Friday, May 30, 2008

5-30-08: A Quick 2008 Finals Preview

My long awaited blog starts today and it is my goal to provide a thorough, accurate and unbiased understanding of the game to neutralize the general prevalence of poor, sensationalistic sports journalism that seems to exist today. As I go on, I will dissect major sportswriters from major media outlets in terms of their level of intelligence and accuracy. Many of you have seen or heard of me from Youtube and I will utilize my foundation there as a springboard to this blog. Thanks to Youtube, my following is massive and filled with sports experts, NBA players and personnel (both ex and current) and media outlets.

However, fortunately, the 2008 Finals teams were just decided so there's basically no way to avoid putting my two cents in for this first post. Rather than go into some diatribe with specific statistics, I'm just going to go on quick gut instincts here at the moment.

LA is playing scary well. However, they did have the benefit of the path of least resistance. I believe the Hornets had the best chance of knocking them off since they had the weaponry to match LA's youthful athleticism and energy. The Hornets basically used this to wear the Spurs out to seven games. The unfortunate quick turnaround and plane problems left the aging Spurs running on fumes as LA needed only one half to get their timing back at home court. The Spurs should have won game 1 and perhaps could have stolen game 4 with the non-call. However, they also deserved to lose since they were having a rough time getting shots while LA had great ball movement and were getting great shots for everyone. The Spurs just did not have the energy to keep up with LA after the Hornets. And of course, KB lifted his level of play in crucial moments to keep his team in a higher gear.

The Celtics on the other hand needed their game 7s to kick them out of their superiority mode. Perhaps the depth of the playoffs did not get to the Big Three due to their collective lack of experience. If they needed a boost to get their intensity up, they sure got it. Now, they understand what it takes and it appears they're better than ever. They have been battle-tested and the Big Three are hungry veterans. They beat a youthful and energetic team, a team with the current most dominant player (Lebron), and a veteran, defensive machine in the Pistons. They are ripe for the finals.

As for the games themselves, LA will be forced to play a slower, defensive game. They will also have to overcome one of the most passionate home crowds in all of sport. The Celtics provide more muscle as well as wing players KB can't relax on. Meanwhile, the Celtics' defense will be spread as thin as it has all year with LA's amazing sharpshooters, Gasol and Odom's inside moves and KB's balance of shooting and passing. During the regular season, the Celtics dominated and although LA didn't have Gasol, KB's game was affected by the presence of Pierce and Allen and shot a very unremarkable 9-21 and 6-25. However, KB is playing the most intelligent and mature basketball of his career and his fearless nature is the X factor. Will he be able to sustain his shooting efficiency at the highest stage? Will KB's desire to replicate MJ's heroics disrupt the team? Will LA be able to move the ball as well against the best defensive team this year? And for the Celtics, will they fatigue? Will Ray Allen continue to shake off his playoff jitters and play well as he finally has the last few games against Detroit? Will Rondo make good decisions? Will KG's leadership prevail? Will Perkins' muscle give the inside edge? Will Pierce be on? One can dissect statistics all day to put these subplots together for an answer. But the grand theme of this series is about veteran hunger versus youthful energy. And, according to history, veteran hunger usually wins.

-Hoopsencyclopedia 5/30/08