And then there were two.
This is the series David Stern has wanted for who-knows-how-long. This is the #1 draw for the NBA right now. This is Boston vs. LA, Lakers vs. Celtics, Showtime vs….ok it’s not Showtime anymore but you get my point. The arenas have changed, the uniform designs have changed, so have the coaches and the players but the rivalry remains. This is a fresh matchup. These are the top two teams fighting for the right to be called the champion. And I meant that literally: #1 from both East and West meet in a best-of-7 series. This is the first time that has happened since 2000 when the Pacers and Lakers squared off. This is a Finals where basketball fans will not have to ask ‘what if?’ This is about legacies. It’s about Kobe trying to make the leap and become recognized as one of the greatest to ever play the game. It’s about KG, Paul Pierce nad Ray Allen trying to add the only thing missing: a championship. This is satisfaction. This is unbelievable. This is unpredictable. This is the NBA Finals.
In my 21 years of living, I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced an NBA Finals like this. Honestly name a championship series in the last decade that has had this level of excitement and intrigue? Maybe Bulls/Lakers but I was only like 5 so I wouldn’t really know. You get the point though. This series could go either way. Ever since both teams clinched their spots I’ve been thinking and seriously this could go either way. Everytime I think about how good Pau is I think of how much of a beast Perkins is. And if he can beast McDyess, Sheed, Maxiell and co. he will have no problem with Gasol who gets beasted more than (insert pornstar name) on a Tuesday afternoon.
One thing we have learned in these playoffs is that the Celtics are a jump-shooting team. They shoot a lot of jumpers. When they have those quarters where they relentlessly attack the basket they are next to unstoppable. But when they have lulls and shoot jumpers all day they can get beat. Especially by a team like LA who will look to push the tempo up a few notches. If I’m a Boston fan I have to wrap my brain around this concept. You faced an uber-superstar in LeBron James. Check. You faced a dangerous Detroit who had a ‘team’ of guys that could beat you. Check. Now in the Finals…you’re facing a dangerous combination of both with a mastermind behind the wheels. This is Kobe and his supporting cast. Lamar, Pau, Fisher, Farmar, Vujacic, Radmonovic, Turiaf. They are deep. And at the helm….Phil Jackson. 9-1 in the Finals and so far ahead of Mike Brown and Flip Saunders that is ridiculous. Not only will he have the Lakers ready for the court but we all know his Zen mind tricks. They’ll have more than enough motivation to get it done. Staying on Phil…he’s the best at finding a way to take something away from the opposition. One can only question what it is going to be this series.
The Lakers just beat what could be deemed a better version of the Celtics. The Spurs. Think about it. San Antonio is a three-player team and they take whatever they can get from the supporting cast. At the end of the day if Manu, Tim and Tony don’t all put up numbers it isn’t happening. Sound a little like Boston? The C’s have survived games where Ray has disappeared but that cannot happen in the Finals. The Lakers are too good offensively for Boston to not have everyone clicking on all cylinders. Yes, they have the “vaunted” defense and defense wins championship…but at the end of the day if you can’t score it doesn’t matter.
And right when I convince myself that the Lakers have this…I think about Boston. And I think about how hard they play. And I think of the adversity they have faced already. Keyword. Adversity. The Lakers have had a couple nice comebacks but at the end of the day they have lost 3 games this whole postseason. The Celtics on the other hand have survived two game 7′s, the loss of home court advantage to Detroit and rebounded by winning two games in Detroit. It’s an ass-backwards use of logic but it works. People will talk about Kobe’s hunger and determination. For anyone to say that Kobe is hungrier and more determined than Kevin Garnett, obviously they have not been watching these playoffs. The guy honestly may not have slept in 19 days. Who knows.
This series is going to come down to which team can take away the most from the other. If the C’s can take away Lamar Odom or Pau…look out. But we’ve all seen games where KG, Ray and Paul all struggle.
Dear lord. Call me back after Game 1 my brain hurts. I can’t tell you whose going to win this series. All I can tell you is its going to be a good one.