Dream a Little Dream
It’s funny how things can change in the NBA Playoffs in the span of a month.
Heading into the playoffs the Boston Celtics and their “Big Three” were preordained to have an easy road to the NBA Finals and maybe getting a challenge in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Detroit Pistons. I even said as much on this blog, though I did think the Pistons would end up defeating the Celtics.
But something funny happened on the way to the Finals, namely Celtics head coach Doc Rivers doing his best Grady Little impersonation and the “Big Three” of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen becoming the Three Stooges. The Celtics team the world witnessed in the regular season that won 66 games was not the one seen in the playoffs.
How else to explain their series against the Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers both going the full seven games with no road victories? The Celtics were the best road team during the season losing only ten games, and the 37-45 Hawks and the 45-37 Cavs were clearly far inferior teams.
There was no telling how the Three Stooges would perform. Would Kevin Garnett come up looking like a rookie just settling for contested jump shots? Would Ray Allen hit a field goal at all? And what the hell is Paul Pierce doing? Doc Rivers was just throwing shit to the wall and seeing what would stick. He was bailed out by his bench several times, but even that was about as consistent as grits.
The Lakers on the other hand were dealt a far more difficult task. In the Western Conference, every playoff team had won at least 50 games and it looked to be a bloodbath. Every team was very good yet had flaws that just seemed insurmountable in comparison to the Celtics.
But the Lakers swept the Denver Nuggets in the first round, the only team in the playoff to sweep a series. The Utah Jazz presented a more formidable challenge in the second round given their absolute dominating home-court advantage, but the Lakers broke through on the road in game six to take that series. Then they made quick work of the reigning champions San Antonio Spurs in five.
And round by round the Lakers ended up looking like what the Celtics should have been: dominating. Winning on the road against crowds that absolutely hate the Lakers? No problem! A steady dose of Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol and the bench. And if that fails there's always Kobe Bryant, this decade's Michael Jordan (yes I said it).
It's all about legacy now for the Lakers. Phil Jackson is looking to overtake legendary Celtic's head coach Red Auerbach for his tenth ring. Kobe Bryant wants to be like Mike. The space in the rafters of the Staples Center that was supposed to hang the banner in 2004 is looking to be filled. And from what it looks like now, in two weeks Los Angeles will have a parade down Chick Hearn Court.
AP Photo by Kevork Djansezian