Friday, June 13, 2008

Not quite the Fantastic Four....

But without them, the Celtics Big Three wouldn't be 48 minutes away from hoisting a seventeenth championship banner in the rafters of the Gahden (I refuse to call it by its corporate sponsored name - but more on that some other time). As important as The Big Ticket, The Truth, and The Rain Man have been to Boston's success, the three would still be coming up short against Los Angeles.

Each of the following four have been instrumental in the C's three wins -

Rajon Rondo - In game one Rondo notched 15 points and seven assists in a ten point Boston win to kick off the Finals. The fourth best Celtic on the floor tied the offensive output of the second best Laker.

Leon Powe - The hero of Game Two was arguably the second best player on the court, not just the Celtics, when he put up 21 points on 6 of 7 shooting in less than 15 minutes of play.

Eddie House - In game four House subbed in, taking over for Sam Cassell who had taken over for an injured Rondo. House put up 11 with four rebounds.

James Posey - The real horse of the bench in game four, Posey sunk 50 percent of his shots, including four of eight from behind the arc while helping to bring the Celtics back from their 24 point deficit. In a game where Lakers starters outscored Celtics starters 76-62, Posey and House were part of a Boston bench that smoked the Lakers bench by a 20-point margin, scoring 35 to the Laker bench's 15. Hell, Posey alone outscored the Laker bench by three.

On a Laker note -

During their playoff run leading up to the Finals, the acquisition of Pau Gasol from the Grizzlies was being hailed as one of biggest one-sided trades in NBA history. Gasol was being widely hailed as the move that would take pressure off of Kobe Bryant.

Here were some of the headlines predating the finals -

Utah Jazz: Gasol key acquisition for L.A.'s title run - The Salt Lake Tribune

With 19 rebounds, Gasol shows he can do more than score - The Press Enterprise (on May 29, in the wake of the San Antonio series)

Kupchak's deal for Gasol headlines Lakers' return to Finals - USA Today

Was Pau Gasol trade the worst in recent NBA history? - Orlando Sentinel

With the acquisition of Gasol, the Lakers were thought to be the deeper of the two teams in the Finals. The line that we were fed by the pundits was that the Lakers lost to the Celtics in the regular season, but that was before they had Gasol. He was the missing piece.

Before the finals the Lakers had the deeper team. They had the experience in guys like Kobe and Lamar Odom who were helping the young talent develop. They were the best team in the Western Conference because Kobe finally had help. They handled the defending champs in five games which included a convincing 30 point win in game two.

Four games later against Boston the pundits are writing their epitaphs for a heavily favored Laker team now down three-one, fans and pundits have started the "Kobe can't do it by himself," calls.

Fact of the matter is, either he has a team around him or he doesn't - that doesn't change from one series to the next. What does are match-ups. And the Celtics match-up better against the Lakers than anyone, including myself, gave them credit for before this series began.

Before the finals, Gasol was the missing piece - for most of the finals, he's just been missing.
He went from key-man in the middle to softer than Charmin. Odom was no longer the sage voice of experience helping to mentor the younger players - he was mostly just a no show. Phil Jackson was supposed to be the Hall of Famer that would coach circles around Doc Rivers - instead, he's a JAG (just another guy), who is doing little strategically to react to every move that Rivers though by the virtue of being Phil his team will find a way.

The Lakers depth off the bench - apparently a myth against a tough defensive team...consider this stat: including the C's game three loss, the Boston bench has outscored the L.A. bench by 26. Considering only the Boston wins, that margin jumps to 34 (in Lakers terms, should the series close out on Sunday, that number will heretofore be referred to as the number of The Beast).

1 comment:

Suldog said...

Here's hoping they wrap it on Tuesday. I don't know that my stomach could take a game seven :-)