Thursday, December 25, 2008
Thanks for the kind words on Christmas, Sasha
It's funny how even the most emotion-filled of quotes can have more meaning than initially intended. All I've heard from Sasha Vujacic is how much he hates the Celtics and he refuses to wear green. On the other side of the spectrum, Kobe Bryant talks about how the Lakers need to improve and learn from last year.
Kobe has won 3 rings and has proven he is a mentally tough player. I personally don't like him but there's not much I can pick on basketball-wise. The problem for L.A. is he's the only player who scares me. The rest of the players are soft and Vujacic's recent comments only lend credence to the perception that last year's Finals scarred the Lakers.
If I'm Phil Jackson, I tell Vujacic to shut his mouth. If he has enough time on his hands to explain his contempt for the color green, surely he can watch tape of Ray Allen blowing past him twice to seal the Celtics' 24-point comeback win in Game 4 of the Finals. In telling us his real feelings on the events of last summer, he's letting the Celtics know they are indeed in he and his teammates' heads.
Alright, enough Sasha Vujacic talk. Let's talk about today's Celtics-Lakers game. Let me start with this. Since the "Big Three" as we currently know it came into existence, when was the last time this team has had a letdown in a game like this? Other than getting blown out of the Garden by the Jazz last year and losing on a pair of Chauncey Billups free-throws last year the Celtics have shown up for these contests.
All of the "upstart" teams such as the Rockets, Jazz, Trailblazers or Magic as well as the normal stalwarts like the Spurs, Suns, Pistons, Mavericks, Cavs and of course the Lakers have fallen to the Celtics in prime time games. Kevin Garnett and the Celtics' smothering defense simply refuses to suffer a defeat in an important game. You'll never hear it from the players but these really are statement games. Playing on the company line from the Patriots a few years ago, the word respect is on the minds of these players.
"If the Lakers had Andrew Bynum in the Finals, they would've won with ease"
I'm sorry, but no chance. He's back and that soft defense hasn't suddenly gotten tougher. After watching him against the Heat recently, he hasn't proven he can handle pick-and-rolls and still gets called for dumb fouls. Kendrick Perkins will reduce him to a spectator. Watch.
The Celtics will show the whole country how and why they are a better team than a year ago. There are still experts picking the Lakers to win the championship, which is fine. Hopefully they'll get a glimpse into what we see nightly the Mecca of the Hoops Universe known as the Garden when Rajon Rondo blows by Derek Fisher (no, Jordan Farmar wouldn't have made a difference) time after time or Kevin Garnett swats a Pau Gasol hook into the stands.
I'm looking forward to hearing what you have to say after the game, Sasha.