Well, guess who's back in the Finals? Did anyone expect this? The Boston Celtics are back after a one-year absence.
People would probably argue that they would be going for a three-peat had Kevin Garnett played last year. Then again, no one really expected them to be here, either, before the postseason started.
So to my dismay, I get to hear more chatter from John Karalis (of Red's Army) again. This time, he's not alone. One of the boys from Gino's Jungle (I think it's Brandon) stops by (can y'all clarify?!) and gives us his opinion on the Finals as well. I feel sick. Like I ate a deep fried artichoke.
Anyway... ya know the drill by now. Their answers are in green. Hollah!
Tell me how awesome your defense has been. Is this on par as the 2008 Boston team?
JOHN KARALIS: It's been pretty damn good. It was a little different in 2008 because KG was healthier and he could handle a little bit more. But Rondo is better this year. And the bench defense has has stepped up pretty nicely, which was also the case in 2008.
So there are some similarities, but definitely some differences too. It's probably not where it was in 2008, but it's pretty close.
GINO'S JUNGLE: The defense has gotten us to where we are today. When this team allows under 90 points they are unbeatable and the numbers prove that. The one thing that separates this year's team defensively from the 2008 team is that they still have struggled to play this great defense consistently. If you look at the games they have lost during the post season you will notice that they have allowed over 90 points in all six losses and over 100 points in all but one of those losses. Just like the NBA commercial says: It's all about the defense.
Well, L.A. is here. Don't lie to me. Does it make that much more special if your boys beat the Lakers?
JOHN: Hell yeah, it does. Like I've told you before... I'll never root for the Lakers, but I'm also not upset that they made it to the Finals this year. Winning a title is always sweet... but beating the Lakers makes it SOOO much better.
GINO'S JUNGLE: Of course, it does. There is nothing like beating your biggest rivals for the league's top prize. With the two teams winning the championship once each during the past two seasons, it makes it even more special. This series will put all the questions aside. There will be no more asking, "What if KG was healthy?" or "What if Bynum was healthy?" Both teams are beaten up but still ready to go. It's the playoffs; the time when the boys are seprated from the men.
I know it's natural for you to hate the Lakers being from Boston. But when did this all start for you?
JOHN: In the 80's. I'm a product of those rivalries. I remember how much those guys wanted to crush each other. And it felt like they were playing each other every year. The Lakers were always over there on the West Coast... just strutting their stuff and being the little media darlings while the Celtics were here in the northeast... fighting blizzards, and knocking the shit out of people. It was a contrast in styles that just fueled everything so perfectly.
GINO'S JUNGLE: With me being not even 20 years old yet, I was not around to see the days of Bird vs. Magic so that's a difficult question for me. I guess the simple answer would be to say the hatred started as soon as I came out of the womb and started being raised by a family that bleeds Boston sports. With the Celtics struggles during the 90's and early 2000's, I really never got a chance to really hate the Lakers. 2008 definitely gave me that chance. After all, how can you like a team with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Ron Artest, and.....THE MACHINE?
All right. Give me a few keys to beat the Lakers.
JOHN: 1. Control the front line. The Lakers are awesome when Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum are doing their thing. They're damn near unbeatable when those guys are playing well. But the Lakers are VERY pedestrian when those guys are invisible. Keep those guys in check, and it won't matter if Kobe goes for 40.
2. Run and penetrate. The Lakers aren't the best when it comes to transition defense. Meanwhile, the Celtics have Rajon Rondo who is as good a transition point guard as you'll find. You don't even have to be open for him to find you. If the Celtics can push the tempo, they'll pull LA out of position and score some easy baskets.
3. Pressure Fisher. Fish can hit open jumpers and he's great at running, and scoring, in the triangle offense. But if Rondo can put pressure on him and have LA start the offense with 14 or 15 seconds on the clock, it will make life easier on the rest of the team defensively by taking a lot of the triangle options away.
4. Make Kobe shoot. The more Kobe shoots, the better it is for the C's. The rest of that team sulks when he doesn't share. If Kobe really is pissed about losing in 2008, maybe he'll try to do too much and, in turn, alienate his team. And if you can clog the lane and prevent him from getting to the rim for much of the game, he'll resort to jump shots... and that will give the C's a major advantage.
GINO'S JUNGLE: Defense, defense, and ummm defense. I've said it since day one and I'll continue to say it. No matter what kind of offensive flow this team has on a given night, if the defense is at top form they will be very hard to beat. Ray Allen has to step up defensively against Kobe and the guys coming off the bench (Tony Allen) also have to do a good job in limiting his production. From the offensive standpoint, I am also going to be looking at Ray Allen to be the difference-maker. You can talk about Rondo and Pierce all you want but if you look back to the 2008 Finals, Ray Allen was the one that came through. When he is stroking it from behind the arc, 9 times out of 10 the entire Celtics offense will be clicking.
There's no need for predictions. We all know how badly you want to beat L.A. So any final words to everyone out there. Boston. Los Angeles. The NBA. Me. Whoever you want.
JOHN: The Lakers are boxing, the Celtics are UFC. Boxing will win you a few fights... but UFC will break your goddamn neck if you're not careful. Gasol and Bynum don't have that hardcore nature in them. The Celtics... ALL OF THEM... do. When push comes to shove, Gasol and Bynum will piss themselves... and piss Kobe off.
So to Boston: we're winning this thing.
To Los Angeles: Boston's winning this thing.
To the NBA: Boston's winning this thing.
To you: Boston's winning this thing.
To that random guy talking to himself on the back of the bus while wearing a tattered denim jacked and clutching an 80's boombox: Take a fucking shower. You stink. But wait until after Boston wins this thing.
Because Boston... IS... winning this thing.
GINO'S JUNGLE: Well, let's go down the list here starting with Boston. Boston fans, this is our time. This is what this city and its fans live for. We live for hanging championship banners. We live for making the TD Garden a jungle. And we live for throwing awesome championship parades. So whether your watching from the Garden, a bar, or at home I expect you to be unable to talk following each and every game of the NBA Finals.
Now on to Hollywood's finest. Enjoy your time in the spotlight. This starting lineup has never been beaten in the playoffs and it will stay that way. Appreciate the fact you have the privilege to play against the most storied franchise in the history of the NBA. Enjoy the series and good luck.
Words for the NBA... hmmmm... well I guess all I have to say is enjoy all the money you're making off this series.
And to you Rey... Thanks for being a respectable Lakers fan; there are very few out there. You're a Lakers fan, though. So I still can't like you. Enjoy the series and I'll send you some pictures from the Celtics championship parade to put on TNLP.
Why did I have you guys on the blog again? Dammit.
PHOTO CREDITS: 1) Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images. 2 ) Jim Rogash/Getty Images.
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