I called it. I told you from the beginning it's not fair to put your hopes and dreams into the Lebrons, Kobes, Pierces, Nashes of the NBA world because it will end up biting you in the end. Big name players are supposed to blend in, elevate their team to a higher level and be a source of leadership based on hard work and focus. I am not saying Dwight Howard or Steve Nash or even Lebron James have no work ethic because they didn't make it to the final. But their style of play play was not supported by their teams wholeheartedly and as a result, coaching decisions made to pick up the slack and adjust to what other teams are throwing at them, fell short. Take for instance, Steve Nash. He is the conductor of the Phoenix Suns and definitely took a beating to help his team advance. He also had Amare Stoudemire and especially Jason Richardson who stood out for me as the players in the supporting cast making the key plays. But the Phoenix Suns as a team failed to adjust to what Phil Jackson and the rest of the Los Angeles Lakers were throwing at them. This is the key point to remember going into the 2010 NBA Final. The ability of the Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers to adjust to different game situations and get out of the "well it worked for us yesterday" mode of thinking. We are here now. Boston and L.A. Both teams took us for a roller coaster ride at the start of these playoffs but both have stepped it up a notch. Now NBA fans will have the chance to witness what will be one of the greatest match-ups in NBA history from two teams with a strong rivalry and a will to win. We'll dive into this party and invite some chat about the Raptors latest headline grabbers: PJ Carlisimo and Hedo Turkoglu.
The Scales are Even
This is an exciting time for basketball fans. The Celtics and Lakers have had a love-hate relationship which has fueled the longest standing rivalry in the NBA. For the next two weeks, depending how long we need to decide who comes out on top, we are going to see a pretty even match-up between two teams who have an equal number of tricks in their arsenal. Two years ago, Boston and Los Angeles met and Boston won with Garnett and Allen on the roster. Kobe and Derek Fisher were there, too and I think this is where you'll see the first test of the Lakers' ability to adjust. In 2008, Derrick Fisher was left to guard Rajon Rondo and came up short. Derrick Fisher and Ron Artest need to make no mistake in this department since Kobe can't be guarding Rondo to be absolutely sure he's stopped. This is the trap the Lakers got into in Game 3 and 4 of the 2010 conference finals when the Suns switched on their zone defence. When they regrouped, instead of penetrating deep and fast to the basket like they were used to, the Lakers snuck in players like Lamar Odum and Ron Artest to make the key plays. This leaves Kobe free to do his thing, for the rest of the team to connect and gain momentum.
I will give Kobe his due. He is having one of the best playoff runs of his career but when he isn't on his game and hitting his three's, the Lakers have a different set of challenges. This may be one area where the Celtics have an edge. The Celtics can win when Ray Allen doesn't score and when Rajon Rondo isn't on his game. This is not to say the Lakers are not capable of stepping it up a notch when Kobe is working things out, they have proven this to us before. The key to this series will be taking care of the little things. Remember, Kendrick Perkins is one technical foul away from a one-game suspension and the Boston Celtics need all the help they can get. You just never know in a series like this who the hero is going to be. As long as Rod Bynum's knee holds up, the Lakers will be happy. He had excess fluid drained from it recently and should be good to go for Thursday night at 9pm. Kevin Garnett needs to stay healthy, too. This is going to be a real battle to the finish and don't expect those fourth quarters to be pretty either. I can't wait for Thursday.
The Toronto Raptors - the Next Smack Down
I am offended and I am really hoping someone tells me it's a rumour. I am wondering how in the world how a player has the nerve to complain about a club not showing him the love when they were clearly the ones taking a chance on him. How does Hedo Turkoglu say to his manager find me a deal to leave the Toronto Raptors as if to say "it's their fault, not mine". Hedo is absolutely right. His best option is to leave Toronto and make a new start somewhere else. But what do they teach you in college folks? Never complain about your boss publicly and certainly don't bash them in an interview. This is what he is doing. I am offended as a fan of the game since technically, we are are also a part of the interview process. Toronto fans need to get off this emotional roaster they have been thrown on and start seeing some results. Maybe this is part of the reason for bringing PJ Carlisimo on staff. As I type this, it has not been made official but the excuse being given for this move is free up extra time for Jay Triano to focus on the players. I am not buying it. PJ is a good guy who works hard but my problem isn't with him. The Raptors already have five assistant coaches. Isn't their job to take care of the x's and o's, so the head coach can do their job? It will be really interesting to see what his role will really be and if any of their assistants will be sent packing. There have been no plans for that yet but you never know. That's the problem with this club. The fans need to be in the know or else they may just get off the coaster and ride somewhere else.
Last Minute Rant
Dear Sprite: I don't drink carbonated beverages but I do enjoy your commercials. You had a good one a while back with Kevin Garnett and I love how you continue to support the NBA. But if I hear "Last name EVA, first name GREATEST.." one more time, I may just loose my mind and send you the bill for my shrink. Please come up with some new material STAT. Thank-you.
Signed by Yours Truly.