Darius from Forum Blue and Gold introducing some must-watch Celtics vs. Lakers video from the regular season: "Both teams won a game but did so by a single point. Each team won their game on the road. Both games came down to last second shots (one that was made and one that we’d all like to forget). In one of the games Kobe didn’t play and both games occurred before Nate Robinson was playing for the Celtics. So without further ado, here some video highlights ..."
The Celtics were the second best team in the NBA this season at scoring at the rim. The Lakers were tenth best at stopping teams doing that. That makes you think the Celtics might be back to scoring in the paint a lot, like they did before they played Dwight Howard's team. But here's the problem: If the Lakers had been playing Andrew Bynum all season, where would they have ranked? In any case, Celtic attackers vs. Lakers defenders at the rim will be a key battlefront in the war of the Finals.
A lot of the statistics are part of Synergy Sports $50,000-a-year (or thereabouts) package for NBA teams are published for free in the playoffs. It's well worth digging around. For instance, here you can learn all kinds of stuff about the Western Conference Finals. M. Haubs of The Painted Area has dug in, and discovered some things about Kobe Bryant's game that will be worth watching in the Finals. Against the Suns, he basically stopped posting up entirely. You'd think it would be a victory for Phoenix, but at the same time, he started making long shots, in isolation, at a far greater rate than in the regular season. Two questions for the Finals: Can Celtic defenders like Paul Pierce and Tony Allen keep Bryant out of the post like Jared Dudley and Grant Hill did? And can Bryant keep making long shots from isolation plays at the same rate?
The Celtics are world-beaters in the postseason, but were a fairly pedestrian 50-win team in the regular season. The transformation has taken a while to notice, as reflected by the fact that as they have moved deeper into the playoffs, and are presumably playing tougher and tougher competition, more and more people are picking them to win.
What do you think about the whole "teams ought to be loyal to their players" argument? The Bulls are practically bragging about how much cronyism they have going on, apparently in an effort to win a war of words with Dwyane Wade. A war they are engaging in, in part, to lure the likes of ... Dwyane Wade. (This might be the worst sales job ever. We'll prove you wrong in the press. You'll love it here!) On the one hand, yes, of course, it's nice not to leave a retired player high and dry after he has given his all for a long time. On the other hand, players make a ton of money in part to address this exact thing. But more than anything, as nice as loyalty is, shouldn't the team's most important priority in hiring be to build a competent front office and coaching staff? In my mind you honor the past, and the team, by winning. How many retired players should you include in that process? About as many as can help you acheive that goal.
Speaking of loyalty, students in Cleveland painted a billboard urging LeBron James to stay.
If you're Alvin Gentry, where do you go for dinner after getting eliminated from the playoffs? The Cheesecake Factory, of course. (In case you're confused as to why I said that, here are some 2008 posts that explain all.)
Jeremy from Roundball Mining Company, a Nuggets blog, on Carmelo Anthony: "He received a great deal of recognition for finally breaking out when in fact, he still has a long way to go before truly deserving recognition as an MVP candidate and one of the top five players in the NBA. I fear he may never actually fulfill his still considerable potential."
Drumming on buckets stopped being novel entertainment in about 1998, but done well it's still something. If anyone is better than Peter Rabbit, I don't know who it is.
Pop quiz: Which NBA player made the shot known as the Memorial Day Miracle? (Click the link for the video answer.)
A very honest conversation from Brandon Roy, who says sometimes he cut class in high school because he was embarrassed by what he didn't know. I've heard many players like to bolt college as quickly as possible because they're smart, competitive people who are ill-prepared to succeed in science lectures and the like, and they simply get humiliated by the academics.
Many people have pointed out that the Lakers lead the league in opponent field goal percentage, which I might have mentioned in my post about the Suns missing 3s. It may well have been a huge factor! But I didn't say anything because most of the Suns' bad shooting was by Channing Frye and Grant Hill, and to my recollection most of their shots were wide open.
A prediction the Nets will have trouble selling out the Barclays Center in the first few years, based on what's happening with the Knicks. To me the key is that Brooklyn is desperate for ways to express borough-wide pride, which makes the Knicks a poor comparison. I predict the Nets will sell out every game their first season.
A pretty chart comparing the long-term production of players from different draft classes.