My intentions were to have this blog entry posted on Tuesday, but I decided to wait and think about this Lakers/Celtics series a little longer before I actually started stroking the keys on this one. I have also been busy writing football blogs for the sports website that I write for which one of my entries this week was the topic of someone’s article in a Denver magazine that gave me a little publicity. With all of that said, I am sorry for the delay if you were looking for this Lakers/Celtics blog. If you weren’t looking for it, then I guess there are no hard feelings. As I once said on twitter, football is my wife and basketball is my mistress. So today I am going to spend time talking about my mistress since I talk about my wife 24/7.
Tonight is the beginning of part two in what some Laker fans and the Lakers themselves consider being unfinished business from two years ago. This is the NBA Finals in which NBA fans and Laker fans around the world have been waiting for since the lost in 2008. Maybe only the media and Nike hyped LeBron vs. Kobe NBA Finals has been anticipated more. Back in 2008 the Lakers not only lost in the NBA Finals to the Boston Celtics, but they were manhandled the whole series and embarrassed in the closeout game. We all remember Kobe Bryant scowling at the podium after every loss agonizing over mistakes and missed shots that he and his team had during the loss. We also vividly remember the comments in which Bryant made after the blowout loss which ended the series. He commented on how soft the Lakers were and that he vowed that they would come back the following year a tougher team mentally and physically. During the Lakers championship run last year, the Lakers were never really tested mentally or physically until they reached the second round of the playoffs and had to go up against the Houston Rockets who had Ron Artest and Shane Battier on their roster and accepted the challenge of going toe to toe with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. After a grueling seven game series with the Rockets, Kobe commented on how he felt that the Rockets had really made the Lakers prove their toughness and the Lakers were ready to win it all after that series. The lakers succeeded in doing what Kobe said they were poised to do after the Houston series by defeating the Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals. But after the Houston series, no one really tested them from a physical standpoint the way the Rockets had done in the semi finals and the Celtics did in 2008.
Fast forward to today; the Lakers are coming into the NBA Finals for the third year in a row and as the defending NBA champions. Despite the impressive resume over the past three years, this is the series in which many people want to see whether or not the Lakers are a mini dynasty, or the product of a watered down, soft league. Unfortunately the general public has almost discredited last year’s championship since it came against a soft, young Orlando Magic team that wasn’t as talented as the Lakers nor the Celtics team that beat L.A. in 2008. People also remember the Lakers/Rockets series last year and remember how the Rockets were able to take that series to seven games without Yao Ming, which is something that shouldn’t have happened if the Lakers were so great of a team. Many people including Laker fans who watched last year’s Lakers/Rockets series, all say that if Yao wouldn’t have gotten hurt, the Lakers wouldn’t have won that series. So there is still a question as to if the Lakers can beat talented teams who play physical on both ends of the court.
To add to the Lakers new found toughness, they added Ron Artest during the offseason after Trevor Ariza left for Houston. The Lakers acquired Artest not just for the playoffs, but to win a second consecutive NBA championship. He has had his ups and downs during the season and during the playoffs, but as of late he has been playing great ball. Ron brings a level of toughness that he hasn’t shown yet in L.A. this year, although it is expected to come out in this series against Boston. The Celtics are a team that plays basketball the way it used to be played back when most people in their thirties and older were growing up. The NBA is an extremely soft league comapred to what it uesd to be back in the 80′s and 90′s. Boston plays physical, tough, and aggressive and is long and athletic which are all things that have bothered the Lakers in the past. Phil Jackson has done what he always does before every playoff series by commenting on what he feels is a disadvantage to his team. He called out the Celtics as to how they play defense and how Kevin Garnett defends players. Before the last series he singled out Steve Nash by saying how he felt that Steve carried and palmed the ball at times. Phil does these things to plant a seed in to the official’s heads so that they will look for it during games. Does it work? Who knows, bottom-line is that the Lakers still have to execute on both ends of the court. Looking for calls or complaining about how the Celtics play defense wont get them their second ring in three years.
After the Lakers advanced to the 2010 NBA Finals I predicted that the Celtics would beat the Lakers in seven games. I wavered during the week thinking that the Lakers may actually pull it off, but I am going to stick with the Celtics in seven. Kobe has always had trouble against the Celtics and if Kobe goes, so goes the Lakers. Rarely does anyone on the Lakers step up and perform on the big stage when Kobe is not his usual self due to tough defense or not playing well. In addition to that, I just can’t logically see how the Lakers can consistently win key matchups during this series. Sorry Laker fans, if I am wrong I will admit to it. If you feel that Iam wrong please comment as to why via on this blog site or on my twitter page which is linked below.
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