Does This Finals Series Matter?

Yes. If you’ve been sitting on the fence because you’re growing tired of seeing these teams square off, it’s time to get excited.  Let me give you my two best reasons why:

via NBA.com

The last smiles you'll see from these two

Reason number one: I think it’s a closer match than most people think

Over the past couple days, I’ve heard or read a lot of theories as to why the series will play one way or another. When talking with Celtics fans (or listening to/reading Celtics pundits), I’ve heard several iterations of the following:
a) The Lakers can’t body up with us inside
b) The Lakers have no answer for Rondo
c) We stopped LeBron, we can stop Kobe

When talking with Lakers fans (okay… I don’t actually talk to Lakers fans, but when I read Lakers pundits), I’ve heard:
a) They Celtics can’t body up with us inside
b) The Celtics have no answer for Kobe
c) We stopped Westbrook, Williams and Nash, we can stop Rondo

But even that is not the most compelling thing to me here.

I remember listening to Kenny Smith during halftime of one of the Lakers/Jazz series this postseason, and he said something that I think best explains why this year’s matchup is Lakers/Celtics, not to mention why good coaching really does matter in the NBA.

To paraphrase, the idea is that the difference between good teams – even great teams – and championship teams is that a championship team can consistently beat you using different styles of play. It’s not just that they can beat you in a very physical grind-it-out pace, but they can also run you out of the building if you don’t stop them. They can go inside, they can destroy you from the outside, they can shake things up and they know WHEN to shake things up.

The Lakers handled the Thunder, the Jazz and the Suns. Along the way, they’ve averaged 105.7 PPG while giving up 101.7. But that’s not to say that they can’t grind it out and hope for a big shot from Kobe at the end of the game (how many game winners has Kobe hit this year? 8? 9?)

The Celtics have been great at forcing high octane offensive teams (Heat, Cavs, Magic) to a slower pace. They’ve been averaging 98.4 PPG and given up only 89.6 PPG in the postseason. But that’s not to say they can’t run and gun (I saw them run the Jazz into the ground earlier in the year at TD Banknorth)

You know that each team will assert their style of play at different times during the series. In my opinion, the key to this whole series is how each coach makes adjustments and how the players execute on those adjustments.

Celtics in 7.

Reason number two: Free agency

via NBA.com

Lebron holding up the MVP award

These teams don’t seem to have any trouble holding onto their talent I actually don’t really think that either of these teams starts next season with a dramatically looking starting five. Though, if some team pulls Phil Jackson out of Los Angeles with a boatload of money – like say, Chicago, New York or New Jersey –  then, I’m sorry Lakers fans, this is the end of your turn on the roller coaster ride, see you next era.

But taking a step away from these two teams, I honestly think that the rest of the league may look incredibly different this October.

If things really get nutty in this coming offseason, there is a very good chance that this summer becomes the biggest summer for shifting talent since the merger.

I don’t know if it actually happens, I don’t know if its a good thing or a bad thing, but there’s a solid chance that 2-3 major NBA franchises other than the Lakers and Celtics tip off next season with the next great NBA dynasty.

(Not to mention the 2.2% chance that the Jazz pull off the greatest Yoink in the history of all things sport)

Pierce, Garnett, Allen, Bryant, Gasol have all recently made comments that suggest they’re playing to earn a spot in history, and it MAY well be that this is their last shot at it for a while, due to forces just out of their control.

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~ by djepperson on June 2, 2010.

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