Congratulations to the Boston Celtics, the best team in the NBA for the 2007-2008 season, the 2008 Playoffs, and the 2008 NBA Finals. I've criticized KG when I felt it was necessary, rooted for him when he was emotional, and rooted for him tonight. It was awesome to see him win the championship and to see all that emotion pour out of him. I loved Pierce in those playoff season when he was holding that team up. To see him vindicated was absolutely phenomenal, and he was the Truth. For Ray Allen to come back from his slump, that was legendary. He was incredible, with so much confidence. Calm, confident, and focused.
For the Lakers?
Yeah, they got killed. I guess my initial instincts were correct, but even I didn't see this coming. A complete and total disgrace on the court tonight. Look, the Celtics' defense would have killed anyone. But to completely fail to compete? Damn. Let's go to the bullet thoughts, shall we?
- You know, doubling in the block is great. Closing out on perimeter defense about 50% of the time? That's nice. But maybe, just maybe, you should start with, oh, I don't know, DEFENDING UNDERNEATH THE LITTLE RING WITH THE NET HANGING FROM IT. How many dunks, lay-ins, and easy buckets did they get tonight? I mean, don't get me wrong, the "3 pointers decide the game" theorem continued it's dominance tonight (Lakers hit 10, shot 37% from the arc, Boston hit 13, shot 50%), but seriously, the shot chart doesn't do the offensive rebounding advantage (14-2...!) justice, and easy underneath buckets justice. Which, of course, will be defended by Lakers fans as easily fixed by...
- The Bynum Question. "If Bynum was in there, we would have won! Lakers Rule!" Look. Bynum coming back could help. It could push them into an atmosphere. They could win 82 games. Okay, maybe not. But it could all work out. But three months of improvement does not a career make, especially not in the face of two knee surgeries. He could come back 100%. He could not. You remember "Oh, he'll be back in March!"? How about "Oh, he'll be back for the second round." Yeah, that was a while ago, kids. I'm not raining on the parade. The Lakers were the best team in the Western Conference. And I put them tops to make it back here, probably a 3-1, maybe 5-1 depending on what the Blazers do in the offseason. I'm just saying, let's not pretend like all the Lakers' problems would have been solved by the presence of Bynum. A first-aid kit won't heal a series of gunshot wounds, defensively.
- Oh, Lamar. I do think Odom will benefit from Bynum the most. I've long said he's an oversized 3, and Bynum's presence will allow him to play there. Maybe he's not good as the second option, or the third option, but maybe the fourth? It sounds weak, but it's impossible to give up on Odom, with all the flashes of brilliance he exhibits. Or maybe he's deadly as a third option, but only in the regular season, and can be solved in the playoffs. But with Bynum on the floor, he gets to slash and kick and work on his face-up, and maybe, just maybe, drop some layups. But this series was a disaster for him. He was outworked, outclassed, and outsmarted on a consistent basis. If anyone's going to get traded, it's Odom. It's unlikely, considering the Lakers' tenuous cap situation and the fact that they, you know, made the Finals. But Ziller thinks so, and I heard something of value on ESPN radio today (I know, shocker). Jalen Rose said if you don't make adjustments in the offseason, you don't go forward, you go back. Might be true, might not.
- Pau Gasol is a soft Euro Forward/Center with a few great hook shots and a terrific game at the elbow, but who suffers in rebounding and post defense. We knew this before the season, we knew this in Memphis, we knew this when the trade went through, and we know this now. Just the facts, mi amigo.
- 22 Points on 7-22 shooting, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 4 turnovers. M.V.P.
- But no, we'll let this one slide. There wasn't anything Bryant could do. I think he honestly wanted to start taking over the game in the 2nd, but once the Celtics pushed into the lead, they weren't letting Kobe loose. We'll talk about the defense in a minute, but Kobe wasn't going to be able to do anything. Everytime he went around the screen, he was doubled, immediately. The one time he did split the double team? He found another one waiting in the lane. So he drove and kicked to Sasha. Who bobbled the pass. Again. I don't know whether it was Bryant's passing, or the shooter's hands, but no one could catch a damn thing tonight. It looks like there should be another pass there, but you can't once you give the Celtics a chance to recover. When they close, that's it. You're either shooting over them, or not shooting at all. Or tossing up bad shots. Thing is. Farmar and Vujacic were 4 of 6 from the arc. So there were shooters. So why weren't they out there more? And who was in their place? Big men, like Turiaf and Ariza? No! It was everyone's favorite!
- Vlad Radmanovic? Really, Jax? Really? 20 minutes? Really? Again? Really?
- I'm not going to dog Doc Rivers. He'll get his due. But when you look at it? Jackson underperformed, more than Rivers rose up. Jackson badly managed his roster, failed to make adequate adjustments, didn't go back to what was working (Gasol in the post), presumably out of some sort of misguided stubbornness about what he considers to be the gameplan. This is a dynamic game, and he forgot that in this series, wrapped up in his own genius.
- Oh, yeah, and like the Paroxi-wife always says, "Luke Walton looks like a weasel." Not a judgment statement. Just a fact. Weasel-like, she says.
- Let's start with Rondo. The whole series, he was trying to be something he's not. The guy that flashes to the rim and hits a crazy layup. Or nails the pull up J. He's not Chris Paul. He's not Deron Williams. And he doesn't need to be, and he shouldn't be. Tonight, for whatever reason, he remembered what he is. He facilitated the offense, grabbed rebounds, played defense, and created turnovers, which he immediately turned into transition opportunities, if nothing else disrupting the Lakers' full court trap, designed to limit the Celtics' possession time. He committed himself to it, and he played superbly. He was a joy to watch, because he was just himself. LA, you got Rondo'd.
- By the way, TrueHoop called it. He said young legs would be the difference. And with Rondo, that was certainly the case. Now if only Henry hadn't taken the Lakers to win the series.
- Speaking of young'ns, how about Big Baby Davis? The highlights from the first half are all going to show Davis' lack of length getting him killed by Gasol, which is going to happen. But he wasn't out there to do that. I felt like Davis should get burn so that he could provide energy and enthusiasm. And that's what he did. If you're hustling, you don't need to be lights out.
- I've bagged on Perkins at times in this series. I don't think he had a great series. I think he had a great 2nd game, and a great sixth game. But tonight, he was more than great. Playing with that shoulder, and putting so much body on Gasol to get him just off enough to discourage him, was gritty.
- James Posey. Book it, trademark 2008, J.E. Skeets. "Big. Game. James."
- Doc Rivers. Okay. Here goes. This is going to be painful.
- Doc, I may have... been too harsh on you. Sigh. I'm sorry. I was wrong. You're not Greg Popovich, but as someone that always says that you don't need to be the best, you need to be the last guy standing at the right time, I have to admire you. You really inspired a team of veterans, and you made all the adjustments you needed to when you absolutely had to. You outcoached Phil Jackson. And it doesn't really matter what I, or anyone else says. You've got the ring, now. And we can all kiss it.
- If only for one night, Rivers used Perkins, Powe, and Davis in a three-headed monster, dynamic, interlocking mechanism that dominated the lane, controlled the boards, and flummoxed the Lakers' frontcourt beyond frustration. Dominant.
- Ray Allen. While KG was screaming and struggling and yelling and barking and passing out, where was Ray? Smiling. Confident. Working. And knocking down clutch three pointer after clutch three pointer. He led Bryant through a series of screens with precision that make the word "gauntlet" seem cuddly. And when he got the ball, unlike the Lakers' shooters? He was ready to pull the trigger. And Ray had no doubts at all about it going in, our doubts be damned.
- KG. Nothing got me tonight, emotionally speaking. The Garnett sick falling down and one got me yelling, as did a couple of his defensive plays, but really the one thing that really put it to me? His post game speech. I don't care if it was scripted and overdone. One of my best friends in the entire world is getting married on Saturday, and when I give a speech at the rehearsal dinner, it'll be scripted to a degree. And I'll mean every second of it. Same deal.
- The communication on defense stars and ends with Garnett. He's always barking out orders, talking about adjustments, planning for the next attack. He's lethal as a commander. And he finally brought it offensively. The turnaround. The spot up. Dunks. Putbacks. The full Ticket. And this time, El Tigre Monstruoso as he's known around these parts, brought the bite with the bark.
- The Motherfriggin' Truth.
- Pierce was the one guy beyond every player on the floor, Kobe included, who simply refused to get caught up in strategy, defensive adjustments, and confusion, and just attacked. Constantly. And it paid off for him time and time again. He was a tireless defender, no matter his assignment, and his offensive repertoire was every bit as dynamic as it ever has been.
- This was without a doubt, the best dribble penetration defense I've ever seen, and Josh Smith, LeBron James, Tayshaun Prince, and Kobe Bryant can attest to that.
- They were an excellent team, forged in a once in a lifetime opportunity. It paid off, and now the Celtics have more to add to their legacy, and another banner to hang.
Okay, well that wraps it up. We'll have a piece up by the end of the week on where HP goes from here, as well as a season wrap up, and the start of the official HP offseason. We might have a little less up for a few days while we take a very hard earned break, but don't worry, because we'll be over at Ridiculous Upside, slinging the draft and D-League Voodoo.
Thanks for the season, NBA. Thanks to all the bloggers with us and for the links, advice, and support. We couldn't have done it without you. Thanks to the Paroxi-wife and Corn-Girl, we DEFINITELY couldn't have done it without you.
Great season, folks.
Let's do it again soon.
Hardwood Paroxysm. Where The Fun's Just Getting Started Happens.