Sunday, June 8, 2008

Some Thoughts, Some Instant Analysis on Game 2 (Celtics WIN!!)

Once again, more thoughts and less analysis. Still some, but I gotta change up my tactics some with the late start times. I have to work things out so I can continually type during the game and not have to do everything after the game at 11:45.

(This degenerates into more or less a running diary as the game degenerates in the fourth quarter, just a head's up. I know they won, but holy crap was that not the definition of "too close for comfort"?)

1) After that first half of his, I have to believe that Eric Montross is finally okay with Leon Powe wearing his number.

2) I guess what frustrates me so much about KG is his ability to turn himself into Ben Wallace. Yes, he always makes the hustle plays and gets on the glass which is good. But what about when he bricks his jump shots, forces passes, and gets handily outplayed by Pau Gasol on the offensive end? Is there a more apt comparison because if so, I'm all ears.

(Keep in mind this is being written in the first half. I reserve the right to change my mind after halftime if the situation dictates.)

3) I will fully admit that the Celtics got every single questionable call in the first half. Those two early fouls on Kobe were complete BS and his third came as a result of Pierce flop. Not that I'm complaining as I'm sure they'll be returned in kind in LA, but I do want to illustrate that I will admit when all of the luck and "external help" are both going the ways of the Celtics.

4) Great first half for the C's. They were pretty jumper happy (I'm actually just thinking about KG here), but they were falling namely from Pierce and Allen. Amazingly they also were getting to the line a bunch too thanks to the aforementioned Leon Powe and their ability to again get into the penalty and bonus. All in all, a really great first 24 minutes.

Also, Pierce's relentless attacking was getting easy buckets for people and another cause of all those fouls against LA. Still, I'd like to think that the team will realize that they will not be able to keep up a 12 point lead against LA without getting KG some easy buckets down low. Shoot, the buckets don't even need to be easy, he just needs to send a message that it is his house and he won't get dominated for a full 48 minutes by Pau Gasol. No disrespect to Gasol either, he's a great player. But he is not KG and KG needs to know that Pau Gasol is not better than him.

5) This is kind of weird to say, but I almost feel like the best thing to happen Ray Allen this postseason was his famous shooting slump. The reason I say that is because now it seems that whenever he hits a three both the team and the crowd gets extra amped like they did when he was famously struggling through his slump as they tried to will him back to normalcy. Well he's back now and his perseverance has made him the player who on offense fuels the crowd and the team more than anybody else on the team other than Pierce.

6) Keep in mind that I am saying this with about 6:30 left in the third, but I think Kobe is about to take this game over in a stunning fashion. I hope the Celtics are up to the challenge.

7) You wanna know the difference between the Celtics now and the Celtics as recently as the early stages of the Detroit series? Simple, in the third quarter the Lakers cut the Celtics lead to 9 after a few shaky Celtics offensive possessions. Earlier in the postseason, the Celtics would have panicked, rushed some jump shots, given LA even more momentum, and allowed them completely back in the game to the point where the lead going into the fourth would probably be 2 or 3 points. Instead of doing this, the Celtics continued to run their offense, got some great looks, clamped down on D, and even made an exclamation point play with Rondo's alley-oop to Powe which pushed the lead to 20 and forced Phil Jackson to call a timeout with the arena going nuts. Now that is how you win championships!!!!!

8) I feel wrong talking about another bench guy other than Leon Powe tonight, but what about PJ Brown continuing to be Mr. Right Place Right Time pretty much all the time? Is he the Celtics version of Kevin Faulk? I say yes.

9) Even though KG scored the bulk of his points in the fourth quarter with a comfortable margin, I give him 100% credit for coming out highly aggressive offensively in the second half. It did not necessarily result in a ton of points but he got himself to the line and helped set the tone for the Celtics best quarter of the playoffs in my opinion, the third quarter of tonight's (Game 2, NBA Finals) game.

10) I've always wanted a stat to fall back on to support my belief that Mark Jackson was a truly underrated and great player - loved him on the Pacers - and I must thank ABC for giving that to me tonight. I did not know that he was second all time on the NBA assists list. Think about that.

11) Announcer line of the playoffs so far courtesy of the one and only JVG, "So many reality shows, so little time". You gotta love that guy.

12) I can't be the only one who gets terrified watching the Celtics play with a huge lead can I? Every time down they seem to go for the highlight play which is fine against the Hawks but not so great against the Lakers.

13) In the fourth quarter, the Lakers catch absolute fire from three point range and cut the lead from 22 down to 11. Once again though the Celtics continue to run their offense and avoid panicking. Honestly, I cannot emphasize how big this is. Earlier in the postseason they would panic at the slightest bit of adversity and visually self destruct. Now, they brush it off, move on, and concentrate on winning the game. (In hindsight this seems kind of foolish, but it doesn't either. Their offense was not the problem in the fourth, it was their defense that went on vacation. However, the aforementioned highlight reel plays they go for with big leads need to stop.)

14) Is Jim Jackson on the Lakers coaching staff?

15) OK, it's a 4 point game now. The Celtics have not played D the entire fourth quarter. I have know idea what I will do if they lose this game. I really have complete confidence that the Celtics will win, but jeez. I was hoping for a double digit victory tonight. Preferably 15+. That aint happening.

16) Good f***ing lord this is not good. Two point game. :38 seconds.

17) Two huge free throws from Pierce. Shouldn't have come to that, but I'll take it right now.

18) Let's quickly forget about how the game ended and take a bit to reflect on what Leon Powe did. 21 points including 13 free throws in a bit under 15 minutes. Wow! And that does not include the three (I think) crowd erupting dunks he had including a (graceful?) coast to coast.

19) MVP of the game? Leon Powe is the best story but there is really no question who garners that. Paul Pierce running away with it. Not only did he answer any and all questions regarding his knee, but he also got himself to the line - and hit the free throws - when the game got to a 2 point margin and then came back down the court and blocked a three effectively ending the game. What a game for him. I really cannot adequately describe how much I love the guy as a player. I'll talk more about him later this week. Right now I want to take a few deep breaths and relish in the fact that the Celtics are currently up 2-0 in the NBA Finals and one of my all time favorite athletes is approaching ever closer to winning a Championship for the only team he has ever known while also showing everybody else out there what I've thought for a long time. What is that exactly? That he is a really, really, really good basketball player that has been stuck on some horrific teams. I'm not saying the Celtics are a cinch to win the Finals - still got a ways to go in LA - but I am saying that I am incredibly happy for what Paul Pierce is doing and showing the NBA watching public on the largest possible stage.

And for the record, his final line on the night - 28 points on 9-16 shooting with 4 boards, and 8 assists. All you Pierce bashers can crush on his 5 turnovers, but that is cheap. The guy was 110% what his team and his fan base needed from him in Game 2 and now he is a halfway to winning a ring. The hardest half is forthcoming however. But it will hopefully also be the most rewarding half.

That's a good note to go out on.

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