Last year, I was overjoyed for the NBA Finals with my own team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, crashing the party. This year, I am dealing with the one matchup I have been dreading: the Lakers vs. the Celtics. I will do my best to avoid being negative and instead focus on the positives of this matchup.
Just as a recap, in 2005, my NBA Finals Preview used Star Wars quotes. In 2006, I used Indiana Jones quotes. In 2007, I used Back to the Future quotes... without further adieu, it is time to analyze the classic NBA finals matchup that is before us. Because I am not entirely happy about the matchup, I find the matchup similar to the Aliens vs. Predator movie as well as the sequel, from AVPR: Aliens vs. Predator - Requiem. Both the Lakers and the Celtics are dangerous and powerful. They each have crafty veterans that have enabled them to eliminate their opponents. I also believe that this matchup has nothing to do with the matchups from the '80s - kind of like how AVPR had absolutely nothing to do with Aliens vs. Predator!
1. Dale: This plan is stupid! Let's just leave town now.
Dallas: We're not gonna make it out of the playoffs without more weapons, dickhead. You're too stupid to talk Dale, shut up!
This goes out to Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak. After losing Andrew Bynum to injury on January 13, 2008, GM Mitch Kupchak realized he needed more weapons... and he suddenly landed Pau Gasol on February 1, 2008! Many have questioned the logic behind the Grizzlies giving up Pau Gasol for a large expiring contract (Kwame Brown), two low 1st round picks, a rookie PG (Crittendon), and Pau Gasol's younger brother, Marc Gasol. Hell, now the owner has even admitted he may not have gotten the most value! Well... at least the Grizzlies will have cap space this summer... and a spare Gasol! Granted, usually the "other" brother of two professional athletes is never that good. For instance there was Michael Vick who went to prison, but Marcus could only get in trouble for pot and hanging around 14-year old females ; Dominique "the human highlight" Wilkins but then there was Gerald "I'm a Jordan-stopper" Wilkins; Pavel Bure was great, but Valeri Bure could only marry DJ from Full House. Similarly, I see Marc as just one of those "other" brothers who just becomes part of a trivia question. Of course, this could end up more like the Mannings, the Barbers, or the Alomar brothers, where both enjoy some success. However, for some reason, I don't think it's happening. In the meantime, the Lakers certainly benefited from the decision, despite the great upside potential of Marc.
2. This whole thing was a trap!
I think that's what Doc Rivers will be saying at some point 10 minutes after multiple turnovers are forced by the Lakers and their defense. As much as I rip on Doc Rivers, the rest of the team is smart though and would probably make an adjustment before Doc Rivers realizes he needs to adjust, so then Doc Rivers can praise them for their "tenacity."
3. Gentlemen? It is my job to keep you alive on this expedition, and I need your help to do that. Since I don't have time to properly train you, I'm laying down three simple rules. One: no one goes anywhere alone, ever. Two: everyone must maintain constant communication. Three: unexpected things are gonna happen. When they do, no one tries to be a hero. Understood?
It sounds like a Doc Rivers pre-game speech. It's kind of inspiring but it really does not give you any kind of specific instructions on what to do, other than communicate with each other. On the "unexpected" front, one of the main unknowns in my mind is what kind of production Boston's center, Kendrick Perkins, will be giving. He torched Detroit at the end of their series, but he was awful at times against the Cavaliers. Which one will show up for Gasol and the Lakers?
4. Lex: I've never seen a gun save someone's life.
Rousseau: I don't plan on using it.
Lex: Then why bring it?
Rousseau: Same principle as a condom. I'd rather have one and not need it, then need it and not have one.
Similarly, this is why the Lakers have a deep bench and Phil Jackson as coach; so they can be prepared for any situation that they face. The Celtics? They will just panic and hope that they naturally discover a way to adjust to their problems. The Celtics do have a decent bench, but I still don't think Doc Rivers knows how to use it. Panicking and relying on things to simply "work themselves out" may work in the regular season and in the Eastern Conference playoffs, but not in the NBA Finals.
5. It's common in ritual sacrifice to take the heart of the victim.
If anyone is going to lose their mind this weekend, and start doing real crazy stuff, it's KG. This is a guy who always is in full-tilt mode, even in game #27 of the season. How are his crazed emotions going to affect his play in the NBA Finals? Probably positively, assuming he doesn't kill anyone.
6. We have to consider the possibility that we might not make it out of here.
In the end, I will try to enjoy KG's first trip to the Finals. However, short of him exerting his will on Lamar Odom, I do not see how the Celtics are going to make this work. During the 1st round, I expressed my interest in having the Celtics lose early to "restore my faith in the theory that NBA Coaching does indeed have an effect on the outcome, especially when a complete moron is at the helm." Unfortunately, an early exit is no longer possible. However, I have to believe that Phil Jackson will find ways to expose Doc Rivers for what he is.
In addition, Doc Rivers has caused a great deal of damage, as Flip Saunders was fired for losing his 3rd straight conference finals, LeBron James was eliminated, and the Atlanta Hawks' gained a false sense of hope. The only good that can come from any of this? The fact that I initially thought the Pistons were hiring Mark Curry, from the sitcom Hangin' With Mr. Cooper as their head coach. I was mistaken though, and the Pistons actually hired Michael Curry, who I still will refer to as Mr. Cooper all next season.
In conclusion, Doc Rivers has already caused enough damage. It's only fitting that one of the greatest coaches, Phil Jackson, will be the one to eliminate Doc Rivers and the Boston Celtics.
Final Prediction: Lakers in 6