Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Dart Adams presents The 2008 NBA Finals Preview



For reasons beyond my understanding, the overwhelming majority of NBA analysts and sportswriters have picked the Los Angeles Lakers to win the NBA championship over the Boston Celtics. The reasons given are questionable at best. For some odd reason, many of these NBA analysts are under the impression that the Boston Celtics don’t run and would prefer to slow the game down while the Lakers are a high scoring uptempo team. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Any team would run when they turn the other team over.

The Celtics didn’t score as many points as the Lakers did this season because they hold their opponents to such low shooting percentages and they work the ball around and get the better shots resulting in a higher shooting percentage for themselves. Since the Celtics are so good at making the extra pass and taking care of the ball while turning over their opponents and rebounding they end up taking the fewest shots in the NBA due to their efficiency on the defensive and offensive ends of the court.

They’ve (Boston) beaten opponents so badly throughout the season that the starters have been taken out in the 3rd or early in the 4th quarters more than a quarter of this season’s games. This explains why the Celtics score so few points in comparison to the Lakers who only had Gasol for the second half of the season and needed to run constantly to score enough points to win. They aren’t a physically dominant team, nor are they a great defensive team or a great rebounding team. These Boston Celtics, however, are all three. Look at their margin of victory in their 66 wins on the season for proof.

The Lakers have had what seems to be the more impressive playoff run so far to the casual viewer. They even knocked off the former NBA champions on their way to the NBA Finals. The truth is that the Boston Celtics had the tougher road and they played teams that had matchups that gave them problems. The Celtics also took quite a while to win on the road. The Boston Celtics finally won on the road against the mentally toughest, most battle tested and best team in the Eastern Conference. They also won the closer in that series on the road as well.

The Lakers have not faced the challenges that the Celtics have in the postseason. The Celtics have had more big pressure must win games this postseason and they have won each and every one. They have won every Game 1, 5 and 7 in the playoffs. They’ve been tied in a few series’ but they’ve never been down against the Hawks, Cavaliers or the Pistons. The Nuggets and Jazz really put up no fight and the San Antonio Spurs are but a battered version of their former selves.

The Celtics shrink the court and make it tough to get driving lanes to the hoop. Their team defense makes it tough to get the looks you want and Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins dominate the paint while Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo provide different matchup problems with their drive and kick ability. Paul Pierce does it all on the court, score, rebound and defend all at a high level.

The contention is that Kobe Bryant is too dominant of a player for the Celtics to stop or even contain. It is also thought that Pau Gasol’s presence will swing things in favor of the Lakers due to his length, passing and shooting ability. I have two names for you, Zydrunas Ilguaskas and Rasheed Wallace, both of whom have gone fishin’ thanks to the tandem of Garnett and Perkins. Forget Kobe, do the Lakers have an answer for Garnett? No.

Kobe Bryant does trust his teammates now, but they also have to catch the ball in rhythm and be in position to score when he does pass to be effective. With the defensive play of James Posey on the perimeter off the bench and effective young big men like Leon Powe and Glen “Big Baby” Davis and a bunch of clutch knockdown shooters on the roster this series will not be what it appears to be to most sportswriters and NBA insiders/analysts.

Didn’t anyone learn a lesson from the 2004 NBA Finals when the tough team defense, rebounding, balanced scoring and bench play completely took the loaded Lakers out of their vaunted triangle offense and left Kobe and Shaq as the lone players on the entire team that were capable of scoring. This Laker team doesn’t have an unstoppable force like Shaq in the paint while I’ll repeat that the Celtics boast the best interior and perimeter defense in the entire league.

Will the Celtics run? Of course they will! They have Rajon Rondo as their point guard, arguably one of the fastest players in the entire league and one of the quickest to the hoop. Ray Allen’s signature shot is the pull up three pointer in transition. The Celtics turnover their opponent better than any other team and get into the transition game leading to easy baskets. Sure, they have the option of going into Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in the low post.

Sure they (Boston) have a plethora of shooters, scorers, defenders and rebounders coming off the bench like James Posey, Eddie House, Sam Cassell, P.J. Brown, Leon Powe and Glen “Big Baby” Davis. A 66-16 record and home court advantage don’t impress anyone anymore...not even when the home team is mentally tough, battle tested and have only lost one home game all postseason.

Lamar Odom will be frustrated by his lack of looks. Pau Gasol will be neutralized by the Celtics bigs and will have a tough time trying to get off or defend the paint on the defensive end, leading to constant foul trouble. Kobe Bryant will score but his shooting percentage will be terrible and he’ll realize too late that he has to be a rebounder because Gasol and Odom will have trouble on the boards against Garnett, Perkins, Pierce, Allen and Rondo team rebounding.

My prediction: The Celtics will play Celtics basketball, defend, pass and dominate in a way the Lakers haven’t seen a team do against them all year long. The previous three series will serve as the perfect preparation for this Finals matchup as Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, James Posey and the bench big men power the Celtics all the way to the 2008 NBA Championship.

Don’t act surprised when it goes down, either. I already told you what would happen.


Ubuntu! © Boston Celtics

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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Jazz and Spurs are both better teams than any that the Celtics played. That is not even debatable. The Celtics had to go 7 against a sub-500 team.

Dart Adams said...

@ anonymous:

So what? Nothing is as cut and dry or as balack and white as it seems when it comes to the playoffs. Did you see how Atlanta played at home? Did you see LeBron and the defense the C's played on him? Did you see the Cs oust the "tougher and more experienced" Pistons?

The Celtics have been written off all postseason because of the Atlanta series, do you think what happened in the Atlanta series will really have ANY bearing on the NBA Finals? Did the Celtics regular season (4-0) have any bearing on the Atlanta playoff series? No. Like I said in the blog...don't be surprised when/if I'm right.

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Zilla Rocca said...

Dart:

You've watched every Celtics game this year, so your words definitely hold weight.

My biggest issue with the C's is Doc. He is really one of the worst playoff coaches I've seen. Luckily, his personnel is mostly playing at high level and there are no major injuries or else he'd be Flip Saunders by now (unemployed).

I've watched almost every Celtics game this postseason and it pisses me off to no end that his offense doesn't consistently have a killer instinct. No one of the Hawks or Cavs could handle Garnett, so why wasn't he taking 20 shots a game?

His substitions are stupifying. Why bury Eddie House and Tony Allen for Cassell? Sam Cassell is the worst veteran pick-up I've ever seen. I loved watching him since his Houston days--he's fearless and vocal, tough and heady. But he contributes nothing except rushed shots that brick off the front of the rim. He doesn't set up the offense, he's slow, and he gets eaten alive on defense most times. Rondo to me is the key to their whole offense--when he's playing confidently, they really are unstoppable. If he can hit open shots, start the break, and get the Big Three the ball where they can work it, I think Boston can take this series.

Anyway, just some observations from a Sixers fan who shouldn't be rooting for either team anyway.

Dart Adams said...

@ Zilla:

Is Sam slowing the offense more than working it? Yeah. He's an ubuntu killer as we call it but the C's always make it through to give Rondo a blow. Tony Allen should've seen more minutes and hopefully he'll be healthy enough to go now. House can't handle the rock well enough or pass. He just shoots so it's tough to get him clock over The Alien.

I want to see Leon Powe, Tony Allen and Big Baby in this series and Rondo will BODY Fisher. Just watch.

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