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What The "Experts" Don't Know

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We've all heard the reasons why the Lakers are the better team and how they're going to dismantle the Celtics with their superior passing, bench depth, and transcendant Zen philosophies.  Kobe Bryant is the best player in the game and the team with the best player always wins the series.  Blah.  Blah.

Blah.

Unfortunately, there are a few things that the so-called "experts" don't know or have chosen to forget about.  Let's review them, yes?

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  • The Celtics were the best team in basketball.  They had the best defense and one of the largest average margins of victory in league history during the regular season.  They're nigh unbeatable at home and have homecourt advantage throughout the NBA Finals.  But those are just minor details, surely not worthy of consideration when trying to predict a winner.
  • The Celtics have been improving on a near game-by-game basis as the playoffs have rolled along.  In the first and second rounds, there was a lot of experimentation going on with playing time, matchups, and in end of game situations.  All of that is done.  Against the Pistons, the Celtics most closely resembled the dominant team they have been all season, culminating in an impressive series clincher in Detroit.  That's the Celtic team that rolled the Texas Triangle -- the team they have been all year.  
  • Ray Allen has broken out of his shooting slump.  If Ray was hitting at a normal clip, the Celtics get past both the Hawks and the Cavaliers in under seven games, and I'm probably not even writing this right now.  In my opinion, the primary reason the national media gives Boston no chance in the Finals is almost entirely predicated on the fact that they took longer than they should against Atlanta and Cleveland, and therefore they are "not as good as we thought".  That's directly traceable back to the prolonged slump of #20.  If Walter Ray was hitting his shot, Boston takes care of both teams in five or six games, doesn't have the well-documented road woes (which, of course, nobody else had...), and we'd have a lot more "experts" picking Boston in this series.
  • The Laker bench is insanely overrated by the media.  Their entire success can be attributed to one thing and one thing only -- hitting the open three.  That's it.  Guess who the best team at defending the three point shot was this season?  Walton, Farmar, and the disgustingly overhyped Vujacic can be nullified as long as the Celtics' perimeter defenders stay honest and don't stray too far.  I am not scared of any of these guys beyond their ability to hit twenty-five footers.  They're not threats to drive and create for others, they're not threats to get to the foul line, and they're non-factors defensively.  So Sasha can guard Manu Ginobili who's playing on one ankle and all of a sudden he's the second coming of Bruce Bowen?  Sorry, Laker fans.  We'll see how your boy does against players that can actually move on the court.  I'm forgetting about Turiaf, but he's Leon Powe on his absolute best days and just an extra six fouls any other time.  
  • Much has been written about how this team is "Kobe's Legacy" and he's not going to let a chance to win a title without Shaq slip through his fingers.  There's a slight problem with that sentiment... actually, there's three problems. 

Kevin Garnett.  Paul Pierce.  Ray Allen.

These three guys have never won a title, and realistically, this might be their only chance.  There's no guarantee that the Big Three will make it back to this point next year.  The Celtics probably lose Tom Thibodeau and Eddie House at a minimum next season.  PGA add another year of wear and tear on their tires, and a key injury could derail their title hopes.  Take a long look into the eyes of Kevin Garnett during warmups tonight and tell me he's going to let this opportunity slip away.  No way.  

If you're going to play the legacy and desire cards, I will take the three kings over the lone ace every time.

After nearly a week of hoopla and hype, we're going to get to watch some basketball in under ten hours.  All of the speculation from the scribes and talking heads will be replaced by GAME ONE, and I'm going to enjoy calculating the speed of their collective backpedal should (*cough*... when) the Celtics take the series opener. 

B E A T  L.A.

B E A T  L.A.

(hands in the middle, everyone)

UBUNTU!