And the winner is ...
|Gotta give the the edge to the Celtics in wide-eyed intensity.|
Finally, they’re going to play. You pretty excited about this one? I am.
So who wins? Sit back, get the morning coffee and I’ll lay it out for you.
Before start, I’ll just say I think it’s all on the Celtics to make the series interesting, get it to six or seven games. If they play defence the way they can, and if two of Garnett, Pierce and Allen get going, this series will have some legs.
How’s it break down?
Sure, the Celtics have three great scorers but only one of them – Pierce – can create his own shot. I spent too much time watching Garnett defer in the Eastern Conference final and watching Allen miss shots he normally makes in his sleep to think the Celtics can get all three of their big guys going. And I’m pretty sure the Lakers will do the same thing with Rondo that the Pistons did, which is ignore him on the perimeter ‘cause he’s a terrible shooter. Perkins might be able to get off but if he does, it’s at the expense of one of the Big Three.
All the Lakers have is the single best fourth-quarter player in the game in Bryant, who makes free throws, makes shots and defends. Odom will have two good games, two bad ones and how he does in the other three are a total mystery, Gasol’s good but if Garnett’s guarding him, he gets nothing. Fisher is a huge winner over Rondo.
This is horribly one-sided. The Lakers can get a little bit of everything from Turiaf, Walton, Vujacic and even Farmer; the Celtics might get a basket or two from Posey but they have no backup point guard, P.J. Brown will be out-hustled by anyone he’s guarding and after that, it gets even worse.
Phil Jackson may be smarmy and cocky and self-assured but he’s got nine championship rings so he’s got to be doing something right. Doc Rivers is a great quote, as for in-game adjustments? I don’t know.
Lakers in six because that will be the thing that inconveniences the greatest number of people. I can easily see it ending in five.
Interesting day at the Raptor workouts yesterday with Robin Lopez and Kosta Koufos going at each other in a battle of bigs.
Neither, right now, is the answer.
Lopez, as you’d expect, rebounds the ball better – at least he did in a three-on-three game we saw – is more energetic but has the offensive range of a Joakim Noah clone at the moment. The chin-high release of his jumper makes him an early favourite to lead the NBA in getting his shot blocked next year unless someone does some major corrective surgery on his stroke.
Koufos? I wonder about his motor. He shoots it well, with range, but they do this drill at the end of the workout where the already-tired players run baseline to baseline for three minutes.
I don’t want to say Koufos loafed (although you could have timed him with a sun dial) but he was taking his sweet time except for about the first 45 seconds and all of a sudden got to sprinting in the last 25 or 30 seconds. Full effort? I’m not sure. Hardly a way to impress.
Still, he’s a good shooter to just about three-point range and doesn’t mind some contact under the basket.
Oh, and here’s the other thing about Koufos. He has a Greek passport, has already turned down a multi-million dollar offer from Olympiakos and there are fears around the league that if he doesn’t like where he’s drafted, he might go to Europe for a couple of years and make more money there than he can in the NBA.
I asked him about it and he gave me a stock, agent-driven answer about only being concerned right now about the NBA.
A quick one from the mail:
Q: It seems to me like the NBA is lacking GM's with any sort of insight into the game. Teams like Phoenix, Dallas for example. They try to pull off blockbuster trades, have them fail, and then fire their coaches? I don't understand. Why don't GM's have faith in their coaches and players? What is the logic behind trading your way to a Championship?
Craig S, Halifax
A: Yeah, those dopey general managers who try to trade their way to a championship have no idea what they’re doing. They should be building championship contenders the way they did this year in Boston and Los Angeles.
The logic behind making trades is to improve your team, sometimes trades work (Celtics, Lakers), sometimes they don’t (Suns, Mavs).
And coaches, unfortunately, are sometimes simply disposable.
Another workout tidbit:
I can report that Jeremy Pargo has the same ability as a volume shooter as his brother, Jannero.
Here’s the one problem I see with Chris Bosh doing Leno as the special NBA final correspondent. There’s a chance that at the same time his bit airs tonight, the game may be in its dying minutes. Thanks for those 9 p.m. starts, NBA.
Remember the X Drill from yesterday? The left elbow, right elbow, left corner, right corner, top of the key shooting drill that was a killer.
Well, the modified it a bit yesterday. Instead of having to make 15 shots from the spots inside the three-point line, they cut it to 12; and they only had to make nine from beyond the arc.
Still took forever.
Hope we get to see Douglas-Roberts, Rush and Walker do it today.
Q: When Russell and Wilt would grab dozens of rebounds every night, was it because of something unique about that era of basketball or were they really that good at it?
Was it that the game was played differently (e.g. the game was more about transition so only the centre would be there to rebound); were Russ and Wilt just so much bigger than everyone else?
Do you think they would be able to get those same numbers if they were in their prime today?
Michael K, Toronto
A: It’s easy: More shots, more misses, more chances.
Watch games from back then and they play at a frenetic pace, coaches didn’t call every single play – or hardly any, it seems – and that created far more rebounds.
They wouldn’t get the same numbers today but I guarantee you that, if they were in their prime, they’d be right at the top of the rebounding totals with whatever number was needed.