Tuesday, June 17, 2008

NBA Finals Pre-Game 6 Thoughts

  • On the day of Game 4, I had predicted a Lakers win. But I woke up, and the first thing I thought after "God, I hate the sun" and "Man, my wife is smokin'" is "You know, the Lakers really can't defend under the basket." Then I went through my day and I found myself thinking as I was putting on socks, that "Wow. You know, Odom really doesn't have a single matchup advantage because of his skillset right now." I kept trying to shake it off. By mid-day, I was thinking, "Jackson just does not trust Farmar enough to let him get minutes." And so on. I stuck with my original prediction, just as I am tonight. But I'm in the same situation. My original pre-series pick was Boston in six. I'll stay with it. But I'm going to say right here that my matchup momentum gut feeling is with the Lakers.
  • Don from With Malice said that the longer this series goes, the more it favors the Lakers because of Jackson. There have been other suggestions that while Doc was winning the intragame adjustments, Jackson was winning the intergame adjustments, and with the smaller advantages becoming smaller, Jackson's advantage was growing. I'm not sure about that. Jackson has still been flummoxed by Boston's defense, and the Lakers have yet to play true Lakers ball yet. They start hot and then freeze. Burn, freeze, burn, freeze. The games are pretty much decided by what point the buzzer sounds in that cycle.
  • The big advantage for LA? They can improve, Boston can't as much. Yes, Garnett can play better and Rondo can not act like he's brain damaged and the Celtics can get back to rebounding. But the Lakers have Farmar who's starting to realize "Hey, I'm really pretty good" and eventually, Turiaf's going to have his big energy game. He doesn't play well on the road, though, so that could be an issue. However, the Lakers simply have more healthy guns right now.
  • I don't know what in the hell took him so long, but Jackson finally started to realize that the two-point backcourt with Bryant at the figurative 3 is a good idea against these guys. By putting more shooters on the floor, you force the Celtics to the perimeter, which opens the passing lanes. At some point tonight, the Celtics are simply going to have to try and freeze the Lakers' supporting cast by saying "Fine. Take the three pointers and the 18 footers. You hit 'em, you hit 'em." They got the series lead by dominating the glass. Abandoning that strategy for fear of Radmanovic, Vujacic, Fisher, and Farmar is not a good adjustment. Make those guys beat you for forty minutes.
  • Kevin Garnett must score 20+ and have a double double for the Celtics to win tonight.
  • We're adding a new drinking stipulation to the BDL drinking game tonight. Whenever Radmanovic gets burned, it's "Radman! Drink!"
  • The Lakers need to send Bryant on some off the ball screens through the paint. Having him pop out of a Gasol screen, catch the entry from Fisher and shoot will probably be effective. Likewise, every inch of separation means it's that much easier for him to get to the rack, which he needs to do. It's not that Kobe can't nail those jumpers, Lord knows he can better than anyone. But drives means attack, and attack means fouls, and fouls means pushing the defense back on its heels.
  • For the Celtics, I would honestly let Paul Pierce attack off the screen and roll on every possession till the Lakers prove they can stop it. That's how poorly they defended it in Game 5. Eventually they're going to wisen up, and it's at that point that Garnett has to roll to the rim, hard, and Pierce has to find him. Those two need to have great energy working back and forth for the Celtics to thrive offensively.
  • Jordan Farmar: When playing Rondo, work off the weakside screen to the baseline. That's where he's most effective on the drive. Defensively, have Vujacic work the full court press to wear him out, then trap him hard at the wing. Make him make the right pass. The Celtics' turnover margin has been terrible in this series and the Lakers haven't capitalized.
  • Rondo: When playing Fisher, use the wing screen to get to the middle of the lane for the floater. It's his best attack move and if it gets going, he's going to get in rhythm, which means that nightmare of a jumper might fall. If Rondo has a big game, it's almost impossible for the Lakers to counter it. Against Farmar, post him. You have the size and length, and Gasol's likely to come hunting for a block, leaving his man open under the rim for approximately the 7,000th time this series. If Rondo can force the double with his size advantage and make the interior pass, those easy buckets make the Lakers' confidence crumble.
  • Lakers: Double in the block. They've done it amazingly well in this series, and they need to keep it up. Do whatever you have to to make KG push the ball out. If Pierce comes in, double with the guard. If KG goes low, bring the weakside big help.
  • Celtics: Let Kobe have ISO, just keep the flash and go going. He keeps settling for jumpers in those situations, and the little 17-second-left-on-the-shot-clock-mid-range-Js are bad for his business.
  • The Boston crowd is absolutely phenomenal. If Kobe gets that "f all of you" poison in his blood, one of two things will happen. He'll start jacking shots and take his teammates out of position, and lose, or he'll score 60 and win. He's done a good job of not letting those things affect him all year, but this may be a night when he needs to.
  • I'll still take Celtics, 97-90, but I don't feel good about it.
  • I do feel great about getting to watch this game. Enjoy.

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