Few Finals Thoughts

2 06 2009

Oy vey, no sleep isn’t good for most people. My job at MLB.com affords me late hours and sleepless nights, so my sleep pattern is as screwed up as developing a major marketing campaign around a matchup that isn’t set in stone. Haha, imagine that happening! I won’t say much more on this, since it seems to be the topic du jour  now that the Cavs have been Cleveland’d out of the playoffs.

LeBron, Kobe puppets

Is this really how Kobe dresses off court?

Just a few thoughts on the Finals. I’m not writing 1,000 words, since most people who think they know the NBA — including me — didn’t see the Magic getting to the big show:

— As a Lakers fan, I think I like getting the Magic more than the Cavs. The obvious conflict is home court, which they have against Orlando but wouldn’t have vs. Cleveland, opposed to facing at least three really dangerous options (Dwight, Rashard, Hedo) instead of one mega-dangerous one (‘Bron). 

The 2-3-2 format in the Finals obviously plays the key role in this argument. With it, home court becomes even more advantageous. Since it’s so difficult to win three games in a row at any time, the team hosting the middle three contests has to aim for taking two of three, then winning two road games. The Magic are not winning two games in L.A. 

— Time for Andrew Bynum to take it to another level a.k.a. become someone who doesn’t cause me to punch myself in the face. I already had one nightmare of Bynum fouling out on six straight possessions trying to cover Howard.

— Who does Ariza cover — Rashard or Hedo? I’d prefer for him to go to Hedo, since there’s a greater chance of shutting him down than Rashard. Dirk Nowitzki probably has the toughest shot to block in the NBA, but Rashard isn’t far behind. He might give a few inches to Dirk, but he can also get more lift on his shot. (Totally disgusting sentence if your mind wanders.) 

— Fisher better feast on Rafer Alston. I mean, the dude isn’t that quick that Fish can’t cover him. At least beat him up for a little bit, will ya Fish? On the other hand, who does Orlando have that can cover Lamar? Rashard and Hedo aren’t great defenders. If either them gets stuck on Lamar, man, would I love to see Lamar back them down and draw fouls near the hoop. 

— I hate to say this, but Lamar is once again the X factor for L.A. — always is. He’s so multi-talented and creates so many mismatch problems offensively. Of course, if Bynum were to show up for a game, then the Magic frontcourt would be taxed in such a way that some person named Marcin Gortat would be a major factor. Fantastic. 

— Kobe is ready. He’s sauntered around the court with a scowl on his face this entire year. It’s been a pleasure to watch him at the peak of his career, with as much determination as a rookie trying to make the team. Unfortunately, this might be the beginning of the end for his career. Sure, he’ll play plenty more years, but his prime is ending this season. No way can he sustain his athleticism after this two-year run in which he’s made back-to-back NBA Finals and play a critical role on Team USA last summer. (What nobody mentions now is how he’s played with a f’d up right pinky AND right ring finger for two years. He’s never had that dislocated right ring digit fixed. Dude’s toughness is incomparable.)

I realize he’s already lost a good deal of jumping ability, but he’s prepped his game the last couple years to make as easy a transition as possible from one phase of his career to the next. That begins next year. I’m getting misty-eyed just writing this.

— I really am rooting for Phil Jackson. I don’t think he’s appreciated enough. When he said in the Rockets series that he wasn’t worried about the surging Rockets, he was vilified on TV and radio for apparently not caring. I’m always amazed when people who cover professional sports consistently under-estimate players’/coaches’ competitiveness. What I think Jackson understood is that with a team in a somewhat fragile state — as a relatively young Lakers squad was at the time — it’s best for the coach to remain a steady, calming influence. It wouldn’t help if he were to proclaim, “Am I worried? Hell yeah, I’m sweating more than Patrick Ewing in overtime!” I think it’s safe to say Jackson made the right coaching move by staying calm — the Lakers played their best game of the year in Game 6 vs. Denver.

— Prediction: Dwight Howard wears a cape to one of the games, possibly Orlando’s first home game.




One response

2 06 2009

1) I love those puppet ads. Funny shit, especially the first one.

2) I agree about Ariza on Hedo. Put Gasol on Lewis, I think that’s a better match-up.

3) Bynum will foul out in 37 seconds.

4) The thing that impresses me most about the Magic is their mental toughness. They are not shaken by anything yet, and I don’t think the Finals will shake them either.

5) It’s going to be a very tough series.

6) Lakers in six.

7) Please let the Knicks be good again before I die.

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