Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Why history might just repeat itself (in more ways than one)

I'll start off by saying that I think the Celtics have the stones to win this series and will do it. The game 2 win was indicative of why the Celtics are deadly: depth. Almost every player in their rotation is capable of stepping up and winning a game (barring defensive specialists Tony Allen and Kendrick Perkins). In game 2, Allen and Rondo stepped up to carry them through while Pierce and Garnett floundered. These days, it is rare for the Big Three + Rondo to be firing all at once. Now, I started off with this statement because the winner of the Finals isn't the focus of this post, but is a necessary cog.

While the Celtics winning would be a repeat of both recent history and what seems like ancient history, the focus here is the Finals MVP award. The same strength which makes the Celtics tough to beat over the course of a series, that unselfish play that leads to Ws is much more pronounced in 2010 than in 2008. Rondo has entered into the conversation with best PGs in the game and runs the offense so that whoever is hot gets the ball more often than not, barring predictability. There are so many guys with the hot hand in Beantown it is rare for any of them except Rondo to have the ball in their hands enough over the course of a series to take home Finals MVP.

But let us take a look who might have a chance to take it home in Boston in order of reverse probability (within reason):
  1. Kevin Garnett: KG could still get hot after a subpar first two games, if he gets aggressive with Gasol on the offensive end and shoves that darn lanky European around enough he could be instrumental in winning the games. His defense would need a big boost too, because the only helpside blocks I've seen recently have been goal-tends. Of the potential Beantown winners, the Big Ticket comes in last in terms of likelihood.
  2. Paul Pierce: This might ruffle some feathers, but PP has demonstrated some worrying trends of late; a simple refusal to take risks against big-bodied defenders. He was great against Orlando and Miami, but mediocre against Cleveland and so far this series. The reason? Powerful SF defenders. James and Artest are two defenders you would not want to be battling over 7 games. The Lakers are a different from 08, and if that open baseline jumpshot Pierce missed is any indication, 34 is just out of his rhythm. They do say matchups are all important right?
  3. Ray Allen: Game 1 had me upset, because I had him tipped as a difference maker in the series; Kobe would be either run ragged chasing him, or Fisher would pose a severe mismatch which Ray 'Jesus' Allen could exploit. Then the refs went crazy and Ray Ray never really found his rhythm. But lo and behold, Jesus rose again three days later to perform a miracle. 7 straight made 3-pointers? No worries for arguably the best jump shooter in the history of the L. As the series progresses, if Ray stays out of foul trouble and the Lakers respect Boston's other big guns, Jesus could be crowned king of the Finals.
  4. Rajon Rondo: I have always believed in this guy, he is my second favourite player all-time behind Jordan, and easily my favourite playing right now. I've had his jersey since late 08, and I could sense he was going to explode sooner or later. While he got the Celtics through the regular season with aplomb, he has shown himself capable of stepping up in the post-season, and has done this two years straight now. If anyone on the Cs was to win it, it would have to be Rondo, providing Boston comes away with the series. He is clearly their most valuable player in this series, and while he gets caught up in his own wake on occasion he is always a contributor. Top that off with a matchup to die for in Derek Fisher and he would be a lock against almost any other team.
But Rondo isn't playing any other team. He is playing the Lakers, who have a guy on their roster who might just be the first MVP of a losing team other than - ironically - a star shooting guard for the Lakers in Jerry West. It was the first Finals MVP given, which should give you an idea of how rare such a feat is. But as a devoted Celtics fan, and even with all the faith I have in our vaunted lineup of superstars, seeing number 24 get hot makes me panic just a little. We know that Gasol and Bynum will dominate inside, but Boston will adjust and has the personnel to reduce their impact at least, it is a realistic and attainable goal. However, the only people to keep Bryant under 30 points in the last few rounds have been the officials. Alvin Gentry thought he was relaxing his team when he said at half time "What Kobe just did there, nobody in America can stop that", and maybe he was. But he made me just a little bit terrified. Boston's D stopped LeBron with relative ease, and contained Dwight Howard and Dwyane Wade on the road to the Finals to boot. Kobe blows the others away in the sheer deadliness of his offensive repertoire. He isn't just athletic and skilled, he is crafty. Two of the best players at drawing fouls in the League are playing each other in these Finals, and I've already seen Paul Pierce fall for the same move he has used countless times in his career. If ever there was a series in the modern game where a losing player could be considered the most valuable, it is this one. Most teams aren't even close to the Lakers in overall strength, and were it not for the fact that the Celtics have such a wealth of veteran talent that came together just as Kobe assembled the right supporting cast, Kobe could very easily have been looking at another 3-peat. I have enormous respect for Kobe, and I'm only just starting to realise how close he is to MJ.

So while I love Rondo to pieces and certainly wouldn't be surprised if the Celtics won and Rondo was awarded MVP given the history of the award, I wouldn't be upset if Kobe achieved another of Jerry West's accomplishments. I mean come on, the dude was so cold to Chris Rock courtside he had to get treated for frostbite. He's earned it.

No comments:

Post a Comment