Let’s face it, the Los Angeles Lakers are the team to beat going into the finals. After going through the much stronger Western Conference, the Lakers are peaking at the right time. As for their opponent, the Boston Celtics, they’ve narrowly beaten injury-plagued and/or young and inexperienced teams to reach the finals.
The Lakers defeated the Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz and the defending-champion San Antonio Spurs (all 50-game winners) with ease.
It took the Celtics seven games to beat the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks have a bright future, but come on! Seven games to beat the Hawks?
It also took the Celtics seven games to beat LeBron James, otherwise known as the Cleveland Cavaliers.
After beating LeBron, the Celtics struggled to stop Eastern’s own Rodney Stuckey of the Detroit Pistons. While Stuckey has shown serious skill, elite teams aren’t supposed to struggle to stop rookies. Had Richard Hamilton not messed up his arm, we might be watching a Pistons/Lakers rematch instead.
Aside from competition, the Lakers have been a different team since acquiring the gift-wrapped Pau Gasol from Memphis. Maybe it’s Kobe Bryant’s new attitude and role on the team.
Prior to Gasol, the team was all about Kobe. Now, with the Spaniard, Kobe is passing more, shooting better and has improved as a teammate.
Kobe has been on a mission this year in the playoffs as evidence by his playoff-leading 31.9 points per game. As much as I hate Kobe, he’s killin’!
But Kobe isn’t the only one elevating his play. Lamar Odom is earning every bit of his $13.2 million this year with his 15 points and 10 rebounds per game in the playoffs. Also, guards Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar are now showing star qualities.
Meanwhile, Gasol and veteran Derek Fisher are as solid as ever.
On the other hand, we have a struggling Celtics team. Garnett aside, the team is inconsistent on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court.
Ray Allen has had one good game during the entire playoffs and Paul Pierce takes a lot of boneheaded threes early in the shot clock. When your two best shooters are inconsistent, it makes it tough to win on the road.
The Celtics’ bench: a joke! Eighty-year-olds Sam Cassell and P.J. Brown are basically just filling roster spots at this point. Headcase Eddie House and the Blob, aka Glen Davis, have a combined 3.5 points per game.
The Celtics’ best bench player is James Posey who averages a whopping 6.1 points per game. Yes, Posey is known for his defense. But when he does come in, he’ll most likely guard Kobe… Good luck there, Posey!
So when the Celtics, who struggled through weak teams, meet up with the Lakers, who steamrolled over upper-echelon teams, the West will once again prove why it’s far superior than the East. And once again, unfortunately, Kevin Garnett will fall short of a championship.
How good are the Celtics?
Let me explain how good they are. I remember when I first got a copy of NBA Live ’99 for my computer. Not only was it a life-changing game, showing a guy with less hops than Busch Light how professional ball absolutely kicks ass, but it also introduced the edit-a-player and make-a-player feature.
Now with the Seattle SuperSonics being absolutely atrocious on that game, I had to get real inventive with rebuilding their mid-’90s dynasty. Namely, I made myself into the game as a 7-foot-10-inch savior of the franchise with a red ‘fro and a headband. And then I bumped everyone else’s stats in the starting lineup up to 99.
Ladies and gentlemen, my Seattle SuperSonics Frankenstein IS the 2008 Boston Celtics. Thanks to some brilliant draft day moves, the Celtics went from being the jokes of the NBA to the first All-Star team to make the finals.
The Lakers are in serious trouble.
Kevin Garnett? He could rip the heart out of an elephant, eat it and then still make Kobe Bryant a posterized whipping boy.
Paul Pierce? He’s probably the best overall player on the team; sometimes he falls asleep with a basketball dribbling next to his bed. The dude was stabbed 11 times in the face in 2000 and is still a baller. How can you intimidate someone who has been stabbed 11 times? Derek Fisher’s defense suddenly doesn’t look all that impressive. Ray Allen? OK, he’s sucked for most of the playoffs, but heated up against the Pistons. And a cold Ray Allen is still better than 80 percent of the NBA anyway. Now, you might be worried about the lack of road wins but it’s surprising how many teams had trouble winning on the road in the playoffs. And have we forgotten already how many fits a strong home crowd in Utah gave Los Angeles in the second round of the playoffs?
Boston’s crowd is hungry for an NBA title and has proven its ability to provide the best home-court advantage in the playoffs. That place doesn’t get loud, it gets E-LECT-RIC. I think they’ve actually attached a couple of jumper cables to the Garden and it provided enough energy to power Fenway Park at night.
And just do simple math… three superstars with role players on the Celtics, one superstar with role players on the Lakers. Three beats one. Unless you go to the University of Montana. Then math is an elective.
So be prepared after the finals to pop in your copy of “Celtic Pride” starring the dude from “Home Alone” and Dan Aykroyd, and celebrate like it’s 1986. I’ve already got my Larry Bird short shorts on order.