The ghost of Red Auerbach is definitely smiling after this one.
So am I.
Two months ago to this day (btw, it's my birthday), I wrote a complete NBA Playoff prediction, picking the Celtics over the Lakers in six games, citing that Kobe was only one man.
16 days ago, when the Finals had finally been set, I stuck to my guns, picking Boston over LA, this time in seven, but said that Ray Allen would have to step up his game for the white and green to win it all.
Thank you, Celtics.
Less than two months after I was in my tiny dorm room, pounding my desk as the C's struggled against the Atlanta Hawks, I am now finally vindicated. At the time of their struggles I was thinking how retarded the team was making me look.
Now, the world has seen that all the Celtics needed was time, and the success would come easier and easier.
Aside from my admittedly childish and immature gloating (I'm sorry! I can't help it!), it was definitely a great series. I'll recap every game for those that have been under a rock lately, and give my thoughts on why the series went the way it did.
The series started exactly as the nation expected: Two juggernauts pounding each other in a hard-fought game.
Boston's Big Three played well. So did Kobe, while his supporting cast played decently. Although the Celtics were down five at halftime, they roared back in the third quarter (keep an eye on that trend), to gain what proved to be an insurmountable lead, and won the game 98-88.
The crowd truly made the difference in this game. The Garden in Boston was rocking, and the Big Three all showed up. Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen were both aggressive, keeping the heat on Kobe and whoever else Phil Jackson had in the Lakers' backcourt at the time.
Boston led this game by 12 at the half, and the game appeared to be over in the fourth, with the Celtics ahead 95-71 with 7:55 remaining.
However, a Bryant-led barrage saw the Lakers pull to within two with less than 40 seconds left, before the C's sealed the game on free throws from Paul Pierce and James Posey. The Celts finally won it 108-102.
The Lakers definitely gained momentum by the end of their furious comeback, but the Celtics still held a huge advantage, heading back to LA up 2-0. Leon Powe was incredible in this game, scoring 21 points in less than 15 minutes. The main story, though, was the free throw discrepancy.
The Lakers shot only 10 FT all game, while Powe (as Dr. Phil pointed out) shot 13 on his own. Some claimed the Lakers weren't aggressive, while others pointed to the Celtics' fearless style of play. Regardless, the Celtics were in a fantastic position.
This game was looking a lot like Game One, until Kobe Bryant took over in the fourth quarter. Boston fell behind before winning the third quarter convincingly, much like they did all through the playoffs. This time, Kobe stuffed the rally before it could get too large, and the Lakers held on to win 87-81.
The cries about the reffing became quieter when the Lakers shot more free throws at the Staples Center, while playing more aggressively. Bryant was also dominant, shooting 12-20 for 36 points.
KG and Pierce played terribly on the offensive end, shooting a combined 8 for 35, and finishing with 19 total points. But Beantown fans had to be feeling alright. Although two of their stars played awfully, they were in the game til the end.
Game Four looked like a blowout from the start. The Lakers pounced all over the Celtics and their lazy defense, taking a 35-14 lead at the end of the first quarter. Yet, once again, that menacing third quarter reared its ugly head at the Lakers.
Facing an 18-point deficit at the half, the Celtics kept plugging away, chiseling the Lakers' lead to two, before winning the fourth quarter convincingly, and dealing the Lakers a HUGE blow, winning the game 97-91.
The comeback from Boston was truly a team effort. While the Big Three struggled initially, players like Eddie House, James Posey, and PJ Brown played some big minutes and kept their team within striking distance.
The depth and bench of the Celtics really showed up their LA counterpart, and Doc Rivers outcoached Phil Jackson in every facet of the game in the second half.
Despite a titanic eruption from "The Truth" (Pierce), the Lakers took their second game and staved off elimination for one more night. Kobe Bryant started out hot, and got help from players like Pau Gasol and Derek Fisher en route to a 103-98 victory.
Paul Pierce completely stole the limelight during this game, but his efforts weren't enough. Kevin Garnett was in foul trouble the whole game, and Kendrick Perkins was unable to play because of a shoulder injury. Gasol flourished in the paint, and the series was moved back to the East.
We knew it would end in Boston, but nobody thought it would end like this. The Celtics OBLITERATED the Lakers, 131-92 on the parquet floor, and Boston clinched their 17th championship.
Every reason that the Celts were the better team stood out on Tuesday. KG dominated the paint. Kobe struggled against amazing defense. Nobody was able to step up in Kobe's absence. And while Pierce and Allen both had decent games, players like Rondo, Posey, and Glen Davis provided help down the stretch to finish off LA.
A lot of people (to my surprise), had the Lakers in a landslide before the series. I understand how people underrated Boston after their struggles early on, but a few factors came into play that some people failed to notice beforehand.
The regular season was crucial in this series, as Boston fans didn't watch their team drop one game at home. They were in a different league than Lakers' fans, who didn't have as much life or fight in them as the hungry Celtics' faithful.
And in case you haven't forgotten, Kobe is one man. Just like I predicted, he didn't get the help from his teammates. The Boston D is too good for him to drop 50 a night, and players like Gasol and Fisher are good, but not good enough to fill the gaps.
And nothing can describe the coaching job that Doc Rivers did. I'm definitely not his biggest fan, but he did a phenomenal job this series. For every move Jackson made, Rivers seemed to know its counter. Well done to a man that was coaching with a heavy heart so close to Father's Day.
Lastly, the Lakers had no answer for Paul Pierce. Aside from a poor Game Three, Pierce was almost unstoppable, and certainly more effective than Kobe Bryant. Regardless of whether Vladimir Radmanovic, Sasha Vujacic, Odom, or even Kobe guarded Pierce, he found a way to get to the basket or find an open teammate.
In closing, I think we can say a couple of things:
1. Danny Ainge made it happen. I wanted him gone last summer, but his trading for KG and Allen has obviously paid off, and signings like House and Posey, along with late deals involving Cassell and Brown were essential. Great job Danny.
2. Kobe is not Michael Jordan. That is enough of that. Seriously.
I can't begin to describe how much it pissed me off before the series, so thank God people have quieted down after watching Kobe shoot terribly for the most part, and not find a way to get his teammates going.
I also can't imagine MJ claiming he was going to get wasted to deal with blowing the biggest lead in Finals history. But maybe it's just me.
3. I called it. (Sorry, I had to)
Thanks to everybody who has read my predictions and thoughts on the playoffs from beginning to end. Your comments really make this worthwhile and I love hearing from readers. Thanks again everybody. It was a great series.