Wednesday, June 18, 2008

2008 NBA Finals

These Celtics are very good. Anyone who watched them demolish the Lakers in Game Six can attest to that.

They were resilient, as is evident in their having come back from 24 down to win Game Four and 19 down to take a late lead in Game Five.

Their role players showed up to play almost every day. Rondo was great in Games Two and Six. Posey gave them great minutes throughout the series. Powe was unreal in Game Two. Kendrick Perkins made himself a nice chunk of change with his play. Eddie House helped the Celtics spread the floor when Rondo periodically disappeared offensively, and along with Posey was integral to their unimaginable comeback in Game Four.

But really, the trio of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce were the story. They each had their great games. They each had their sub-par games, at least by the lofty standards they have set for themselves.

KG has his ring now. There is not a player who I wanted to have one more. He is my favorite post-Jordan player, period. He had moments in the series--Game Five comes to mind--where he wasn't as aggressive as he probably should have been, but he capped off the series in emphatic fashion, taking shots in the low post early and often, which opened up shots for his teammates on the perimeter. He was the driving force behind this team's success, at least from a leadership standpoint. Seeing him post-game made me happier than I've been from watching sports in a long, long time.

After having largely disappeared in the earlier rounds of the playoffs, Ray Allen made it known that he was not done. He came up big in this series, keeping the Celtics in Game Three when Pierce came up a little short. His left-handed lay-up after blowing by Vujacic and splitting the defenders in the post which capped their magnificent comeback was possibly the signature play of the series. His three-point shooting, especially in Game Six when he tied Kenny Smith and Scottie Pippen for most threes in a game, was stunning. He was often the stabilizing force for the Celtics and really stepped up his defense when called for.

And Paul Pierce... Where to begin? I spent the last ten years doubting Paul Pierce as an all-around player. His early years with Antoine Walker where they would combine for 60 shots a game really painted him into a corner in my mind. Maybe I was wrong before, but I think it's much more that he simply became an entirely different player. He took over. Not just intermittently. With the exception of Game Three, where he went missing for most of the game, Paul Pierce dominated. He single-handedly kept them in Game Five after the Celtics got down early. He drove to the hole. He drew fouls. He defended Kobe in the second half of Game Four and shut him down when they needed him to. He came back from an injury in Game One and took over in the third quarter, and there was no looking back. He truly established himself as one of the game's best players, which I honestly never would have imagined would have happened. Paul Pierce is simply great.

As for Kobe and the Lakers, well, he's not Michael Jordan, and they're not as good as the Celtics. Kobe has a seemingly capable supporting staff (certainly more competent than, say, everyone in a Cavs uniform not named LeBron), and he disappeared for long stretches of this series. There were entire second halves of games where his presence was not felt at all. He was not particularly impressive, and it would seem that maybe he's not the heir to the Jordan throne. That status, for the time being, would seem to be reserved for LeBron, who can carry his team in the second half of games.

But enough of the criticism of the defenseless Lakers--this space should be used to laud the Celtics. Driven by their dedication to defense and put over the top by the ability of two of the three of their studs to show up on any given night, the Celtics proved what I thought to be true from the beginning of the preseason: They were the best team in the league.

I am actually happy for this team, and I don't get to say that often about professional sports teams.

Congratulations, Boston Celtics.


Little Brother said...

This is one of the few times in sports where I'm actually glad to see a blow out and every moment that I watched was enjoyable. I lose interest so easily if there's not competition, but the thwarting that took place last night was arguably the high light of my week thus far, and it has stiff competition from a bachelor party and finally getting to see how the first season of Dexter ended.

Weibel said...

KG did not shoot his free throws well in game 5..if he made them they would have won the game..methinks...Kobe did disappear a lot in games. I am a believer in Karma and I think the Lakers stole Pao Gasol from Memphis, and thus deserve the results they got...did really well..then tottally blew it in the last few games.

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