Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Thoughts about the remaining 2008 NBA Playoffs

UPDATED: June 11, 2008

In my opinion the lag time between games in this series continues to contribute to less-than-peak-performance from both teams. The irony here is that the NBA and the media have gone to great lengths to promote the “historic” Lakers versus Celtics match-up, and yet the schedule, created by the league for the purpose of maximizing the commercial value of the series, has caused the professional athletes involved to be out of sync. The games, quite frankly, have not showcased truly great basketball.

Normally, this loss of rhythm would favor the team playing he best defense. Unlike offense, which can be easily impacted by many factors including excessive downtime between games, defense can be delivered night-in-and-night-out by a team that is committed to the concept of hard-nosed defense. Going into the series it was assumed that Boston would play the toughest defense, but the Lakers have done well on that end of the court too.

Game Four in L.A. may, in fact, be the most important game of the series. Should the Lakers even the series at 2-2 I believe the momentum will swing their way, giving them the energy to take Game Five and return to Boston with a one game cushion. Should L.A. drop Thursday’s game they may have enough pride to win one more game but it’s difficult to see how they would ever win two straight in Boston.

Injuries are now a potential factor against Boston. Rondo is dealing with an ankle bruise. This is potentially critical in that L.A. has already apparently decided that Rondo is the weak link in the Boston offense and are cheating off him to help guard others whose offensive production is more reliable. Perhaps of greater importance, I believe that Paul Pierce’s injury has in fact slowed him in his ability to make quick first steps and also to move strong to the basket. He is now relying on finesse rather than power and speed.

In a series where a consistent level of production from superstar performers is not in strong evidence, I expect to see a continued and perhaps growing importance with regard to role players and substitute players. We may well see the entire series determined not by the big name players, but by those who come off the bench and play above and beyond their normal capabilities.

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