NBA Playoffs 2011: 3 Reasons You Shouldn't Count Out Celtics or Lakers
I think it's safe to say that no one expected Boston and Los Angeles to be down 0-2 to their respective opponents. But the reality is, both squads are in a hole. Not big holes, but holes nonetheless. But with both prestigious NBA teams struggling right off the bat in the Conference Semifinals, is it safe to say we will be seeing a new team out of the Western Conference in the NBA Finals? Are the Boston Celtics on their last hurrah? I don't think so. Here's why...
Los Angeles #1: Take a Deep Breath, Take a Step Back, Let's Think a Little Bit
Let's just think really quick. The Lakers coughed up Game 1. For a while, the Lakers were uphanding the Mavericks during about 3 quarters of that game. Now, a loss is a loss, but it's not like Game 1 should be taken too seriously. Kobe should be kicking himself for not hitting that game winning shot, but it's not as serious as most people make it. They lost by a bucket.
Now Game 2 was a different story. The Lakers got destroyed. That being said, the Lakers so poorly that they didn't hit a single three-point basket. But the thing is, let me know when that happens again. The Lakers played poorly on the offensive side of the timeline, and on the other side, Dirk and the Mavericks couldn't miss a shot if they were in a long distance relationship with the hoop. Again, let me know when the Mavericks shoot that well in this series.
Boston #1: Home Cookin'
I would expect that we will lay witness to some of the most hostile crowds in NBA History over the next few games in Boston. That goes well for the old veteran Celtics. Momentum is a tremendous thing when it comes to the postseason. I could see the Boston faithful willing the C's to two-all going to back Miami. The three days off will definitely benefit Boston more than it will Miami. Boston's old legs need some time off.
Los Angeles #2: The Mavericks and Their Postseason Problems
The Mavericks have a history of either not showing up or not finishing the deal during the playoffs. Why would you think all of a sudden that would change? They were one of the very few #1 seeds in NBA History to lose to an No. eight seed (Golden State in 2007) and they lost in the first round last year as a no. two seed. I'm not going to buy into this "The German is hungry for a title" or "This is a different team than those years". Bologna. All LA has to do is win two games in Dallas and two at home. Yes, either said than done, but not impossible and nothing Kobe Bryant and the LA can't handle.
Boston #2: Boston Still Has Mismatches and Advantages
The Miami Heat still don't have a smart point, bigs in the paint, and depth. The Boston Celtics do. Rajon Rondo is one breakout game away from leading Boston back into this series. Believe it or not, getting Shaq back into the rotation will help the Celtics as well. The more big men, the better. I said in an earlier article that Jermaine O'Neal would be Boston's x-factor. Well, he hasn't exactly produced like I thought he would. The x-factor is now Rajon Rondo. He can slow down LeBron or D-Wade (whoever is having a good night) and he can dictate the Celtics offense and get his teammates some good looks and some easy buckets to lead the C's to a victory and even possibly come back and win this series.
Los Angeles #3: Kobe Bryant's Legacy
Kobe Bryant has never won a title by himself, but if in order to just get out of this series....he might have to. Pau Gasol has been missing in action, Lamar Odom hasn't been playing to his potential, Derek Fisher has lost his confidence, Ron Artest's clothesline to J.J. Barea will get him kicked out of Game 3, Matt Barnes has been shaky, and watching Steve Blake play makes me appreciate Smush Parker. He just might have to beat Dallas on his own. He has not played lights out, but he is averaging 29.5 points per game through the first two games.
Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson have another three-peat on the line. I don't think any championship run has meant more to Kobe than this one. He wins his sixth ring, he marches into Michael Jordan territory as one of the all-time greats with six championship rings. He won't go down easy, and if he has to score 30-40 points a night just to win by two, I think he'll do it.
Michael Jordan and the Bulls went down 0-2 in a playoffs series in 1993 vs. the New York Knicks. Who won the series? MJ and the Bulls. Who was the coach? Now Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson. I think that sums itself up pretty well.
Boston #3: A Legacy on the Line
There is no doubting that this will be Boston's last hurrah. The Celtics are old, brittle, and depleted. I am almost positive that Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett are well aware that there is their last shot at getting another ring. Beat the Heat, win the Eastern Conference, and go to the NBA Finals for the third time in four years. That is quite a legacy, and that is quite a run.
The Celtics have dismantled LeBron and Dwyane Wade over the past couple of years, and nothing would be sweeter than knocking the Heatles off. It would be one off LeBron's and Wade's flaws for their careers, never beating Boston's Big Four when it mattered. The Celtics know this. They won't go down without a brawl. Remember this, old vets like KG, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo never quit swinging.