Why do I make predictions? I think it’s because I just like pain. Another reason is, possibly, because I occasionally get it right. But primarily I think it’s just a fun thing to do. Obviously I analyze the hell out of every game I watch, and inspite of missing the last two (due to an unscheduled weekend vacation), I can’t help but think of the Celtics and the Lakers just because I’m weird that way.
And so I predict: Lakers in Six Games. Alternatively, Lakers in Seven. Here’s why:
Better Coaching: Phil Jackson is the Yogi of Coaching, the Coachest with the Mostest, the Man with the Plan, the.. you get the point. And his winning key? The triangle. The amazing great equalizer of basketball techniques that can turn guys like Luc Longley into a three – ring NBA Champion. There’s nothing more underestimated in sports than coaching, with fans usually only looking at individual incidents or plays players do on the court. But the real heart and soul, the motivator, the instigator, the long term planner and molder of the team is the coach, always has been and always will be, and in this case my money’s on the Zen Master.
The ‘Over-Achieving’ Lakers: I never thought the Lakers would’ve gone this far, Pau Gasol or no Pau Gasol. With guys we’ve never heard of like ‘The Machine’ Vujajic and Farmar, it’s quite justified to say ‘whodathunkit?’. But they play with an evenness and control that is the mark of a team knowing what they’re doing, and with Kobe putting in points when needed, he’s doing what is expected from an MVP, after his teammates have softened up the enemy. In Game 2 he actually didn’t score the whole of the first half, mainly because he didn’t have to. Later on though, he brought on the big guns, manhandling a defense now accustomed to dealing with lesser beings. That kind of balanced, well thought of ‘surprise’ attack is the mark of a well – coached team that knows how to stick to their gameplan.
The Under-Achieving Celtics: The reason why Boston didn’t run over everyone the way we thought they would is because in the Playoffs, they didn’t step up. Maybe it’s because they were accustomed to teams just rolling over and dying on them in the regular season. Maybe it’s because they burned themselves out playing at such a high level. Or maybe they were just succumbing to the new found pressure of the Playoffs. Whatever it is, they tried to sneak through via their usual game, and the result? Two game sevens resulting in an uneven 8 losses versus 11 wins to get to the Finals. A route that is not only one of the longest, but possibly the most wearying and tiring as well.
There is still something missing in this team. Maybe a new offensive set, or a different rotation. Maybe they could’ve afforded to lose a few in the regular season just to see how their team reacts to that. Maybe they can do what the Spurs did, and watch videos of their offense to pump them up. Whenever I watch them, I have to ask: Where are the spectacular alley – oops to Garnett or Pierce? Where are the booming threes from Allen or Pierce, or even House or Posey? Instead they get wins from the role players Brown and Perkins stepping up, with the superstars putting in the usual big numbers, but just. Where is The FLOW? The end to end hustle? The majestic plays and the brilliant passes and the highlight moves? Until Boston can provide these on a regular basis, I’m not convinced.
Better Coaching: I just can’t emphasize this enough. Any guy who writes a basketball book and called ‘Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior‘ makes me believe. That and, oh, 9 NBA Championships.
Better Point Guard: Rondo looks lost, especially in the fourth. He’s learning, but he’s still got some ways to go, and his older brothers Pierce and Allen have many times ended up glaring / screaming at him. I like his name, which I think means something like a refrain from a song or poem. In this sense then, I think Fish is gonna Rondo Rondo.
Game will start in Boston on Thursday (Boston Time), so we’ll probably watch it on Friday (Manila Time). Hope CS covers it.