Thursday, June 05, 2008

Maybe Larry Bird IS Walking Through That Door...

What it is, pimps? It's time for the NBA Finals. And in case you didn't notice the Tommy Lee sized bulge in ESPN's pants, it's gonna be the Celtics and Lakers in a "classic" showdown for the league's top hardware. The NBA's two most storied franchises, who together have won half (30) of the titles this league has ever handed out, are gonna do battle over the next two weeks, and it should be mighty entertaining. Hey, it might not be a Hick vs some black dude with the everlasting HIV, but it's still gonna be a show worth watching. Here's how I see it breaking down...

What makes a quality columnist, or just a wordsmith for that matter, is being able to play both sides of the fence while seemingly taking a hard-line stance one way or another. For instance. While I picked Detroit to topple Boston in the Eastern Finals, it was right here a few months ago that I predicted, and outright begged for, an LA/Boston NBA Finals match up. I said then that the Celtics would have the edge, and though I'm notorious for second guessing myself on the eve of such events, this time I'm sticking to my guns. After all, the NBA is all about match ups, and despite what the brain trust in Bristol might think, I believe the Celts have several key advantages that will lead them to historic banner #17. Here they are...

1) Defense

-It's not secret that Boston was the best defensive team in the NBA during the regular season, and thanks to a very physical series with the Pistons, I think that defense is peaking at the perfect time. I understand that Kobe Bryant is the best player in the league and unlike anyone the Celts have faced thus far, but simply by forcing the Lakers to play a slower, more phsyical brand of ball than they've been used to, should in my mind be enough to throw them off, and expose some of their talented players as mostly one dimensional offensive players. You say Boston doesn't have anyone to match up with The Rapist, and I say the Lakers don't have anyone to match up with...well basically anyone in the Celtics offense. Phil Jackson and Tex Winter's Triangle offense is great, don't get me wrong, I just think that where they held offensive advantages in that set during their run through the West, will disappear when faced against the lockdown D of the NBA's best defensive team...

2) Lack of Laker Home Court

-I'm not talking about the C's having the literal home court advantage, I'm talking about how Pierce, Allen and Garnett shouldn't be fazed at all by playing in the Staples Center. Allen and KG being Western Conference guys, and Pierce having grown up a few hundred yards from the arena might not guarantee the Celts any wins in the city of angels, but you can't say the experience hurts them either. Oh, and did I mention that ugly alien bastard, Sam Cassell, played several seasons for the Clippers? Who oddly enough play all their home games at the Staples Center? I'm not saying he's all of a sudden going to be a factor. But a guy that familiar with both the Finals, and that building, can't really hurt either. On the flip side, Kobe and crew have virtually zero experience playing in Beantown. They might have more Finals experience (although it's just Fisher + Kobe vs Posey + Cassell), but I think the overall experience Boston has when it comes to LA will be enough to help them grab at least 1 game when they travel out West...

3) Light at the end of the tunnel

-After the game 6 win against the Pistons in Detroit, Kevin Garnett could be seen with his head down at his locker chanting the words "4 more games, 4 more games" almost as if he was trying to contact spirits in the afterlife. This guy is freakin' possessed. I know, so I'm sayin' he wasn't as possessed or determined in the Eastern Finals? Not by a long shot. What I'm sayin' is, these guys are so close they can taste it. The "Big 3" have fought their entire careers just to get to this point, and to think they are just gonna let this one slip through their fingers is just a leap of faith I'm not willing to take...

4) 2-3-2 Format

-Ahh the good ole 2-3-2 playoff format. It used to be the gold standard before this 2-2-1-1 garbage took over, and I think it serves as a distinct advantage to the C's as long as they take care of biz in games 1 and 2. OK, that might be a big jump to assume wins in the first 2, but should it happen it really puts LA's collective backs against the wall. This isn't the same Boston team that couldn't buy a road win against Atlanta or Cleveland, and if they take a 2-0 series lead to LA, I would safely say that it would take an act of God (not a certain #8 that thinks he's God) for the Lakers to come away with the title...

-Now naturally I don't think the Celts hold all the advantages in the series, that would make me a blinded fan. Here are the areas I feel the Lakers hold the edge...

1) Phil Jackson vs Glen Rivers MD

-I've made to bones about how inept I think Nurse Rivers is as a head coach, but anyone short of Greg Popvic would be at a disadvantage when it comes to coaching against Big Chief Triangle. Dudes got 9 rings. NINE! And while you can argue that he had the help of 4 of the greatest players of all time in attaining those rings (Jordan/Pippen, Shaq/Alleged Rapist), you have to at least give him credit for not screwing those teams up. I've been thinkin' all year long that Doc would screw this Boston team up come playoff time, and while that hasn't happened, I think this could be the series it does. However. The one thing I should have seen this whole time, is that the NBA is the one league where awful coaching can actually be overcome by brilliant talent. In essenc, the Celtics will need Doc to screw up in order to lose, but if Phil isn't on his A game, then the Lakers won't have a chance in Hell. He has the ability to draw triangles around Glen, and if he does, he very well could be looking at historic ring #10...

2) Kobe Bryant

-Flat out, the guy is the most talented player in the league. And in a league where it's all about the players, and the team with the best player can ALWAYS find a way to win, that's not a bad guy to have in your corner. Sure he might buy his way out of one night stands gone awry, but that doesn't take away from the skill and the drive that he's gonna bring night in and night out. He's gonna be a handful, there's no way around it. And the closer the Lakers can keep these games, the more you have to like their chances. I love the Big 3, but when it comes to taking and making a clutch shot down the stretch, there's nobody on the floor I'd rather have taking the shot than Kobe...

....and when was the last time you remember the team with the "best" player losing in the Finals anyway?

-So there it is. I have 4 advantages for the Celtics, and 2 adistinct advantages for the Lakers. Granted there are a bunch of other important variables at play here, but I'm all about trying to simplify. Boston has the edge on my list 4-2, and I'm taking them to win the Finals in 6 games, 4-2. All the "experts" at ESPN are taking the Lake Show, but this guy's going with Glen's Gand Green! They'll take games 1,2,4 and 6, and close out banner 17 on the home court to the delight of thousands of pink jerseys loudly humming "I re-mem-ber, finding out about youuuuuu...". There will be a duck boat parade, and everyone will be snatching up their championship gear. Oh it will be gay, and tough for me to stomach, but it's gonna happen. Celtics in 6, baby! Celtics in 6!!

-And for all you "green hats" out there "Beat LA" doesn't mean what you think it means. OK, I guess literally it does, but it started as basically a concession chant. Celtics fans in 1982 (who actually knew the players on the team and didn't buy Shamrock shirts that said "Big 3" on them), started the chant while the Sixers finished them off in game 7 of the Eastern Finals right there on the Garden's parquet floor. The hatred for LA was so overwhelming back then, they the fans didn't care who beat them, as long as they freakin' lost (Lakers won the Series 4-2). I'd say that was back when fans were fans, but I think it was just more like when "fans" could actually afford tickets...

Now, it's on to baseball, kids. The Finals are exciting, I know. But there are some equally as entertaining things going on in the world of the Boys of Summer that I think you might find entertaining as well...

Red Sox Update
Overall: 37-25, 1st in AL East by 1/2 game

-Maybe I jinxed the Sox by talking about how injuries make or break seasons last week. Not only is Big Papi on the DL, but you can't even seem to get an answer as to how long! I know this sort of thing isn't an exact science, but it's bordering on meteorology for crying out loud. According to media reports, he's either out 2 weeks, 4 weeks, until the All-Star break, or needs season ending surgery! I'm all for getting second opinions and whatnot, but this is a little much, isn't it? And wouldn't it be reasonable to think that when Papi finally does come back, that he might not be at 100%? I know that's what I'm thinkin'.And while I still love the Sox depth and talent, I gotta say I don't really like their chances with such a big piece to their lineup puzzle either a little dinged up, or out of there altogether...

-On the opposite side of that coin we have Dice-K Matsuzka. He should be coming off the DL this week, and that crazy Asian should be ready to rumble. He didn't even think he needed to miss a start, let alone go on the 15 day DL! I like this kid's attitude, and I'm thinkin' he won't miss a beat when he rejoins the rotation...

-Speakin' of Asians. It looks like the biggest Asian rack since...well, since Asians started roaming the earth, might be headed out of Beantown. Word on the street is that NESN vixen Hazel Mae is pissed that Heidi Watney is so much hotter than her, that she's leavin' the Bay State on the next thing smokin'...Nah she's just after more loots from another network, but for real I think she's as good as gone. Sionara first Asian chick anyone in Mass liked since Kristi Yamaguchi. You were liked, but probably won't be missed...Oh, except for those guys that only dig Asian chicks. They actually might start stalking you now. So keep a look out...

Diamonds...She'll Pretty Much Have To
-Joba Chamberlain made his much anticipated starting pitching debut on Tuesday night in the Bronx, and while it didn't go exactly as scripted, I would say the positives far outweighed the negatives. His stuff was good, but I think he was just a little over-hyped for his first start at Yankee Stadium. A couple of his heaters clocked in at 99, which was a dead giveaway, and he even managed to throw a balk in there in the first inning. We'll see if it was just a case of jitters this Sunday when he makes start #2 with a slightly larger pitch count (it was 65). My guess is it was, and this burly kid with a dangerous fastball, devastating slider, and much improving curve ball, will help to further that stabilization of the Yankee rotation. I hope I'm wrong, but I doubt I am. And with his maturation coinciding with the emergence of the Yankee offense, they're gonna be a dangerous team even sooner than I expected...

-Oh, and Ozzie Guillen flipped out again. Which means tomorrow the sun shall indeed rise in the East, before sneakily setting in the West. God I love that guy....just don't let him near my team, my food, or any of my family members...

News and Notes
-So remember how earlier I was talking about how I make a prediction, but change it on the eve of the event? Well, I'm doing it again. It's been 30 years since Affirmed took down the Triple Crown, and next year we'll be sitting year talking about how it's been 31 years. You got it, just a few weeks after telling you the Belmont was Big Brown's to lose, I'm flipping the script. I know he dominated both the Derby and the Preakness in historic fashion, but a horse that shares my birthday, and has family history on it's side, is proving just too much for me to pass up. That horse, is American bred and Japanese raced thoroughbred, Casino Drive. He won the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont park under Big Brown's jockey, Kent Desormeaux, and is closely related to the last two Belmont winners in Jazil ('06) and Rags to Riches ('07). It's especially intriguing to me that like Casino Drive, Jazil was a horse that was brought in specifically for this length of a race, and managed to stun a field that included "superior horses" like Bluegrass Cat and Bob And John...

Good enough for me! I've been burned too many times by the favorites in this race, not to mention the ones looking to set history. I might not like that Brown's on the inside post, or his little hoof problem he's been having, but neither of those are why I'm picking against him. MY gut's telling me he's just another one of these modern super-horses that can really only handle the shorter tracks, and like his predecessors will find some way to just come up short in vying for the first Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978. It's gonna be close, and it might even be epic, but I'm siding with history and against Big Brown in order to try and bring home some Belmont Bling. Check the picks...

(5) Casino Drive: 7 to 2
(1) Big Brown: 2 to 5
(3) Macho Again: 20 to 1

(5) Casino Drive: 7 to 2
(1) Big Brown: 2 to 5
(7) Tale of Ekati: 20 to 1

Oh and if you're worried about the suggestion that some horses might simply be in the field to try and "bully" Big Brown away from his Triple Crown, you can put your mind at ease. His volatile trainer, Rick Dutrow, has let it be known that should some sort of ganging up on his horse actually take place, someone will likely be "assassinated" in the aftermath. Damn! Now I kinda want someone to fuck with that horse just to see this crazy bastard in action!..

-Speaking of drugged out animals put on display for our entertainment. The Boston Globe is reporting Patriots offensive lineman, Nick Kaczur, was involved a few months ago in a sting involving the prescription drug, OxyContin. The story, citing several anonymous sources and a police report, has Kaczur purchasing 100 pill at a times for $3,900, numerous times dating back to November of last year (looks from the pic that he was doind them in college @ Toledo too). Apparently Nicky Boy, Canada's prodigal son, told the investigators all this when he was pulled over in April and cited for possession of prescription drugs, but denied knowledge when approached by a reporter early yesterday morning. The report goes on to say that Kaczur even helped wear a wire in helping to gather evidence/snitch on the guy he was getting all the OC's from. Now I don't know about you, but I take two things from this. One, Kazcur needs to be released if any of this is true. The Pats have a bad enough image as is without some falsified Heroin addict trafficking his wares all over the Commonwealth. And two, apparently Nick is good friends with Rush Limbaugh...either that, or he's about to drop dead from an OC overdose in the next 10 seconds...

-And lastly this week I just want to give everyone the heads up on the new Discovery Channel mini-series starting up this Sunday called When We Left Earth. Why was I watching the Discovery Channel you ask? Well not that it's your business, but I was watching Deadliest Catch. Which by the way I'm gonna stop watching soon if someone doesn't actually "die" trying to catch these freakin' crabs. Morbid I know, but I didn't set the bar so high by naming it that, now did I? Anyway, this new mini-series follows the birth of the space program, and chronicles the highes and lows of NASA in it's infancy and at the dawn of the great Space Race. It's in gorgeous HD, and it's full of never-before-scene footage that should be pretty sick. Maybe I'm the only one looking forward too it, but it looks like it's gonna be pretty sweet, so I figure I'd throw it out there...

Well that's it for me this week, brosefs. It's time for me to head to work for an afternoon Yankee game, and then head to chill with my peeps'n'them for big ole Game #1. Sheed might not be in it, but I think it's gonna be a wild ride even he would admire...

Here's to hopin' both the Finals, and the Belmont live up to the hype...

Have a good weekend folks, and peace in the middle...


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