JUNE 03|THUR|NBA FINALS , GAME 1| (4) Celtics vs. (1) Lakers – SERIES: 0-0
Follow: TwitterCast: @LakersNation |Watch On: ABC @ 6:00 PT/9:00p ET | Radio: 710AM ESPN, 1330AM ESPN Deportes
News before the tip….
– Andrew Bynum says he doesn’t feel any different after having 70mm (roughly two shots of alcohol, for those of you who drink) drained from his knee. [ESPN]
– The Lakers are going to need more out of Gasol than what they got from him in 2008. [OC Register]
– The Boston Celtics are prepared for a possible suspension of Kendrick Perkins. [LA Times]
– Lakers fans will certainly be expecting a more competitive Finals vs. Boston this time around. [LA Times]
– Pau Gasol, thankfully, will not be participating in the FIBA World Championships this summer. [Pro Basketball Talk]
– Rajon Rondo will be at “94.7%” for tonight’s game. [ESPN]
– The Lakers signed Ron Artest to handle the likes of Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James; and in a bizarre twist of fate, he has been matched up with Paul Pierce. [LA Times]
(PG) Derek Fisher
(SG) Kobe Bryant
(SF) Ron Artest
(PF) Pau Gasol
(C) Andrew Bynum
(PG) Rajon Rondo
(SG) Ray Allen
(SF) Paul Pierce
(PF) Kevin Garnett
(C) Kendrick Perkins
Keys and Thoughts of the Game
… Before this series starts, I just want to say “Thank you” to Quentin Richardson. You see, Quentin was traded roughly 13 times this off-season and he finally landed in Miami. During the first round of the play-offs he meandered over to the Miami bench, where Paul Pierce was laying in a heap, and Richardson called Pierce an “actress.” As we all know, the Celtics franchise has always been allergic to truth. Unfortunately, their allergic reaction caused a sleeping dragon to wake up. I wrote back in March that the Celtics were “decrepit” and looked forward to them walking into the play-offs, like lambs being shepherded into a slaughter house. I never thought, in my wildest dreams, that the Lakers would be able to redeem themselves after getting blown out by 92 points in Game 6 of the 2008 Finals. It’s something that still haunts my dreams. So, thank you Quentin Richardson. From LakersNation.
… Boston fans seem to forget, that in 2008, Trevor Ariza had returned for the Finals (not playing any significant minutes) from a broken foot and Andrew Bynum didn’t play at all. That shifted Pau Gasol (A Gasol, by the way, that had never lifted weights in his professional career) down to guard Kendrick Perkins and left the likes of Vlad Radmonivic guarding Paul Pierce. The Pierce match-up, as noted by Phil Jackson, was a problem for the Lakers in 2008. But no more. Mark it down, tweet it, whatever, but just know this: Ron Artest is going to eat the soul of Paul Pierce throughout this series. Boston police may even attempt to arrest him during Game 4 for manslaughter. This year, Pierce has averaged 18 points (47% FG, 41% 3PT), 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. Against this year Ron Ron, his line drops to: 13 points (40% FG, 36% 3PT), 4 rebounds, and 2.5 assists (with 2.5 turnovers). Paul Pierce magically turned the series in 2008 when he attempted to etch his name into NBA lore with some fake Willis Reed moment. I can only imagine how he will writhe on the ground as Ron Artest holds his pulsating heart in his hands like a war trophy.
… Andrew Bynum, we need you. I know Laker fans love to give you a hard time, and your name has been mired in trade rumors at the dead-line and sign-and-trade rumors since… but just know… this is why you put a hold on your surgery. You are somebody that can elevate the Lakers to a whole new level. You have to protect the paint, rebound, and most importantly–ENFORCE. And feel free to talk smack to Kendrick Perkins, he’s got a very tiny mind, and is very prone to anger. If he gets another technical, he has to be sit out a game… which means plenty of time for Rasheed Wallace to become the Lakers MVP.
… Lamar Odom: You came through, as you usually do (in spurts) in the Suns series. Well, this is no different. If KG had both knees functioning like a normal human being, the Celtics would have an answer for you. However, Kevin is still hobbled. He’s just gotten better at hiding it and playing with it. Trust me, you will be able to dust him on the perimeter. Garnett only picks on those smaller than him. Please, bully the bully!!
… Rajon Rondo, while he is definitely on a level I certainly never thought he would be in 2008, isn’t capable of dominating an entire series. He can dominate games, but not series. Now that Ron Artest will be on full-time Paul Pierce duty, Kobe will probably guard Rondo (much like he did with Russell Westbrook in the first round). Kobe doesn’t care much for running through screens and chasing shooters (like he’d have to do with Ray Allen). He much prefers on-ball defense, and he’s a tenacious one at that. Kobe will play off of Rondo and make him hit fifteen footers. If Kobe is on him full-time, I don’t expect much from Rajon Rondo. He is still capable of having bad games… and when he does…the Celtics are extremely beatable. Don’t think Kobe Bryant doesn’t know this.
… I’m a Lakers die-hard, and it’s hard for me to look objectively at the Lakers (although I do my best to try), but I just don’t think this will be an epic series like everybody is anticipating. The Lakers have all their pieces and Kobe is playing the best basketball I can remember him playing since the Denver series in 2008. Granted, the Suns aren’t renowned for the defense and the Jazz haven’t had anybody who could guard Kobe for the last three years–but I have learned one thing about the NBA: you simply don’t bet against Kobe Bryant. He knows what a win over Boston can do for his legacy. He knows what will happen if he were to lose. And so do his teammates. Kobe Bryant is going to bury the Celtics in their own blood, and with it, any tears that Lakers Nation has over the 2008 debacle.
Enjoy the game, and as always, Go Lakers.
Follow me on Twitter, @fictionalDJ