Posts Tagged ‘Orlando Magic’

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

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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