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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.