’) friday
The Dude Abides says
If BOS holds on here, and wins Game 6, I wouldn’t be totally surprised if they defeated ORL in the next series. Perkins can single-cover Dwight, meaning that the rest of the C’s can stay home on ORL’s shooters. Also, Rondo>Nelson.
maybe his elbow does hurt, rarely does lebron have this kind of off game (shooting at least).
Loving the outcome of the Cavs vs C’s game. Was not expecting to see this score when I came home from work. Not a fan of either team, but Shaq on Clebron makes them less likable.
LA’s series with the Suns will be the tortoise vs the hare, and we all know how that story ended. When the Suns run the floor, I have to admit that it is fun to watch such a run and gun style, but it doesnt translate into post season success.
The key to victory is what has worked since Nash has been in Phoenix, let Nash be a scorer and not a facilitator. Other than Nash, Richardson is the only player on the team that can manufacture offense for themselves. Everyone else is dependent on Nash, including Stoudamire, to create space and find passing lanes for easy shots. It will not be easy, but unless the Suns have one hell of a series for the ages, I cant see them beating LA in a 7 game series.
lbj doesnt seem fit to be compared to jordan and kobe when he plays with no fire or intensity in such an importent game, could not carry his team when it mattered
Thinking back on Lebron’s MVPee interview during half-time of Game 1 (I believe), in which he was asked how on earth he could concentrate on the playoffs in spite of the irresistible attraction of his new trophy, and he put on his serious face and by way of reply said 10,000 random words while Stuart Scott smiled mistily and fluttered his lazy eye, — thinking back, I just laugh & laugh & laugh.
Wow. I have to say, I never thought the Celts could pull off a game like this. Credit their D, they’ve done an excellent job cutting off Lebron’s driving lanes (although Lebron wasn’t nearly as aggressive as he could have been). They really do peak at the right time. Rondo is just fearsome. Boston today looked like the 2008 Celts offensively.
I still feel like an angry Lebron and Cavs team will take Games 6 and 7, but I never believed the Celts could get this far either, so my opinion doesn’t mean much.
Some can argue Deron Williams is better than Steve Nash offensively (I’m not sure he can control a game perfectly the way Nash can), but Derek Fisher defends Deron Williams very well compared to how he defends Steve Nash. Nash will give us more problems that Williams.
I’m not rooting for the Celtics…but I want the rematch and I can’t deny that I enjoy seeing Lebron’s hype get squashed. Loved the sad looks on the faces of all those cleveland fans. No dancing in the Q tonight, lol.
49) “I enjoy seeing Lebron’s hype get squashed”
I’ll see your squishing of LeBron’s hype, and raise you Shaq NOT getting a ring!
Wow TNT just showed that Richardson averaged 9 points a game against us in the regular season, and shot 3 for 21 from downtown.
That’s a key to the series. If Artest can hold him to that level, the Suns can’t win. If Richardson continues on this hot streak he’s been on, this may likely go the distance.
can you imagine the staredown (or smackdown) kobe would have given a mo williams in this series?
wow, i understand lebron having a bad shooting night, but you still have to be a leader and go down fighting b/c you are the superstar, not a role player. lebron gave up halfway through the third quarter and his team followed- there’s no honor in a 30+pt beat down in the playoffs.
Holy @#$^. What happened???
Well. At least Lebron was lucky enough to severely injure his shooting elbow, so he can explain why he’s not playing up to his full potential.
This feeling, ladies and gentlemen, that glee you feel when you see the hype around King James come crashing down and hit him across the neck as devastatingly as it did on the original, this is shadenfreude. And it feels great.
It’s also proving james right with his comment #49. Can you see Jordan not killing himself trying to win a game like this? Or for that matter Kobe? Um, noooo.
Lebron and the Cavs right now remind me of the super-gifted high schooler’s first painful crash into reality when they realize that in college they actually have to start studying. Only, they have no idea how, because they never needed to learn before… and they flunk out and it ends in tears and “it wasn’t MY fault! No one ever taught me how to study! It’s not my fault!”
I’m not rooting for the Celtics. I’m just relishing Lebron’s humiliation. 🙂
Haaaaa Haaaaa King James has lost his head. Stern might be thinking of jumping off a bridge in Cleveland.
I wonder if the pressure got to James and the Cavs?
The Beaners have been playing some good D on ole Bron, cutting off his driving lanes and making him take quick jump shots. He is not being patient, the weight of the franchise is on his shoulders and it is beginning to show.
All I have to sing for King James is
“New :York New York his kind of town”
Yahoo! Sports wanting to know if Kobe remembers the last two play-off encounters with Los Suns… Stupid question.
I tried to tell all the Cavs fans about LeBron months ago…. 🙂
Too much rest is maybe only a factor when one team gets the extended layoff and gets rusty. In this case both teams are in the same boat so this bodes well for the older and injured Lakers who get to recharge their batteries.
Lebron & Cavs are struggling because of the added pressure of expectations by the so-called experts crowning them prematurely. Throw in the fact everyone else but them swept in the second round. This may sound crazy but maybe losing to the Cavs twice was a blessing in disguise…
Aren’t we gloating a little too early and a little too hard? I mean, I’m as happy as anyone to see the Cavs come up short, but it seems like we’re taking this too far and too personal. I don’t know. Lebron, for all his ego, is not a mean-spirited player. Maybe I’m reading the comments wrong but there seems to be a lot of vindictiveness and taking pleasure in Lebron personally failing.
Maybe I’m soft.
I’m with Dude. Boston matches up quite well with Orlando (case in point: they took them to 7 without KG last year), perhaps even better than they do with Cleveland.
Seeing as they’re the only ones we would wind up getting HCA against, I’m definitely crossing my fingers they can upset both teams en route to the finals.
Snoopy yes gloating. Tired of hearing about James the savior of the NBA. And then there is that Shaq thing.
@63. i think as laker fans, we are angry that kobe’s crown as the best has been so unceremoniously dumped on lebron’s undeserving head.
tsk, tsk, playoffs are where reputations are made and lebron has not acquitted himself well there. so in some ways, it’s sticking up for our guy.
j. d. hastings says
Nice interview with Wesley Mathhews in here about Kobe (in part):
Sang to Frank Sinatra’s New York New York:
Start spreading the news…
Lebrons last home game was today….
He wants to be a part of it
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
His Nike Shoes
They are longing to stray
Right through to Madison Square Garden
New York New York
He wants to wake up in that city
That doesn’t sleep
And find He’s KING OF THE HILL
Top of the heap.
this is what happened to player when they care too much about stat.
amazing in the regular season
fail short in the playoffs
Well played, sir. Well played!
I salute you. I will sing that to my Cavs fan friends if, IF, (big if!!!) they get knocked out by the Evil Green Ones. 🙂
I think you’re right that we are taking it a bit too personally. Then again, while Lebron might not be mean-spirited, he certainly isn’t mature either. He has never had to fight to earn anything he has, to the point where he has never actually had to play injured before. And yet the refs, the league, and the media, give him more than they have ever given Kobe. We love Kobe, so we resent that, and because we do, we gloat when the one who was given everything that Kobe has earned, fails in a humiliating way.
We don’t hate Lebron. We hate the ones who fight for the privilege to graft their lips to his hind quarters as soon as he touches a basketball. The gloating is directed towards them, but we aim at him because we hope that will hurt them more. He is their next Basketball Jesus, after all. So let’s hit them were it hurts, by crucifying him… you have to admit it makes a certain perverse kind of sense.
Like I said… “we” might be taking this a bit too personally 😉
does charles barkely ever say anything intelligent? he predicted cavs in 5. then he declared orlando the 2nd best team. now he is not even sure lakers will beat the suns. is he a hater or what
Mimsy, well said. And I whole-heartedly concur.
I asked previously about the significance of LA scoring exactly 111 points in three successive victories. But the answer was as plain as the nose on my face: Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111.
Robin Taub describes Op. 111 as a “work of unmatched drama and transcendence; the triumph of order over chaos; of optimism over anguish.”
“The theme is so simple that it is fit for a child’s piano lesson. … With what seems like no effort at all, the contentedness of the opening theme is built up into a wild euphoria. …
“Complex subdivisions of metre … slowly increase the excitement until all [at once] [it’s] as if Beethoven has discovered jazz.”
The analogy to the Lakers is transparent. To hear this most lovely, most apt Lakers theme-song, simply follow the link below:
Also of significance:
111’s relevance to Finnegans Wake
111’s relevance to New Zealand
To the Roman calendar
To the Trinity
To the Three Wise Men
To the Three Strangers in non-canonized Abrahamic texts
To the Three Stooges
To the Three Musketeers
To the Book of Three
To the Three Blind Mice
To Ender Wiggin
To the Weird Sisters
To David, Goliath and Samuel
To the Koran’s 111 Jihad Verses
To Eukaryota; Metazoa; Chordata; Craniata; Vertebrata; Euteleostomi; Mammalia; Eutheria; Euarchontoglires; Primates; Haplorrhini; Catarrhini; Hominidae; Homo
To the Three Pillars of Zen: Teaching, Practice & Enlightenment
The Three who are over me,
The Three who are below me,
The Three who are above me here,
The Three who are in the earth
The Three who are in the air,
The Three who are in the heaven,
The Three who are in the great pouring sea.
from the Carmina Gadelica
To the Celtic Trinity Knot (!)
To the dura mater, the arachnoid, and the pia mater
To Christopher Columbus
To Ea, Anu, and Enil
To Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva
To the three-headed gods of old
To three cheers, hip, hip, hooray, &c. &c.
To ABC’s and easy as ABC
To small, medium, and large
To Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb
To Derek Fisher for III!
To gold, silver, bronze
To the Erinyes, the angry ones; to the Furies
Three games, 111 points in each; basically, what we’re looking at is, the Signs, Stars, Omens and Portents point toward the Lakers harmonizing with the predominant numerical category in the history of civilization, which can auger only one thing — hats.
Barkley is a bad golfer, a bad gambler and never won a ring,
Think he might be a bit jealous of Kobe?
I have to confess – I don’t entirely hate on LeBron and the Cavs; I used to live in Cleveland and if the Lakers were not in contention, I’d want Cleveland to win some kind of championship in my lifetime. So ordinarily I’d be hurting for my former home, especially against the fkn Celtics. However, since we are very much in contention, I’m just happy to see both teams beating each other up while we lie in wait….
A few things from the perspective of a Suns fan:
Yes the Lakers have the same advantages over the Suns as they did the Jazz. Yes the Jazz have a unique offensive system they execute well, however the Jazz weren’t the same team with the injuries they had. In addition, despite the “unique” system the Jazz play, they ultimately still tried to attack the Lakers in what amounts to a traditional manner. Post up, one on one battles on the inside etc. and that just wasn’t going to work for them missing key players or otherwise.
The Suns don’t attack in a similar manner. They space the floor as good, if not better, then anyone in the playoffs on the offensive end. They force the opponent’s bigs to cover a much larger area of the floor on defense then either OKC or the Jazz.
Both Bynum and Gasol have not shown, so far in the playoffs, the ability to defend in that manner. In game four the Jazz had a myriad of open looks for mid range jump shots yet seemed to reluctant to take them, or when they did they missed (with the exception of Milsap in the second half and that was one of the reasons they got back in the game briefly). This is how the Suns exploited Duncan on defense in several of the games.
The Suns ARE playing defense much better then they have in the past. As a long time Suns fan I can tell you they are much more active on the defensive end, generally very smart on help defense, and most importantly the amount of uncontested shots is significantly lower.
As far as the comments saying the Suns offense is no different then it has ever been, I would have to disagree. They don’t rely on the transition game in the manner they used to have to do. They still play at a fast pace, but again their significant improvement in spacing on the offensive end has allowed them to be much more functional in the traditional half court game.
In regards to rest, I think the rest will be very beneficial for the Lakers. They are a bit banged up and could use it. I doubt they will come out sluggish in Game 1. If anything the Suns are more likely to be sluggish. I’m not sure where “quick out of the gate” got attached to them because other then game 1 against the Spurs the Suns started sluggish and atypically cold in each of the other 1st quarters the rest of the series.
One thing I am sure of is the rest will not hurt the Suns bench. The Suns bench does not need to light up; they simply need to provide a burst of energy. That burst should be unaffected by rest, as it relies on effort not rhythm.
One last thing. The regular season games are not a good barometer for predicting this series. The first two games were both the second half of a back to back games for Suns in weeks where they had played 7 and 6 games, respectively, in 10 days. In the game the Suns won, the Lakers were without Artest.
Look, you guys are champions for a reason and Jackson has the team playing at that championship level again. I don’t know if the Suns can overcome that, but I do know that discounting them as being the same as the Jazz or dismissing the Suns as simply Nash and Stoudamire is a mistake. I think it will be a great series no matter how it turns out and can’t wait for next Monday.
I am also delighted that Barkley & co wallow around with LeBron’s disappointments on national TV. I’ve never liked their incessant backhanded compliments to Lakers & PJ, esp when the same argument about not being a great coach since he’s had great players could be made for Mike Brown.
And this is why Dex is the king. Go Beethoven!
Mimsy – That was really well put, I think you accurately summed up how most Lakers fans feel. And I guess when I think about Lebron dancing on the sidelines in the regular season and walking off the floor last year without shaking hands, it’s hard to feel pity for him.
I think most of the anger is more directed at the hype and the media’s angle towards Lebron than the man himself, although cases of his immature antics certainly don’t help his case.
Regardless, the series is far from over. Have the current Cavs ever won a series down 3-2? It’ll be interesting to see how that team responds to a new high-pressure scenario. I have a feeling they’ll force a Game 7.
Great bit from Chris Sheridan:
“I ran into Charles Oakley at Game 2 of the Orl-Cha series, and we were talking about Garnett’s elbow to Quentin Richardson, and Oakley said Garnett is a phony tough guy.”
Man, I would have loved to see Garnett try to go face-to-face with Oakley. Or rather, see him pick on Oakley’s point guard and then find himself face-to-face with Oakley.
I think Grinth makes great points. I anticipate a great series. The Suns are going to be tough out. And just as we present problems for them, they present problems for us. This is what makes the playoffs fantastic – who can dictate to the other team and impose their will on the other? Who will succumb?
I do think the Lakers are the better team. But this match up will be styles and whose style will win out. On a side note, many have said over the years that the Suns style doesn’t work in the post season. But, (and I can’t remember where) I once read that in reality the Suns just couldn’t get by the Spurs. We’ll see if this years Lakers can play the same role that SA played for those Suns. It will be interesting, for sure.
Jim C. says
It strikes me that many of the things that folks are currently saying about Lebron – for both good and bad – aren’t entirely dissimilar to what was being said about Kobe back when he was younger.
Perhaps amplified and hyped a bit more, but the similarities are there.
Lebron rubs me the wrong way too. He’s arrogant. He has a sense of entitlement. He’s been given too much, too soon. King James. The Chosen One. Back-to-Back MVPs.
I wonder just how much pleasure and joy that I would have missed out on over the last 14 years had I just given into those very feelings with regards to Kobe. I would be nothing more than one of those sad Kobe Haters that we all despise today, who refuse to acknowledge greatness when it is right in front of their eyes.
Lebron isn’t great yet. That he has been anointed as such before his time is annoying. That he’s a narcissistic egotist is plain to see and aggravating.
But the POTENTIAL for greatness is there. And I want to see what he ends of managing to do with it.
For me, Kobe versus Lebron is Brahms versus Wagner. Lebron/Wagner do a couple things very, very well. Kobe/Brahms do many more things far, far better.
Kobe/Brahms=masters of form.
Wagner/Lebron=masters of self-advertising and braggadocio.
There are even deeper parallels– Brahms operated under the shadow of Beethoven until he finally freed himself by proving his own greatness. Kobe operated under the shadow of Jordan and is also freeing himself by proving his own greatness.
Brahms vs Wagner was an important public debate taken up by common people, music-critics and even philosophers. Kobe versus Lebron is THE single most important and hotly contested individual debate in probably all of sports right now.
Too much time on my hands…
J M says
Before the playoffs, I felt that the Thunder would be our greatest obstacle to the Finals. I still believe that.
I, for one, have watched enough playoffs to know to never underestimate an opponent. Any team that can get hot from 3 is a very hard team to put away. If our bigs play dominantly we do have a good shot, but is nobody else concerned that even though we swept, Bynum put up two stinkers in a row against a bad front line. I know Pheonix’s front line isn’t Duncan/Robinson, but still, if drew can’t play right, our defense and offense are just a bit off.
Kobe has looked better, and I am curious that out of nowhere Grant Hill has become the Suns stopper (as his length should bother Kobe), but he hasn’t guarded any players in this playoffs who were in a groove. Manu was wrong ever since the broken nose, and Portland was pretty much without their best wing, even though Roy technically came back.
But our guys need to come out ready, and absolutely not expect the Suns to roll over. Our fans need to be ready for that too.
The Suns are good. The Suns are a better defensive team than Utah was. They play a style that really doesn’t help us at all as shown by the OKC series. While they don’t match our size very well, on the flip side it means we probably don’t match their spread offense very well either. Also, Amare and Nash run the pick and roll better than anyone, and we all know how bad we are at defending the P&R.
Our size advantage also means nothing if we don’t run the offense that will utilize our strengths.
And also, as Herm Edwards once said (I think it was him):
That’s why you play the game!
If the Lakers take the Suns seriously, the Suns will not pose a serious threat.
Phoenix has played well, but I think that they have gotten lucky in a couple of ways (that is not meant dismissively… all teams need some luck in the playoffs). Obviously, their first bit of celestial help came when Brandon Roy got injured then (stupidly) tried to play through it, becoming an utter liability. Yet, despite that fact, Phoenix dropped 2 games to the severely undermanned Blazers.
Phoenix came into their own during the Spurs series. But the matchup was highly favorable. Parker was returning from an injury and father time seemed to finally catch up with Duncan who looked utterly lost on defense. There was a pattern in 3/4 of the games, where the Suns got outplayed for significant stretches, but ultimately pulled away when the Spurs started to fatigue and could neither match the Suns pace nor slow them down. Gentry employed a smart game plan, having Nash play the unexpected role of “scorer” from the get-go (remember his 19-point first quarter in game 1), then exploiting the extra attention the Spurs were forced to throw at him. Several other bits of coaching acumen (such as riding Dragic till his hand cooled off) ket the Spurs off balance through the entire series and the Suns did a great job of running them into the grave.
The problems for Phoenix in the L.A. matchup are legion. We all know they can’t contend with our size in the post. But the bigger issue for the Suns is the Bryant-Richardson matchup. Yes, regular season stats aren’t supposed to mean anything in the playoffs, but its hard to ignore the fact that the Suns have an overwhelmingly good record when Richardson plays well and a sub-500 record when he doesn’t. A big reason L.A. beat them 3/4 times in the regular season is that Richardson is not much of a 2-way player. When forced to focus on defense, his offense suffers and vice-versa. If Richardson shirks his responsibilities on Kobe, he’ll get eaten alive. If he throws himself into the Kobe assignment, he’ll continue to average 8 points a game against L.A. And, of course, it doesn’t help that Kobe defends him exceptionally well, so even if he is offensively minded, there is no guarantee he’ll get into a rhythm.
Lastly, the Lakers can defend the perimeter much better than the Spurs (or the 08/09 Lakers for that matter). The Suns will not shoot the same, ridiculous percentage from behind the arc in this series with Artest, Bryant and Odom running out at their wing players. And the long gap could definitely cool them off, whereas the Lakers were never that “hot” from outside to begin with, so there’s less to lose and much more to gain.
Yes, Nash/Dragic will own Fisher/Farmar. Amare and Pau will neutralize each other at times. And if Odom doesn’t look to score in this series, it could be a long one. But the fundamentals on the ground overwhelmingly favor the Lakers.
The Dude Abides says
re the significance of 111:
Just think about what happened in the year 1985.
loving the pacquiao reference. hey he won a congressional seat, i guess he’ll rarely fight now.
im really waiting from a breakdown now. so much time until the next series. damn
lil' pau says
We’re all perhaps being a bit overanalytical about the Lebron thing, looking even in the rarefied air of high art for parallels. Rube that I am, I want him to lose simply because of comments like these expressed in tonight’s postgame:
“For me, I’ve just got to go out there and do what’s best,” James said. “The fact that I spoil a lot of people with my play — when you have a bad game here and there, when you have three bad games in a seven-year career — it’s easy to point that out. So you’ve just got to be better.
Followed by this:
“I put a lot of pressure on myself to be great, to be the best player on the court. When I’m not, I feel bad for myself, because I’m not going out and doing the things I know that I can do. But I don’t hang my head or make excuses about anything that may be going on. Because that’s not the type of player or type of person that I am.”
To recap: when he plays poorly, ostensibly only three times in 7 years (cough), he feels bad for… himself. Mother Theresa, eat your heart out, your Nobel Prize should have been sent to Cleveland.
He’s Kobe’s rival, sure, but also a major self-aggrandizing immodest a-hole. And he’s got The Artist Formerly Known as Shaq as ‘The Big Witness’ to this charade. Can’t wait for July, when Shaq inevitable throws him under the Hardaway-Kobe-Wade-Nash bus, then reemerges in some hellhole like Memphis and says that Mike Conley is the best guard he’s ever played with.
you guys forget, we put up a stinker during the finals in 2008 too.
anyway, good to see the series going the distance, and looking forward to a long series between Orlando and whoever that is that emerges from the deathmatch.
as for the suns, it’s going to be fun basketball, exciting basketball, and ultimately satisfying cuz we’ll win in 6.
if the cavs wind up losing the series, they are going to resemble a bizarro d’antoni-era suns team. totally opposite styles of play, but repeat 60+ win seasons and no ring to show for it.
Lakers in a TOUGH 6 game series. Have you guys not realized how absolutely horrible we are at defending the P&R?! We are playing against by far the best P&R team in the league, this is going to be a lot more difficult than you guys think…
Josh @ 85
Adrian @ 93
I for one believe it will be difficult. Dozens of contributers here believe it will be difficult. I even want it to be difficult, because the top, according to science and religion, is uphill. I just need to remember this during the climb.
the suns need the rest cuz they have guys like nash and hill who are older than phil jackson
The Dude Abides says
I liked Hardwood Paroxysm’s summation of Boozer’s series:
Oh man, W hit LeBron hard this morning.
This is why I’ve stubbornly stuck with Kobe the entire time, through the years of mediocrity, the injuries, the heartbreaks (04 and 08 Finals), and even the struggles of this year, while LeBron waltzed his way to another regular season MVP. His desire and competitiveness have separated him, and he fueled himself with the all the doubt, even with the growing whispers that LeBron had taken the mantle, to the point where they were no longer whispers, but “fact.” Nothing was ever given to Kobe: he may have been blessed to win 3 rings so young, but if anyone thinks that he takes it for granted now, look at the 7 years it took between the 3rd and the 4th! If LeBron truly has the heart of a champion, he better put some effort. The Cavs don’t have to win, but they can’t lose like they just did.
I don’t get the LeBron hate–other than, I suppose, the moralizing and the keyboard psychoanalysis based on his press conferences and facial expressions is just a reflexive response to the Bill Simmons-led stuff of the same ilk done to Kobe all these years. I love the Lakers and I love this site, but it doesn’t sound any better here than it does coming from Simmons.
Three points about it:
1. James himself has always treated Kobe with respect, and made a point of talking about how much he learned from him during the Olympic cycle.
2. Kobe stuck up for James after the handshake deal after the ECF last year.
3. If the Cavs come back and LeBron leads the way, these same people should acknowledge that.
Dear Darius & Co.
For some of us that leave abroad games take place at something like 4am which makes ’em impossible to watch (live).
It would be grate if you could depict how the regular season games between this teams turned out. How did the match-ups work? What was the cojunture by then? What seems constant, what changed and what seems to have changed bynow?
You know, some help to try to predict how this confrontation may turn out.
When driving into my office this morning, I heard Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio talking about how he (and many others) believe that Lebron’s lack of effort last night was completely intentional. It was somehow the proving of a point to Dan Gilbert and the entire BB community that he has no help and that if he’s not doing it, no one is. Colin argued that if Kobe has a bad game, Gasol picks him up (he also argued that before Gasol, Kobe played this game, too). Every star has to have a clear #2 and Lebron let this happen to prove he has a right to leave because Shaq is too old to be #2 and Jamison is incapable (all the other guys on that squad had their chance to step up over the last few years and have not, also due to incapability). He also argued that no one is truly capable of stopping Lebron, so it has to be his choice when a beating like this occurs. Callers were irate (particularly BOS fans) and insisted that the Celtic defense should be credited, but he laughed them off.
Although I think Colin Cowherd is generally one of the more reasonable media personalities, I think this sounds like giving Lebron yet another excuse because as Lebron himself stated, “it’s only happened like 3 times in 7 years.” What do you guys think?
Imagine the amount of negative press and hating had Kobe made the following statement:
“I spoil a lot of people with my play,” “When you have a bad game here or there, you’ve had three bad games in a seven-year career, then it’s easy to point that out. So you got to be better. ”
Wow. Three bad games in a seven year career. Chosen 1 Tattooed on his back. His own statute in driveway of house (allegedly). And people still think KB24 is more arrogant. Go figure.
>three bad games in a seven-year career
oh, but that’s taken completely out-of-context and doesn’t represent, at all, how he feels about himself and his relationship with his fans! /s ~ ?
-joe (pig-in-a-poke) friday
and another thing.. (well, the first thing is in mod.)
“And James spent the final 3:58 on the bench chewing his fingernails.” – Chris Sheridan
that habit has annoyed me for seven(7) years, and I can’t remember ever seeing a reference to it in print before!
-joe (chewing the inside of my mouth) friday
Kevin Arnovitz has a great video breakdown of Lebron’s night over at True Hoop. Well worth the time.
LeBron’s body language certainly suggested something. Disinterest? Giving up after the Celtics got off to a quick start in the third? Frustration? However, IMO (which is the only one that matters), Cowherd’s argument would only make sense if the Cavs didn’t have a chance of winning the title. Then you could make an argument that he did it to prove a point. But they clearly are one of the favorites, at least prior to last night.
LeBron was really in a “win-win” situtation. A monster playoff run would add to his legacy hugely if they win the title, and if they didn’t, then it makes his point even better. “I had a monster playoffs, and this roster/coach still couldn’t give me enough help to win.”
I think it was a combination of the pressure of the expectations getting to him and his teammates, with a great game by the Celtics.
-I’m a big fan of this team getting as much rest as possible. By far the most important reason is getting Kobe fresh. Also, even though Bynum’s injury is not the kind that will get better with rest, the rest of his body will no doubt feel better with a few days off from favoring one side.
Also, the best part of the Cavs-Celts series is watching what front-runners both of these teams are. When the games are close or the Celts fall behind Pierce, Garnett, and Allen have basically disappeared. When they get up big like last night though they suddenly can’t be stopped. (Did you see that 4th quarter? With 2 minutes left Allen and Pierce were bombing 3s and playing defense like it was a 1 point game) The Cavs are an entire team of guys who hit shots and strut around (or dance) when Lebron is getting them big leads and easy shots. The minute it gets tough they start playing hot potato with the ball or bricking long jumpers from all over the court.
From True Hoop’s First Cup (via Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon-Journal):
“Conspiracy theorists will find plenty to debate. Is LeBron James tired (from two years of nonstop basketball)? Hurting (from his injured right elbow)? Unhappy (with what looks like his team’s lack of chemistry and the decision-making of Brown)? Ready to leave town (lured by last weekend’s wooing of the New York press)?”
Welcome to Kobe’s world Lebron. You are the focus of the spotlight.
One of the many reasons that I am a fan of Kobe Bryant is his ability to have delivered in the harsh glare of that spotlight.
When comparing the great players of this era, Kobe’s only real competitors for best player of his generation status (to this point) are Duncan and Shaq. Wake me when Lebron has rings.
We don’t hate Lebron… see my reply to Snoopy in Comment #72. 🙂
Jane #102 and exhelodrvr #107:
I just listened to Cowherd (he’s on delay here) and I have to say that his argument’s make very little sense vis a vis why LeBron looked the way he did.
He’s correct in that players have made ‘statements’ during games before but Cowherd is arguing that LeBron quit to make a point. I find that *extremely* unlikely in a 2-2 playoff series.
Even if we were to hypothetically grant that Kobe took off the second half of that game 7 vs the Suns to make a ‘statement’ it was only after the game and series were decided. I just can’t see someone as competitive as Kobe or LeBron quitting in a 2-2 series to make a point. You make ‘points’ when it’s not going to hurt you competitively. LeBron and the Cavs still have (or had?) a chance at that time.
Further, Cowherd argued that LeBron quit so that he could watch his supporting cast play in order to evaluate them in his big billion-dollar decision about whether to leave Cleveland or not. This makes NO sense. No one, including LeBron, needs to sit back and watch the Cleveland supporting cast in the middle of a 2-2 series to know that they aren’t that good. I *guarantee* that LeBron already knows he needs more help (whether in Cleveland or elsewhere), so why sacrifice his chances this year?
Ultimately, IF LeBron ‘quit’ in the game last night it was out of frustration (maybe even subconsciously) rather than the intentional decision to prove a point that Cowherd is arguing for.
We don’t hate Lebron… see my reply to Snoopy in Comment #72
Maybe you personally don’t, but I stand by my statement: long distance psychoanalyis and moral judgments don’t appeal me to me any more coming from fellow Laker fans than they do coming from Bill Simmons and Adrian Wojnarowski.
RE Lebron: Players have bad games and Lebron had one. I don’t think anyone – outside of Lebron – knows if there were alterior motives in this case. I do think his post game comments were arrogant (“3 bad games in 7 years”), but that’s a topic I really don’t care about. Lebron has proven that he’s arrogant, but he’s also proven that he’s a damned good basketball player. I don’t give him a pass on his play, though.
This team was built specifically to function around James. Whether or not he’s asked for that, that’s what he has. If anything, when his teammates are struggling and playing poorly, that’s when he needs to go into *more* of a “killer” mode to try and salvage the game. Backing off further, in a tied series, is not the plan of attack I’d endorse. All that said, I think this also shows how flawed the Cavs’ schemes are. Unlike the Lakers or the Jazz, the Cavs don’t run a system beyond depending on Lebron to score and create for others or isolations in the post for Shaq and on the wing for Mo’ Williams and Jamison. When players aren’t playing well, you need something to fall back on (sets that get guys good looks) or you’re going to struggle. I think what we saw last night in Cleveland was a team wide failure, but as the best player (in this case Lebron) you’re going to take the heat. That’s life in this league.
Funky Chicken says
The suggestion that LeBron intentionally played terribly last night to send a message is one of the more ridiculous stories of this postseason.
What, exactly, was he trying to say? That Cleveland hasn’t surrounded him with enough talent, as some have suggested? I suppose that these things aren’t enough: adding an allstar point guard, trading for Jamison (and assuming his contract) while still getting Ilgauskas back, picking up Shaq (and his $20 million deal), Anthony Parker & Jamario Moon, and re-signing Varejao.
LeBron had a bad game. It happens. It shouldn’t be that much of a surprise when you consider: (i) he’s never had a killer instinct; (ii) his team has a track record of regular season success followed by postseason disappointment; (iii) his team is horribly coached, and insists on playing a half court style against an old Celtic team that should be run out of the gym; and (iv) the Celtics still have one of the best half court defenses in the league.
Just listening to Legler on Cowherd’s show…
He’s in agreement that LeBron disengaged last night, but counter Cowherd, seemed to argue based on his expressions and mannerisms that he’s more inclined to think the pressure and frustration is getting to Lebron rather him quitting to evaluate his teammates or prove a point. Not only the pressure of having to be so dominant for the Cavs to win, but also that he’s feeling his team regressing in the playoffs (losing in The Finals, then the conf finals, and (now?) the conf semis).
Certainly Lebron needs to be more agressive if teh Cavs have *any* chance, but I still have a very hard time thinking that Lebron quit in a 2-2 series to prove a point, or to evaluate his teammates. I think Lebron feels this season slipping away and he’s not handling it well.
Patrick M says
Cavs have no offensive system that can compensate for a bad game from James. Cavs D is also being exposed in these playoffs as less than advertised.
Regarding the rest issue, I don’t see it as harmful to either team. Rest at this time of year can only help players heal a little from the cumulative effect of a season’s worth of nagging injuries.
You forgot to mention another equally important factor. Theyr’e playing the Celtics: The angriest bunch of grouchy old bastards in the league. We might disagree with them and think they’re delusional, but the Boston Celtics team still believes they are better than anyone in the East and they play accordingly, even more when they sense weakness and smell blood. When they do, they play aggressively on both ends, they aim for every weak spot they can find, and they will mercilessly continue to pound and pound and pound, and when their opponents are mashed to a pulp on the floor, they will stomp on what’s left.
I guess what I’m saying is that of all the teams in the league to have a total team-wide meltdown against, the Celtics are one of the worse ones.
I’ll try to resist the urge to analyze Lebron’s psyche further.. 🙂 I will say however that if this is how he reacts when placed under extreme pressure and scrutiny then I feel fully justified and questioning his killer instincts, and his (current?) greatness.
Also, for your reading pleasure: Flunking the main event
This Cavs thing is a tempest in a teapot.
If they come back from being down 2-3 to win this series it won’t make NBA history.
Besides, if LBJ and the Cavs lose, at least the next team to sign him will know what they are getting. If they do lose, I’d love to see the smirk on Kobe’s face.
Funky Chicken says
Mimsy, you are spot on. No team in professional sports generates the hatred that the Celtics do for me, but you have to at least try to be objective.
Those guys have killer instinct. I despise each and every one of them (well, maybe not Rondo, who seems like an ok dude) but they bring it, and as you pointed out, when they sense blood they turn it up even higher. You have to respect that about them, and it is that very attribute that LBJ lacks.
I don’t find LeBron to be as objectionable as some people do, but I also think the hype is FAR ahead of the evidence. Were Kobe not still around, I might be more bothered by it, but I kind of like watching LBJ get all the accolades because of what I assume it does to further motivate Kobe. It is an injustice and disservice to Bryant for LBJ to be put in his category (much less Jordan’s).
LeBron may yet get there, but something has got to kick in that hasn’t been there yet. If your team has the best record in the league (2 years running), then you know you have adequate talent. Championship basketball is about taking great talent and elevating it under the bright lights and pressure of the playoffs. That is what has been lacking in LBJ’s career so far.
Oh, and thanks for the link. I thought the reference to Wade was an insightful one. When you look at how Wade elevates his games in the playoffs, despite an abject lack of supporting talent, you can see glimpses of what it takes to be a champion. Funny how a smaller guy with FAR less support can step it up against this same Celtic team in a way that LBJ has not yet done….
What repulses me is the hype more than the player it surrounds. I am perfectly fine with gushing over a player that has earned the praise. (Also, I think he’s a wuss 🙂 )
Kobe, Wade, and Shaq, all have a resume they can point to that and say, “You question me? Look at what I’ve accomplished!” Lebron’s resume isn’t bad, it just isn’t the greatest one out there, and I don’t think he should be allowed to use that title until he has rightfully earned it.
The word “champion” used to refer to a fighter. Not necessarily a winner, just someone who fought to the death of either themselves or their opponent. I just have never seen Lebron fight through a lot of adversity, and I’m literal-minded enough to demand that if someone wants to be at the top, they should have to do some uphill climbing to get there.
And I can’t take full credit for that article… my husband found it and emailed me the link. 🙂