Just in case you were having a hard time finding something to read on the fixed Celtics Lakers Finals set to begin later this week...
LAKERS vs CELTICS ALL-TIME
Hall of Famers
NBA Finals appearances
Head-to-Head Finals wins
Now for some (not so) random thoughts...
- POINT GUARD - Derek Fisher has the ability to be the quiet MVP of this series. That is, when Rajon Rondo refuses to shoot the ball or aggressively attack the rim, it would allow Fisher to roam and double team. Fisher may be the best defensive point guard in the league, and certainly has the capability to bother and pest the other Celtics. On the other hand, Rondo should be able to have his way when Farmar or Vujacic dares to try and stay in front of him. Look for Eddie House to come in off the bench and have an impact as well.
- KOBE - If you find yourself at a magazine rack sometime this week, pick up ESPN the Mag and read the article on Kobe. Amidst all the talk about the personality of Kobe, we sort of forget that he is a workaholic when it comes to playing basketball. The guy is so obsessed with the game, so Jordan like, and comes with such a great story growing up, that he almost becomes likable while reading this feature. This article reminded me that he is the best player in the world because he worked for it, as opposed to Lebron who is more blessed by being stronger and faster than everyone else. So yes, everyone knows that Kobe is hell bent on winning a championship without Shaq, and will take over games at will to do so.
- Does it matter who guards Kobe? Not really. Bruce Bowen and Andre Kirelinko got beat, and Boston does not have an individual defensive stopper like those two guys. Pierce and James Posey can do a decent job, but Kobe will be able to score when he wants. Having Kevin Garnett waiting at the rim does help, though.
- PAUL PIERCE - The second best offensive player in this series grew up a Lakers fan in California. Pierce ups his game when he plays his old favorite franchise, averaging 28 points against the Lakers all time, more than any other team. If the Celtics somehow win the title, Paul Pierce has to play out of his mind and win the Finals MVP.
- RAY ALLEN - This may be the biggest wild card. Ray could not find his shot for most of the playoffs until the final games of the Pistons series. Allen has had a long running feud with Kobe Bryant, so there is motivation to push him back to being the all-star sharpshooter that he is.
- LAMAR ODOM & PAU GASOL - We know that when these guys are attacking the hoop the Lakers are unstoppable. But I think the key is when they are guarding Garnett. Remember, Kevin Garnett's game is based on him being longer and more athletic than whoever is on him. He loves to simply shoot that fade away jump shot which no one can contest. However, Odom and Gasol are long enough to bother Garnett's usual shot. This will be interesting to see if Garnett adjusts and what type of game he plays then.
- CRAZY KEVIN & DESPERATION FACTORS - Garnett has never been here. He is going to be so ridiculously fired up, and it will trickle down to his teammates. It may be offensively, but more likely will be on the other end as he continues to will the Celtics to somehow playing great team defense. This is probably the Boston Three Party's best shot at a championship and they know it, while these Lakers will surely be back here again.
- HOME COURT (2-3-2) - No team has ever won those three middle games. The Lakers have yet to lose at Staples in the playoffs and the Celtics only lost once to the Pistons. The Lakers have proven they can win on the road, but Boston Garden is a whole another monster. The Celtics have only one once on the road in the playoffs, but were the best road team during the season, including a victory at Staples in short shorts. Each historic franchise should bust out their respective legends in the crowd, if only to further fire up their fans and players.
- BENCH - The Lakers bench is not that great, it is just that Phil Jackson always brings out the champs out of a bunch of chumps, which brings us to...
- COACHES - Phil Jackson vs Doc Rivers in the biggest mismatch in NBA Finals since...well, last year with Greg Popovich vs Mike Brown. Granted, Rivers has actually done a decent job in getting production out of his chumps. But no one can discount the fact that Phil has always gotten the best out of every one of his players, from the Chicago Bulls in the 90s to early 2000s Lakers and now in this latest generation of Lakers. This championship may be Phil's best job as a coach ever.
- OFFICIATING - I hate to say it, but the officiating is going to be a big factor in every game, just as it has for most of these playoffs. The referees tend to get caught up and favor the home team.
- PREDICTION - I want the Celtics in Seven. I think the Lakers in Five.