Finals thoughts

As the dreamy throwback finals between the Celtics & Lakers began, I rooted for L.A. out of tradition. As a kid growing up without a real NBA team, I found myself cheering on Magic's Showtime-era Lakers running past Larry Bird's whitebread Celtics in June.

Game 1 was encouraging despite the loss. L.A. held the lead through 3 quarters and let some opportunities slip away in the 4th quarter. The loss was disappointing but I didn't expect another uneven performance from Kobe aka "THE greatest closer in the game" Bryant. Boston did give LeBron fits, but I figured Mamba was going to strike relentlessy in his all consuming goal of winning a 'chip without Shaq. Oh and snicker and sneer all you want at Paul Pierce's knee injury - but he has proven to be an inspirational leader and has a history of playing wonderfully through injury.

Game 2 was an old-fashioned whipping at the hands of the Celtics until a frantic comeback turned it into a heartbreaking loss for the L.A. Up 2-0, Boston definitely deserved both wins as they outmuscled a charmin-soft Laker squad. Yes, there was some generous refereeing but Kobe & co. avoided the paint like it was quicksand and ultimately buried themselves with missed jumpers. NBA refs will reward an aggressive team taking it to the hole rather than a tentatively finesse team hoisting shots from the perimeter.

Speaking of refereeing, its interesting that none of the NBA fans are shocked at the Donaghy controversy. Its almost like everyone is saying. "Tim, tell us something we don't know. We knew that the Lakers/Kings WCF Game 6 in '02 was fishy! We know that stars get preferential calls. They've been saying that since MJ was playing." There's always been some conspiracy theory surrounding the NBA. Did Stern really rig the lottery so that his hometown Knicks could grab Ewing? Did he allow MJ to cloak a gambling suspension with an "attempt" at playing baseball? That being said, if any concrete evidence surfaces, David Stern is gonna have his hands full cleaning this up. Pro sports is on some kind of roll: Steroids in baseball, Spygate in football and now manipulative refs in the NBA. Hockey's up next...only nobody watches hockey.

Game 3: as expected the refs made up for their one-sided calls in Boston by sending a parade of Lakers to the free throw line. The Celtics actually outplayed L.A. but fell apart in the end - thanks to a subpar performances from KG and Pierce. Part of me thought Vujacic and Kobe's stellar turn would spark the Lakers to taking care of business for all 3 games at home. The other part of me had doubts considering that the Celts almost won Game 3 without Pierce or Garnett showing up. It became apparent that Celtics would win any game if two of their Big 3 would play well.

Game 4 was one for the ages - not only because of the incredible Boston comeback but because the Celtics have won me over. Yes, I've gone over to the dark side. The Green side. Its unimaginable, but these Celtics are simply more likeable than the Lakers. They play both sides of the ball with heart, grit and passion. They've locked down the best offense in the NBA and have shut up anyone who was comparing Kobe to MJ. Even with Garnett disappearing, they play an exciting brand of offense with a myriad of shooters. Oh, and in case you don't know, Paul Pierce is The Truth. Not only is he making Kobe work for every point, he's sticking jumpers in Mamba's face (did you see that jumper over Kobe that made Garnett give the "Ooh that's nasty!" face?) And Jesus Shuttleworth has resurrected his silky game after disappearing in the early rounds. That up-and-under layup was nearly Dr J.-like. Didn't know Ray could hang like that.

Furthermore, the Lakers couldn't be more ugly. Mamba bitching and barking at his teammates while being rendered ineffective at times. After being critically acclaimed and MVP rewarded for maturing into an unselfish leader, Kobe has reverted to the egotistical ways which vilified him before this season. Its a simple formula: when his team is losing, Mamba will throw his teammates under the bus and complains. When his team is winning: Kobe becomes affably unselfish and assumes a leadeship role.

Lamar Odom's chest-beating 1st quarter offensive explosion only highlights his usual disappearing act in the crucial moments of the 4th quarter. And for all the hype of the Gasol trade turning this team around, the Spaniard has completely exited these finals with a ghostly offensive game and a fittingly matador defense. He was about 2 days late in helping out Vujacic on that Ray Allen layup which iced Game 4. I couldn't have agreed more with Kobe when he stated that his team "wet the bed".


kiita said...

i read you a feeder but i came over to leave a comment and bam what a great site design. (i'm going to pick your brain about that because i hate mine.)

as for the comment: love this post. i understand every word! it's worthy for the masses. it makes me wish i watched basketball.

it made me wonder: why don't you play basketball?

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