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Peter May: "Underdogs?"

Old friend Peter May has resurfaced on Yahoo! (that exclamation point is only for the Yahoo! brand, not necessarily because I find it exciting)

He has a good quote from Paul Pierce and a pretty good summary on the Celtics "underdog" status.

"People look at us as underdogs even though we’ve had the best record all year and beat the Lakers twice,’’ Paul Pierce mused the other day. "This is the first time for us, together, as a unit in the playoffs. We learned a lot about ourselves in the regular season, but the playoffs are a different game. We had to re-learn ourselves again and we figured it out against Detroit. That’s probably why we’re the underdog. But we relish that role."

Well, someone has to be the underdog to get the money rolling. But when’s the last time the team with the best record in the league, the homecourt advantage, three All-Stars and the No. 1 defense opened a series as that underdog?

It’s amazing when you think about it. But it’s also a testament to the star power of the Lakers in general and to Bryant in particular. The Lakers have the best player in this series. No argument there. They have the best coach in this series. No argument there, either.

But on most occasions, the best team (and the one that plays the best defense) usually wins these things. That team has been the Celtics all season. They may have had a stumble or two to get to this point, but they are here and coming off an impressive series against the Pistons. They’ve had a week to prepare (as have the Lakers) so there will be no excuses for fatigue, surprises or lack of preparedness.

There’s only one way to find out if all this Laker Love is justifiable or hogwash – and that’s to go out and play.

The only nit I have to pick is the following quote:

Boston handily – and I mean, handily – beat the Lakers twice in the regular season. The Bobcats played the Celtics tougher this season than the Lakers did. And the victory at the Staples Center came on the second night of a back-to-back (the first game was at Utah) for the Celtics while the Lakers were off. True, both Boston wins were before the Lakers made the "trade" for Gasol. But Andrew Bynum was playing for the Lakers and playing well at the time. 

If there's one thing that I learned while spending some time in Laker land, it is this:   Replacing Bynum with Gasol had a much larger impact than the difference between Bynum and Gasol as individual players.  Pau just fits the triangle offense like a glove and the rest of the players on the court benefit greatly by the spacing, passing, and low post play of the bearded one.  Aside from Kobe, he could have the largest impact of any player on the Lakers.

Then again, disrupting offenses seems to be the Celtics' strong suit.  If they can keep the momentum going, I still like our chances against anyone.  Underdog or not. 

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