Monday, June 2, 2008

Lakers vs Celtics and Hot Rods

Can Kobe/KG match Bird/Magic?

Not since the 80's have the Los Angles Lakers and the Boston Celtics matched up against each other for a shot at a championship. (So out of respect to the game, throw away your DVD players and tape the series on VHS, please.)

David Stern and his NBA people could not have asked for a better Finals match up at the start of the season. Fans and media will be digging into the archives until this series tips off.

Remember it was the Bird/Magic era that really kicked off the globalization of basketball while Michael Jordan carried it to another level. So what better way to re-ignite the same level of enthusiasm for the sport than with a Kobe Bryant led Lakers taking on "The Big Three".

David Stern must go to sleep with a smile on his face right now.

So after playing 82 games we actually have the two best teams remaining so who is going to win this thing?

The Lakers will once again rely on Bryant to led from the front with his killer mentality but it seems to me that Kobe is growing in confidence with his teammates abilities. He no longer seems to have trust issues.

There is no doubting that Kobe will take over the game when necessary, but Spanish international Pau Gasol and versatile forward Lamar Odom quite often have heavy involvement early.

You focus on these three too much and leave Derek Fisher or Vladimir Radmanovic open, a few open threes later you are chasing your tail early. This starting five unit is playing very well together right now.

Enter the Laker bench. These guys have been holding their own every night. On one night it is Luke Walton and Ronny Turiaf then the next it is Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic.

Right now I feel the Lakers squad is playing like they believe they are going to win any game, anywhere. They came back and won two games against the defending champ San Antonio Spurs from double figure deficits. Quite impressive and quite a good confidence builder leading into the Finals.

As I've mentioned before in blogs, Phil Jackson has them feeling good while Kobe's play gives them the confidence and attitude on the court.

It will not be all one way traffic in the series so lets look at the C's and their strengths.

The "Big Three" all seem to back on the same page together. There was a minute there where Ray Allen was struggling but he is back on track.

All three need to be playing well together if the Celtics want to give themselves the best chance of winning.

The most important guy for the Celtics this series is going to be James Posey. (He came up with a key steal on Tayshaun Prince and the Pistons in Game 6) Quite often forgotten about, Posey will be asked to defend Bryant often and well. This is something Posey is used to as his role with the Miami Heat championship team was the same. This guy is fast becoming a clutch three point shooter as well so look for him to play key minutes down the stretch of games.

Rajan Rondo will need to keep the crafty veteran Fisher honest at the offensive end otherwise it will allow Fisher to roam and double on defense. (Look for Sam "I Am" Cassell to play more if Rondo becomes ineffective.) Rondo really began to pick his play up in the last few games in the Pistons series so the Celtics will be looking for this to carry over.

Kendrick Perkins needs to stay out of foul trouble in this series. Sure the C's have depth (PJ Brown and Leon Powe) but Perkins is going to have to be the guy to match up on Gasol for the majority of the minutes.

If Perkins can keep Gasol honest at both ends this will leave Garnett with a lot more freedom to operate down low. Garnett and Perkins seem to have a good understanding if KG gets doubled.

Allen must remain "on fire" to keep Kobe busy on the defensive end. Ray Ray was lights out in the last game so the Lakers know they need to contain his perimeter firepower otherwise he can split a game wide open in a hurry.

I feel this series will have many twists and turns but the Lakers have been the one team that has consistently won on the road in the playoffs. I see this continuing throughout this series and should see them hoist the trophy after SIX games.

As part of our NBL contract all players have to do promotional work for the club and sponsors. There is no doubting some are better than others and today I was lucky enough to be involved in the 7th Annual Bluwater Ute, Car and Bike Show.

By no means am I a petrol head but I did get a buzz out of being asked to drive a Hot Rod in the show.

Thanks to David (owner of the vehicle) for having the confidence in me behind the wheel. A day my kids and I will remember for quite a while.

Other News:

Fellow blogger Glockers chips in his two cents worth about the NBL dilemmas. I cannot agree more with him about how the league changed the rules to allow Tim Johnston to become the owner of the Kings.

Is there a conflict of interest within basketball's review committee? (interesting read, draw your own conclusions)

Mee getting the Boomers some love in the US.

Harris to measure up for Guinness Book of Records.

NBL needs to find a star.

Jamaica basketball receives millions in sponsorship!

Kings and their rough ride.

No comments: