Sunday, January 30, 2011

Girls talk sports: looking ahead to Celtics-Lakers.

I found this video over at Celtics Life, and it successfully gave me goose bumps, so I decided to share it here as well.

Today is the first rematch between the Celtics and Lakers since Game 7 of the NBA Finals last year. That being said, this is a big game. But oh how things have changed. Since there are story lines galore surrounding this game, I've chosen to focus primarily on the big guys.

Our bigs: Perkins, Shaq, Davis, KG (with some Erden mixed in) VS theirs: Odom, Gasol, Bynum.

What will the reception be of Shaq in LA wearing a Celtics uniform? I'm sure he'll be boo'ed. I'm also sure he doesn't care. Conversely, I think he loves it. Shaq loves drama. What could create more drama than this? He left LA in a storm of controversy 7 years ago and returns today wearing the uniform of their arch enemy. I'm not sure how he's feeling health-wise, but I'm not going to use the Phoenix game as a barometer, because nobody looked good in that game. I think he'll rise to the occasion today and be fired up, zoned in and ready to go. Beyond Shaq still having the fire burning in him to win, today he has the extra motivation to beat Kobe... And I don't think that factor can be discounted.

The return of Perk: It's been said hundreds of times before: Perk didn't play in Game 7, after injuring his knee in Game 6, and many think that the Celtics would have come out victorious in Game 7 had he played. Well, he'll be on the floor today. This will be his 4th game back, and he's looked great so far. Bynum is far more talented and physically imposing than anyone else Perk has seen thus far, so it will be interesting to see how that match up goes. Perk is among the many who believe that the Celtics would have been the champions had he played, and I expect that he's anxious to get out there and prove it on the court today.

KG is better: Last year everyone rooting for the Celtics was happy that KG was healthy enough to be on the floor. We have so much more than that to hold on to this year- not only is he back, but he's really back. He has been phenomenal so far this year. This will not be the same KG who Gasol matched up with last year. Defensively, KG is far more physically equipped to stay with Gasol away from the basket, and to battle with him in the paint. On the offensive end, this year has brought the return of his post-game. Last year the majority of his game was played away from the basket, and he settled for jump shots. It's not that he's turned in to Dwight Howard, banging around down there, but he does attack the paint and is shooting at a high percentage near the rim. Gasol has become a tougher, more physical player since 2008, but I remain that KG can out-tough and mentally shake him. In the same vein, Jerry West recently criticized the Lakers, and accused them of being old and playing lazy basketball. The Celtics as a team are absolutely able to out-tough this Lakers team. To provide an example of how this cold happen, Jerry West said that the Lakers have a tendency to stand around and watch their opponent collect loose balls, as opposed to fighting for them. Outside of that nightmare-ish Phoenix game, the Celtics are generally good for diving on the floor and holding on for dear life.

More after the jump

Bynum is healthier: I've decided to admit something. Last year during the finals, when Bynum could barely walk but still managed to play and had a huge impact in helping his team to win, he gained my respect. Don't get it twisted, though. I don't like him. It was just a really impressive showing of dedication and toughness. So anyway. Now that that's over... Bynum is healthy again, and is a critical part to the Lakers success. With him on the floor, they are 12-4. He can be a nightmare on the boards, so the Celtics really have to try and contain him and keep a body on him at all times. The same goes for Gasol. They're a powerful tandem and they have a lot of success cleaning up the offensive boards.

Miscellaneous things of note

Paul Pierce: How healthy is he? The Celtics will need a big game out of him, but is he physically able to provide right now? He looked mighty beat up in Phoenix, and has been playing through ankle and thigh injuries. 

Rondo: Kobe said he's the key to the Celtics success, and I agree. The Celtics need a big game out of him today. That means he needs to protect the ball, keep the offense fluid and active, and pressure the Lakers defensively. The Celtics are always better when he's on the floor, but he hasn't had a BIG, classic Rondo game in a little while now. Today would be a great day to end that trend. 

The Boston Bench Mob: The bench has to come to play today. They'll get a huge boost with Perk coming off the pine, but they'll need Nate, Marquis and Glen Davis to show up as well. The Phoenix bench absolutely out performed the Boston bench, and we all saw how that ended up. 

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