1) Trick or Treat?
Sunday June 8th, 2008: the scariest Halloween ever. The Lakers made a frightening attempt at egging the TD Banknorth Garden before falling just short of an incredible fourth quarter comeback.
This is what LA does. Remember game 1 of the Western Conference finals? It was similar with the Spurs holding a 20 point lead when Los Angeles took advantage of a suddenly lackadaisical defense and steamed to an enormous triumph.
This time the lead was bigger and later. The Lakers ran out of time. Unlike the Spurs the Celtics held on.
...and the answer is: Treat! (phew)
Former Milwaukee Buck great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was interviewed on the postgame by Mike Gorman. His take on the LA comeback- It was all about the Celtics. It was not what the Lakers did; it was the Celtics letting up and getting complacent.
Kareem is really smart and right on the mark: The Celtics determined what took place. (LA's offense is too potent to relax. See San Antonio above.)
This is good though. It means the Celtics are in control. If they play their defense it's their series...
...That is lesson number one.
Lesson number two, learned in the first two rounds: Don't let up on the road.
4) The Best Two Teams
I mentioned this last time- The best two teams in the NBA played in the Eastern Conference finals when Boston faced Detroit. In that series the Celtics regained their awesome road prowess. They went into Motown and took two out of three. So now everybody moves on to the west coast.
It's not Atlanta. It's not Cleveland. It's not Detroit. It's LA, our comfy home away from home! Paul Pierce grew up there. Scalabrine and Pruitt played nearby. Leon Powe is from California. Sam Cassell is a liberated Clipper. Kevin Garnett owns a house in Malibu. The Celtics play very well in the land of tinsel. They're relaxed. It's not foreign territory; the Celtics have familiar couches in that town. They eat home cooked meals. They have old friends and favorite spots. For the purposes of home-versus-road Los Angeles is practically a Boston suburb, the last stop on the green line.
One Golden State Celtic looked particularly fantastic last night. My oh my. What a show by Mr. Powe. His efficiency per minute in Game 2 was probably enough to send John Hollinger into spasms. Absolutely magnificent.
7) 2006 Draft
Were you mad when Danny Ainge traded the 7th pick in the 2006 draft for Sebastian Telfair and Theo Ratliff? I was. As it turns out, I know nothing. Not only did the trade ultimately end up netting Kevin Garnett, look what Danny got in that draft: Rajon Rondo and Leon Powe: 16 assists and the Game 2 hero. That's the 21st and 49th picks.
We all expect Brandon Roy to have a fine career, and thanks to the young man's ping pong acumen the Blazers may nip this budding Lakers-dynasty-on-paper before it starts; but I believe we can safely say this turned out to be a good trade for both teams...
...and 2006 was a very good draft for both teams too.
8) Marcus versus Delonte
Speaking of 16 assists, do you recall the long and intense Marcus Banks vs. Delonte West debate? Well that debate is over. The winner is Rajon Rondo.
9) The Opposite of Ubuntu
Did you see Mr. Bryant scowling at his teammates when they didn't get him the ball in the final critical possession? He should have been mad, but his chronic undercutting of the other Lakers is unhealthy. The same guy who demanded a trade in the off-season just does not seem to support his teammates well when the going gets rocky. He's the antiubuntu.
All for one, as long as the one is him.
10) Onto Game 3
The Celtics did what they had to do.
Game 1 was the epic phoenix flight of Paul Pierce. Celtics win.
Game 2 was the comeback from hell that fell just short. Celtics win.
Now Game 3: Celtics win again.