Finals Preview: The Punch in the Mouth


I’ve heard mixed opinions on this year’s NBA Finals. Some people are bored with these two teams. Others are tired of hearing about the tradition of Boston and LA. I haven’t heard anyone say, “I absolutely can’t wait for the NBA Finals!”

That’s why I am here. To tell you what we have to look forward to. I’m intrigued by this Finals matchup, so here are my thoughts.

Side Note – The next NBA season doesn’t start for months, so let’s enjoy these games while we have them!Defense Wins Championships?

This statement sounds good, and I’m pretty sure it is meant for football, but I don’t think it has held up as true. In the NBA, though, when you have a team that can consistently get stops, you can do a lot of damage.

This is why the Celtics are where they are right now. When they beat the Cavs, all the focus was on Lebron and what was going on with him and the Cavs. When they beat Orlando people talked about Vince choking, Rondo dominating and the Celtics outworking the Magic.

Cleveland and Orlando like to have space and room to move. The Celtics made everything difficult and gave up no easy buckets in either of those series. They frustrated Lebron and Dwight Howard and were relentless defensively.

What is interesting about this series is the Lakers have played the Thunder, Jazz, and Suns, all good teams, but none of which are defensively minded.

The Punch in the Mouth

The Magic rolled through their first two series and cruised into the Conference Finals feeling pretty good. Then the Celtics punched them right in the mouth. When teams aren’t used to working terribly hard for buckets and then all of a sudden face a tough, physical, brawling type of team, it is extremely frustrating.

Again, the Lakers just had a tough, well played series with Phoenix, but they didn’t have to work nearly as hard for buckets as they will against the Celtics. Expect Boston to come out and punch the Lakers right in the mouth. I think the key to the series is how LA responds to it.

Remember in 2008, when Boston beat LA in the finals, everyone was talking about how Gasol and Odom were soft. The reason why is because the Celtics genuinely beat the crap out of them physically. They pushed the Lakers around and they didn’t respond.

A lot of the critics calling the Lakers soft were silenced when they won the title last year, but if you look at their run to the title, the best defensive team they faced was the Rockets. The Rockets took them to a hard-fought 7-game series, with not even half the weapons this year’s Celtics team has.

(Never) Passing the Torch

Last year was supposed to be Kobe vs Lebron in the Finals, and regardless of who won, that was supposedly going to be Kobe passing the torch as best player alive. (I’ve honestly never seen one of these torches but the media tell me that is what happens)

It didn’t work out that way – Lebron lost, Kobe got the title. Interestingly, people shifted their thinking anyway. People liked to talk about Kobe’s decline and Lebron’s ascent this year. Lebron was supposed to take a title this year and reign the NBA.

It isn’t working out that way again, and now Kobe is staring his fifth title right in the face, and second apart from Shaq. Not only that, but he is playing at an extremely high level. At times during the Phoenix series he was almost perfect. I’ve never been a big Kobe fan, but I really appreciate everything he’s done in this year’s playoffs (Except that awful, stick-his-bottom-teeth-out-snarl. Seriously Kobe, stop doing that)

He has risen to a new level with each new series and if he does it again in the Finals, we’ll be seeing something special.

The Lakers have the best player in the world, and that is always a good thing to have in a Best of 7 series. But, they did two years ago too. I know Kobe will be ready for a fight, but I’m interested to see how some of his teammates react to getting punched in the mouth.

I can’t wait to see it.