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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

2008 NBA FINALS PREVIEW Lakers vs. Celtics

Posted by Eboy





DEJA VU, ALL OVER AGAIN

written by Eboy

My, my, my (no Johnny Gill). How utterly convenient that the most wild NBA season, maybe in it's entire history, comes down to it's most storied rivalry, with some "divine intervention" thrown in to make sure it happened. One of the most boring playoff seasons ever followed one of the greatest regular seasons of all time. How odd. And all we are left with is this crappy t-shirt and a matchup that is sure to disappoint. Why, you ask? A simple reason, really. For the week leading up to Game One, we will have been told probably 1759 times that besides this being the most storied rivalry in team sports and that these two teams will be remembered as legendary, there would be little way this series will meet the expectations. NO WAY! Unless each game headed to various overtimes and history books were rewritten in each game, this is going to be a pedestrian series. A 6 or 7 game series that will go back and forth between two teams that in the scope of all things great in NBA teamfolklore, barely make a blip on the greatness meter.

Yes, Lakers fans are like Yankees fans. Glib, pampered, ridiculously oversensitive and way too expecting of greatness. Celtics fans are like....well that's easy...like Red Sox fans. Big mouthed, overconfident and always crass. Usually why most fans outside of Boston and LA can't get behind either of them, is because the bloodlines run way too deep. This isn't like the 80's when you could "choose your weapon", like the old shoe commercial said, and attach yourself to Magic or Larry's gravytrain. This is more than that. These teams are force fed to basketball fans today. "The Big Three", "Kobe's Lakers". Enough. Let's see if these two teams, the best two teams by record in each of their conferences, can do what we hope for. Provide a thrilling, high quality basketball series. If they can, they may just yet be able to salvage what has so far been a let down of epic proportions in these playoffs.

Let's get into it. After hearing the ramblings of sportswriters/broadcasters like Tim Legler, Steven A. Smith, Bill Simmons, Mark Jackson, etc. for the last week, all I can surmise is that the Celtics have no chance to win this series.....if listening to the words of these "experts". Surprisingly, not one of these guys has ever been part of the process of winning an NBA championship, so I think my opinion is equal to theirs. Alright, maybe not, but I can dream right? After some serious introspection (well, rereading my season preview from back in November) I had the Celtics playing the Spurs in the Finals and just missed out on a 100% percent prediction for the parties involved. Now, with the Lakers "juggernaut" coming to town, the much talked about Boston Massacre is just a day away, and I'm trying to keep my wits about me testing all I know about basketball history and it's strategies and matchups. The 80's are back baby! I'm breaking out the acid wash, people!!!!!!

Guards

Hmmm........The game's most dominant player, headlining, against a crop of guards on the Celtics that have either all seen better days or none at all. Should be a walk in the park for Mr. Bryant. Seriously. Ray Allen, while a future Hall Of Famer, isn't likely to have his own wing there, like Kobe may have. Ray's going to have his hands full on the possessions he winds up getting caught on switches with Kobe. Kobe should be off the charts great in this series. Figure about 35 pts per game, 5 assists, 5 rebounds. The best single player on the court. Ray needs to shine for at least 14 pt per game to at least throw something out there (a jump shot) that the Lakers have to respect from the Celts backcourt. Rajon Rondo vs. Derek Fisher is intriguing. The young guard on the come up, who ran the NBA's best team all season, against the old, grizzled guard, with the championship pedigree and big time history. This will be a critical matchup, with whoever stands out the most, giving his team a huge boost towards a ring fitting. The bench guards for both teams are interesting too. The Lakers would seem to have the advantage with young guys Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vucovic playing critical minutes and looked to to provide timely three point shooting. Both have done that this season, so if they can continue on, they should win their matchup with Sam Cassell and Eddie House. The thing is...if Cassell and House can have a hot shooting game here and there, they can be streaky enough to steal a game, let alone this matchup. The LA boys should be good though.

Edge- Lakers

Small Forwards

Vladimir Radmanovic against Paul Pierce and James Posey. Let me think..........yeah, Celtics HUGE in this matchup. I know, I know, Kobe will help here, Odom may take some time on Pierce, but Pierce should be the startout man against Radmanovic and there is no contest in this matchup. Posey is a wild card in this series. A champion too, he is the type of pesky defender that will be in the Kobe carousel, taking minutes battling the beast, pestering and frustrating to a point. Don't sell short his effort and intangibles. He will make a mark on this series. Radmanovic needs to just play his game, shoot the open three and get to the basket when he can. His D is going to be on full display though, so he needs to be up to the Pierce challenge until Kobe makes the switch and chases him to the bench in the first 5 minutes of each game.

Edge- Celtics


Power Forwards/Center

This is the matchup that I think will decide the series. I'm going to list 5 names for the Celtics and 4 for the Lakers. You decide.

Celtics

Kevin Garnett
Kendrick Perkins
PJ Brown
Leon Powe
Glen Davis

Lakers

Paul Gasol
Lamar Odom
Luke Walton
Ronnie Turiaf

Still thinking? Don't. Let me help you. The Lakers only hope in this matchup is that Phil Jackson finds a way to integrate Lamar into the gameplan in an unexpected way that will throw the Celts for a loop. It can be done. But the real problem for the Lakers lies in the Gasol matchup. He got by in the Nuggets series against a disjointed group of bigs that missed out on exploiting him. He was ordinary against the Jazz, but played well enough to support Kobe in the series win. And against the Spurs, he played well enough against Tim Duncan, but it was the lack of help The Robot got from his teammates that nullified his dominate numbers in the series. Pau will be in for a rude awakening. A force of nature that only his teammate, Mr. Bryant, can match in intensity. Kevin Garnett will, in my opinion, take this series by the throat by doing whatever is needed to get his team to the promised land. The rest of the Celts bigs will wear down Pau, and while they may struggle to contain Odom at times, foul trouble will DESTROY the Lakers chances in this series, since their are no other bigs to counteract the Celts. It will be critical for Gasol and Odom to stay out of foul trouble which means they can't be overly aggressive, which neither ever is defensively, so the Celts should own the paint, as they did in their regular season matchups. They were a +12 in the rebound column in their two games. Granted, Gasol wasn't there for those, but there was a certain young center that played those games and didn't do much to change the fortunes in those games. Now with Kendrick Perkins and PJ Brown delivering decent minutes, the Celts have the decided advantage. Turiaf provides a nice spark off the bench for the Lakers and his rebounding and his little outside game is a nice compliment to Odom and Kobe's off the dribble work once Gasol goes to the bench. Luke Walton....welcome to the bench.... again. 5 to 4? I like the Celts odds.

Edge-Celtics

Coaching

Phil the legend against Doc the underachiever. Pretty decided in the favor of the Lakers. Phil will have his guys and his gameplan tight. Always does. Doc will use the "them against us" motto to full effect and his boisterous sideline presence will counter Phil's "ass in the chair still down by 25" look. If it's a critical change that needs to be addressed, Phil's staff is better prepared for that.

Edge-Lakers

Intangibles

Interesting. Kobe's manic drive for the perfect season and some form of redemption against the hunger of the Big Three. The game's greatest coach of the last 20 years trying to win the elusive 10th title to put him in rarefied air. Home court sitting in the Celtics favor. Two wins for the Celts in the regular season, both pretty handily. KG vs. Kobe for the whole ball of wax? KG's fire should finally pay off and a championship pedigree will return to Boston basketball after 20 years. The good thing for the Lakers, their future is brighter than the Celtics so their chances at being back here should be much greater.

Edge-Even

My pick: Celtics in 6.

35 comments:

TADOne said...

I'm not even going to submit anything because you have completely covered all bases. Besides, I hate both teams. But since you were so thorough with this, can you breakdown who should be Obama's VP?

Eboy said...

Sarcastic prick!

Eboy said...

Gee, I wonder who accurate my prediction will turn out?

TADOne said...

Is this over yet?

TADOne said...

I'm pretty sure Eboy is playing with himself right now.

Eboy said...

If I wasn't at work, maybe.

DP said...

2-1 now buddies. It is going to be hell for the C's now Ebizzle. and since you guys have the only group blog on SLAM, me and a couple of my homeboys coming after yall. Just a little friendly competition if you dudes don't mind. DP, BET, Hursty, B.long, and PP. oh so rude.

TADOne said...

Always trying to be better than the original...

Eboy said...

DP, I've got my 5 all day!!!! Shoot, I'd even give us a 5 on 5 win on the court even with us having a female and Tariq. Well...we're not sure what PP is so. But anyway, I'm going to be on the lookout for you boys. Keep it rugged.

Eboy said...

Actually, DP, let me quote one of the greatest voices of all-time to give you boys some fire on your road to try and battle with the masters, "ain't nothing like the real thing, baby, ain't nothing like the real thing."

DP said...

Lol eboy. good stuff man. I love a little competition to keep my mind on what I want to be: the best. I thought about asking you guys could I join the shawn kemp team, but I knew I would have to come with my own team for battle. My five right now might be young, but don't underestimate the kidz in the hall. DP, Hursty, BET, PP, and ......damn! I don't have a fifth member. We could be boys 2 men but I want the Jackson 5 look. B.Long maybe? chuckaz? hell no on chuckaz. just get ready boys. play wit it.

Tariq al Hayder said...

Hey Eboy:

I don't even play hoops; I play soccer. But I'm pretty sure EVEN I can whoop your ben-gay ass on the court, Mikan. And I was going to start calling you Mikan, but then I realized that that isn't appropriate. I need to find some white dude from the 1953 Celtics who COULDN'T play.

DP:

When you say "kidz in the hall", does it have anything to do with the rap duo? Naledge and Double-O?

Eboy said...

T, the fact you claimed to be 6' 3", 220 lbs and you say you can't play ball makes me sad for you. I wish you were readily available it would be interesting to try and improve US/Middle Eastern relations with the type of embarrassment you would face while standing on the same hardwood/concrete with me. I actually wish I was 80 like George Mikan, it would be nice to be partially deaf so I wouldn't have to hear the ramblings of Lakers fans that have no moral value as they cheer on a known rapist every game. Happy Thursday, btw!

DP said...

yeah I'm talking bout the rap duo, T. I don't think I spelled it right though, kidz n the hall. yeah that's right.

TADOne said...

E, the 6'3, 220 is actually me. I'm pretty sure Tariq doesn't weigh as much as I. Since he plays soccer, i'm pretty sure he is under 200 pounds.

TADOne said...

DP: You definitely better have spell check and a proofreader available for that bunch.

DP said...

don't worry TAD. we come equipped son. I got a secret weapon that I don't think yall ready for.

Tariq al Hayder said...

I'm actually 6'4", 215. 215.6 even, I used a calculator.

DP:
Kidz in the Hall are GREAT! I can't stop listening to this one song called "Love Hangover" featuring Estelle. You like Jay Electronica?

Eboy said...

Tariq is exceptionally tall. We can put him into the pivot on our imaginary team and have him play the paint like Roy Hibbert.

TADOne said...

Is Roy Hibbert meant as a compliment?

Tariq al Hayder said...

By the way, Eboy, it's not that I CAN'T play. It's more that I realized that I don't really enjoy it like I do soccer. I used to have Kareem-like goggles in junior high and I would play at school and with friends. And I used to play with my cousin, who would play WAY too aggressively even if though was just one-and-one in the backyard. Like he would get angry and start screaming and shit. My uncle, who had a potbelly, would sometimes pass by in his swimming trunks and just wet long-range shots all day.

But then I realized I don't really have as much FUN as I do when I play soccer, so I stopped. I'm not Pele now and I wasn't Jordan then. Just saying.

TADOne said...

Who doesn't have an uncle with a potbelly who can wet 3-pointers?

Eboy said...

Tariq's pot bellied uncle should be the focus of his first post season piece. I'm intrigued.

Tariq al Hayder said...

Eboy:

You'd be surprised, man. My uncle is now officially "The Fallen Champ".

Oh, and thanks for the "Happy Thursday" thing! Sweet of you to remember, dear!

B. Long said...

B. Long is in the HIZZOUSE!

B. Long said...

@Tadone's first comment: Jerry West would be the perfect VP for Obama. Everything that man touches turns to gold.

B. Long said...

@Eboy: As far as your tasteless comment on Kobe being a known rapist, just know that any girl you've ever thought about touching would be kicking heels off if he even looked in her direction. Including your boy Wade's flavor of the month. Ugh. What flavor would Star Jones be. Extra Chunky Rocky Road?

TADOne said...

Is this over yet??

Eboy said...

Almost, little buddy, almost.

Tariq al Hayder said...

OK, now that the Celtics are up 3-1 and in total control, I'd like to step up and do this:

Lakers in 7.

Tariq al Hayder said...

And Eboy, try not to be TOO disappointed when Kobe does something JORDAN HAS NEVER DONE. It is only a game after all.

Tariq al Hayder said...

And by "do something Jordan has never done" I also mean "do something NOBODY has done". = Come back from 3-1 down in the Finals. This is going to be awesome, Lord-willin!

Eboy said...

Sometimes it's not fair being this smart.

TADOne said...

I guess there is a first time for everything....

Eboy said...

Yeah, I know. Dealing with the rest of the morons that pollute my basketball mind will do that to you.