That's a Wrap: Can We Already Guarantee a Lakers-Celtics Finals?
Stan Van Gundy has taken more than one hit from the Celtics in his team's Eastern Conference Finals series.
Along with losing the first three games of the series, Van Gundy was knocked to the ground by Kevin Garnett in the third quarter of Game 3 after Garnett was shoved by the Magic's Matt Barnes.
Yet, that probably wasn't the biggest hit the Orlando head coach took at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston Saturday night.
The Celtics dominated all facets of the game, winning 94-71 and putting Orlando in a chokehold. Glen Davis scored 17 points and Rajon Rondo had 12 points and 11 assists to lead the C's to their sixth consecutive Playoff victory.
If we thought Orlando was hot, then what does that make Boston? An exploding ball of heat and gas that incinerates the opponent.
The leader in each game of the series has been different for the Celtics. Game One went to sharpshooter Ray Allen. The next went to Paul Pierce. The game Saturday night went to Davis. Boston has five or six players that can lead the team in multiple categories on any night. That is one reason they are so dangerous at this point of the Playoffs.
Against Cleveland, Boston took games four, five, and six to win the series 4-2. They sent LeBron James to, quite possibly, the end of his career as a Cavalier. Rajon Rondo was nothing short of amazing throughout the series.
So far against Orlando, the Celtics have dominated except for three quarters. Game 1 was in the bank until a late run by Orlando made it close, just to have Boston win. Once again in Game Two, the Magic tried to win it late, but their desperate attempt to even the series fell short. Game Three was complete domination on the part of the home team. It was never close, with Boston leading by 15 after the first quarter.
Nothing would suggest a possible comeback by the favored Magic. Little has gone right for them in the series. They lost home court advantage in Game 1, then gave it to Boston by blowing Game 2. Game 3 tightened the noose around the team's neck.
Boston's Doc Rivers has out-coached Van Gundy, making the necessary moves and pushing the right buttons. He has given each player the needed amount of rest and fed the hot hand.
But it's not like Van Gundy has had a hot hand to feed. Rashard Lewis has been awful from the field, going only 6 for 24 (25%) in the first three games. Dwight Howard has been inconsistent, scoring 13, 30, and 7 points, respectively, through the first trio of games. The big man was a non-factor in Game 3, with seven points and seven rebounds as Kendrick Perkins hassled him all game. Vince Carter has been the only bright spot, and he has not been very bright.
Everything is clicking for the Celtics at the right time.
Rondo is playing his best basketball of the season, dropping dimes for his teammates, making smart plays, scoring efficiently, and playing great defense.
Pierce has his shooting stroke going, hitting six of twelve on Saturday.
Ray Allen has come through when his team needed him, hitting big shots in Game 1, finishing with 25 points.
Kendrick Perkins has been one of the team's best players, even without much offensive production. He has done what few can do: limit Dwight Howard's effectiveness. When Howard doesn't post double digits in any category, someone is doing their job.
It would take a miracle for the Magic to pull off the comeback, and it won't happen.
You know it's crunch time when Kobe pulls out his Playoff face. The underbite composed of a sturdy jaw, teeth clenched, and the triumphant fist pump tell the viewer that it's time to get serious.
And Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers have done just that against the Phoenix Suns.
Both teams were coming off of sweeps coming into the Western Conference Finals and feeling good. The Suns were playing great basketball and running all over their opponents. Then the Lakers played speed bump.
Game 1 was the Kobe Bryant show featuring Kobe Bryant and Amar'e Stoudemire.
Stoudemire, matched up against Lamar Odom, gave up 19 points and 19 rebounds to the Lakers reserve. After the game, he called Odom "lucky" and drew a lot of heat over his comments.
Meanwhile, Bryant dropped 40 (21 in the third quarter). Needless to say, he was unstoppable, pulling off another Kobe Playoff performance we are all too used to witnessing (sorry, LeBron, we aren't witnessing you anymore this season).
The Lakers won, 128-107 to take the series lead out of the gate.
Game 2 went the same way for the Suns. For a team that is used to out-running their opponent, Phoenix was dominated in this way. Offense has been the Suns' key to success all season, but know the Lakers are giving them a taste of their own medicine.
A 124-112 loss put the Lakers up 2-0 in the series. While it is still a manageable series for the Suns, they need to win the next two games at home to mount a comeback. The Lakers are not the best road team, but are the top remaining home team, which makes them even tougher with home-court advantage.
Los Angeles may simply be too talented for the Suns, who are talented themselves with Steve Nash and Stoudemire at the head. Kobe is the best player left in the Playoffs, no questions asked with Durant and LeBron eliminated. Pau Gasol goes out there seemingly every night and scores at least 20 with 10 rebounds. Odom will give great bench production. Derek Fisher is a member of the League of Clutch and a crafty veteran. Andrew Bynum is being recognized as an intricate part to the Lakers offense as producing when he is delivered the rock.
For the Suns and Magic, it looks like they have met their match and run into a road block (I'll admit I jumped the gun by picking the Suns, but, to my credit, multiple ESPN writers did as well). The Celtics and Lakers are well on their way to meeting in the NBA Finals for a second time in three years, with Boston winning it all in 2008.
The two have a combined 32 championships, most among any two teams in the NBA. Their rafters are as crowded as any arena's. A Boston-Los Angeles match up would be the NBA's second-favorite Finals, behind a Kobe vs. LeBron duel. The two teams go way back, and have developed into bitter rivals in the Finals.
If you are already saying "Lakers-Celtics in the Finals", you are not Nostradamus. By no means is it too early to predict it. But both teams are rolling right along, appearing to be destined to meet in the last series of the season.
Lakers vs. Celtics. Where Amazing Happens.
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