Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Post Game 3 Thoughts: The Night Kobe Went Spin-O-Matic




  • Kobe Bryant is very good at basketball.
  • He wasn't Nova tonight. Close, but not quite. Nova isn't a numbers issue, though Bryant coming short of the 38 I predicted today by 2 was certainly enough to irk me. He had moments of ignition, but was never in that zone where he was simply unstoppable. It may be impossible to go Nova against the Celtics, actually, simply based on their propensity and dedication to doubling the perimeter dribble penetration. However, Kobe's use of spin work and body control tonight was absolutely out of this world. He spun us right round baby, right round. He hit a fair number of shots that were pure "Kobe shots." He's hit a level where now, there are shots that you expect him to hit, that you don't think anyone else can hit. That's a mark of greatness, and Kobe nailed it tonight. He didn't get his teammates involved that much, but that's understandable, since they sucked.
  • I picked the Lakers by a dozen. They won by half that. With Garnett and Pierce playing terribly. Champion-caliber FAIL.
  • I've said it about a half-dozen times, I'll say it again. Three point shooting is key. When the Lakers clamped down defensively in the first and third quarters on the perimeter, the Boston defense seemed to seize up. By closing out on Pierce, who's already on one leg, the Lakers put Pierce into bad situation after bad situation. And that, combined with Pierce just having a bad night, was what won them the game. Pierce had been using his perimeter shot to make up for his explosiveness, and tonight, the Lakers said "fine, drive on us. You're not shooting threes." Doom. Conversely, the Lakers finally, finally, FINALLY got down to what I thought they'd be all about in this series. Perimeter rotation, drive and kick, and spot up threes from Vujacic and Farmar. The Machine was lights out tonight, and that's what they need. Every great championship team has an unlikely bench player who comes off the bench, plays defense, and knocks down threes. It's a grand tradition, and Vujacic is the guy for the Lakers. He's just got to play three to four more times like that.
  • What did I say when this thing started? Derek Fisher would be able to contribute veteran minutes because he's a veteran, but Jordan Farmar has a better chance of taking advantage of Rondo and the Celtics' guards. 5 points, 5 assists, and a bunch of key plays. Farmar is playing well right now, it's just that no one can see it.
  • Cross that with Lamar Odom, who's playing terribly, and that everyone can see it. He can't hit layups. That's his biggest issue. The man just cannot hit a layup.
  • Pau Gasol is weak sauce. Weeeeaaaak Saaaauuce. The man cannot play defense, rebound, or attack with any consistency, effectiveness, or efficiency. Make no mistake. He won't "bounce back." He won't "wake up." This is Gasol. This has been the knock on him. And he's outmatched. This is as good as you're going to get from Gasol. And the worst part? When he accidentally tips one in down the stretch (it literally bounced out of his hands when he tried to grab it), he runs his mouth. Come on, man. Grow up and quit being KG's little woman slave and you can run your mouth. Till then, put in more than 15 points as a starting 7-0 center, and we'll talk.
  • If three point shooting decided the rest of the playoffs, then perimeter dribble penetration is going to decide these finals. In games 1 and 2, the advantage was with Boston, where they immediately sent help from the block to shut off Kobe on screen and rolls and any attempt at establishing a presence in the lane. Conversely, the Lakers were trying to overreact to the Celtics drives, which opened up passing lanes for players like, oh, say, Leon Powe. In Game 3, it was the Lakers' turn. They committed cross-lane slashers to shut off Pierce and harass him whenever he tried to force the Truth. On offense, they ran consecutive ISO sets, with Gasol and Bryant. Which resulted in Kobe having just a half-step on his defenders. Which is a half-step more than he needs.
  • I love this series. It's deep, without being so complex it gets confusing. It's thrilling, without taking my breath away from the first game on, building in intensity. It's fun, it's got big plays, big players, and interesting subplots. It's just a terrific Finals series.
  • Ah, there's the Doc Rivers we all know and love. Wasting timeouts early, pushing Pierce when he's obviously hurt and ineffective and Posey is playing well. Making no adjustments to Bryant as the game wore on, and not forcing the issue on offense, instead hoping the Big 3 would bail him out. Welcome back, Doc. Missed you round here.

 
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