So it has come down to this (once again in the Marv Albert tone coz we miss him), Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Boston v LA. Before MJ showed up, there were these two titans battling it out, and even after MJ left us, these two are still around. We said before the series began that Commissioner David Stern would get himself wet at the sight of this series. Now that Game 7 is upon us, he probably looks more like Christopher Lloyd departing the Sperm Bank. Magical stuff.
But in all seriousness, no one should be surprised at how far this series has gone. It has been everything we wished for since it became a possibility a fortnight ago- competitive, ferocious and even right down the middle. As goes with the history of this rivalry there have been heroes, highlights and cameos on both sides. The Jesus Shuttlesworth Show, the D-Fish clutch shots, the Big Baby (liquid) dribble and the Kobe Bryant H-O-R-S-E heaves are just some of the images that have come to fruition.
In the sequel to Short Shorts, we look at the wishful intangibles that will emerge in this series’ final chapter. It goes without saying that Celtics fans will wish for a better defensive effort, Rajon Rondo to drop a triple-double and for the Big 3 to be well, big. Lakers fans will equally pray for a minimum 30-point game from Kobe Bryant and for his teammates (albeit teammates with their hardhats on) to show up.
Of course if you bleed green or purple/gold and your life depends on the result, you’re hoping for an injury or two, an early ejection to the enemy superstar, a blowout definitely to start the early celebrations or someone to drop 50 hot ones. Chances are none of that will happen unless you’re hobbling like Andrew Bynum or Kendrick Perkins, both candidates for the Willis Reed award. Over the next (and very intense) 48 hours, fans on both sides will discuss these mitigating factors aside the obvious ones.
IF YOU’RE A BOSTON CELTICS FAN YOU WISH FOR…
- More pushing and shoving on the Lakers frontcourt. Even a cheap shot off the ball. Oh it’s true.
- Kendrick in uniform. Nuff said. A less than 100% Perk means less minutes, less banging, less testosterone and just less production. His presence or absence may tip the scales in either team’s favor.
- Kobe to forget he plays on a team. When the Lakers stop moving the ball, stand still and become dependent on their superstar, chances are Boston has psychologically alienated the rest of his crew and their close-outs are simply suffocating.
- “A Quick Start”. The team that has led at quarter time has gone on to win each game of the series.
- Ron Artest to suffer multiple brain malfunctions on offense.
- Second and third chances off offensive boards. Usually this is Rondo’s que.
- Paul Pierce attacking the rim. When he scores layups and gets to the line, it opens up the rest of his game.
- Ray Allen hitting minimum 4 treys. When he does this, the Celtics very rarely lose.
- Kevin Garnett to tap the floor. That image symbolized the Celtics resolve in Game 4, when he does that, you know he’s switched on, hungry and angry, and you know his teammates will follow suit.
- Another Shrek and Donkey showing. Glen Davis and Nate Robinson were huge back in Boston, but in G6, Big Baby drew a doughnut and Nate racked up six in garbage time. Heat-of-the-contest stats are essential from these two.
IF YOU’RE AN LA LAKERS FAN YOU WISH FOR…
- Play with conviction and win the contested rebound. Jeff Van Gundy said it best when commenting on how the series will be decided- “Do you wanna get it in the air or do you wanna spectate and watch?”. Andrew Bynum aside, Pau Gasol, Ron Artest and Lamar Odom – every Laker fan is looking at you.
- Like Boston, “A Quick Start”.
- Pau to get in KG’s face or multiple facial buckets while being guarded by him the low-block.
- Ball Movement. When the Lakers move the ball side to side, they look like defending champs. When they standstill and butcher the shot clock, they look like homicidal chumps.
- Andrew Bynum to give you even a quarter of production. Even altering several shots should give his teammates plenty of confidence.
- Kobe’s teammates to come through one more time. The bench was phenomenal illustrated by these succulent numbers- 25 to 13 in G6. Equally impressive were the return performances by Gasol, Artest and Odom, all combined for 40 points and 29 boards (10 fewer than the entire Celtics team) and even more impressive was their hunger to attack the Celtics defense, run and create second chance opportunities.
- A Ron Artest shooting in the flow of the offense.
- A Shannon Brown or Jordan Farmar throwdown. When these two are finishing like this, Lakers are generally rolling.
- You’d hate to say it, but No Perkins, ouchies. Then again Celtics fans will say Bynum not starting. It goes both ways really.
- More Celtic unforced errors, like missed layups which has cost them dearly throughout the series.
- “Hack-A-Raj”. Rajon Rondo has basically been a miniature Shaq at the charity stripe this year and is 4-16 for the series. With the home crowd to add excess pressure, why not explore?
IF YOU’RE JUST A LINEBALL FAN YOU WISH FOR…
A close game, OT perhaps; go figure. Game 7’s are basketball’s Superbowl, the AFL Grand Final and the Champions League final all rolled into one. They are the games you archive on the TV shelf and watch over and over again, and play on your screen when your mate is annoying you and you need to remind him of why you won and his team lost. These are the games you remember forever, the tell-the-grand-children types and the ones that bring players and fans to tears. Either way, someone is going to make a name for themselves and pay the price for winning it all. Someone is also going to choke, you know that’s coming. Let’s just hope it isn’t Robert Green proportions.
For a 2010 playoff journey that has delivered little drama (translation sucked), this series has provided most basketball freaks with a clinical ending. It makes you think, why did everyone else in the league bother showing up for the postseason? We say better late than never!
Game 7 folks: Celtics versus Lakers with everything to play for. Wish granted.