“Opinions are like role players, everyone’s got them, and unless they’re yours, you don’t really respect them.” – Nels
So, as I said yesterday on Twitter, with the Blackhawks playing for the Stanley Cup, it’s kind of hard to think about the NBA Finals. That being the case, I’m going to go ahead and give myself the home court advantage in this battle of previews by going second. Patrick was infinitely more efficient, getting his part of this post done days in advance, so now I can just copy his format and make sure you know why the Celtics are going to lose (or at least post some pics of Megan Fox at a Lakers game). I’ll stay away from a point-by-point rebuttal because that would be boring to read. (As opposed to everything else on this blog)
2008. It is an inevitable comparison. The Lakers and Celtics faced off in the 2008 NBA finals; a series that Boston won 4-2 to take home their 17th championship in franchise history. But as a Celtics’ fan, the more I dig into that comparison the more worried I become.
Pierce, Allen and especially Garnett are older and further removed from their peak than in 2008. Boston’s bench is possibly at the same level as their 2008 one (although they lack a James Posey type of defensive player this year), while the Lakers’ bench is deeper now (remember Sasha Vujacic getting destroyed in the 2008 Finals?). Andrew Bynum is playing this year (kind of) while Kendrick the foul machine Perkins is one technical away from his league mandated suspension. Finally, Ron Artest was built to guard someone like Paul Pierce, freeing Kobe to focus his powers on the offensive end like he’s been doing all playoffs.
All that being said, I still like the Celtics to pull it out in a tight series. Here are three reasons why I like them in this series.
It’s a good match up for the Celtics
I am extremely happy that the C’s are not facing the Suns. The Suns would have represented the worst possible match up for Boston. The Celtics’ big weakness is team speed (in general) and transition defense (specifically) and the Suns would have run so hard that the aging core would have been gassed by the second quarter of games.
On the other hand, the Lakers’, while very good on offense, at least play the type of game that the Celtics can keep up with. On their run to the finals, the Celtics went though Wade and LeBron. While Kobe has a much, much, much better supporting cast than those two, Pierce, Ray Allen and Tony Allen should be able to make Kobe work for his offense in this series. The Celtics have been playing amazing help defense throughout the playoffs, so the more half court sets they see, the better off they are forcing turnovers and creating stops.
You could devote 20,000 words to Rondo and the playoffs he’s having (and I’m sure that Bill Simmons has), but here is all I need to know: Derek Fisher will be guarding him. That is by far the biggest mismatch of the playoffs and one I really look forward to watching.
The Lakers are still soft
Maybe not 2008-soft thanks to the addition of Ron Artest, but they are still soft. Pau Gasol has received praise for his great playoff run this season, but he has played against Jeff Green, Carlos Boozer and Amare Stoudemire, which is not exactly a murder’s row of defense. KG might not be the same player that he was in 2008, but he will harass Gasol in the post in a way that Gasol hasn’t seen in the playoffs. I fully expect the Celtics to knock the Lakers’ around in this series and for Perkins to get a technical sometime in the first half of game 1. The more complaining we hear from Phil Jackson, the better off Boston is in this series
13,977 shots of Jack Nicholson
4 games that Phil Jackson complains about the refs afterwards
3 fake Paul Pierce injuries
2 Kendrick Perkins technicals
1 game that Kobe single-handedly wins for the Lakers
The Celtics in 7
It’s rather an odd situation for someone who grew up as a fan of the Portland Trail Blazers to be in favor of the Lakers ever. But, as a current Chicago Bulls fan, I cannot let myself even consider wanting good things to happen to the current Boston Celtics team. Once the Celtics are done with Garnett and Rondo, then I can perhaps stop wishing them ill, but bad blood from Rondo boarding Kirk Hinrich in 2008 still runs in my veins. As for Garnett, well, sorry, but I’ve never liked Garnett. I’ve felt sorry for him, sure, but never liked him.
Anyway… on with it!
Yes, like the Celtics core, Kobe is getting old and he’s a little bit beaten up. But he has been for a while and it hasn’t kept him from being a Top 10 fantasy player and, while maybe not an MVP candidate, he is still a First Team All NBA player. And he loves to put the dagger in. There were many posts about LeBron’s “will to win” (if you will) after the performances he had to close out the Conference Semifinals. There is no question about Kobe’s will. He wants to take that last shot so he can be The Man just as much as LeBron does. But Kobe would sacrifice being The Man off the court if it meant more championship rings. I’m not sure you can say the same about LeBron. And the same sort of obtuse logic can be applied to the Celtics. Garnett is their man with the will to win for winning’s sake. But Paul Pierce (or sometimes Ray Allen) is the guy taking the shots at the end of games. The power and force there is less concentrated because it’s spread between the Big 3. Because of Kobe’s ability to dominate, the Lakers have at least 1 win right there.
I’m going to start this comparison with the Cavs because they are basically like the Transformers franchise: tossing out some parts that should have worked (Megan Fox) for others that might work (Rosie Huntington-Whitely), but the result is still just big numbers with no championship. What does that make the Celtics and Lakers?
The Celtics are like an art house ensemble film: there’s a ton of good actors and you know it’s going to be a good movie on a technical level, but you don’t really actually want to watch it.
The Lakers are like Grown Ups: A couple of big name guys who can totally dominate when they’re at their best, a few other guys who are pretty good, and while you’re not sure what the script is going to be like, you’re probably at least going to be entertained.
Ron Artest is Crazy and Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins have short fuses
What are the odds on someone getting punched in this series? Probably not as good as they were for the Blackhawks going in to the Final, but it’s gotta be pretty close.
If Perkins gets another technical and misses a game, you can almost give that one to the Lakers. The Celtics losing one of their two big men means that Gasol and Bynum will be going against Garnett and either Big Baby (sorry dude, you’re stuck with it) or Rasheed Wallace.
Ron Artest is good at defense
Rondo will dominate the Lakers’ Point Guards, but if Artest can shut down Paul Pierce, the Celtics are done. Garnett doesn’t have the firepower – look at his numbers against Orlando. Ray Allen has the firepower, but he will be drained going against Kobe. Pierce is the guy who brings points when the Celtics need points, and he’s going against Artest. If Pierce has an off-night, Allen, Garnett and Rondo are going to have to chip in an extra few buckets apiece to make up for it, and if they can’t, that’s another one for the Lakers.
Doc Rivers is a great coach, no doubt. Phil Jackson is better. Yes, Phil’s had two of the greatest basketball players of all time on his teams (with Scottie Pippen and Shaq along for the ride), but he he knows what he’s doing. I’ve been doing web development as long as Doc Rivers has been coaching, but I probably wouldn’t get hired over someone who is just as creative, clever, hard-working, innovative, and handsome but with 10 more years of experience than me (unless they had outrageous salary demands or something).
Jackson will figure out whatever is thrown at him, and put his players in a position to counter, overcome, and win.
If That Wasn’t Enough
Here’s 10 More Reasons the Lakers Will Win
2,832 shots of Kevin Garnett complaining, dismissing, pleading, or disbelieving
3 Paul Pierce gang references
2 Kendrick Perkins technicals
1 Lamar Odom shining moment
1 Kobe game-winner
Not nearly enough shots of Megan Fox
The Lakers in 6