David Stern’s Dream Realised

31 05 2008

Boston beat Detroit, 89-81.

It’s history re-visited, the LA Lakers vs the Boston Celtics.


It’s LA and [insert winner of East, hell… Boston?]

31 05 2008

Cannot wipe the smile off my face.
The Los Angeles Lakers 100 defeated the San Antonio Spurs 92.
The reigning champions. Gone. Dusted.

The Lakers have a week off before they play the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals – the Detroit Pistons or the Boston Celtics. And does anyone think that’s not going the full seven?
Even with Rip Hamilton out, I still think that the Pistons have enough to get it done in game 6 back in the Palace before heading to the Garden for game 7, where they will ultimately lose.

But the Lake-show… lead by Kobe Bryant with 39 points, the Lakers were very, very good. Ample support at crucial times from other Lakers – most notably Pau Gasol who gave 12 points and a massive 19 rebounds.
Down by 17 in the 2nd quarter, the Lakers fought back and were down by a mere 6 going in at halftime. The next half saw a team that just weren’t to be denied, and although the Spurs made a valiant run, it was not to be. The Lakers simply were the better team… not just on the night, but the better team. Period.

Amazing how far they’ve come, from the pre-season where everything looked uncertain, even down to whether Bryant would still be a Laker. Then through the injury to Bynum, and the exciting, energising addition of Pau Gasol. Through it all, the Lakers persevered, then triumphed. To the point they are now, on the brink of the finals against an as yet undecided opponent.

Honestly? The guy who deserves most of the kudos is not Kobe Bryant, but Mitch Kupchak. Much maligned – by pretty much everyone (including this blog) – Kupchak stood his ground, and held onto both Bynum, and Bryant. He got the steal deal done for Pau Gasol. Pretty much every player on the team is there through Kupchak. It’s unbelievable, but as it stands now, the deal he made for Shaq-to-Miami was fantastic – for the Lakers.

But let’s not forget Kobe… who was… well, Kobe. 39 points, dominating a game that needed to be dominated. He was fantastic. 17 points in the final quarter… Simply, fantastic.

Clearly a guy who has to be thanking his lucky stars that none of his wishes came true last summer, because his dearest wish is within sight.

The Spurs are left wondering what could have been… if Manu was healthy… if they traded for someone younger… if just a few more calls went their way (laugh!)…
They’re aging, and with Manu & Tony playing the Olympics, they could be starting next season tired.

So the Lakers rest until next Thursday, where they will play the winner of the Boston/Detroit series. Even tho’ there are question marks over Rip Hamilton (I say he plays), and Billups is still not 100%… I have the Pistons winning tomorrow’s game 6. Then back to Boston for game 7 on June 1st, where Boston will hold court and win the Eastern Conference Finals.

A return to history, bring on the good ol’ days…

Bring on Boston.


30 05 2008

Make sure you tune in for game 5 of the Lakers/Spurs battle, you have quite a few options on this:
First – you have to tune into TNT’s interwebby feed-thingy
Second – choose your flavour of game chat… LA BallTalk‘ll be liveblogging the game, as will Yahoo’s Ball Don’t Lie. AOL’s up & in it as well: link.

Looking forward to it, but can’t say I’m not a lil’ nervous… game 5… win this… into the finals.


Bring on the fat lady

29 05 2008

Huge opportunity here for the Lakers.
The Lakers have a real chance to put away the San Antonio Spurs in game 5.
Close the door.
Do not give them an opportunity, because if given, the Spurs won’t give back.
They’re selfish like that.
And if the Lakers can do that – and they should be able to – then the broader spectrum will be that they get to be well-rested before the Finals.
Because believe me baby, the Eastern Conference Finals are going the distance.  You had better believe it.

If you said to me before the playoffs began that the Lakers could make the Finals (and not yet a given), but would face either Boston (my bet), or Detroit (who knows), then I would’ve been happy… but expected LA to lose that match-up somewhere between 4-6 games.
But then I would never have bet that Boston would be hampered by the Atlanta Hawks either.
Nor get trampled underfoot by Cleveland.

The simple fact of the matter is that of the four teams left in this show, the Lakers are probably playing the best basketball. They are in this with a damn good show…

Scary to think where they were, only the off-season prior to this beginning…
* A GM that everyone believed was the joke of the Association…
* A star player who wanted off this roster like no-one we’ve ever witnessed…
* The self-same star who whilst being acknowledged as one of the best players in the game, often faced accusations of being selfish to the point of hurting the franchise…
* A center who was booed incessantly by his home-crowd… for existing.
* A mish-mash of a roster that had never gotten the job done, and never looked like they would.
* A young back-up center who had been absolutely trashed by the star during the off-season…
* A forward who absolutely cannot cope with being the 2nd option on a team…

* A team that’s wonderful to watch with the fluid game-style they play…
* Perhaps the best mind in basketball leading them…
* A roster that’s deep, and effective…
* A team that enjoys each other’s company…
* One of the most-skilled 7 footers in the game…
* A forward who is relishing being the third option on the team – to the point of where at times he’s an absolute beast on the floor…
* Yet to come: one of the best young centers in the game – save that for next season…
* And of course, Kobe… The MVP, and has the ability to take over a game like a cold-blooded assassin…

Get this done. Put the Spurs to bed.  Sit back and watch who’s up next.

“The game’s in the refrigerator. The door’s closed, the light’s out, the eggs are cooling, the butter’s getting hard, and the Jell-O’s jiggling.”

Ummm… Boston?

29 05 2008

Pick a game between Detroit and Boston? Hell, flip a coin.
It’s a best-of-3 series now, and in this situation, you gotta go with the team with home-court advantage.
And that’d be Boston.
I guess I’m tipping the Celtics then.
But tight?
Who the hell knows?
Anyone who tells you that they do know is lying.

If Boston are going to do anything more, then the big three – including Ray Allen – must step up. Must.
If Detroit are going to get going, then Flip should play Stuckey a little more. And Maxiell. Billups has advantages, but he’s obviously not 100%. He’s not even 75%.
If the Detroit Pistons win this one… forget about it. They will close out in game 6 at home.

Aaagh… would it surprise me for the Pistons to come out and win this? No.
Would it surprise me if the Celtics won this game by 20? No.
How about Boston winning by 3? No surprises there.

But picking possible results out of a hat… let’s see… ok, it’s Boston winning by a less-than-7 margin.
And the reasoning behind that is purely feeling. No reason other than a) I have a feeling, and b) Boston were the better team during the season.
That’s all I have, that’s all anyone has… anyone who tells you different is full of it.

Once more unto the breach…

28 05 2008

Suffice to say I am both quite relieved, and feeling pretty damn pleased at the moment.

An awesomely tight contest, and LA ended up in front at the end. Wait, did I read that somewhere before?

“Lakers win a tight contest.”

Oh yes… that’s right. Aaaaany way… Lakers head back to LA-La land, with a 3-1 lead in hand, and the opportunity to close out the reigning champions at the Staples Center. Still – the Spurs are still the SPURS, and the Lakers will have to bring their ‘A’ game for #5.

Predictably, Ginobli was awful. The Spurs really seem to live & die by their Manu lately. Duncan was – as usual – very good… and the surprise for San Antonio was Brent Barry, who was pretty damn awesome in his… err… best Manu impersonation. Still not the real thing, and Kobe with a double/double leads the way home.

Can’t really say too much now – bit too ecstatic. Maybe more later when the pulse rate slows down below 120…

Update: Ok, feeling much more normal now… still rather elated, but probably in a fair frame of mind to put down a little more.
Only time the Spurs have lost at home during these playoffs, and I’ll hazard a guess (even tho’ apparently I was wrong to even think the Lakers’d win this one!) that that’s all it will take. Lakers should win this in 5 now.

Kobe was fairly emphatic in a nailbiter – 10 rebounds. I cannot remember the last time Kobe had 10 rebounds… (ok, slight exaggeration there). And hops? Two absolutely phenomenal dunks. Here’s the best of them.

Was a hellishly good contest, as expected – tighter than a fish’s butt. Really enjoyed it, tho’ the end was nerve-wracking. Gotta say I dip my lid to Pop, Tim, Barry and crew – class act (even if your fans are pretty rabid).
But as Marc Stein intimated, Spurs had the best of the whistle all night, and didn’t really deserve to win.
So… bring on game 5. Should be brilliant – and with the Spurs THIS much with their backs to the wall, expect a damn good performance.

Anyway, should a certain someone be reading this, I like this shirt. It’s only 16.99, so that & shipping should be about right. Size is XL. Shoot me an email and I’ll give you a mailing address. Thanks.

State of Origin 1 – 2008: The Aftermath

28 05 2008

Oh dear me. Did we Queenslanders get our pants pulled down or what?

What a fantastic effort by the New South Wales Blues to shut down so many of Queensland’s potent armoury. This was achieved in the most part by the coaching of Craig Bellamy. Some will say it is brilliance but I will disagree. There is no doubt that Bellamy is a great coach and a superb tactician but the QLD selectors played right into his hands with the inclusion of six of his club players in the starting XIII. Craig Bellamy coaches these players on a daily basis and has intimate knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of each of them.

I wonder what the game would have been like 30 minutes in if PJ Marsh or Aaron Payne had been the starting hooker for QLD with Cameron Smith coming off the bench. What if Scott Prince had been the QLD 5/8 with Karmichael Hunt starting at fullback? I dare say things would have been a lot harder to contain around the middle given Bellamy has only had experience of these players from an opposition’s point of view.

If Darren Lockyer is not fit for the second game of the series, and the QLD selectors are looking at a replacement 5/8, the worst thing they could do, and it has been discussed, is to select Cooper Cronk. Doing so might see QLD further embarrassed.

NSW exceeded expectations. For a team with a supposedly inferior backline they made the Queenslanders look, at times, pedestrian. What many were failing to remember is that apart from Peter Wallace and Anthony Quinn, the other five either currently are, or not so long ago were, Australian representatives. They certainly were far from inferior on the night.

Much of this was achieved through a few things.

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