Archive for the ‘2010 NBA Finals’ Category

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Kobe Bryant doing his imitation of Michael Jordan after last nights win over Boston

Unless you are a Quaker or you just got released from prison or the county jail this morning. You probably watched the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Boston Celtics 83 to 79 to win back to back NBA championships last night by outscoring the Celtics 30 to 22 in the fourth quarter.

I am not a Lakers fan nor am I a hater. L.A. winning last night doesn’t piss me off even though I predicted that the Celtics would beat L.A. in seven games. I can admit when I am wrong and eat crow and be gracious about it. I can also give credit when credit is due.

The Lakers did what I didn’t think they had the ability to do. L.A. beat a team that was mentally, physically tougher and more talented than they were. Out of all of the championships that L.A. has won since Kobe has been there, this one to me is the most significant one and makes me respect them more than I ever have.

So congratulations to the Lakers and the city of L.A. and their fans. I hope the city of L.A. and every Lakers fans around the world enjoys this championship for as long as you possibly can. I am sure Ron Artest and the rest of the Lakers are.

Ron Artest is probably still sitting in a club or lounge somewhere in L.A. telling stories of how the greatest basketball player that he has ever seen or played against was a dude named Mike Chathway from Queens Bridge, New York who went to jail or died last year; or how Michael Jordan said that he wished that he would have played against him (Artest) in his prime. I swear that boy isn’t right in his head, but I am happy for him for some odd reason.

Somewhere Kobe Bryant is doing what God only knows Kobe does during his off time when he isn’t doing lame commercials of him doing soccer celebrations, participating in photo shots of him wearing weird all white outfits or jumping over Ashton Martins driving towards him at 60 MPH. Maybe he is at home with Vanessa planning his next attempt to immolate Michael Jordan’s mannerisms as he did last night after the game by jumping on the scorer’s table with the ball in his hands holding up five fingers like Jordan did after winning his fourth.

I have always defended Kobe when people would say that he tries to imitate things that Jordan did and said during Jordan’s career. I never saw what people were talking about until last night. That Jordan like stunt that he did after the final buzzer really caught my attention. Kobe has become just as consumed as we are as fans when it comes to comparing him to Mike that he seems to think that he needs to act like Mike at times.

The one thing that Kobe didn’t do a good job of last night was imitating how well Jordan typically played in NBA finals games. Kobe was horrendous all night long except in the last two minutes of the game when he hit a big shot and grabbed two key rebounds to help the Lakers complete the comeback over the Celtics. When he wasn’t missing shots, or dribbling the ball off of his feet, he looked out of sync and frustrated at times.

A good example of how bad Kobe was last night was displayed in the second quarter when he got the ball at the three point line and had Rasheed Wallace in front of him about three feet away. Instead of pressuring Kobe, Wallace backpedalled to go position himself under the basket for a rebound and let Kobe take a wide open three pointer which he missed. He was that bad at times last night. Ignore the 23 points that Kobe scored and the finals MVP award he collected. Those points and MVP award are very misleading of how Kobe actually played last night.

Overall the Lakers didn’t play well at all. They shot poorly from the field due to the Celtics tough defense and poor shot selection from several Lakers players, and L.A.’s free throw shooting wasn’t anything to brag about either except for in the fourth quarter when they needed every point to win. Besides hitting key free throws in the last three minutes of the game, there only saving grace was their great offensive rebounding, and Ron Artest and Pau Gasol.

Ron Artest and Pau Gasol stepped up and played big throughout the entire game and were the ones who led the charge late in the third quarter to come back from a thirteen point deficit. Derek Fisher didn’t play extremely well last night but he came through with a huge three point shot in the fourth with two minutes remaining to tie the game.

Despite Kobe’s off night and the Lakers overall average to subpar play. Game seven was by far the best game of the series. At the same time this game displayed what the entire series had been all about; two good teams who at times couldn’t find a way to put it all together to play a complete game.

For three quarters the Boston Celtics looked like the team that we saw in games two, four and five. Then at times they looked like the team we saw in games one, three and six. Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett came to play and played well at times and so did Rasheed Wallace. But they disappeared in the fourth quarter when they were needed the most.

While the Celtics were playing like the team we saw in games two, four and five through three quarters of game seven. L.A. was playing like they did in games two, four and five and pretty much played like that the entire game. The game basically came down to which one of the two underperforming teams could make big plays down the stretch in the fourth quarter since both teams had reverted back to old habits in the fourth.

Five years from now when people talk about this game. They are going to talk about how great both teams played defensively and how poorly Kobe Bryant played in maybe one of the biggest games in his career to date. Some may mention how Ron Artest played big for L.A. all night, then thanked his psychiatrist and promoted his upcoming rap album during the post game interview.

However people choose to talk or remember game seven of the 2010 NBA finals. It will ultimately be remembered as the night that L.A. got revenge on Boston for the loss in the 2008 NBA finals. Once again, congrats to the Lakers.

Kobe Bryant after a game five loss to Boston

Here we are eight hours away from tip-off of game six of the 2010 NBA finals and the question that has been in my head for two weeks now is; what is Kobe Bryant’s legacy going to be at the end of this year’s NBA finals?

In today’s sports world, players are scrutinized and judged and in some cases pre-judged minute by minute with every shot, catch, pass, pitch, rebound, hit, touchdown or home run they do or don’t make.

Two months ago during the eastern conference semi-finals, a few members of the media started to comment or ponder about Lebron James’s legacy. Most people including myself felt that discussing or even trying to make a legacy for Lebron was very premature despite the fact that he has been in the NBA for seven years now. On the other hand, discussing Kobe Bryant’s legacy or trying to judge it is very much okay at this stage of his career.

Thirteen years, four NBA championships, one finals MVP, one regular season MVP and one gold medal later, most if not everyone would say that he has lived up to the expectations that were placed on him coming out of high school. Kobe has come a long way since the days of not being able to beat out Eddie Jones for the starting two guard spot on the Lakers, or shooting air ball three point attempts in the western conference playoffs.

Kobe’s legacy as it stands now is very impressive and one that many NBA players wish they had attached to their name. Although, no matter what Kobe does or has done, he is always compared to Michael Jordan and possibly will always be compared to Mike.

The Black Mamba has accomplished a lot in his career and has done some amazing things on the court that are Jordan like. But despite winning four NBA championships, MVP awards and a gold medal, most people feel as if he needs to win six NBA championships like Mike did in order to be like Mike.

People like to mention that out of Kobe’s four NBA championships, three of those were won when Shaquille O’Neal who is considered to be one of the greatest centers of all-time, was Kobe’s team mate. Kobe critics and NBA fans say that the reason the Lakers won those three championships were because of Shaq not Kobe.

Some question Kobe’s ability to elevate his team and not just himself to a championship level like Michael Jordan routinely did with his Bulls teams. Then you have those people who simply question his greatness. Yes Kobe is known as the game’s best closer, but compared to Mike, some if not most people say that Kobe isn’t on Mike’s level.

Back in the 2008 after the Los Angeles Lakers came up short of winning the NBA championship by getting blown out by the Boston Celtics in game six of the NBA finals. Sports fans around the country said “Mike wouldn’t have gone out like Kobe and the Lakers did. There is no way Mike would have gotten blown out in a closeout game in the NBA finals.”

Kobe vindicated himself by leading the Lakers to a NBA championship last year, but as I stated in a previous blog before game one of the 2010 NBA finals. Last year’s championship has somewhat been devalued in the eyes of many non-Lakers fans. The Orlando Magic were not a serious threat to the Lakers last year. This is the series that non Lakers fans around the world want to see. It has become Kobe’s moment of truth. People want to see if Kobe is one of the greats of the game or just a great player.

So to answer my own question of, what will Kobe Bryant’s legacy be after this year’s NBA finals?

In my opinion, if Kobe goes on to bring the Lakers back from a 3-2 deficit to win the NBA championship. His legacy will go from platinum to elite status and I would have to seriously think about where he ranks amongst the NBA greats. I wouldn’t put him above Jordan, Magic or Bird. But he would be in my top ten for sure.

If the Black Mamba comes up short this year, his legacy will take a major hit and the comparison to Michael Jordan will almost be blasphemy if it already isn’t to some people. I personally will consider him one of the greatest players of all-time, although I couldn’t put him in my top five or ten of greatest players of all time. He currently is and will always be the sugar free version of Michael Jordan to me. Losing championships in a watered down NBA doesn’t look good on Kobe’s resume if he loses this series to the Celtics. Unfortunately in this country a player’s legacy is based on many things, but the most important thing is championships.

Phil Jackson

“This team (Boston Celtics) has lost more games in the fourth quarter than any other team in the NBA. This team knows how to lose games in the fourth quarter.” – Phil Jackson

With the Los Angeles Lakers trailing by five to the Boston Celtics with 1:40 remaining in game five of the 2010 NBA finals. Phil Jackson called a timeout and attempted to motivate his team by channeling his inner Confucius and giving this fortune cookie type of NBA tidbit. This statement is true as to how the injury riddled Celtics played during the regular season, but this has not been the way that a healthy Celtics team has played in the 2010 NBA playoffs nor the NBA finals. Boston went on to discredit Phil’s statement by beating the Lakers 92 to 86 in game five of the 2010 NBA finals, taking a 3-2 lead in the series with game six and if necessary game seven to be played in L.A.

Throughout the night the Lakers had been getting out played and out coached by Doc Rivers and the Celtics. It was your typical Lakers performance where Kobe Bryant was doing any and everything he wanted as the rest of his teammates and Phil Jackson just sat around and watched. L.A. looked as if they were playing in slow motion during the entire game. The Lakers played with no sense of urgency or energy; they let the Celtics get to loose balls and deflect entry passes, and allowed the Celtics to score on lay-up after lay-up. Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett and at times Nate Robinson did what they wanted to do anytime they felt like it, along with Paul Pierce finally having a breakout game by contributing with 27 points of his own as L.A. couldn’t find a way to stop him no matter who was guarding him.

As L.A.’s championship hopes and dreams were becoming a nightmare, the last thing Phil needed to be doing was dropping words of ZEN wisdom to his team. Instead, Phil should have been drawing up plays and finding ways to get other players involved. Not all players respond to the same type of coaching. That Zen stuff may work on Kobe or some of the other guys on the team, but some may just tune it and Phil out and probably already have.

I and many other people have always questioned Phil’s ability as an NBA coach. I have felt that he is a great leader of men and a great motivator, but as an X’S and O’s guy he leaves much to be desired. The fact that the vaunted triangle offense doesn’t even have a playbook and it’s an offense based on principles makes you wonder even more as to how good Phil is at drawing up plays. He may have won ten NBA championship titles as a coach in the NBA, but with the talent that he has had on many of his championship teams. Who couldn’t have done what he has done?

One of the major problems with the Lakers is that they seem to think that all they have to do is show up and they will win games. The lack of focus, motivation and discipline is what has plagued this Lakers team for years. The Lakers are a microcosm of what our society has become. Hardly anyone these days believes in working for anything, most people are always looking for some get rich quick scheme or trying to find the easy way to become successful in life. As the Lakers are finding out in this year’s NBA finals. Art often imitates life, and unlike last year, you can’t just roll the ball out on the court and expect to win.

With the series headed back to L.A., the Celtics are going into game six playing with house money with two games left and only needing to win one. While the Lakers have to win both games if they want to repeat as NBA champions. After game four I mentioned that the key to the Lakers hopes of repeating as NBA champions is Andrew Bynum. If people didn’t realize what I was saying after game four, I am sure that people can see what I meant after what happened in game five. To be honest thought I don’t think a healthy Bynum would have made a difference last night. L.A. just played uninspired and undisciplined basketball in every phase of the game. If the Lakers don’t get Kobe some help which they didn’t do last night, or wake up and play with a purpose. The Lakers will have lots of time during the summer to ponder what happened and agonize over how close they were to winning it all.

Not only do the Lakers need to “man up” and play solid basketball in game six. Phil needs to stop trying to philosophize during games and start coaching this group of under achieving players. I know that Phil Jackson won’t read my blog, but if you are reading Phil. Let me drop a little fortune cookie type of wisdom of my own which won’t come true like I said in my blog after game one;

“A Phil Jackson coached team has never lost a playoff series when his team wins the first game of a playoff series.” – David Johnson

Big Baby carried Nate Robinson and the rest of Celtic team in the fourth quarter

I am going to try to keep this blog entry short and sweet although I have yet to write a short blog. There isn’t really much to discuss about game four of the 2010 NBA finals that hasn’t already been said in games one thru three. Seems like after every game we are discussing the same players not doing what they should be doing or praising them when they did perform how they were supposed to. As I watched game four, there was one monumental move in the game that was something that hadn’t happen in this series and is worth discussing. It was the move that Doc Rivers made or didn’t make in the fourth quarter. It was a move that could have majorly backfired on him and have the whole city of Boston as well as the rest of America asking why?

With four minutes left in game four of the 2010 NBA finals, Doc Rivers had Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett at the scorer’s table ready to check in for, Nate Robinson, Tony Allen and Rasheed Wallace. The Boston Celtics had just taken a nine point lead in the game after scoring on their first nine possessions, but he felt that it was time to put his core group of guys back into the game. Boston’s quartette of Glen Davis, Nate Robinson, Tony Allen and Rasheed Wallace had done something that the starters had trouble doing in the first half and part of the third quarter. They began to trust each other and play with intensity on defense, and most importantly were efficient and effective on offense. Going back to game three, the Celtics had been stagnant on the offensive end of the court for seven straight quarters. During that stretch, Boston had made the Los Angeles Lakers defense look like the “Bad Boy” Detroit Pistons.

Doc recognized what was going on with his four reserves on the floor, so he motioned for Rondo, Pierce and Garnett to come back to the bench. This decision by Doc was a huge gamble but a great example of what type of coach Doc is. Celtic players have always said that Doc is the type of coach that trusts in his players and instills confidence in them by making decisions like he did last night. If the Celtics would have gone on to lose game four, we would be talking about how dumb of a move it was for him to ride with his reserves down the stretch. Instead it proved to be the right move and showed great intuition by Doc Rivers.

Kobe Bryant had been feeling it more than he ever had in the previous games in the NBA finals, and he had made some unbelievable shots in the second half. One thing that we have come to learn over time is that with the best “closer” in the NBA hitting shots like he was last night. Taking chances like Doc Rivers took are ones that usually backfire on you. Throughout the fourth quarter, Boston played in all out desperation mode as if their lives and careers depended on the outcome of that quarter. With Kobe doing what he was doing, going into game five down 3-1 was going to be like playing with fire for the Celtics. Kobe has yet to have one of his signature superstar type games in this series where he is flat out unstoppable. If Boston were to have gone into game five down 3-1 to the Lakers, this series would have pretty much been over. Kobe is known for being one not to mess with in “close out games”. He will end it and smile while doing it while everyone is in awe, and I am sure Boston was well aware of that last night.

Andrew Bynum looks on with Adam Morrison as the Lakers fall to the Celtics in game four

Boston was able to take advantage of Andrew Bynum only being able to play for twelve minutes in game four. Andrew had been playing extremely well in this series, unfortunately he had to sit most of the game on the bench due to his injured knee. Bynum not being in the middle for the Lakers made them vulnerable on the front line and Boston took advantage of the Lakers unfortunate situation. Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol had no answer for Glen Davis as he had his way with both of them and took over the game in the fourth quarter. If Davis wasn’t killing them down low then Nate Robinson was killing him with is penetration into the lane and scoring almost at will. Tony Allen had his moments offensively, but where he was really effective was on the defensive end making the Lakers guards settle for jump shots and/or low percentage shots.

Doc finally felt that with 2:51 left in the game, it was a good time to put Rondo, Garnett and Pierce back into the game. Pierce came in and hit a jumper that put Boston up 87-79 with 2:18 remaining, and scored on a lay-up that sealed the Lakers fate with 1:18 left in the game. While the last few seconds of game four ticked off the clock in the Celtics 96-89 win over the Lakers. I began to wonder what Celtics team will show up on Sunday. You can’t ignore the mistakes and issues in a win that you wouldn’t ignore in a loss. Although the Celtics had just played their most complete quarter since game two. You had to recognize that the Celtics success during the fourth quarter came from the backs of the reserves not their starters. Ray Allen struggled again as the starting five as a group still wasn’t able to get it together in this game. So what Celtic team should we expect to see in game five?

On the other side of the coin, you have to wonder if Bynum’s injury is going to end up being the Achilles heel for the Lakers and the down fall in them repeating as champions. Gasol has played great in this series and has been the best big man on the floor between both teams. But Andrew is the key to that Lakers front line and it shows how important he is to that front line every time he isn’t on the court. Whatever happens between these teams on Sunday, the winner of game five will win this series. I believe the Celtics will win game five and head back to L.A. up 3-2. It may be another ugly game like game four, but a win is a win no matter how ugly it is.

Until then, enjoy your weekend and be on the lookout for my Sunday sports notes blog entry by noon.

Derek Fisher not Kobe was the fourth quarter closer in game three

I am aimlessly typing this blog wondering where do I begin to discuss this game. If you watched game three of the 2010 NBA finals tonight, you too are still trying to figure out what you just watched. It was by far one of the sloppier NBA finals games ever played. I really don’t know what to make of this game or even what to write. I don’t think anyone from the Los Angeles Lakers or the Boston Celtics could describe what happen tonight verbally or on paper. This blog entry may end up being as lame as Drake’s debut album.

Boston started the game playing extremely well going up 11 – 3 during the first four minutes of the game. Kevin Garnett came out looking like the Garnett from 2008 by running the floor and beating every Laker big man down the court on the first three plays of the game scoring on a dunk, lay-up and alley-oop. L.A. started the game completely out of sync. No one in the Lakers starting five seemed to know who they were guarding or who on the Celtics had the ball at times. Offensively they couldn’t do anything right. Phil Jackson then did something uncharacteristic by calling a time out while his team was down early in a game. Immediately out of the time out, it seemed as if the teams had switched jerseys. Boston couldn’t guard anyone on the floor, and on offense they looked perplexed. This was an early sign of things to come from both of these teams tonight.

Kobe Bryant was pretty much the only decent bright spot in the entire first half as the Lakers erased a eight point deficit to take a fifteen point lead midway through the second quarter. Lamar Odom aided Kobe in establishing this lead by coming off the bench for Ron Artest who couldn’t run an offense if he was playing a game of one on one basketball. Lamar chipped in with eight points by being aggressive and attacking the basket instead of settling for jump shots. Odom’s mobility caused the Celtics duo of plump big men of Kendrick Perkins and Glen “Big Baby” Davis issues. Other than Kobe and Lamar, the Lakers weren’t anything special. A lot of what they were able to accomplish was aided by Boston’s ignorant, sloppy play on both ends of the court. Boston made a run that cut the fifteen point deficit down to eight at one point. But L.A. was able to push it back out to a twelve point lead before the end of the half.

Ray Allen wondering what happened in game three

After watching a half of bad basketball, you expected or at least hoped to see a better played game in the second half. Unfortunately what many of us may have expected or hoped to see didn’t happen. Immediately both teams started the second half as they had ended the first by playing bad basketball. Kobe by himself allowed the Celtics to get back into the game by taking several ill advised shots that were not within the flow of the offense. Kobe became 2004 to 2007 Kobe Bryant where he was going to jack up shots whenever he felt like it no matter what. Kobe may have taken some bad shots, but Ray Allen couldn’t hit anything whether he took a good or bad shot. After putting on a shooting clinic on Sunday, Ray went 0 for 13 and became more of a liability for the Celtics rather than an asset when he was on the court. Paul Pierce wasn’t much better and he had no one to blame but himself tonight because Ron Artest sat on the bench most of the game in foul trouble.

Finally in the fourth quarter the Celtics made a run to come within one point of the Lakers. Glen Davis came up huge in Boston’s fourth quarter comeback. Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett also contributed in the comeback. On the defensive end of the court the Celtics had no answer for the Lakers and their pick and roll offense that they were running with Derek Fisher on every trip down the court. Usually in the fourth quarter it’s Kobe that’s the closer, but in game three it was D-Fish who hit all of the big shots in route to scoring eleven fourth quarter points. Garnett, Rondo and Davis hit some big shots of their own, but Fisher was too much for Boston in the fourth. Once the tomfoolery of a basketball game was over, the Lakers stood victorious in a 91 to 84 victory over the Celtics.

Overall you would have to give the Lakers credit for hanging in there and winning this game. L.A. Was able to play gritty, tough defense and get huge contributions from their bench in this game. Kobe and the Lakers did what Boston usually does on a regular basis and it’s something that many people including myself have wondered about the Lakers. Can they win “ugly”? That question is put to rest after tonight’s game three. On the other hand you still wonder what is wrong with the Celtics and will they ever get their form back that they had coming into this series. Right now Doc Rivers needs to figure out a way to get the “Big four” playing well again. Part of me wonders if old age and injuries are starting to catch up with the Celtics now. If Boston doesn’t come with it on Thursday, then there will be a cause for concern as to what will happen in games five and six.

Earlier today I posed the question in my blog as to if game three was the most important game for the Lakers. They didn’t play like it was at times, but when it really counted. Derek Fisher played as if it was the most important game for L.A. During Fisher’s teary eyed interview after the game, he commented that game three was a very important game for them and possibly the most important game for them in this series. I completely agree with that statement.

Some say that the most important games in a seven games series is game three when a team is down 0-2, and the closeout game. The Lakers aren’t down 0-2, but I am wondering if that saying applies to this series between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics. With the scene being shifted to the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston where the next three games will be played. One has to wonder what will happen if the Lakers lose to the Celtics in game three tonight. Is game the the most important game for the Lakers? Of course the series won’t be over nor will the Lakers be in a win or else situation from a technical standpoint. But with these two teams having a history between them going back to 2008. You wonder from a psychological standpoint how a game three loss would affect the Lakers with two more games left to be played in Boston.

Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher won’t be affected mentally by a game three loss. The players who may become affected are players like Andrew Bynum, and Ron Artest. Artest has never played in the NBA finals, and Andrew barely played in the 2009 finals due to him constantly being in foul trouble. Jordan Farmar, Luke Walton, Shannon Brown, and Sasha Vujacic are also guys that you wonder as to how they will play when the intensity of the NBA finals gets tougher if L.A. goes down two games to one. Two more players to think about are Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. Both are very talented players who are inconsistent and have a tendency to play small when the noose gets a little tighter. I am fully aware that all of the players that I have mentioned except for Ron Artest played in the NBA finals last year. But during the 2009 NBA finals there wasn’t ever a time where the Orlando Magic posed a serious threat to the Lakers chances of winning it all. In my opinion for the exception of Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, the Lakers aren’t really battle tested from a mental standpoint.

Unlike the 2009 Orlando Magic team, this Boston Celtics team pose a serious threat to the Lakers. Playing from behind in this series in terms of how many games they are down to Boston is a position that this Lakers team may not want to get into. An ideal situation for the Lakers would be for them to win all three games in Boston to end the series there and celebrate winning back to back NBA championships on Boston’s home court. That’s an ideal situation though and one that most likely won’t become reality. The Lakers need to do what Boston went to L.A. to do and accomplished, which was to win at least one game so that they can bring the series back to their home court with a chance to close it out. In order for this to happen though, I feel that they may have to win game three tonight to take some of the pressure off the role players. This may sound crazy right now, but if the Lakers are down 2-1 to the Celtics after tonight. The pressure will be all on the Lakers for games four and five……………..Celtics win tonight by 5