The defending NBA champions were dethroned last night by the Los Angeles Lakers, who were tabbed by this corner on Dec 25/07 as the “Sleeper Pick” to win the title this season.
In turn, earlier this morning, the following is what yours truly wrote on another blog, 20 second time-out … which, btw, is highly recommended reading for those in search of insight into how the NBA game actually works …
On December 25, 2007 I identified this year’s Lakers team as my “Sleeper Pick” to WIN THE NBA CHAMPIONSHIP THIS SEASON, when LA was still in arears of Phoenix in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference and BEFORE they acquired Pau Gasol … THAT’S HOW GOOD I knew these Lakers were this season.
The only team in the West that could have beaten them this year was the Spurs, if San Antonio was completely healthy, which was clearly not the case given the injury to Manu Ginobili (their most dynamic scorer).
Whichever one of Boston or Detroit comes out of the Eastern Conference is going to have its hands full with this Lakers team in the NBA Finals as, right now, this squad is very, very good.
However, of even more interest to me (and, possibly, other astute NBA historians), at the moment, is where their team is going to go NEXT SEASON … when they fully re-integrate ANDREW BYNUM + TREVOR ARIZA into their line-up.
From my perspective, others would do well to carve in stone the forecast I made earlier this spring ['08] that says,
“The 2008-2009 LA LAKERS WILL WIN 70+ games enroute to capturing another of what will eventually be several more NBA championships … if their team remains relatively injury-free.”
What Phil Jackson & Co. have constructed in LA, right now, is a team that will one day go down in NBA history beside the Chicago Bulls (of Michael Jordan) and the old Boston Celtics (of Bill Russell) as arguably the greatest of all-time.
One of the differences between me and other NBA observers is that frequently I can tell you in advance what is going to happen, with a high degree of accuracy, before it does NOT just after-the-fact.
Enjoy the moment for what it is …
“Life is fast and things happen quickly.” – Derek Fisher
May 19, 2008 … Charles Barkley actually had it right, but was just afraid to step that far out on a limb, in advance, vs Chris Webber & Co.
Fortunately, this corner has no such trepidation.
As was said earlier this week, in this space … it will take a special team to eliminate this group of San Antonio Spurs from the title hunt.
In the aftermath of last night’s Game 5 victory by the Celtics, at home, and well in advance of tomorrow evening’s Game 6 (@ Detroit) … EXPECT to see the Pistons respond like a champion, by … Buckling-up, Concentrating … and giving Maximum Effort … to give credence to that forecast made here 9 days ago.
Regardless what ‘the final number’ is, how bad Rip’s elbow injury is, how many TO’s they eventually make, how poorly they shoot it from the field or from the 3, or how drastically they get pummelled on the glass …
these DETROIT PISTONS are going to win Game 6.
PS. These 2 teams are that close in ability, and the winner of this series (overall) is going to be decided in the final few possessions of Game 7. Make a shot; Miss a shot … Make a stop; or, not … Make a FT; Miss a FT … Get a Rebound; or, not. These are both high calibre, championship quality NBA teams, and it will be a shame to see either one lose.
Four months ago, on December 25, 2007, this corner correctly identified for you the best 2 teams in the Western Conference this year, before either had yet amassed the top W-L record in their half of the NBA.
For those of you who might not have seen last night’s Game 3 in the Stanley Cup Finals, Sid the Kid’s response to the most recent challenge placed in front of him exemplified how a champion responds to adversity …
Buckle-up … Concentrate … and give Maximum Effort, at all times.
Do these things and … come h* or high water … you will live to fight another day, Win or Lose.
Given this corner’s affinity for Phil Jackson and the Triangle Offense, it’s important that other NBA observers fully recognize the inherent beauty and effectiveness of this specific Offensive Basketball System and the role it plays in creating invaluable scoring opportunities for its practicioners …
(from a half-time interview during Game 4)
When the Lakers generate 5 more Offensive Rebounds in a game than the Spurs, LA exponentially increases its chances of winning … especially when one of those D-Boards-Lost (LA/Team Rebound) occurs at the 5.0 sec mark of the 4thQ … Full Play-By-Play … in a 1 possession game.
One of the things which many astute NBA observers fail to realize is just how many games are actually decided by the specific outcomes of a small set of Fulcrum Possessions, regardless what other advantages and/or disadvantages might be unearthed from a detailed examination of the various ‘Game Stats’ from that contest.
The final score of last night’s Detroit victory (at home) versus Boston was 94-75 … a 19 point differential.
However, save for the following 8 possessions [#1-8, below] in this game … 4 of which the Pistons played on Defense and 4 of which they played on Offense … last night’s eventual outcome would have been markedly different.
Pierce Layup Shot: Made (16 PTS)
Hunter Substitution replaced by Billups
Maxiell Substitution replaced by Wallace
Stuckey Substitution replaced by Prince
Hamilton Foul:Offensive (5 PF)
Hamilton Turnover:Foul (2 TO)
[#1] Pierce Jump Shot: Missed
Prince Rebound (Off:0 Def:2)
Prince Hook Shot: Missed Block: Garnett (2 BLK)
Pierce Rebound (Off:2 Def:6)
[#2] Rondo Layup Shot: Missed
Wallace Rebound (Off:1 Def:3)
Perkins Foul:Shooting (6 PF)
Perkins Substitution replaced by Brown
[#3] Wallace Free Throw 1 of 2 (13 PTS)
Wallace Free Throw 2 of 2 (14 PTS)
[#4] Allen Turnover:Bad Pass (2 TO)
[#5] Billups 3pt Shot: Made (10 PTS)
Assist: Prince (3 AST)
Brown Substitution replaced by Posey
Garnett Hook Shot: Made (16 PTS)
Assist: Posey (1 AST)
Allen Foul:Personal (2 PF)
[#6] Hamilton Free Throw 1 of 2 (15 PTS)
Hamilton Free Throw 2 of 2 (16 PTS)
McDyess Foul:Shooting (4 PF)
[#7] Allen Free Throw 1 of 2 missed
Allen Free Throw 2 of 2 missed
Wallace Rebound (Off:1 Def:4)
[#8] Hamilton Driving Layup Shot: Made (18 PTS)
Assist: Billups (6 AST)
In a 3:04 span of the 4th Quarter (4:51-1:47), Detroit converted on 4 of their 6 possessions (66.7%), to the tune of 9 points, while allowing Boston to convert on only 1 of their 5 possessions (20.0%), for a total of 2 points (including 2 crucial missed FTA’s by Ray Allen, the leading percentage free throw shooter in the 2008 Playoffs).
Given the time & score, at that point of the game …
by the Celtics … in concert with the Pistons offensive execution, which included …
* 1 pair of FTA’s: Made + Made (Rasheed Wallace)
* 1 3Pt Shot: Made (Chauncey Billups)
* 1 pair of FTA’s: Made + Made (Rip Hamilton)
* 1 Driving Layup Shot: Made (Rip Hamilton)
proved to be THE difference between the Pistons’ season coming to an abrupt end on Wednesday night in Boston (Game 5) or ensuring that at least one more home game is played in Detroit during this post-season (Friday night’s Game 6).
the 2008 version of the Playoffs will culminate in the exact same way as the 1983 edition did, with a dominant 4-game sweep by the favoured team.
Game 3, tomorrow night, is the most important of the Penguins’ season.
If they’ve learned their lessons quickly and can (i) stay out of the Penalty Box, (ii) exert a consistent fore-check against the Red Wings … specifically when Lidstrom is off the ice … (iii) score a Power Play goal, and (iv) get a stand-on-his-head performance from Marc-Andre Fleury (G), the Penguins can win a tight defensive game, on their home ice.
If not, cue the parade in Hockeytown, USA … as the Red Wings organization, from top-to-bottom, remains the best operation in the game today.
What’s the reason(s) San Antonio was able to rebound last night and win Game 3 against the Lakers, at home, trailing 0-2?
According to last night’s TNT broadcast this is the quotation which hangs on the wall in the San Antonio locker room, inscribed in each language spoken by a member of their team:
“When nothing seems to help, I go look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much a a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.” – Jacob Riis (American newspaper reporter and photographer, 1849-1914)
This is all you need to know about Air Force One.
If you’ve followed what this corner has had to say about this Spurs team, this season … in this space and elsewhere (i.e. different Live Blogging Events and other sites run by other bloggers) … you already know it was suggested earlier in this series that two of the things which HAD TO HAPPEN, if the Spurs were going to be able to get themselves back in it were: (i) Gregg Popovich was going to have to solve a certain riddle, pertaining to one Lamar Odom (6-10, 230) and the “normal rotation” of the Spurs and that, if Coach Pop finally does “figure it out”, (ii) the proper players for him to use more this series are (A) Robert Horry and (B) Brent Barry, in place of Ime Udoka.
Well … as the old saying goes,
“The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” – Anonymous