Monday, June 16, 2008

NBA Action: It's Soporific

I finally got to watch the Lakers-Celtics Game 4, and between that and his Game 5 performance, I see why Kobe Bryant has always pretended he hated the Michael Jordan comparison. Kobe has utterly disappeared in this series. I haven't the foggiest idea who scored enough points for the Lakers to beat the Celtics in Game 5 because I don't remember any of them playing well.

The Celtics had a meltdown in Game 5; they just gave the game away. Perhaps they were tired (after about a week and a half since the last game), or perhaps they were looking ahead to the trophy ceremony, or perhaps they just wanted to go home. Regardless, they stunk. But the thing is, the Lakers didn't have anyone really go out and win the game either. The series is a pretty big snoozer to be honest.

Lamar Odom, Luke Walton, Vlad Radmonovich, Ronnie Turiaf, and Derek Fisher still play for the Lakers; I promise. I know you haven't seen or heard anything from them in a long time, but they're still there. Sasha Vujacic has made three shots in two games, which isn't that big of a deal for a guy coming off the bench. I mean you can't expect him to get too many shots...what's that you say? Those three made shots came on 19 attempts?

Ah, the old Sasha is back. The one who plays basketball like a soccer player (suffering life-threatening, debilitation injuries anytime someone comes within a few feet of him). Seriously, I know 3-year-olds that freak out less when they get bumped into. They also throw fewer temper tantrums and cry in public less. Maybe his poor shooting in Game 5 is a result of his slapping that chair in his weeping anger after Ray Allen undressed him to close out Game 4? Or maybe his poor shooting is a result of his crappiness. Either way, it was funny to watch him cry on Thursday.

Rounding out the crappy play of this series, you have Jordan Farmar who is just simply a terrible basketball player. The amazing depth of the bench has apparently hit low tide, because it ain't deep anymore. Pau Gasol is boring and steady and good and scores 15-18 every game, while making almost no defensive contribution for huge sections of the games. And finally, Kobe has vanished on the big stage.

As for the Celtics, it is more of the same. Pierce is hit and miss, but gets all the credit for the Game 4 comeback (why, I am not sure: he had 20 points, 4 rebounds and 7 assists. Kevin Garnett kinda plays like Tom Chambers. Ray Allen has been steady and smooth and great, but he just doesn't pound his chest, so you don't notice him. Kendrick Perkins was playing ok before getting hurt. Rajon Rondo's injury was the best thing that happened to him - he doesn't have to keep going out there and embarrassing himself by missing undefended jumpers and throwing passes out of bounds.

Eddie House, Sam Cassell, P.J. Brown and Leon Powe are all over the map. There was a stretch last night where Cassell looked like he was going to score 30 points, but most of the time these four are just on the court because you aren't allowed to play with four. James Posey has been pretty solid, but not great enough to become the story.

The stars haven't shined and the benches have just filled time for the most part. It isn't bad basketball, per se. It just isn't great basketball. Maybe I expected too much because of the whole Rivalry story that the league pushed despite that these two teams couldn't have cared less about one another for the last 15 years. Maybe I expected too much because of the Big Three's Battle. Maybe because it is the Championships, I expected greatness just to happen (like the Super Bowl this year). And it certainly isn't over. If the Lakers come back to win, it will go down as one of the great Finals of all time (despite being pretty crappy for most of the series).

I just hope that whatever happens in Game 6, that both teams play well at the same time at any point so we can actually see what it would have been like had the Spurs and Pistons made the Finals.

Lastly, has anyone else noticed that Kobe now stations his wife and kids in the tunnel on the way to the clubhouse after all of the games, so he can be "caught" being a loving father and husband? How much time do you think he spends in front of a mirror every day?

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