From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: Usually five games into an NBA finals, we have a pretty good idea who is going to get the finals MVP award. This finals? Good luck. You’d have an easier time naming all 11 starters on the Slovenian national soccer team. Really, the only consistently good player on both sides has been Kobe Bryant. The guy who tried to carry the Lakers to victory in Game 5 by himself during the third quarter. Win or lose, Kobe has been there, scoring 29 points or more in four of the five games. It has not always been efficient scoring, but he has been the one player who has attacked in each and every game.
From John Krolik, Pro Basketball Talk: Question: The classic Lakers chicken-or-egg question: Did Kobe Bryant take 15 more field goal attempts on Sunday because the Lakers had no other offensive activity, or did the Lakers have no other offensive activity because Kobe took 15 more field goals than anybody else? PBT’s answer: On Sunday, the Lakers’ lack of offense was definitely what forced Kobe into takeover mode. In the first half, when Kobe took 12 FGAs and accumulated all four of his assists, the Lakers managed to score 39 points. In the second half, when Kobe took 15 shots and made all seven of his free throws, the Lakers scored 47 points.
From Kelly Dwyer, Ball Don’t Lie: This team’s back is against the wall. Los Angeles doesn’t have another loss to spare, if it wants to win a championship, and they have quite the task set out before them. Two wins in two games against a team that has won three of five against them over the last two weeks, a team that beat them in the 2008 NBA Finals, and a squad that more or less played them to a hilt during the regular season. If any team could pull off a Finals win, down 3-2, it’s these Lakers. But paper don’t play, and the defending champs still have to execute and follow through if it wants to win its latest ring.
From Kelly Dwyer, Ball Don’t Lie: The team has set the stage with hard work, execution, trust, and talent. And though the Celtics are just one win away from the team’s second championship in three years, it still has quite the task ahead of it. Close it out in Los Angeles, against a fantastic team like the Lakers, with L.A. playing the cornered animal routine on its home court. That can’t be easy. And though the odds would seem to be in Boston’s favor, if you listen to Las Vegas, this is still Los Angeles’ series to lose. So here are five ways Boston can make this Los Angeles’ series to lose.
From Sebastian Pruiti, NBA Playbook: Kobe Bryant’s third quarter in game five was truly amazing to watch. With that being said, I have to agree with Matt Moore who wrote at ProBasketballTalk that this run ruined any chance the Lakers had of winning. They Lakers played their best basketball and were most competitive when they were passing the ball around and having contributions from all players. However, where Moore blames Phil Jackson for this run (for essentially allowing Kobe to go off), I want to give the Celtics defense credit.
From Saurav A. Das, Silver Screen and Roll: “Listen, if you told me at the beginning of the year that we’ve got two games at home to win a championship, yeah, I’ll take that.” Those aren’t my words. Those are the words of one Kobe Bean Bryant, four-time champion, surefire Hall-of-Famer, 12-time All-Star, one of the greatest players to ever set foot on the hardwood and damn sure one of the most competitive. Is Kobe being passive in saying this? Hell no. In fact, he’s raising a good point. Ignore being on the brink of elimination for a second, and just think about this: we are two home games away from winning a championship. Ignore that if we lose even one game, we lose it all. If that happens, it happens, but thinking of it before that fact is just psychological strain.
From Mike Trudell, Basket Blog: As it turned out, the Lakers averaged 37 points in the lane in L.A. thanks largely to a powerful 48-point performance in Game 1’s 102-89 win, while Boston came in at 33 paint points on the other end. L.A.’s average might have been considerably higher had Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum not combined to take 25 free throws in Game 2, making 20, while Boston’s bigs attempted only nine foul shots. But in Beantown, it was an entirely different story, the Celtics averaging 50 points in the paint through three games, and L.A. only 34.7.
From Kevin Ding, Orange County Register: he wall their backs are up against would make anyone stand up and take notice, yet chills running up and down their spines are not what the Lakers are feeling. They see the light, the one that someone leaves on for you when you’re coming home. It feels good. “We’re in a good situation,” Pau Gasol said. “As tough as it is losing these last two games, we’re going to fight for a championship at home. We’re in a position that I think we would all be happy to be in at the beginning of the season.” It’s a curious position, for sure.
From Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times: Uh-oh. It’s a Game 6 between the Lakers and Boston Celtics. Lakers fans hate to go there based on recent history, but it’s hard to avoid, seeing as how the teams have basically reverted to two years ago, when the Celtics’ physically charged 131-92 victory ended the NBA Finals and was either the best or worst game of 2008, depending on perspective. The Lakers returned home Monday afternoon, which might have been the best news for them on a designated travel day where no Lakers coaches or players spoke to the media.
From Baxter Holmes, Los Angeles Times: An NBA title is just 48 minutes away, a fact the Boston Celtics cannot deny. “The moment that is before us, it’s starting to rear its head in,” guard Ray Allen said. The Celtics, who lead the NBA Finals series three games to two, need to defeat the Lakers one more time, which can come Tuesday night or, if the series goes to a Game 7, on Thursday. But no matter what, it will have to happen on the road, at Staples Center. The Celtics are 1-7 in close-out road games in the playoffs over the last three seasons, and have lost two such games this season, in Miami and Orlando. In fact, the last time their starting five finished a road playoff series came in the 2008 Eastern Conference finals against Detroit.
From Elliot Teaford, Los Angeles Daily News: The Lakers’ task is simple. It’s not easy, of course, but it has been clarified thanks to their loss to the Celtics in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Sunday in Boston. They simply cannot lose tonight in Game 6 if they expect to win their second consecutive championship. The Lakers cannot be outscored, outrebounded or outhustled. And if they win tonight, they have to do it all over again Thursday in Game 7. “I’m not very confident at all,” Kobe Bryant said Sunday. Then he laughed, indicating he was joking.
From Andy Kamenetzky, ESPN Los Angeles: With all those trailers run during the Los Angeles Lakers-Boston Celtics series, it’s hard to keep “The Karate Kid” out of your head these days. One of my favorite scenes in the original movie comes during the climactic tournament. Daniel LaRusso is in the trainer’s room suffering from an illegal kick to his knee. Despite the injury, he wants to keep fighting. Mr. Miyagi tells him it’s not necessary; his performance made it clear he could have won. He has nothing left to prove.
From Chris Broussard, ESPN.com: One thing and one thing only should be on the Lakers’ minds Tuesday: winning Game 6. Don’t think about Game 7, about how hard it will be to beat Boston twice. Don’t think about history, about how a Finals loss to the hated Celtics would be worse than a loss to any other team. Don’t think about the potential death of your potential dynasty, about how Phil Jackson might coach his last game for the Lakers. Just think about avoiding elimination and leave the thoughts of what else is at stake to us. Because there is indeed a lot more than the 2010 NBA title on the line. First of all, there’s poor Ron Artest. He’s already destined to go down as a woeful underachiever.
From Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: f history, as it is often said, is a living, breathing entity, then that’s more than a half-century of a hot, ugly, gruesome past the Lakers can now feel panting on their necks. This is not just Paul Pierce slinging in elbow jumpers or Rajon Rondo hustling for offensive rebounds and converting put-back buckets. It is Don Nelson’s jumper kicking high off the back iron and falling straight down through the hoop and Sam Jones’ stumbling shot dancing around the rim as if it were a Tibetan prayer wheel before finding the bottom of the net.
From Art Garcia, NBA.com: We’ve all heard the stat: Phil Jackson is undefeated (47-0) in series when his teams win the first game. That run of playoff success is unmatched and, frankly, pretty awesome. Well, what about this stat? Jackson squads are 1-5 when trailing 3-2. History is going to give this week, as either the Ten Master keeps perfection alive or the Lakers fall by The Finals wayside. The defending champs return to Los Angeles after losing the last two in Boston, losing control of the series in the process. Jackson has always been the ultimate frontrunner, as that Game 1 stat illustrates. Jackson prefers to be ahead of the pack, and above the fray, watching as others respond and counter and adjust. Many accuse Jackson of being arrogant and condescending. Winners usually get that rap.
From Scoop Jackson, ESPN.com: The question has hung over the series like the feel of seven Long Island Iced Teas the morning after: When is Kobe Bryant going to have a Kobe Bryant game? He finally had it in Game 5. And he left the TD Garden — and Boston — with nothing to show for it. Which begs the next question: Have we seen the Kobe Bryant yet that we all felt would be the difference in this series? Or better: Where’s that Kobe at?
Who complains about calls more:
I am so nervous. It’s going to be hard watching the game tonight.
when the C’s lost game 3 at home, the owner, the mayor, the city,…, blaming everything on NBA refs. The C’s came back and win game4, and 5. Same thing with the Lakers, they can come back and win game 6, 7 in LA. We can talk about offense, defense, but the bottom line is having a desire to win championship. True championship team can come back and win. If you can’t win on your home floor, you don’t deserve anything.
I am so nervous. It’s going to be hard watching the game tonight.
Indeed. The entire series has been nerve-wracking and not alwyas in a good way.
Nerve wracking and, really, sorta unpleasant. Aesthetically unpleasant.
While I can transcend my homerism and concede that the calls are probably “goin’ both ways”, I still dislike the refereeing.
By permitting this level of bump, hold, hit, grab “physical” defense, the baskets make me feel relieved that someone finagled a ball in while being manhandled, rather than elated with the quality of basketball.
But complaining about calls is like the sound of one hand clapping. If the Lakers want to be the champions, they simply must man-up and make it happen.
Nothing we say or do will change the outcome of the series. The difference between a repeat and a frustrating summer is in the hands of the Lakers players.
These are must-win games, obviously. It could be argued that many fans appear to want this championship more than some of the Lakers players, like Odom. All that is moot. Millions of emotional investments all hinge on how nine guys in purple and gold uniforms perform tonight and, hopefully, Thursday night.
With that said, I am confident and nervous at the same time. The Lakers had opportunities to win any of the three games that became losses. The games all came down to the late-game execution that the Lakers failed to run properly, in addition to costly turnovers.
But, I still believe.
Dexter has a good preview of tonight on SS&R:
Lakers-Celtics Game Six Preview: Everything and Nothing
A lot of debate out there about #24 being the MVP of this series, win or lose. What do you guys think?
Steve W says
“A lot of debate out there about #24 being the MVP of this series, win or lose. ”
#1 – Will not happen. It’s been 40 years and it hasn’t even been close to happening a second time. Jerry West got a pity award, Kobe garners no pity.
#2 – Should not happen. He’s shooting 43% and turning the ball over too much, and his defense has been mediocre. Kevin Garnett is the MVP of the series IMO. He’s been the difference in the last two games, which were both ‘must-win’ games for the Celtics. His defense, timely offense and leadership have been impressive, much as I dislike his heart-thumping nonsense.
EDIT: I’m less nervous about this game than I have been. I am at peace with whatever outcome. I expect a loss, honestly, though I still hope for a win. When the Celtics are locked in defensively I truly believe they are the best team in the league, and they’ve been locked in for most of the last two games.
Hollinger brought this up. I haven’t seen anyone else say it. But Steve W is right: West had no rings in 1969, and there are famous stories about Havlicek’s saying “I love you” to West in the locker room afterward, and Russell’s holding The Logo’s hand in sympathy. In addition, West was the game’s most revered white player in a time in which racism was, of course, very prevalent in the mainstream.
Also, West’s Game 7 line in 1969–42 points, 13 assists, 12 rebounds, on a balky hamstring–was phenomenal. So no, it won’t happen.
As to shouldn’t, we don’t know yet, of course. If Kobe put up Jordan numbers the next two games and the Lakers lost in 7, the argument might be there. But my guess is that if Boston wins, one guy among Pierce/Garnett/Rondo/Allen will do something to get it, or they will share the award between 2 of those players.
8 Jane, nobody is debating it. Only Hollinger is trumpeting it, which imo is overly reliant on stats. Most ‘experts’ are picking one of the big C’s if they win and Kobe if we do.
The stats don’t mean anything if you don’t win. It should be whoever performs for the winning team this last 1/2 games.
: I’m less nervous about this game than I have been. I am at peace with whatever outcome. I expect a loss, honestly, though I still hope for a win. When the Celtics are locked in defensively I truly believe they are the best team in the league, and they’ve been locked in for most of the last two games.
You may be right about the second part about Boston’s D, but I do not think I will be able to be “at peace” with it if the Lakers lose to this team again.
Laker Nation: 2006 Heat didn’t make it to the finals to defend their title, the 2007 Spurs did’nt, 2008 Celtics didn’t either!
The Lakers have made it all the way back to the finals to defend their championship! That speaks volumes to the type of team they are; they are here at the finals because they weathered injuries and adversity all season long! And they will persevere tonight, also!
If you don’t know, now you know: its not easy to win Back-2-Back championships!
Lakers leave it on the floor tonight!
Get after It!
I didn’t say who (i.e., media outlets) was debating it; a lot of fans I know are discussing this (specifically because no one in green has really stepped up and grabbed it) in my real life, hence giving it more ineterst to me than random musings on the internet. 🙂
I have always been a believer that the MVP should be based on the entire playoffs and not just the finals. In that case, it would clearly be Rondo if the Cs win and Kobe if the Ls win.
Great adjustment from Brian K over at the Land O’Lakers blog:
*Get Bryant Touches Without Him Being Primary Ballhandler*
The Lakers didn’t sit in traditional triangle sets for 48 minutes. In the first half, they ran a lot of pick-and-roll with Kobe up top, working to draw the defense and relying on Kobe to make the right play. When there was space, Kobe made the right passes, but Boston didn’t give him much space. Each trip into the lane was like running an obstacle course, so it was no surprise to see the Lakers struggle to score.
Whether it’s utilizing Gasol’s ball moving abilities in the high post, allowing Odom to handle the ball more to initiate possessions, the Lakers have to find ways to get Bryant the ball on the move, in positions where the Celtics can’t load up on him so easily. He’ll draw their attention no matter where he is on the floor, but it’s much harder for Boston to account for him when all five guys on the floor can’t stare at him dribbling the ball.
The Lakers and Phil Jackson couldn’t make this happen in 2008, and it’s becoming an increasingly large problem again this time around.
I agree with all of that. Look, Game 5 was close because Kobe went off – just like he went off in Game 3 of 2008. We can’t reasonably expect that kind of performance again. So our other players will have to play much better, not marginally better. Sending Kobe into a thicket of defenders clearly does not work, if you’re looking for sustained success.
It’s time to start moving Kobe off-the-ball on the weakside, and let Pau go to work in the post on the opposite side. Pau and Lamar’s 2-man game can be effective, I believe, if Kobe is on the weakside constantly moving (NOT standing and watching) and drawing attention.
Fisher will need to shoot better. We need at least 1 floor-spacer to beat this team. For some reason, I also have a weird feeling that Farmar or Sasha will come up (relatively) big today.
Can Kobe just come out and SAY IT!?!? My teammates need to HELP. Peep a fantasy Kobe pregame speech: http://bit.ly/armyhd
Also, who was the idiot who jinxed us by asking about a parade when the series was up 2-1? Ban for life.
Game preview is up.
if we’re going to give out an mvp award to garnett, then greg kite is well overdue for one as well. heck, send one to bill laimbeer too – hacks of the world unite! They just butcher people in the lane, however kg and laimbeer have an outside shot. kg used to play defense. he now plays the law of averages. refs can only see so many fouls. for every 1 foul called, kg commits 5 more that are not called. He really should be called Kevin “The Hack” Garnett.
Im not nervous about the outcome of tonights game, every game that LA has lost in this series has been down to the wire with the results of the game based off of two or less possessions in Bostons favor. I expected Boston to come out for games 4 and 5 with the cant lose attitude, and LA having to get every bounce to get that second win on the road. I dont think, until tonights game, LA has experienced the sense of urgency that the next two games will bring this whole series. Being at home for both clinching games makes a huge difference.
There will be no better place than in LA to hoist that trophy up as we watch Pierce walk off the court speechless and wondering how the momentum turned on them so quick.