By Craig Kwasniewski
You thought every angle had been covered for this incredible, throwback Lakers-Celtics Finals? Well, here's a new one: For the first time in NBA history, a team (in this case, the Celtics) might win a championship a few years after its...
Everyone forgets "the stabbings" because the Celtics star literally did a fair share of healing since that day in 2000. It's such a compelling story and equally compelling that everyone in the media completely forgot about the incident. (Which I find hilarious considering we know of every single indiscretion by Kobe Bryant since his birth. In fact I just heard his kindergarten teacher was doing interviews about the "orange drink incident" during naptime back in 1983.) How did the media completely forgot about this? Pierce "had lung surgery, with the other wounds mostly superficial" for crissake!
Anyway, if Boston Sports Guy is trying to make a difference by getting the media to pile on about a book in 2004, I thought we should look at this season's NBA Finals through an equally compelling storyline, the Pierce Stabbing Incident.
"Paul Pierce, his eye swollen and forehead bandaged, walked out of the hospital three days after being stabbed nearly a dozen times..." - Speaking of bandages, is this the most one-sided head coaching match-ups in NBA history? Doc Rivers taking his team beyond the first round for the first time in his career (it took only *NINE* seasons) versus Phil Jackson and his 11 NBA Finals appearances. Every Celtics fan right now is looking for any sign that'll convince themselves that Doc has finally learned how to coach in the playoffs.
The truth is, he just hadn't coached that many playoff games before; now, he just banged out 20 in six weeks. He's getting better.
Keep telling yourself this...
"Pierce wore sunglasses over a swollen right eye and a black Celtics cap that nearly covered a bandage on his forehead." - That reminds me of the most interesting running subplot in this series, the disappearance of Ray Allen. I completely backed the original acquisition a year ago. The guy *was* a cool performer with the a mid-range game (a dying art in today's NBA) second only to Rip Hamilton. I thought he'd create spacing on the floor and open lanes for Pierce and KG to roam freely. I never thought I'd see a player of his magnitude completely disappear to the point that it was embarrassing. So did he find his mojo in the Pistons series? Is he back to is 18-plus per night or will the pressure of his first NBA Finals appearance and Boston's first since 1987 get to him?
"Pierce was stabbed in his face, neck and back and hit over the head with a bottle at a private nightclub party Monday." That reminds me, so will the pressure of the Finals finally crack Lamar Odom? He's the Lakers best defensive rebounder and over the course of his career he's battled KG to a draw. So Lakers won't have to double-team KG and they can focus on containing Pierce. This assumes that Odom's head is in the game.... which is a HUGE assumption. Odom's offensive game dictates his overall effort. If he's frustrated and forced away from the hoop, he tends to drag on both ends of the floor. Boston's defense will focus on keeping Odom out of the lane and it's imperative that he maintains focus if his offense game disappears.
"The motive is under investigation." Did anyone find out what the motive was? Outside of the rumored Dan Fouts shooting back in the early 80's has an All-Star even been maimed like Pierce? This storyline still perplexes me but not as much as PJ Brown's resurgence. The guy was literally left for dead with the Bulls after last season and now he's putting up clutch hoops. The best part is listening to Jeff Van Gundy force out a compliment. If you remember this is the same PJ Brown that literally cart wheeled Charlie Ward in the 1997 Knicks-Heat playoff series that ultimately led to a ton of suspensions for the Knicks. Jeff Van Gundy was the head coach and the suddenly under-manned Knicks bowed out in Game 7.
"I'd just like to tell everybody I feel good," he said. "I can't wait to get back on the basketball court and join my Celtics teammates." And do a million primal screams in the first quarter and do a million jersey-pops after taking a 12-10 lead early in the game. I love the open display of emotion... there's nothing wrong, especially in the playoffs. The problem is that the Celtics literally do it to the point that they're like Maria Sharapova's grunts during *every* shot. It loses value if ot happenes all the freakin' time. Celebrate the wins, the lucky shots and the clutch hoops... but stop at doing it when you're up early in the game. Whatever happened to act like you've been there before?
"The 22-year-old swingman, an emerging star for the Celtics, had lung surgery, with the other wounds mostly superficial." Again, how is this not a haltime sob story for Game 1? That brings me to the most important question of the series: can the Lakers survive the expected phycial and bruising style of the Boston Celtics? Twice in the regular season the Celtics punched the Lakers in the throat and they backed down both times in ugly losses. Will anything be different? I actually not sure... but the Lakers did get by two physical and defensive oriented teams in Utah and San Antonio. And they clearly have better coaching that the Tom Thibidou-led Celtics. Plus the Lakers have the NBA's best closer, a very capable bench, a team with extremely high basketball IQ (I can't emphasize this enough, they have shown the ability to improve as each series moves on) and they're the best team on the road this postseason.... all good signs.
But even after writing a second Finals Preview, I still see the Celtics being too strong for the Lakers to win in a seven game series. Celtics still win 4-2.