Game 1 will tip off Thursday. That gives the “old” Celtics time to recover from injuries to PG Rajon Rondo and C Kendrick Perkins. The schedule of the Finals will allow more rest than the Celtics to play at a very high level of energy.
One thing that came out of the last game against game against the Magic was the outstanding performance by the diminutive PG Nate Robinson. Robinson had not played much in the post season but came off the bench to replace Rondo and scored 13 point, got 2 rebounds and a steal.
The Lakers have some injury issues of their own. C Andrew Bynum had fluid removed from his right knee which has given him trouble for most of his career.
The format of the finals gives the team with home court advantage an additional benefit. With the 2-3-2 format, the team without HC advantage usually struggles to win all 3 games on their court.
Keys to the series:
1. The biggest key is who is going to stop Rondo from controlling the Celtic O. When he has been distributing the ball and driving to the hoop, the team has been unbeatable. He has averaged nearly 17 points and 10 assists per game in the playoffs. The Magic didn’t have an answer for Rondo and neither did the Cavs. The biggest question who gets the assignment to stop Rondo?
Laker PG Fisher is not nearly quick enough to slow Rondo. Bryant would be another prospect but by spending his energy on the D end of the floor could hurt his scoring. The backup Gs on the team are not known for their D. One possibility would be Ron Artest. When he feels like doing the job he is an effective defender but is not as quick as Rondo.
2. Which Kevin Garnett will show up? When he is on, the Celtics are really active on the O side of the floor. But at 34 he takes some quarters off. He can not do that against the Lakers and expect the Celtics to win.
In the first 2 games, the Flyers have outplayed the Black Hawks but come up short twice on the scoreboard. Now the series goes back to Philly and we will see if the Hawks can shake off the cobwebs to play at the level they have in previous series.
If the Flyers win the games at home convincingly, expect them to steal one in Chicago and win the series. The Hawks need to win one in Philly to prove to themselves as well as the opponents. If not, the Flyers could well win the championship.
The first two games were as different as they could be. Game 1 looked like an NBA All star game where nobody even tried to play D in a 6-5 win for Chicago. Game 2 was much better hockey and ended up 2-1. Expect the games in Philly to look a lot more like the 2-1 game than the 6-5 game.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on
and edits .