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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Final Fantasy XI: Lakers/Celtics Preview

Posted by Tariq al Haydar

by Tariq al Hayder

So the conspiracy theories have come to pass: we got the dream Final all the neutrals were hoping for. Of course, fantasy match-ups often fail to live up to expectations, so I wouldn't be too shocked if the eleventh incarnation of the Boston/LA rivalry ends up being underwhelming. There are too many subplots to go through, stories I'm sure the media will bombard us with in the coming days: Kobe's prodigal return to the Finals, KG's long road to a shot at a ring...etc. Which is why I'll try to take a simplistic, nut-and-bolts approach to this preview.
For starters, I'm happy. I'm fine with either one of these teams winning, although my desire for Garnett to win a chip will make me root for the Celtics. But in all honesty, I don't think Boston can handle the Lakers. Remember when the C's swept Texas? If you had told me then that this would be the Finals match-up, I'd have picked Boston to win it, but after watching three playoff rounds, I've arrived at another conclusion.

Why the Lakers will Win:
We all know that the best player in this series is the best player in the world: not Ray Allen. The Lakers also have a massive advantage in the coaching department. But the main reason I think the Lakers will win is that the Celtics have a makeshift feel about them. They seem like a squad that's awkwardly stuck together: "Quick, let's sign Sam Cassell and P.J. Brown off of waivers!"…"Hey, maybe Eddie House should play…um…now?"… They seem to have stumbled into the Finals almost haphazardly.
The Lakers, conversely, know exactly who they are. Every player knows his role. They have the best bench in the game, featuring one of the minor revelations of the season (at least to me), Sasha Vujacic. Derek Fisher provides veteran leadership. Pau has gone from a first option on a mediocre team to one of the best second bananas, allowing Lamar Odom to become a third…cantaloupe? Which fruit best describes Lamar Odom? Probably cranberry, because you can use it to make anything.
And when all else fails, just give the ball to Kobe Jellybean and move, b*tch, get out the way.

Why the Celtics will Win:
They won't, but if they want to at least have a chance, they better milk their home-court advantage like an inflated udder. If L.A. win one of the first two games, it should be a short series.
There is one facet of the game where the Celtics seem to operate as a unit: team defense. I love watching them trap and rotate. Individually, much has been said about how Pierce's defensive prowess has evolved. James Posey and Rondo are excellent defenders as well. But it all starts with KG's versatility on defense. The fact that he can guard all five positions makes it much easier for everyone else to adapt to game situations. Witness how they successfully switched Garnett onto Billups in Game 6 of the ECFs.

The Question Mark:
Like everyone else, after the Garnett trade, I assumed the "other two" Celtic starters would suck, so in a sense, Perk and Rajon Rondo have exceeded expectations. But while I admire certain aspects of Rondo's game, especially his defense and rebounding, he seldom fails to infuriate me. First off, he's a TERRIBLE finisher. He consistently gets to the rim only to blow wide-open lay-ups. Secondly, he makes atrocious decisions at times. At one point in Game 3 against the Pistons, he tried to execute some kind of cross-court bounce pass in between seventeen defenders. It was such an awful play that Jeff Van Gundy screamed "What was THAT?!" And the problem was that it was not surprising. In fact, I expect at least one play like that every game from him. Bottom line: I hate to hate on Rondo; he's shown such heart, but he needs to have a phenomenal series if the Celtics want to be competitive.

Scary Fact:
I hate to bring Michael Jordan into the discussion, but I just want to point out the obvious: when he was Kobe's age, he was about to win his FIRST ring. A couple of years ago, I thought Kobe would never be able to become the GOAT. I still have my doubts, but dude is within striking distance.

Lakers in 5 or 6.
Phil catches Red, Kobe maintains his pursuit of MJ, KG cries a lot. I follow suit.


Hursty said...

Loving the (old) KG in laker jersey.

TADOne said...

That pic is disturbing.

Eboy said... pick for the Celts, one for the Lakers. Let's see how this plays out.

Eboy said...

Uhm.....two more reasons Kobe will never be at Michael's level. Michael never lost a Finals and also never trailed a Finals series by two games. Ever. Celts aren't losing 4 of 5 to this International Team of Mystery.

Tariq al Hayder said...

Well, before the series began I thought this was an evenly-matched series, so I wouldn't be shocked if Boston won. At all.

Also, I don't know why we need to compare Kobe to Jordan or Kobe to Jordan. Dude has BEEN retired. And we don't know how the rest of Kobe's career will play out.

To show how unfair these comparisons are, I could say something like "Kobe never lost a game, and eventually a series, by getting schooled by Nick fucking Anderson."

I could say that, but then I wouldn't be making any sense!

Eboy said...

That's true, you could use "Leon Powe" in his place.

TADOne said...

So Tariq, how does it feel to be outsmarted by Eboy?

TADOne said...

In your defense, you did correctly predict that Rondo would be the x-factor. 16 f'ing assists!

Tariq al Hayder said...

TAD: I wouldn't know.

TADOne said...

Gotta love Tariq's bluntness.

Eboy said...

I'm not afraid to give T the grammar title without question, but he's not fucking with me on basketball knowledge. Fuckers. :)

Tariq al Hayder said...


Hahaha. I'm not saying I know more about basketball than you. Not at all. There are PLENTY of hoops-related topics on which you can school the shit out of me. For example: NCAA. Example 2: the Showtime Lakers. Example 3: Anything that happened before the NBA-ABA merger, since you're old enough to remember.

Seriously, though, all in all, you probably know more about basketball than I do, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. It's just that sometimes I get the sense that you let your emotions get the best of you. Example: The MVP should, I mean...CP3...wait...I was going to say John Salley...ANYONE but that fuckface Kobe. which is all well and good: you're allowed to hate dude, just admit that you're talking out of your heart rather than your brain when you do it. This is why I feel like your Kobe/MJ comments smack of "kicking him while he's down".

Now I don't know Kobe from Adam, and he's not my favorite player at all. In fact, I hate a lot of things about him. But I just like to defend guys who get shitted on unfairly. Or take dudes who get elevated unjustly down a notch. I do the same thing with Ryan and the love more delicate than a rose he shares with LeBron.

Eboy said...

So it's safe to say you are coming out of the closet for the affections of one Kobe Bean Bryant. :) And as far as my MVP thoughts went, I thought I had that covered right here on Shawn Kemps Offspring, the realest blog on the internets.

Plus, I dislike Kobe the man and the way he has approached certain circumstances, not the basketball player. As a matter of fact, I have stated several times before, I had a huge amount of respect and admiration for him when he first came into the league, but he has been on a downward spiral in my eyes as well as many others for his lack of humilaty and his faux "I'm doing things no one's ever seen before" attitude. Get over yourself, all your scary accomplishments have been done before, buy players equal to if not greater to you. Realize and recognize.

Until then, he still stinks like camel sh*t as a person and a forced icon for the sake of needing one for the league to keep it's head above water after his idol/copy model went away. That title is just about over too, since the aforementioned Mr. James is just about ready to take that from him.

If Kob ever decides to shace his head, grow back the Tupac goatee and just play the game with reckless abandon, I might look at him without conjuring up visions of other players that made him what he is today, literally.

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