Lots of fun goings on at the Draft last night, (read through the amazing 5-hour live-blog if you missed any of it) but this video of Brook Lopez being mic'd up might have been my favorite moment. Seriously, what a tool this guy is. "Oh, it's sooo boring waiting to see how many millions of dollars I'm going to earn over the next three years!" Awesome. Maybe he can work on his personality this summer while he works on his post game.
"LAWRENCE FRANK?!" Someone just bought himself some extra wind sprints his first day of practice.
A few quick trades to report today as we get ready for tomorrow night's draft.
Jermaine O'Neal to the Raptors in exchange for T.J. Ford: Good deal for both clubs. Indiana gets to rebuild with two first-rounders, and Toronto gets to team Chris Bosh and JO together (for at least the 50 games that O'Neal's healthy). Also, solves that silly point guard feud about who should start for the Raps.
Although we at The Association are firmly Kobe people, this video of Shaq busting a freestyle rap on the reigning MVP is way too funny not to post. I believe "tell me how my ass tastes" is now the official catch phrase for the rest of 2008, and I fully expect Obama to roll that one out when he's elected President this fall.
The last major event of the season (or the first major event of next season) is upon us, as the NBA Draft takes place this Thursday. Over at FanHouse, we've got you covered with previews for all 30 teams, coming at you 10 per day starting today. So go on, get caught up in the hype, and get yourself ready for the 2008 NBA Draft.
This isn't unique to Boston fans, as it happens in just about every city. But it doesn't make it any more acceptable. "Our team won WOO-HOO!! Let's cost the city where we live and local shop owners thousands of dollars!!"
The NBA isn't as bad as say, the NFL is in terms of being a copy-cat league. But teams and franchises definitely take notice of how the top franchises become successful. The many blockbuster trades this season were a great example of that, even though only the ones pulled off by the Celtics and Lakers propelled the respective franchises in the right direction.
With the Celtics winning the title, might this spark a defensive renaissance in the league? Go read Tom Ziller's post on the subject, I found it very intriguing. Especially the part where he points out that "defense is cheaper to buy than offense." With teams more salary cap conscious than ever, and the way the Celtics' team defense was able to dominate the Lakers' uber-efficient offense, it makes you wonder if more teams won't attempt to go that route this off-season.
Okay, here I am at the Universal City subway station waiting for the last ride downtown of the 2007-08 season (win, lose or draw). Is this journey like Sherman's march to the sea with everything laid to waste, is this like the final walk down the corridor to "old sparky" or is this a trip down memory lane?
Let's be honest here, the Lakers ain't winning today. An already intimidated and fragile team BEFORE game 4 they haven't shown me the type of personality necessary to bounce back. Any lead will be met with, "when is Boston catching up?" I think Kobe, Fisher and Vujacic will show up but nobody else.
I just hope the game is close... Give me a reason to stay the entire four quarters. I really can't stomach a 48-minute celebration for the Celtics and their very bitter fans (btw - besides having the ugliest women in the nation, why the anger? You've won five championships since 2001 and the beloved Celtics are nearing number 17. But then again... After seeing your women... Sheesh, i'd be bitter too... Jeezus!)
Anyway, as Jackson said, losing in the finals tends to take away the achievements of the regular season but the Lakers have a lot to hang their hats on. Kobe deservedly won the MVP, they advanced to the finals a year ahead of schedule and they're young and primed to dominate for the next four seasons. A few weeks from now I'll wear my Western Conference Champs tee-shirt with pride... Lakers Pride! Basketball (relevant basketball) is back in Los Angeles. Kobe and Phil are back as annual contenders! In a few months the 2008-09 season will start with a full healthy squad and the motivation of almost getting to the promised land carrying the team to a record-breaking season. So congratulations Boston, enjoy your 17th NBA title because we'll see you next year and it won't be close.... And I'm already excited.
There's not much to say... I'm still very hung over after an all night drinking binge (BTW - I'm stilll buzzed at work). Anyway, *NOW* I know how it feels to be on the wrong end of a historical comeback... and it hurts very much. Nine years as a Lakers season ticket holder and I've never seen that happen. Throughout the Phil Jackson/Kobe era, the Lakers have been know for their huge comebacks, but they've never blown a huge lead. I sat in my seat for five minutes after the final buzzer... I couldn't muster the strength to get up... I didn't know what to feel... this sucks! No game summary... no report... no whacky bits... this sucks!
So Boston *IS* the best team in the 2007-08 and this is how I feel:
There's more relief than joy in Lakerland after winning Game 3. Seriously, the Lakers will have to grind-out wins against the C's for them to have any chance at a title in 07-08. But after four failed attempts (including the regular season) the very young Lakers have proved to themselves that the Celtics are beatable. If anything the aura of invincibility has been destroyed. Here are a few other thoughts from my seat high in section 316:
The Celtics gameplan: out-physical Gasol to the point that he's afraid of contact. The Celtics did a stellar job of jabbing Gasol all night. Just watch how the C's handle Gasol away from the ball. Every rebound is a two-handed hold and push. Every post up is a very- physical contest. Every lose ball is a shove. I'm not saying that the Celtics got away with murder, I'm actually very impressed with how the constantly fed Gasol a healthy dose of physical play to the point that he was absolutely discouraged from drawing contact. In one-on-one post ups on Perkins, Gasol passed out of the post instead of attempting to draw fouls from Perk. He's being guarded by a low post hack and instead of living on the freethrow line Gasol “facilitated.” The problem is that Boston knew this and stayed home whenever Gasol posted up. The refused to double down and instead played the passing lanes for several steals. Gasol has to be guardable for the Lakers to have any chance in this series. Again, a total brilliant move by Boston.
Four Lakers Starters were no-shows. I already talked about the brilliant gameplan against Gasol, but another disturbing fact was that Fisher and Odom were again non-factors. Boston (especially Rondo) looked too quick for Fisher tonight. He was always a step behind and a few inches off on his jumper. Odom flat out cannot play well in foul trouble. Some players (like Shaq before 2006) play with extra focus when in foul trouble… just not LO. Odom's fouls are like celebrity deaths, they seem to come in threes. He did play with the necessary aggressiveness in the 4th quarter. He needs to put pressure on KG by being an offensive threat. Winning Game 3 despite having four (but can we really count Radmanovic, he’s been a no-show since 2006!) starters not show up until the 4th can be a good sign if they return to form in Game 4. But with Odom and Gasol I'm afraid to say that I'm seeing a trend.
Still, it doesn't suck to have the game's best closer. Boston cuts the lead to 2 and Staples Center is freaking out. Will the Lakers blow the lead and get swept? Not tonight! Kobe takes over down the stretch with repeated clutch hoops right at the top of the key with Ray Allen right in his mug. So why didn't Boston double team and force the ball out of the game's best closer? Because Sasha Vujacic made them pay with this biggest three in his career, taking a dicey 2 point lead back up to 5. After that the C's stayed at home and Kobe closed out.
KG is such a front runner! The knock on Garnett has always been is inability to perform down the stretch. This is true but I've also noticed that he's a non-factor offensively unless the Celtics are ahead. Last night was the best example. With the Lakers leading from 6-12 points the entire first half, Garnett had a grand total of 2 points. It wasn't the Lakers defense containing him either as KG missed many wide open jumpers. The only time KG was a factor offensively was when Boston took the lead in the 3rd quarter. To keep KG in check the Lakers need to maintain a steady 6+ lead and Garnett will continue to choke away the open J's.
The Celtics are beatable. Such an obvious statement if you're Atlanta, Cleveland or Detroit but last night was the first time LA beat Boston this season. A confidence barrier has been broken and Kobe and Phil need to use this as motivation for the likes of Gasol, Odom, Walton and Radmanovic who have not played well at all. Last night's win was all Kobe with a little help from Vujacic but the Celtics are too good to he beaten by one player. Maybe this win will give confidence to the rest of the Lakers. As for now, all the Lakers did was prevent a sweep.
Kobe closing out Boston but more importantly check out the way P.J. Brown is handling Gasol. This is the Celtics gameplan all along... and it's working!