Links: NBA Finals Diary, Day 8

by Lang Whitaker

It was about 30 minutes after Game Four ended last night, and I was hanging out in the bowels of the Stapler with an NBA exec, discussing the Celtics pulling off the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history. As we stood there, the Boston coaching staff came by on their way to the team bus. Assistant coach Armond Hill stopped and we were all kind of shaking our heads about the game. “We just kept coming,” said Hill. “In the huddles, they just wouldn’t give up. Paul kept saying, ‘We have to win this game. We have to win this game.'”

And they did, somehow. Numerically, it was an historic comeback, but logically, it didn’t seem like a great game as it was unfolding, mostly because the second half was marked by the Lakers folding. What I mean is, it wasn’t two teams slugging it out; last night was one team taking some punches and then splitting the other team’s ear open. Khalid (a.k.a. Iron Man) and I talked after the game about how many strange plays there were, particularly plays involving Ray Allen (Vujacic pulling the matador defense; Ray with the double-pump reverse lay-up; the play where Ray dove on the floor and hit Posey in the corner for a three, etc.). Neither team was able to string together four powerful quarters, which led to a choppy game.

When I was leaving the arena, I ran into an associate of Kobe, and we talked about how it’s all on KB24 now. Khalid and I talked about it on the bus ride home, and he wrote about it here, but if Kobe ever wanted a better set-up, it would be tough to find. Because not only would making L.A. be the first team to bounce back from a 3-1 deficit silence all Kobe haters, I don’t think it’s inconceivable. L.A. hasn’t not been consistent, but what if they suddenly find their groove? And nobody’s really talking about it, but what’s the deal with Rondo and Perkins? If Rondo remains ineffective, I think L.A. can adjust to House, who is basically a spot-shooter. And Perk’s injury looked pretty serious. If he’s unavailable for the rest of the series, the Celts are going to be even slower on the interior, which means Gasol and Odom should be able to both get going.

At the same time, I’m curious if Game Five will be the game when KG finally goes off. Gasol can’t even seem to guard KG’s shadow, but Boston doesn’t really play like they want to exploit their advantage. But I think that’s more about KG’s mentality than Boston’s gameplan. About an hour before Game Four, Doc Rivers talked about the difference between KG and Pierce:

“If Paul makes three shots in a row, he’s shooting the fourth time he gets the ball whether it’s a good shot or not. Kobe as well. If Kevin makes three in a row, he’s thinking that he’s taken too many shots already and needs to get someone involved. You really would want every player to be that way in some ways, but when you’re as talented as Kevin I think it frustrates people at times. It doesn’t (bother) us because I think he’s made so many great plays for our team and we facilitate our offense through him.”

I understand the frustration Doc is talking about, because as a fan it’s tough to sit there and watch KG refuse to keep going after Gasol. If I was Boston, I’d go to Garnett 20 times in a row in the post. Only thing is that he’d apparently pass it after the third shot.

Anyway, we’ve got about 55 hours until Game Five tips off. I’ve got a lot of work to do, so I’m going to bunker down in the hotel and try to get my grind on while watching Euro 2008. (How cool is it that ESPN has finally embraced soccer? During Euro 2004 I had to order the tournament on Pay Per View. Now it’s all free. Thank you, ESPN.) Well, either work or run around L.A. with Arash.

One thing about the East/West time difference is that the West Coast definitely wins that match-up. We walked out of the Stapler last night around 9:30 p.m., which seems crazy because we usually leave Knicks games closer to 11:00 p.m. I know the late starts are rough for fans on the East Coast, but starting a game at 6:00 p.m. in Boston means people on the West Coast are going to miss a bunch of the game with work, traffic, etc. A friend of mine who is transplanted in Boston sent me this email last night…

“I go to bed with the game 35-15 and wake up to obnoxious New England sports radio telling me that the Celts came back and won….amazing. Even more amazing that NOBODY saw it on the east coast. Unless you are unemployed, you had to go to sleep at reasonable time to function at work…..Thanks David Stern for a brilliant idea….9pm starts……don’t tell me it is about ratings….the g*dd*mn Super Bowl starts at 630pm and it gets ok ratings I would assume.”

I hear you. Maybe my man should eat a Pizza Hut P’Zone. They are advertising this thing relentlessly on TV out here as “over one pound of melted cheese and tasty toppings,” and they actually show it plopping onto a scale. Sure enough, it clocks in at just over a pound. Eww. Khalid and I saw that commercial on TV yesterday and both of us shuddered. P’Zone? P’Nasty.