Call it therapy. My random thoughts from the NBA Finals.
- First off, as much as it hurts me to say this, congratulations to the Lakers who took care of business in game 7 of the finals to beat my beloved Celtics to win their second championship in a row and 16th overall. Game 7 was a defensive standoff, highlighted by super tight D, missed shots, blocks, steals, fouls and tons of Lakers’ offensive rebounds. It was also the highest rated finals since 1998.
- How about the Lakers coming out ahead in a battle of defense? They beat the Celtics at their own game, doing a great job of providing help defense, rotating to stop Boston’s quick passes around the perimeter and – doing something Boston couldn’t do – getting defensive rebounds.
- Short of a couple desperation threes, the Celtics couldn’t buy a shot in the 4th quarter of game 7 and looked gassed from expending so much energy on the other side of the ball. But also credit the great all around play by Ron Artest, who smothered Paul Pierce so much in that game, I’m pretty sure he can tell whether Pierce is circumcised or not. He probably mentioned it in his post game interview, which I didn’t watch.
- Speaking of the Celtics’ offense, man did that regress through the series. The first few games, they were running baseline screens and pick and rolls to get guys like Pierce and Allen open, which devolved to isolation plays for Pierce and KG in games 4 and 5, which devolved into ‘let’s run into a Laker, throw up a crazy shot and hope we can get to the line’ in game 7.
- I’m sure everyone feels this way about someone, but every time I see Sasha Vujacic, I want to reach through my television and punch him in the face. I really don’t know why. Just that his face disgusts me.
- The most painful part of the game as a Celtic fan was watching all those Laker offensive rebounds. As Jeff Van Gundy and company noted, when you miss as many shots as the Lakers did, you are going to have opportunities for offensive rebounds. The Lakers were bigger than the C’s at every position on the court, but damn that was painful to watch.
- Oh, the mandatory ‘what could have been’ moment from the finals. What if Kendrick Perkins didn’t get hurt in game 6? Perkins is a bruiser and is built like a piece of farm equipment, which is exactly what the C’s needed more of in the paint in game 7. Perkins definitely grabs a few of those Laker offensive rebounds, something old man Sheed and undersized Big Baby had trouble doing.
- Of course, it can go the other way too. What if Andrew Bynum had been completely healthy instead of playing on one knee? Oh wait, that’s never going to happen.
- The Celtics game plan all series was to force Kobe into taking the hardest shot possible and hope that his selfishness would put his teammates in a funk. It worked well in Game 5, when Kobe went off at the detriment to his teammates, and it almost worked in Game 7, as Kobe finished the game 6 for 24 from the field.
- But again, it all comes back to Ron Artest in game 7, who hit big shots when he needed to and carried the Lakers’ offense in the second quarter when Kobe couldn’t get anything going. Lamar Odom finally chipped in a couple good games and makes you realize how big of a match up problem he can be when he’s actually playing hard and not in some alternate universe. And Pau Gasol chipped away at the C’s big men all game so that by the fourth quarter they were all in foul trouble and he could do what he wanted down low.
- The Kobe to MJ comparison? I was actively rooting for Kobe to shoot the ball in this game rather than to pass it to Gasol, Odom Artest, or even Fisher. I don’t think I would have ever thought that about Jordan. At least the non-Wizards version.
- The fourth quarter of game 7 was probably the most painful 12 minutes of basketball I’ve watched in a long time. Boston put LA to the line 20 times in that quarter, starting with Ray Allen’s stupid foul on Kobe when he was just standing at the three point line and Boston was up by 4. Kobe wasn’t even going to shoot until Allen tangled up with him.
- The stake through the Celtics’ heart was Derek Fisher’s three with 6 minutes left in the game to tie the game at 64. I wasn’t even mad after that possession. I was simply impressed that Fisher could shoot a ball with such a high arc and it still go in. I think his shot might have touched the roof on the way up. Super ballsy shot by Fisher.
- Ray Allen generally played very good defense all series on Kobe, but (recorded breaking three point games aside) this finals series made me not quite as eager for the Celtics to resign him.
- No one gives a better 20 seconds than Brian Scalabrine.
- Almost went without mentioning Rondo, who was 2 rebounds short of a triple-double in game 7. Enough said.
- The thing that really burns my cabbage is that the Lakers will be just as good or better next season, while the Celtics and their big 3 have clearly peaked and are on the decline. This year was Boston’s best opportunity, next season ain’t going to be as pretty.
- Finally, I owe my television remote an apology. Sorry for throwing you around like that.
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