As you might suspect, with the entire basketball world focused on the Lakers and Celtics, there's some good reading out there should you need a break from what is a gorgeous holiday Monday in southern California (or be one of those fancy people who can be outside and still stay connected, or simply reside in other regions of the web-getting universe entirely).
First, if you haven't seen it, click here for a very cool Finals page linking together the work of ESPNLosAngeles.com and ESPNBoston.com. Slick stuff, and a great starting spot for coverage of the series (including this report on the status of Boston's banged up roster after the Celtics completed practice earlier today).
On to the rest of the Internet, starting with a great piece on the relationship between Derek Fisher and Kobe Bryant from Harvey Araton of the New York Times:
"...With his 36th birthday coming in August, Fisher is an older brother — by 4 years 14 days — but he also joined the Lakers in 1996, the year Bryant turned pro out of high school. “It started at a tournament in Long Beach over the summer,” Bryant said. “We were playing together over the summer, working long hours, and as the season went on, we didn’t play much, so we had to go in to work early and play a lot of one-on-one.” Fisher, a stumpy 6-foot-1 guard from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, would not back down to Bryant, who headed one of the gifted preps-to-pros classes of the 1990s. They clawed each other on court, commiserated off it and ultimately coalesced into an enduring tandem, the Lakers’ Lone Ranger and Tonto..."
Forum Blue and Gold has a good look at the two regular season matchups between the squads (each decided by a point), while Mark Medina of the LA Times Lakers Blog looks back at the '08 Finals. (For those deeply interested re-living the past through in-the-moment analysis, you can see a few of our game recaps and posts from that series here, here, here, here, here, and here.)
Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk.com identifies keys to victory for both squads.
With the Kobe Bryant staring at the chance for a fifth title, Mike Wise of the Washington Post believes it's no longer heresy to put him in the conversation with Michael Jordan, even if he doesn't have a real chance of winning the argument:
"...Because we sadly convince ourselves that what we see on television equals who someone is, Kobe won't even go down as the greatest Laker in history. Magic Johnson wrapped that up for eternity a long time ago. Purely based on his professional persona, I think Kobe gets shortchanged on the image issue. See, Michael was as cutthroat and undiplomatic and nasty as a champion ever was. By the time he put on the suit and tie, though, he was a much better actor. With his megawatt smile and disarming wink, he could conceal the shadow side of him in ways Kobe never really cared if he concealed. When I ran that thought by Kobe late Saturday night in Phoenix, he didn't completely agree. "He wasn't better at hiding it," Kobe said of Michael. "I think there was just less media coverage." Either way, it's time to stop ignoring the possibility there will ever be a player of Jordan's ilk -- and maybe better..."
Much more below the jump...
The Painted Area has a great look at Kobe's shot location data from the Phoenix series, and looks for clues about how things could play out for him against Boston. (H/T: TrueHoop)
Dan Shaughnessey of the Boston Globe looks at the timelessness of the Lakers and Celtics in the NBA Finals. The LA Times takes a similar look.
Lakers fans wanted another crack at the green, but the Celtics are happy to get a sequel, too. Along those lines, Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com doesn't buy the idea the Lakers aren't motivated by what happened in '08, despite Kobe's statements to the contrary. I agree. So does Yahoo's Johnny Ludden.
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com takes a great look at Ron Artest.
Lakers broadcast analyst Stu Lantz praises Kobe's work against the Suns and lays out some keys to the upcoming series.
Fox Sports scribe Charley Rosen thinks the Lakers match up better this year against Boston than in 2008.
NBA.com's Shaun Powell looks at Rajon Rondo's maturity this season.
Hoopsworld Eric Pincus breaks down the matchups and why he's got the defending champs in seven games.