Did you really want me to bring up Russell Westbrook? He shot over 47% in the series and he is one of the focal points of the Thunder offense, which would make one think that LA threw more resources at him to make sure he was contained (which they did). Not to mention this was in the first round when Fisher had fresh legs.
Now, after 16 grueling playoff games, he has to guard a quicker, more aggressive Rajon Rondo. It's going to result in 1 of 2 things: Rondo will either score at will in the paint vs. Fish or the wing defenders will have to constantly help off of their men and the Celtics' shooters (something OKC did not have) will burn LA from outside.
It's not as if Pau Gasol was a young, developing player in 2008. He is essentially the same guy, so if your strongest argument is that he is going to somehow play MUCH better than he did in 2008 than that is pretty weak.
Even if Kobe scores 30+ a game, there just is not enough help around him to beat a team like the Celtics in a 7 game series.
I absolutely wanted you to bring up Russell Westbrook because he's one-third of the triumvirate of point guards Fisher had to contend with on the way to the Lakers' third straight Western Conference Championship and third straight appearance in the NBA Finals.
Throughout the playoffs, Rondo's taken a pounding and it showed toward the tail end of the series against the Orlando Magic. That's why Nate Robinson played twice the average he's played throughout the entire playoffs in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Fisher may be older but he'll still play Rondo extremely tough and he's smart enough to know that Rondo doesn't have the outside game that a point guard like Nash does so he'll play him to take jumpers from outside all series long.
Rondo's blossomed but his game is far from being complete so let's not get too crazy here.
As for Gasol, in 2008 he only played a partial year with Kobe. Now after two FULL seasons of playing with Bryant, he's had an opportunity to watch and learn what kind of intensity and toughness it takes to win a championship. Now him and Kobe are more in sync and it definitely shows. That being said, this is not the Pau Gasol of 2008 and he will play MUCH better.
There's not enough help around Kobe? How do you figure? Are you forgetting about Derek Fisher, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Jordan Farmar, Shannon Brown and Luke Walton? Are you forgetting that they're the defending NBA Champions? They beat the Celtics during the regular season on the road and lost to the Celtics at home by ONE point WITHOUT Kobe Bryant.
The Celtics are good but they're far from invincible. If LeBron James didn't quit and if the Magic didn't spot Boston three games then we might not be talking about the Celtics right now.
Nate Robinson played those minutes because Rondo had a specific injury, not because he was fatigued. But obviously you weren't watching the game.
And really, Rondo isn't a good jump-shooter? This isn't exactly news to anyone. Look at the way he's been played in the first three rounds...the defenders have given him the open looks and he's still managed to get to the paint.
Talk about the regular season all you want, if anything in the playoffs was based on the regular season then the Celtics would have no business even being in the finals in the first place. They had a losing record in the regular season to just about every highly-seeded playoff team...its meaningless because they were a shell of what they are now.
Those are the most rediculous "what if" scenarios I have ever heard. Orlando didn't "spot" the Celtics three games. Give me a break. If you're going to say things like that, then I might as well say what if the Thunder snuck out one of those close games in LA, or what if Gasol didn't make that tip at the buzzer. LA could have been bounced in the biggest upset in NBA history.
Au contraire, mon frere; I was watching the game and I was watching the series. Obviously, you're not taking heed to my words. I never said Rondo was fatigued. I said he's taken a pounding in the playoffs and it's taken a toll on his small frame. And if I were the Lakers, I'd make Rondo pay the price for every time he takes it to the cup all series long.
As for the regular season, how can I not bring it up? It's called an analysis. If you watch ESPN or any other sports program where they break down the NBA Finals, they'll bring up the regular season as a talking point as well. If you can bring up what happened two years ago, why can't I talk about what happened just several months ago? It's kind of hypocritical, don't you think?
And as part of my analysis, I'd also like to bring up the fact that both Dwyane Wade and LeBron James single-handedly won games against the Celtics, in the playoffs, with weaker supporting casts. What do you think Kobe Bryant can do with a better supporting cast over the course of a seven-game series?
Were the Celtics even your pick to go to the NBA Finals when the playoffs began? Or are you just a Celtics fan who lacks some objectivity? Or both? Be honest now, Evan.
"Throughout the playoffs, Rondo’s taken a pounding and it showed toward the tail end of the series against the Orlando Magic. That’s why Nate Robinson played twice the average he’s played throughout the entire playoffs in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals."
Sounds a lot like you're attributing Nate's minutes to Rondo being beaten up in general. Nevertheless, we can move on from that.
Typically, I wouldn't be averse to bringing up regular season results, but it is totally different with this Celtics team. They were never healthy all season, which is why they were the 4 seed in the first place. Do you honestly believe the Hawks were a better team than the Celtics? No, of course not. Boston had a losing record against Cleveland and Orlando. They may have even had a losing/.500 record against Miami but I'm not going to check that. Point is, when healthy, the Celtics are a totally different team so why compare the Lakers to a team that is not representative of the team they will face in the finals. The 2008 finals matchup was much closer of a representation than this year's regular season.
And don't get me wrong, I am not trying to use 2008 as a cold-hard fact to distinguish the teams. I'm simply using it as a tentative measuring stick. LA matches up much better this year, but then again, they really were not close at all in 2008. All told, I'll give Boston about a 60-40 edge, but an LA win would not surprise me.
I'm not being biased at all, if you knew me you would know I leave biases aside when I talk sports. I didn't see the Celtics beating Cleveland when the playoffs started but obviously this team has grown in everybody's mind since the beginning of the playoffs. It would be foolish not to re-assess where each team stands now rather than to just judge them based on what we thought earlier.
Your original claim was the Boston Celtics would win the NBA Championship no matter who they play. Now you say that you'll give Boston about a 60-40 edge, but if the Los Angeles Lakers win it wouldn't surprise you.
So in a matter of a couple of days, you went from being completely self-assured to giving yourself an out WHEN the vaunted Celtics go down in flames.
Don't start vacillating now, Evan. It doesn't become you.
You know, this series reminds me of the championship rematch the Lakers had with the Celtics in 1985; just one year after their crushing defeat at Boston's hands the year prior in which 'Magic' dribbled out the clock to cost the Lakers Game 2 to earn the nickname 'Tragic' after the Celtics won the series in seven games. But in 1985, 'Magic' came back with renewed determined and focus and, subsequently, exorcised those demons from the previous year.
This year is Kobe's moment; an opportunity for him to exorcise the demons from 2008 and further cement his legacy in Lakers lore; and, like 'Magic', he has to go through a proverbial 'Big Three' to accomplish his goal. Believe me, his teammates are aware of this because many of them have some 2008 demons of their own to exorcise.
In light of all this, this is one series the Lakers can't afford to lose and will NOT lose when the dust finally settles.
I said they would win vs. either phx or LA...never did I say how sure I was of it happening. I'm not changing anything about my opinion. I think they will beat LA and I think they would have beaten Phx if given the chance. Would I be shocked if LA won? No. Its silly to think its a lock, they're two of the best teams in the NBA nothing is a guarantee.
You can try to put words in my mouth and use your verbose and irrelevant language all you want but the fact is that we have both identified the points from each side and now it will be decided on the court.
Evan, don't start developing selective amensia now. Your initial claim that kicked off this debate was:
"The Boston Celtics WILL win the NBA Championship...no matter who they play"
Notice the emphasis on 'will' there. That sounds like an individual who's pretty sure of their claim. I'm not trying to confuse you with my vernacular; that couldn't be further from the truth.
Those were YOUR words, weren't they? Or were you the recent victim of identity theft?
Therefore, yes, the Boston Celtics WILL win the championship. Put a gun to my head right now and I'll tell you that. I'm simply giving LA a chance in the series. I don't see what is so hard to understand...
I know it's only the first game, Evan; but the points that I made bore themselves out last night.
Ron Artest brings a toughness to the Lakers that was missing in 2008 and matches up extremely well with Paul Pierce, the Celtics frontline isn't facing the Pau Gasol of 2008 and Kobe Bryant is dialed in like you've never seen him before.
That being said, I'm well aware of the fact that one game does not a series make. However, you can't deny that Game 1 went exactly as I predicted and it could very well become a microcosm of the entire series when it's all said and done.
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