When the Finals first started, I made a big deal about how overly complicated everyone was making the game and used a very simple method to determine my own prediction. I took the Lakers in six. And I was oh, so wrong. So very wrong.
I think its safe to say that if you're reading this, you watched Game 6 of the Finals last night. Here's some thoughts:
- Holy macaroni, what a smackdown. The Celts took Kobe and Co. and beat the Lakers like they stole their cookies. A 39-point victory isn't totally unheard of...in the regular season. In a do-or-die game in the championship round, it kinda is.
- Former Buck Jesus Shuttlesworth was on fire. Ray-Ray hit seven 3-pointers in the game, which tied a Finals record, and his 22 bombs from distance were a new record. Yikes.
- Is it just me, or is Mike Breen's commentary for three pointers strangely satisfying? "Ray Allen for three...BANG!" I don't know, but it seems to work. If only he could get Mark Jackson and Van Gundy to get that divorce they so sorely need.
- Holy Rajon Rondo. He needs a nickname along the lines of 'Cat Burglar', but more witty and preferably non-cat related. So much thievery, I thought I was watching Ocean's 11.
- Kendrick Perkins coming back wasn't big on the stat sheet, but it was HUGE in the game. I'm pretty sure he only scored a few points and went to sit after getting his 5th foul, but his presence on the defensive end of the court was enormous. Games 5 and 6 were night and day because of him.
- The Celtic's bench stepped up big time. Eddie House, James Posey, P.J. Brown, Tony Allen (!), and even Big Baby Davis got in the action. All of them played great defense (especially Posey on Bryant) and put on a show in the final minutes of the 4th quarter.
- Speaking of the final minutes of the 4th quarter, it looked like an intramural game that had gotten completely out of hand. The Lakers weren't even close to trying. Tony Allen's reverse dunk off an alley-oop was proof enough of that.
- The crowd was great. I refer you to Bill Simmons if you want to learn how important a home crowd is in a playoff ball game.
- Even though they were thoroughly handled in the Finals, I don't expect the Lakers to fall apart. They've got Kobe, obviously. Pau Gasol is still young and extremely talented. Andrew Bynum is coming back, and their bench is young and talented (Farmar, Vujacic, Ariza, etc.).
- However, one thing I expect to happen is Lamar Odom's trade and/or release. Look at the frontcourt for next season: with Bynum's return from injury, Gasol can move back to his natural PF position. And unless the Lakers plan to unload Radmonovic (who played pretty much the worst defense ever this series), Lamar Odom is suddenly looking at reduced PT and possibly coming off the bench. Throw in the fact that he sucked for the entire Finals (except Game 5), we can expect Lamar to be elsewhere next season.
- I sure hope Paul Pierce's knee isn't too badly hurt. The guy put on a great performance and earned his championship without ever letting on just how hurt he actually was.
- Kevin Garnett. Wow. First of all, dude flat-out played some ball tonight. That circus shot in the first half was un-be-liev-a-ble. He came back in a big way in Game 6. But more than anything, I was moved by his emotion in the aftermath of the win. He wasn't overjoyed, he was happy to the point of losing control. He was literally twitching with delight. I implore you to find his post-game interview with Michelle Tafoya on YouTube; it's as raw of human emotion as you'll find not only in sports, but pretty much anywhere. I am incredibly happy for him.
But, this is a Milwaukee Bucks blog, and I am a Milwaukee Bucks fan. So what did we learn from these here Finals?
First of all, it proves that you can negate opposing offense with defense. Between the Spurs' titles, the Pistons' run in 2004, and the 2008 Boston Celtics, there is undeniable proof that building a team with a defensive mindset can win you a ring. John Hammond and Scott Skiles know this, I'm sure. I am very excited to see what they're going to do to bring Milwaukee out of sub-mediocrity and into contention.
Secondly, we learned that one great offensive player can't prevail against solid team defense. Kobe was "Old Kobe" for the Finals, the version of Kobe where his offensive mindset is "mememememememememememeeeeeeeeee" and not much else. I hope that other offensively-gifted players learn from this example and continue making concentrated efforts on involving teammates in the offense.
More than anything, we learned that the 2008 Celtics were an aberration. Boston built itself through two major trades and veteran pickups instead of through the draft and player development. Teams are not usually built like this, and I doubt we'll see a team built like this again in the future. Allow me to explain myself.
Last season, the Celtics had the worst record in the East. They had one good player (Pierce), one emerging good player (Al Jefferson), and a collection of young and skilled but inexperienced players or older players who had hit their ceiling (Rondo personifying the former, Delonte West representing the latter). This team was not going anywhere.
Then the Ray Allen trade came along. This was a fair trade, in my opinion: essentially it gave Seattle a chance at a young prospect in return for a quality veteran who was just starting to slip. Teams make trades like these all the time.
But the KG trade was ridiculous. Am I happy it happened? Absolutely. Do I believe it was fair? Absolutely not. I don't care how you spin it, trading Kevin freaking Garnett for Al Jefferson, etc. and a side of fries is not even. That would be like Milwaukee trading Andrew Bogut, Charlie Bell, Bobby Simmons, Dan Gadzuric, and Jake Voshkul for Dwight Howard. One good player (Bogut) and a bunch of anti-good players for a g-r-e-a-t player. Except for salaries, how is that an even trade? (Note to self: if the Bucks ever get a chance to pull the trigger on this trade, I'm all for it.)
In any case, I'm happy Boston won. I just hope Milwaukee doesn't follow their example.