Time to fly

12 06 2008

What an ugly game.

And Boston fans/blogs are right in asserting that their team played poorly.
Very poorly.
Kevin Garnett & Paul Pierce are not going to hit a combined 8-35 for 19 points that often.
And yet they only just lost, even given their woes.

But conversely, Ray Allen isn’t always going to go 5-7 from 3 point land.
And it’s not like the LA roster lit the board up, outside of Kobe & Slasha Vuchine… and even Kobe had his problems at the charity stripe (hitting a very un-Kobe-like 11-18).
Also interesting to see the balance shift on free throws – moving back to the Lakers with a 34-22 advantage. That’s a massive shift from game 2’s 39-10, a +41 differential.
Anyway, my opinions on that are well-documented in another piece here.

So… back to the game. There’s no doubt in my mind that for the Lakers to win this series, Lamar Odom & Pau Gasol have to turn up. Have to man up. Thus far, they’ve been abysmal. This, from two guys who have been very good, or at least decent, against far more physical opponents than Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins.
That’s not to take anything away from KG, but as far as comparing his physicality to Tim Duncan or – especially – Carlos Boozer, sorry… nuh-uh.
The Odom/Gasol tandem have found ways to get it done against Marcus Camby and Kenyon Martin, Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur, and Tim Duncan. Yes, Kevin Garnett is one of the best big men in the game, but given what they’ve faced and overcome… Odom and Gasol should be absolutely abusing Perkins.
And they’re not.
Time to remember what got you there. Your reputations are on the lines. Odom – the big take on him has been that in big games, he fades out. And at the moment, it’s true. Gasol – the ‘yeah, but’ on Pau has been that he’s soft. He can’t take it to someone who’s physical. And barring a few glimpses… it’s been true thus far. Remember what you’ve done to every big you’ve played on thus far, and do it again.

Whilst Derek Fisher has been pretty good in the series leading up to the Finals… scratch that: Derek Fisher’s been very good in the series leading up to the Finals, thus far he’s pretty much been a non-factor against the Celtics.
And you know what? Jordan Farmar should be getting more minutes.
If the Lakers are going to continue to play Bryant off Rondo in defense, and let Kobe run off Rajon as a help-defender (which helped turn Rondo into a non-entity in game 3), then Fish’s defense on Rondo doesn’t matter.
‘Ear’ Jordan has – just quietly – been surprisingly effective when on the floor against the Celtics, aggressive and taking it to his opponent. Give him a few more minutes and let’s see what unfolds.

Ronny… my favourite NBA wild-man: get crazy.  Lay a smackeroo on some Boston guy just because you can.  Get loopy – I swear, the Lakers play better when you are.

Kobe has been obviously hampered by his inability to get a call, playing very ‘un-Kobe-like’ in games 1 & 2. Game 3 saw him break out a variety of moves to get to the basket, and he did, and got the calls too. Not quite to the levels of 2006 Teflon Wade, but got an appropriate amount of whistle. Game 3, he was prepared to put the team on his back and go. Surprisingly, Sasha was there to help shoulder the load. But don’t expect Boston to let Kobe go 1-on-1 with Ray Allen too much in game 4. Just not a good idea.

Boston can hold onto their belief that they only just lost game 3. Truth is (and not Paul Pierce), they only just won games 1 & 2… and game 2 with major assistance. I’d almost like for a game to go the other way on a FTA allocation like they saw, just to hear/see what happens.
But the bottom line is that at the moment neither team is playing well.
First team that does, will probably win this.

For LA to do it again in game 4, they’ll need to change it up a little yet again. You can bet the house that Phil’s got something interesting up his sleeve.
Kobe-on-Rondo is a good move. Run Kobe off him… Let Rondo shoot. He’s never going to beat you with his shooting.
Farmar will probably get more minutes, and I’m expecting (hoping?) Odom will be downright vicious. Surely… surely he wakes up now. Gasol… if anyone’s due, he is. Currently he’s doing a damn good impersonation of Ray Allen doing his best Claude Rains.

Lakers can take this game, it could even be the blow-out we’ve been waiting for… and then it really, truly is ‘Game on’.




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