Monday, June 21, 2010

NBA Finals 2010

The NBA Finals were an amazing series. I am a Laker fan so I'm obviously happy about the way it turned out; however I have a few thoughts on some other angles to the series that I want to write down before I forget them.

Doc Rivers was disparaged as a coach who couldn't get a system in place or get productivity out of the Celtics before the current "Big 3" was assembled in the summer of 2007. Now he is seen as more of a veteran's coach who gets peak performance out of a unit where egos could easily dominate and cause diversity.

I'm going to say he's largely the same person he was before and after the 2008 season. So what gives? Well, contrast that to Avery Johnson, who is a control oriented coach with seemingly perfect technical knowledge and attention to detail. He also oversaw two of the biggest choke jobs in NBA history, squandering a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals to a Miami Heat team that only won 52 games that year (compared to Dallas' sixty games). The following year, his 67 win team (67!!!) lost to the Golden State Warriors who squeaked into the playoffs on the final day of the regular season, before promptly losing 4-1 to Utah, who lost 4-1 to the Spurs, who finally won the championship.

Meanwhile, Doc Rivers lead a team with a solid starting five to upset victories over the league leading Cavaliers (61 wins) and then the Magic (59 wins) and nearly beat the Lakers, narrowly losing a game 7 in which the lead by 13 points in the third quarter.

Whats the difference? How can one coach who is able to pound and mold a team into a well-oiled regular season machine able to choke in the playoffs while coach Doc Rivers stumbles through home losses to the Nets and Wizards only to pull a five headed rabbit out of the proverbial hat once the playoffs start?

I don't know. I doubt anyone does. But consider a quote from Doc Rivers who said, and I quote "I'm a typical guy. I can point out the problem but I don't have a solution". It takes a big man to say that. Avery Johnson would never say that. Ever.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Game 2 Thoughts and Game 3 preview

Game 2 of the NBA Finals featured Ray Allen setting the 3 point shot record in the NBA Finals, with seven consecutive and 8 total three-pointers made. Despite his record performance, the Celtics trailed by 3 with five minutes remaining at a score of 90-87. The Celtics squeaked out a victory with the help of Rajon Rondo's triple double and amazing offensive rebounds.

Lamar Odom played 15 minutes due to over aggressive play; he's probably so amped up after sitting on the bench that he plays with too much energy at the start and ends up collecting fouls. His desire to contribute and play is actually hurting his performance.

Ron Artest had a 1-10 shooting night but is still doing amazing work on Paul Pierce defensively. They are simply letting Ron Artest guard his straight up on the perimeter knowing that Bynum and Gasol are simply camping in the paint waiting for a drive.

Which reminds me: Kendrick Perkins and Bynum are basically having a war in the paint and its working out in the favor of the Lakers as the Lakers perimeter defenders can be up in everyone's jersey, knowing that dribble penetration will be met by a rejuvenated Bynum and the ever-active Gasol.

Kevin Garnett looks so fragile I think I could guard him one on one. He knows that Gasol is taller, stronger, heavier, quicker, and younger. Advantage: Lakers.

If Ray Allen didn't have the GREATEST NIGHT IN FINALS HISTORY the game wouldn't have even been close. If he had shot his season average 40 percent and made four instead of eight, those missing points would have meant they were down 15 with five minutes to go instead of 3. An insurmountable lead.

Nate Robinson comes in cold off the bench and hits a fall away 3 pointer? I'm comfortable letting a castoff from one of the leagues worst teams shooting as many fall away 3-pointers as he wants.
Ray Allen was making catch and shoot 3s all night. Thats an amazing feat and he's legitimately the best shooter in the NBA right now. But thats all he's making. He isn't creating off the dribble or beating them one on one like Kobe can. So how about Shannon Brown quits leaving him to help in the lane and Derek Fisher fights through some screens? I mean get serious here. The Lakers will win Game 3 and they will win the series in 6.

Kevin Garnett dominated Rashard Lewis in the Orlando series? Rashard Lewis, a 6'10" power forward who needed to take HGH to average 5 rebounds a game? Really? Now that he's been suspended and off the juice for a year Kevin Garnett is boasting of his performance over him? Gasol is taller, heavier, stronger, and mentally tougher and most importantly, has faced the KG blitz before. He failed in 2008. He won't again.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Lakers and Celtics are in the Finals

To prepare for the Finals, which start tomorrow, I'm going to do a player by player comparison to determine which team has the advantage in the series.

Home Court: advantage goes to the Lakers. However, both are veteran teams, and both played well on the road. So I'd have to say that I doubt home court advantage will be a big factor in this series.

Point Guard: Rajon Rondo vs. Derek Fisher. Rajon has had some monster games this season and also led his teams in WP. Derek Fisher is 35 and not much of a dribble penetration kind of guy. The Celtics have a huge advantage in Rondo v Fisher.

Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant vs. Ray Allen. Obviously, Kobe is Kobe, skilled at everything, and performing really well now that his knee is in better shape. The Celtics have Ray Allen, who is adept at moving without the ball, rolling around multiple screens, and hitting open shots. The problem for the Lakers is that it forces Kobe to spend energy on defense chasing Ray Allen. The problem for the C's is that Ray Allen will probably have to guard Kobe, which is very tough to do.
Small Forward: Paul Pierce versus Ron Artest. PP is a very good player, especially on offense. Ron Artest is a good player, especially on defense. Its a situation of one players strengths going against anothers strengths, which is rare. Most players make it to the NBA based on offense. Ron Artest was brought to the Lakers for defense. Also, Ron Artest has been hitting corners threes very well lately and playing under control. So while the Cs have the advantage when it comes to their best player, its not as much of one as I'd suspect. Ron Artest is happy to play like a pitbull all game against Ron Artest and nothing else.

Power Forward: Keven Garnett versus Pau Gasol. Advantage Lakers. With all due respect to KG and what he's done over the years, Pau is better. Hes much better on offense. However, same situation as the last position. Pau is great on offense, KG is great on defense. Tireless, relentess defense. Also, KG has always been a good outside shooter and has an array of post moves. Over the course of a season, Pau is better. A seven game series? Not as sure. Advantage Lakers, but not a big one.

Center: Two guys who are there for their defense, defending each other. Great. I expect 2.45 ppg for each player! Ha, we'll see. Between Kendrick Perkins technical foul trouble and Bynums knee problems, I expect both players to miss significant playing time this series. Advantage: No one.

6th Man: Lamar Odom vs. Glen Davis/Rasheed Wallace. Neither Cs sub has the combination of mobility and strength to match Lamar. He is also rebounding very well (see his 19 rebound performance against the Suns). Davis and Wallace both have their strengths, also Wallace has had back problems and is as likely to throw up a clunker of a game as he is a good game. Wallace does seem dialed in and focused, however. Advantage Lakers.

Bench: Both benches are erratic. The Lakers PGs may be able to help with Rajon Rondo ( Shannon Brown and Farmar) but beyond that, its a toss up as to which team's bench will have a good game and which one won't. Whoever blinks first losses the championship.

Coaches: Both veterans, both experienced. Doc Rivers had a reputation for being overmatched and incompetent before the Big 3 arrived, and he is now hailed as an amazing coach. Probably somewhere in between. Jackson's main coaching strategy has been to have Jordan, Pippen, Rodman, Shaq, Kobe, and now Gasol, as his players. I thought Stan Van Gundy did a better coaching job last year in the Finals.

Prediction? I don't know.