Saturday, June 7, 2008

Celtics-Lakers -- Game 2 preview and radio interview

Click here to hear me discuss the NBA Finals with JT the Brick on Fox Sports Radio (June 6, 2008).

Game 2 preview

Larry Bird's Celtics and Magic Johnson's Lakers met three times in the NBA Finals (1984, 1985 and 1987).

It's been well-documented that in 1984 LA could have easily won in a sweep: convincing win in Game 1, blowout win in Game 3, and late leads lost in Games 2 and 4, courtesy of improbable turnovers, clock management and choked free throws. The Lakers' mistakes opened the door, and the Celtics, thanks to some physical and inspired play, shoved their way through.

LA's reputation was fastbreak and finesse. Boston's? Hard hats and lunch pails. In the four games the Celtics won in the series, they outrebounded the Lakers by these margins: 9, 6, 14, 19. By the time the teams met for the rematch in 1985, the Lakers were aware of coach Pat Riley's mantra: "No rebounds, no rings."

LA, of course, responded, held its ground, drew even on the boards, even gained substantial advantages in two of its four victories (+12 each in Games 2 and 3), and finally defeated the Celtics in a championship series.

It raises a question that is also relevant in this year's series: Even if one team is at a rebounding disadvantage (due to size, strength, individual matchups, style of play, etc.), how much can that advantage be negated with increased commitment?

In 1985, some additional desire went a long way. In 2008, can Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Ronny Turiaf, even guards Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, push back? Or will the Celtics, who carried out their blueprint for winning these Finals in Game 1, duplicate that performance, especially in the paint, three more times?

Game 2 should give us the answer.