The Lakers vs. Celtics Finals match-up is something that I have been waiting for since 2008. To see the best play the best in any sport is a treat to the public. To watch a rematch of the best vs. best—that's special.
I've watched this year's Finals from London, staying up 'till 4am to watch these teams test their mettle. The Celtics have impressed me. The Lakers have not.
My disappointment is not in the outcome of the games, but in the lack of adjustment you think you would see from a superstar coach and player. Like 2008, the Lakers have shown nothing resembling the term "super."
With the Boston Celtics up 3-2, the tale of the tape says this:
Phil Jackson is being out-coached.
The Laker's are being out-hustled.
The Lakers' superstar is being out-shone. Not by an individual, but by a team.
With the lack of excellent play abundantly evident, these are the things that the Lakers need to do to win Game 6.
Create better spacing on offense.
For a team that has made it to the Finals, the team's discipline in maintaining spacing on the floor has been deplorable. The triangle offense doesn't work in compacted space. Keeping shooters near the three-point line properly spaced will open up scoring opportunities when the defense collapses to stop Kobe from driving.
There is no excuse for the Lakers not to take advantage of the opportunities presented when one of their players attracts three defenders.
Use Kobe more in both the high and low post.
Kobe Bryant is one of the best post-players in the league. With Andrew Bynum hurting and Kevin Garnett imposing his will on Pau Gasol, posting Bryant will attract multiple defenders, allowing Ron Artest and Lamar Odom to make plays cutting to the basket.
If nothing else, Kobe should get to the foul line more and the Lakers will be able to increase their rebounding by being active around the board.
Use the Pick & Roll and set screens to free up shots.
The Celtics have used hard screens well throughout the entire series. When they need to score, they isolate Rondo or Pierce at the top of the key and set a screen to free them to either cut down the lane or pull up for a shot.
The same strategy in limit spaces in the game would do much to get the Lakers scorers some rhythm in scoring.
Setting some screens on the key with Kobe, Lamar and Derek Fisher and using the pick and roll with Gasol and Kobe will not only increase the scoring, but break down the Celtics defense.
Phil Jackson has to do better in-game adjustments.
The Celtics are getting every loose ball, are tipping passes, and are effectively putting pressure on the ball handler. This all points to hustle.
They are dictating to the Lakers offense what it will let it do, and the Lakers are capitulating.
The Lakers must raise their energy, must hustle for rebounds and loose balls, and must maintain basketball basics.
Positioning, crisp passes and precision will defeat any defense. A properly passed ball is quicker to the spot than any defender can follow.
Proper positioning around the basket with energy can defeat a height disadvantage. They need to fight for proper position and then to hold it.
Get Odom and Gasol active early.
With Kobe guiding the offense from the high and low post, get Gasol and Odom some early looks.
Momentum can make all the difference in a game. A few early baskets from both players will open up the game.
All in all, the Lakers are a better team than they are showing. If they don't want to have a repeat of 2008, they need to apply these adjustments—quickly. Otherwise, it will be what Yogi Berra so prophetically said, "deja vu, all over again."
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