I love Larry Johnson's Cartoons over on WEEI's website. Check them out here if you haven't already. Wonder if we'll see a Paul Pierce puppet to go with the Kobe puppet since they had to retire LeBron and his elbow for the rest of the playoffs.
I hope the Celtics have a chance to get all their injuries healed and that they come into game 1 rested and healthy. I think that health is going to be a key. It was good that they ended the Orlando series in 6 games and got a nice long rest. But then again, the Lakers are also getting a nice long rest too. I just read that Bynum got his knee drained and is hoping to be close to 100%. So, both teams will be well rested coming into Thursday's game.
I think the Celtics best chance to win a game in LA will be game 1. The Lakers are used to the laid back defense of the western conference and if the Celtics come out with their swarming team defense they could surprise them before they have a chance to make adjustments. Phil Jackson has never lost a series when his team takes the first game. So, the Celtics need to come out like gang busters and take the first game.
I am predicting Celtics in 6. I think they get a split in the first two games out in LA. Then they come home and win 2 of 3 on their home court and then close them out in game 6. I'm taking into account the fact that the refs will probably influence at least one or two of the games to make the series go longer. And the Celtics do tend to let up in at least one game. So, Celtics in 6 it is.
It sometimes blows me away to read comments on other boards where they wish serious injury on a player. The web has been ablaze with the insensitive and crude comments from the LA Times article that made fun of Paul Pierce's stabbing. The isn't quite as bad as the Orlando fan that wished that someone would stab Pierce and this time do it the right way. Or the Cavs fan that waa wishing for the Celtics plane to crash. I have to admit that sometimes I kind of hope for maybe a slight ankle tweak to slow a player down, but would never wish a horrible accident or serious injury on a player. It's just a game and you have to wonder what kind of person would wish for a player to die so their team could win. I'm glad Celtics fans are classier than that.
There's a lot of hoopla about Tom Thibodeau going on. It has to be a distraction to the team, no matter what they say. I think if talking to a player before July 1 is tampering, talking to a coach who is still in the playoffs should be tampering too. I know that Doc has been thinking of retiring after this season to spend more time with his family. It's his son's senior year and he is the top prospect in the country. It would be nice to be able to watch his games and be more a part of that. So, will the Celtics be looking for a coach too? Would they be considering Thibs? A name that has been thrown out there should Doc retire is Kevin McHale. I think he would be a good fit. He already has a good relationship with KG and he is part of the Celtics family. He may not have been the greatest GM, but he did a good job coaching when he was with the Wolves. But, defense wins championships and Thibs' defensive coaching is hard to beat. I just hope this team keeps that defensive mindset no matter who the coach is.
Speaking of McHale, it wouldn't be a discussion of a Celtics/Lakers finals without bringing up McHale's clothesline on Rambis back in the 1984 Finals. I just got to the section about this in the book "When the Game was Ours." The Celtics had given up home court advantage and were down 76-70 and 2-1 in the series. Bird had just called out his team and told them they all played like sissies after the last game. And then McHale decided there would be no more layups and clotheslined Rambis and it all changed. Back then in the good old days, it wasn't even considered a flagrant foul. Just a good hard playoff foul. They didn't have any stupid rules about being suspended after 7 technicals either. That play changed the momentum and the Celtics went on to win the game and the series.
One of the key matchups is going to be Paul Pierce vs Ron Artest. Artest covers Pierce as well as anyone. But, if Pierce can't get open because of Artest, that just means that Ray, KG, Rondo, Perk, Sheed, Baby, or Tony will have to score more. The Celtics have so many weapons that you can't shut them down by shutting down one player. Anytime I think of the Paul Pierce/Ron Artest matchup, I think about Artest pulling Pierce's pants down on the court. Chris Forsberg, who has been doing an excellent job of covering the Celtics also reminded us of that incident. In case you didn't see it there, here it is for you to enjoy.
I think the difference in this series will once again be the Celtics defense. The Lakers haven't faced a defense like the Celtics' in their first 3 series. The closest thing to tough defense was Oklahoma City, who held the Lakers to 96 ppg. Utah allowed them to reach 109 ppg. And Phoenix allowed them to score a whopping 114 ppg. The Celtics on the other hand, held Miami to 88 ppg, Cleveland to 95 ppg, and Orlando to 91 ppg. I hope the Celtics come out like a vise grip in game one and shut them down right from the start. Go Celtics! Still 2 more days until the game but glad the Celtics have it to get healthy.
Finally, the Celtics are the underdogs once again. They are converting a few doubters, though. In the Cavs series, all 10 ESPN "experts" picked the Cavs. In the Magic series, 2 of them picked the Celtics. Now, we have converted 2 more doubters and 4 of the 10 are picking the Celtics. In 2008, Tim Legler was the only one who picked the Celtics to beat the Lakers. He is picking them again, but 3 more have come around to picking the Celtics also. Here are the "experts" picks.