From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: Against Orlando, the Celtics were willing to let Dwight Howard score. They single-covered Howard so perimeter defenders could stay home on the Magic’s shooters. They thought (correctly, it turns out) that Dwight Howard could not beat them alone, even if he went off for a big night. Try that with Kobe Bryant and he will beat you. Boston knows that, and they don’t mess around with Kobe. History has shown that the way the Celtics defend Bryant is almost the opposite of what they did to Howard — they try to force the ball out of Bryant’s hands and make some other Laker beat them.
From Henry Abbot, Truehoop: Rajon Rondo is a far better player than he was a year or two ago. His defense, his ability to get in the paint and make plays for himself and his teammates, his leadership … He may well be the most important Celtic. He’s everything to that team. Except for one thing: a reliable jump shooter. Two years ago in the Finals, Rondo’s lack of a jumper hurt the Celtics in various ways, mostly because Kobe Bryant would routinely leave Rondo to help his Laker teammates defend all over the court. It made things difficult for the entire Boston offense. The idea that’s floating around now is that Rondo is all grown up, and that won’t be happening any more.
From SLAM Online: With 2010 NBA Finals tipping off tonight, another season nears completion. SLAMonline’s been covering it all, from last summer’s Draft through All-Star weekend and, more recently, the NBA Playoffs. Hopefully you’ve been with us for the duration of the ride. If not, it’s never too late to get down with us… Over the next two weeks, we’re gonna be shifting it up another gear, posting tons of content live from L.A. and Boston. Lang kicked off our Finals coverage yesterday. Today, we all get into the mix. Before you are SLAM’s 2010 championship predictions. Tonight the end begins. And we’ve got you covered like Artest does Pierce.
From Matt Moore, Hardwood Paroxysm: I have maintained since 2008 that this was not a great team. That they were a very good team, the most talented team, a load of other superlatives, but never great. Because they never managed to really show any heart. Their version of “dealing with adversity” was when the Rockets without Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady and Dikembe Mutumbo outworked them in a seven game series (they had Ming for three games). They always seemed to coast, and then do just enough to get by. They did not execute at an elite level. Their victory over the Magic last year was primed off of a weak playoff schedule (neither Utah nor Denver look very convincing as challengers at this point, do they?), and then a superior talent base with some karma from the Gods (read:Fisher) thrown in.
From The Painted Area: With Basketbawful reposting its epic series from 2008 on the “Worst of the Celtics-Lakers” – a comprehensive series-by-series look at each Boston-L.A. Finals matchup – I thought I’d do a modified repost of what I wrote on the eve of the 2008 Finals, as I think it’s more relevant than ever today. What I wrote then was “[W]hat’s interesting in looking back at the history of Celtics-Lakers Finals is that, despite Boston’s decisive 8-2 edge, the C’s have often won as underdogs, occasionally by stealing games they had no business winning.”
From Trey Kerby, Ball Don’t Lie: As we all know, the Lakers are a storied franchise. Literally, there are stories about them, several in book form. And in their storied history, they’ve had many storied players who also have had books written about them. George Mikan, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Elden Campbell, Shaquille O’Neal — the list goes on and on. And then it goes some more because the Lakers have been around since before the NBA. But among all those legendary greats, no Laker is more important than Jerry West. He spent his entire career in Los Angeles, then coached the team for three seasons and followed that up with a short stint as a Lakers scout before building the 1980s Lakers that won three titles. Jerry West is a Laker through and through, and when it comes to all-time Laker greats, if you said Jerry West was the greatest, a lot of people would agree with you.
From Kelly Dwyer, Ball Don’t Lie: he NBA Finals start on Thursday, and you don’t get to the NBA Finals without having a chance at a championship. Unless you’re the 2007 Cleveland Cavaliers, and/or you start Eric Snow So let’s go over a few reasons — three, you’ll find out — why the Lakers can beat the Celtics four times over the next two weeks. We worked the Celtics earlier this morning. Right now? The Lakers. Keep the offense flowing Easier said than done, I know. Moving from Phoenix’s squishy zone to confront those karate-choppin’ mamajamas from Boston is no easy task, but the Lakers were built to make tricky come to life.
From Kelly Dwyer, Ball Don’t Lie: The NBA Finals start on Thursday, and you don’t get to the NBA Finals without having a chance at a championship. Unless you’re the 2007 Cleveland Cavaliers, and/or you start Eric Snow. So let’s go over a few reasons — three, you’ll find out — why the Boston Celtics can beat the Lakers four times over the next two weeks. Don’t you worry your pretty little face, Orange County. Later Wednesday, we’ll do the same for the Lakers. The team can run Boston gets stops. The Lakers might be pretty potent offensively, but the C’s will still earn their fair share of stops, grab their fair share of rebounds, and find themselves with their fair share of chances to make the Lakers look old and confused in the open court. The key will be the only Celtic that isn’t old and confused, Dr. Rajon Rondo.
From Dave. E. Gold, Momma There Goes That Man: 1. How much impact will Perkins’ situation of 1 Tech from suspension have on his play? John Karalis: Virtually none. The only thing he needs to do is not do anything stupid after the play (like swing an elbow) or show up a referee. I think the refs are pretty aware of Perk’s situation, and they’ll give him an opportunity to really earn the suspension. But they won’t tolerate any sort of swinging elbows. But that won’t matter when it comes to actual game play. He’ll still play his game.
From Marlon Benjamin, The Hoops Forum: The 2010 NBA Finals will feature a rematch of the 2008 NBA Finals, this time it is the Los Angeles Lakers who will have the home court advantage over the road warrior Boston Celtics. The Lakers have yet to lose at home this post season but the Celtics are an impressive 5-3 on the road winning 2 of 3 road games against the teams with the two best records in the NBA during the regular season. Here are the 5 keys match-ups that will determine the outcome of this years edition of L.A. vs. Boston:
From Paul Kingston, DerekFisher2.com: On the eve of the 2010 NBA Finals, relive one of the most memorable shots of Derek Fisher’s career. Earlier during the current playoffs, Derek sat down for a series of exclusive interviews for his web site, DerekFisher2.com. In one of them — the one featured today — he recounts the game-winning shot he hit on May 13, 2004. In case you’re unfamiliar with the play, or even if you are, this was the scene. It was Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals, and the Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs were tied at two games apiece. San Antonio, courtesy of Tim Duncan, had just gone ahead 73-72, leaving four-tenths of a second on the buzzer.
From Mark Medina, Los Angeles Times: It’s been a long-held stereotype: East Coast sports fans are utterly obsessed with their teams to the nth degree. West Coast fans carry the reputation of being a little too casual, a little too apathetic and a little too distracted to seriously follow a sports team. That’s why it was almost inevitable that a discussion like this would come up with the Lakers-Celtics Finals looming. But it was surprising that Celtics forward Paul Pierce, an Inglewood native, would miss the mark entirely when comparing and contrasting the Lakers-Celtics fan base.
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: At the center of Hurricane Kobe in 2007, when he angrily whipped and whirled and wanted out of town, one team official peeked out from under the makeshift shelter, the helplessness and fear taking over. His voice rising with desperation, he began to argue that it’s not as if Kobe Bryant is the only one who wants to win. I distinctly remember listening and nodding … and then the interjection climbed out of my voice box. But …” Now here’s Phil Jackson, a mere three years later but long enough for Kobe Bryant and the Lakers to have re-established a dynastic partnership, to explain how Bryant indeed does have an uncommon will to win. “He devotes so much of his life to this game,” Jackson said. “It really does take an inordinate amount of time in his daily life. It’s not a pastime to him. This is a devotion, not just an avocation. When you throw yourself into it as deeply as he does, all those things count a little bit more.”