Boston/Los Angeles XII: Green With Title Envy (NBA Finals Breakdown/Preview)
A) These teams combined have accounted for more than HALF of the NBA Championships celebrated in NBA history. You realize what that means? That's the equivalent of the Steelers and 49ers meeting in the Super Bowl, accounting for a chunk/half of the Lombardi Trohpies handed out in February. (Also note, we NEED to see those two hook up just once in February.)
B) This is the 12th time these two have met up in the NBA Finals. 9 out of 11 times, Boston's gotten it done. Never mind "rivalry", this is BEEF. This is what Biggie was rapping about once upon a time. Maybe we won't get Ron getting clotheslined by Kendrick, but this is personal.
C) For all that Kobe's done this year to inch closer towards Laker Immortality, here's a surefire way to get his name mentioned.
Beat Boston. As it stands right now, only a handful of Lakers stand in that hall so to speak. Big Game James, Kareem and Magic. The Showtime Lakers succeeded where Wilt, The Logo and others failed. They wrested the title away from Boston in the 80s, besting Larry's Big Three TWICE in three tries. How poetic is it that in order for Kobe to get one for the thumb, he has to best the Lakers' traditional summertime rivals? Hatfields, say what's great to the McCoys rocking the Boston green.
Now, let's kick the ballistics shall we? Coaches
- Normally, there aren't many instances where I'd go away from Big Chief Triangle aka Lord Of The Rings. Doc Rivers can only hope his coaching career ends with him getting HALF of the rings that Phil has on his RIGHT HAND ALONE. But Doc stands with only Larry Brown as the only coaches who can say, "we stood toe to toe with Phil in the NBA Finals and I outcoached him". Phil historically speaking, has only met the same coach in the Finals two other times.
Jerry Sloan's 0-2 against him during Phil's time in Chicago and Larry Brown drew even with Phil after Detroit turned out the lights on Los Angeles some 6 years ago. Payback for 2001 when Philly was dramatically undermanned and outgunned. Phil's now treading into some rather unprecedented ground, as he's now going for uh...one for the toe? Or maybe one for Jeannie's finger if that first one was too much for ya. No question he'll have Bynum around for this series, something he didn't have the first time around. He'll also have Artest, who gives him a pitbull at this stage he hasn't had since Rodman in Chicago.
Doc on the other hand, brings the concept of "together". The ole 'five fingers brought together are more powerful than five fingers seperate" deal and well, with KG back and Rondo playing out of control, the C's look as potent as ever. Doc made Mike Brown, former Coach of the Year look so mentally inept, it got Mike future endeavored in Cleveland only two weeks after the fact. Doc turned SVG into what Shaq labeled him a few years back, a Master Of Panic before punching Orlando out in 6 games. The Triangle wasn't so daunting two years ago that the Doc didn't have a prescription to beat it.
I think the same holds true this time around. He's not awestruck by Phil's presence and he's damn sure not intimidated by them.
- The Lakers will go into these Finals with something they didn't have in 2008. Bynum back in the lineup, even if he's not entirely HEALTHY. Let's not mix words, L.A.'s length with Bynum, Gasol and Odom give them an advantage that against most teams...is enough. Against Boston, it's a push at best. Perk, KG, Sheed and The Ticket Stub (Glen Davis) form the response that Boston's throwing at Los Angeles. While Powe took his ball and went to the Cavs, Boston's frontcourt is still more than capable of matching up with the height that Los Angeles will throw at them. Add to this the addition of my favorite QBer Ron Ron against The Fact, Paul Pierce...I conclude this is a...
- Here's where as they say, it gets real ugly. Yes, the Lakers have Kobe and after that, break out a Hubble telescope because there's not much else that will have Boston shivering in fear. Derek Fisher's getting up there in age, but is good for an occasional big shot or two when need be. Beyond that, on the defensive side of the ball he's going to be mincemeat against Double R. Boston's backcourt startingwise remains as it was two years ago. The only big time difference is that Double R's maturation now adds an extra dimension to the Boston Three Party. On top of that, you've got Little Nate Robinson who can come off the bench and give the C's that ability to slash and take it in with authority...I like Boston here. A LOT.
- Boston stands on ground that was occupied by the 1995 Houston Rockets all by their lonesome. Those Rockets you might recall, came from a 3-1 defecit to bounce the Phoenix Suns in the 2nd round and then humiliated MVP David Robinson and the Spurs in the West Finals to march on to the NBA Finals. The Spurs and Suns, owned the two best records in the NBA during that 95 campaign. Those Rockets, ended up winning the title. Boston to get back to where they were in 2008, bounced Orlando and Cleveland in 6 games respectively. The two best teams in the NBA, recordwise, are home having been future endeavored by the C's. The C's now are just four wins away from putting their name alongside those Rockets as having beaten the top three teams in the NBA recordwise, that had a better mark than they did in the regular season.
On the flipside, Kobe stands four wins away from one for the thumb. Phil stands four wins away from either a nice extension, or walking away for good or (HOPEFULLY) taking a walk to New Jersey to help begin the single greatest turnaround story in NBA history. Or maybe just picking up where it left off in 2003, before the longest intermission known to man occurred. Ron Artest has NEVER won an NBA Championship. For the other Lakers, it's about showing that 2008 was just that, 2008...not 2010. It's about showing that history is NOT indicative of what's to come or what's going to be. History speaks to Boston owning Los Angeles 9 out of 11 tries, with only the 80s keeping this from being the single greatest lopsided "rivalry" this side of Tom and Jerry.
Kobe's Game 6 performance combined with Ron Ron reminding us about Queensbridge in Games 5 and 6, normally would be enough for me to look the Lakers' way. NORMALLY. But this time, I'm going with Boston. I think this for them, is about showing everyone that wrote them off as being too old, too fat cat happy off of 2008 that they're still hungry. They're still the champions and in UFC terms, it's the World Champs against the Interim Champs. In an Association where rematches come few and far in between, people need to cherish this. As I stated before, maybe we're not going to get a redux of Kurt getting Klotheslined by McHale, but this will be nasty. Kobe still has the image in his head of Boston stunting after a 39 point closeout win in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. Pau Gasol's been the only Laker to keep it real enough to admit, yeah, it's still in my mind.
Let me put it this way, if someone blew me out by 39 in a series ending game, that would be in my mind until I got a chance to meet them again. Even if I won a title the year after, there is no getting clear of that. Unless of course, you beat the team that put you down like that. Boston appears to have the swagger of a team that wants back what it feels was never really taken from them. They've laid to rest any notion that Orlando was ready to take the throne from them in the East, proving KG's absence was the only reason we didn't get Boston/LA XII last Summer. Now, it's about proving to Los Angeles that there's a reason 9 out of 11 Finals have ended with Los Angeles seeing "Green".
I think this Summer, it's 10 out of 12 for Boston. Doc lights another cigar in Red's memory and most likely, Phil will exit stage left. (Hopefully, to fly to NJ and exit off of 15W to coach the Nets.)
Boston in 6.