Thursday, June 17, 2010

Game 7, nothing else matters....

This is it. 1 game, 48 minutes, legacies and careers will be defined by midnight.

The rejuvinated, underdog Celtics have done the improbable, with their run through the Eastern Conference to a Game 7 Finals appearance against the Lakers. On the otherhand, the Lakers, the defending champs, have been pushed to the brink and responded like champs do in a Game 6 rout. (side note: its best to lose big games, like game 6 in blow out fashion as a player or fan. If its too close, you lament over the loss for years. Blowouts don't sting as much!)

At this point, the pressure is on the Lakers. The Celtics are playing with house money. Nobody expected them to be here and they will be a decided underdog tonight without the services of Kendrick Perkins. LA is the better team, they have the two best players on the court, but in a 1 game scenario, anything can happen.

The keys for this evening are rebounding and getting off to a good start. The team that has won the rebounding category and that has led at the end of the 1st quarter has won every game. Don't expect the Celtics to get a call because the free throw disparity in this series has been horrific. Even in the Boston victories, they can't get to the foul line. This is usually a key component to the road formula victory.

Everything points against Boston winning tonight. Home court, series trends, 2-3-2 format, free throw disparity, injuries, etc. I'd give the Celtics about a 20% chance to win this evening. But I like those odds considering what they were a few weeks ago. I originally picked the Celtics in 7, no reason to change now.

Monday, June 7, 2010

what we learned after two games...

Celtics vs Lakers is tied at 1-1. Several questions have been answered to this point, but many still remain unanswered. This is what we learned so far.

1. Officiating has been terrible. Now, the national media is all over Kobe Bryant and his 5 fouls, but yet their is no mention that Ray Allen played less then 20 minutes in Game 1 due to fould trouble. Add into this equation that every Celtic big man had 3 fouls last night in the first half, Doc Rivers was using patch work line ups to keep it close. LA shot an astounding 37 free throws to Boston's 14 through 3 quarters last night, and yet the C's still won.

2. Ray Allen is a bad man. He's 34 and jump shooters aren't supposed to have this long of a shelf life, but considering in how great of shape Allen is in, he could be a legit threat for another 3 years in this league.

3. Gasol and Bynum are dominating Garnett. Gasol is having his way, but if you're a C's fan, the silver lining is Garnett has not played well yet. Of course, when you get 2 fouls in 2 minutes, its hard to establish yourself. In the 4 possessions KG was in to start the game, he had 2 points and 2 assists.

4. I still have no idea who wins this series. I picked Boston in 7 and don't really believe they can win 3 straight vs LA at home (Pistons turned the trick in '04). LA has looked like the better team at times, but the Celtics haven't hit on all cylanders yet. If Boston wins game 3, I could see them getting momentum and taking this thing at home, but its doubful that will happen. 30 NBA Finals series have been tied at 1-1, the winner of Game 3 has won the series 28/30.

5. Laker fans have to beleive it took a record setting peroformance by Ray Allen and a Rondo triple double just for the C's to win. In that equation, LA should be favored to win this thing.

Prediction: Boston wins 2 of 3 at home, LA wins game 6 creating a toss up in Game 7.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Who has on their Poker Face?

With all due respects to Lady GaGa, major conference commissioners, university presidents and athletic directors are wearing their poker faces and some are doing it better then others.

There are major and minor players in this game, with some bringing more chips to the table then others. Its looking more and more that we are heading to 4-5 super conferences comprised of 14-16 team each. Let's examine what some of these groups bring to the table.

1. Texas- The Longhorns seem to be holding all the cards right now, as their name has been mentioned with the Pac-10, SEC and even Big-10. The Longhorns bring major media markets to any conference they join, and thanks to politics and the Morril Act of the 1860's that created Land Grant colleges or agricultural schools for each state, they will also bring Texas A & M and possibly Texas Tech and Baylor with them too. The same issues that are holding back Texas now are the same ones that plagued them and prevented them from joing the SEC in the late 80's, they have to bring A & M with them.

2. Notre Dame- A Big East member in every sport except football, the Irish have remained an independent despite the fact that independents died off in the early 90's like the VCR and Walkman. Of course, they get huge TV money from NBC for their home games, so this has caused them to remain in their current status. The Irish have struggled in this age of conference expansion, and have been non-players in big boy football since the early '90's. The Big 10/11 would love to pull them in with 4 other schools, but it remains to be seen if that will happen.

3. Texas A & M, Texas Tech, Baylor- all 3 are little brothers in this equation and where ever Texas goes, the Aggies will follow. Remains to be seen if Tech and Baylor tag along or be left scrambling to remain in the Big 12 or join C-USA/MountainWest

4. Colorado- looks to be headed to the Pac 10 with no other options sitting out there at the moment

5. Okalahoma- The Sooners are an attractive fit for the Pac 10 or SEC, as they bring football power with excellence in many other non revenue sports. But like Texas, they will be forced by there state legislatures to bring little brother Oklahoma State with them.

6. Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Rutgers- any of these 3 could join the Big 10, with Pitt brining a natural rivalry with Penn State to the table. Syracuse might be reluctant to leave the Big East due to basetball, but both them and Rutgers bring the NYC metro market to the equation and lots of tv sets to the Big 10

7. Nebraska and Missouri- Each would add a western presence to the Big 10, with Missouri already having a natural rivalry with Illiois. Nebraska brings a rabid fan base for football, but not much else.

8. The SEC- Mike Slive obviously has the best football conference, but would probably like to upgrade basketball even though that is not driving conference expansion. Should he not be able to add a Texas and Texas A & M, Louisville, Clemson, Ga. Tech a and Florida State could be added.

9. The ACC-The conference is really restricted in what it can do. It was proactive in adding Boston College, Va. Tech and Miami. But being a basketball conference, the ACC is hoping not too lose members to the SEC. Possible additions could be anyone from the leftover Big East, maybe even a South Carolina cause they haven't done anything in the SEC except take up space

10. Temple- If the ACC loses members or is forced to expand to 16 teams, they could be an addition now that the football Owls are respectable and they bring the 6th winningest basketball team in NCAA history to the table, along with the Philly TV market.

11. Kansas-The Jayhawks look like the odd man out, not much is said abouth them in terms to any conference, but again, they must bring K-State with them. The Jayhawks just went to the Orange Bowl a few years ago, but they don't have the population, fan base, tradition or geographical location to really add anything to a super conference, except for a real good college hoops team.

12. Mississippi State, Washinton State, Vanderbilt, Northwestern-All of these teams should thank their lucky stars they're already in a Big Boy Conference, otherwise they would be completely left out of the picture.

Make no mistake, some teams bring more chips to the table then others, but these decisions will be based on football, population and potential tv money. Basketball and the non revenue sports don't matter in this equation.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Finals: Hot Tub Time Machine Celtics vs Lakers

A surprise, but much anticipated NBA Finals match up between the rejuvinated Celtics and the favored Lakers. The Celtics have caught lightning in a bottle and are trying to reclaim the past. The Lakers are trying to go back to back with Kobe putting himself in the conversation for all time greatest player. This has the makings of an all time series as both teams come in evenly matched. Let's break down the matchups so I can go back and relive my youth.

Last Time They Met: In the Finals, it was 2008. The Celtics won the series 4-2 by overcoming a 24 point deficit in Game 4 in LA to sieze control of the series and they humiliated LA in an epic Game 6 beat down of 131-92 that wasn't as close as the score indicates. Don't think for a second that this isn't in the back of the minds of Phil, Kobe and company.

2009-10 Match Ups: Both teams won in each others buidlings. The Lakers came back from 10 down in the 4th to win on a late Kobe jumper by a point. The C's returned the favor in LA with a one point win at Staples, a game in which Kobe did not play. Both teams are much different then when those games were played.

Road to the Finals: The Celtics limped into the post season finishing 27-27, battling injuries. They took out D-Wade and Miami 4-1, overcame a 2-1 deficit to the favored Cavaliers and won 3 straight over LeBron and maybe changed the future of the NBA for the next decade. In the East Finals, Boston dismantled Orlando for a 3-0lead and closed out Superman and the Magic 4-2.

The Lakers struggled against upstart OKC Thunder and needed a Pau Gasol tip in to win in 6 games. The Lakers drop kicked an undermanned Utah squad 4-0 and closed out Phoenix in 6 games after Ron Artest saved the day in Game 5.

Position Break Down:

Point Guard: Rajon Rondo vs Derrick Fisher. The Lakers don't really have a true 1, with Kobe running the point. Rondo has played out of his mind, becoming a bona fide superstar. Derrick Fisher, when he plays well, the Lakers win. He has a knack for hitting big shots and brings veteran leadership Have to wonder how much Rondo is injured.

Advantage: Celtics

Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant vs Ray Allen. Hands down, Kobe in this slot, but will he chase Ray Allen around the court or will this fall to Artest or Fisher. Problem for LA is Kobe has sagged of Rondo in the past, but that should not be an option. Allen can go for 20+ any time to help negate the Lakers advantage. He hit 22 3's in 6 games back in 2008.

Advantage: Lakers

Small Forward: Paul Pierce vs Ron Artest. Pierce is playing well again now that he doesn't face the taller LeBron, but only averaged 13 a game vs Artest this year. Artest will hold his own, but I think the Lakers will miss Trvor Ariza who was in this spot last year.

Advantage: Celtics

Power Forward: Andrew Bynum vs Kevin Garnett. Garnett will need double-doubles against Bynum, although the Lakers size presents a problem. Bynum has been the invisible man lately due to injuries.

Advantage: Celtics

Center: Pau Gasol vs Kendrick Perkins. Perk will bang and play hard, his physical play bothered Gasol in '08. But now Gasol is easily the second best player in this series.

Advantage: Lakers

Bench: The Celtics have a huge advantage here. Big Baby Davis, Rasheed Wallace and Tony Allen have defined roles. The emergence of Nate Robinson and possibly Michael Finley provide a huge boost for the C's. The Lakers have the Candy man Lamar Odom, but then its Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmer. Kobe makes these guys better then they are, but the Lakers have struggled in the 2nd line against OKC, Utah and PHX. Expect the same here.

Advantage: Celtics

Coaches: Phil Jackson vs Doc Rivers. The Zen master has 10 titles and already is working the refs, complaining about how physical the C's are. Doc has one title but his teams are mentally tough enough to deal with PhilJax head games. Doc is masterful designing plays for end of game situations, he has no tendencies. But despite all this, the advantage goes to the Lakers.

Advantage: Lakers

Intangibles: 1. Home Court Advantage helps the Lakers. They were blown out of every game in Boston last time around. 2. 2-3-2 format could benefit C's. If LA is down 3-2 headed back to Staples, it will be hard to come back and close the Celts out because 3. Road Records. Celtics have not only won on the road, they have embarrassed their opponents in some of these contests. 4. Last rodeo of the C's, this is it then its 10 years of being irrelevant again 5. Celtics starting 5 is 7-0 in playoff series. 6. KG has never lost a playoff series with the Celtics. Alot of people argue that Boston wins the title last year if KG doesn't get hurt.

Prediction: I can see this series going alot of different ways. If Boston gets a split in the first two games, I believe they win this series. It may take 7 games, but they are fully capable of winning two games in LA, just as the Lakers are capable of winning two in Boston. LA has had a huge size advantage in the last two series, but yet needed putback baskets at the buzzer to take control of the OKC and PHX series. Boston has gone on the road and taken its series from Cleveland and Orlando. They're gonna have to do the same thing again in LA. Boston has been playing well and at this point, I can't go against the Green even though LA has been lights out in the West. I think this series will go 7, with Boston pulling it in LA. But I won't be shocked if LA wins in 6.