Updated: June 10, 2010, 10:29 AM ET

1. 2010 NBA Finals: Anything But Predictable

By Tim Legler

Who knew that Forrest Gump would prove to be such a visionary when he so eloquently opined, "The NBA Finals are like a box of chocolates: You never know what you're gonna get"?

OK, maybe Forrest was referring to something about life when he uttered that famous line, but he might as well have been talking about basketball's biggest stage, because the 2010 NBA Finals have been anything but predictable.

The Los Angeles Lakers are two wins away from their second consecutive championship, and even they would admit that they have no idea what to expect when the series resumes Thursday night.

Although the Lakers seem to be in control with a 2-1 lead, two games remaining in Boston and the final two games slated for the Staples Center, there has been nothing consistent about their performance to indicate that status quo will get it done.

Let's sum up what we have seen to this point from the defending champs.

Pau Gasol is the one constant allowing coach Phil Jackson to get some sleep. He has shown that he has, in fact, grown significantly since the 2008 Finals when he was thrown around and forcibly removed from the paint in a dominating performance from the Celtics' front line. He is tougher, stronger, and more confident than the "finesse" player trying to complement Kobe Bryant two years ago, and he has been the MVP of this series to this point.

Bryant, who wants this title more than any he has pursued, can still lay claim to the title of "world's greatest player," and absolutely refuses to display any semblance of satisfaction he might be enjoying in the midst of his championship pursuit.

Lamar Odom is still one of the most inconsistent great talents playing the game.

Ron Artest, although regularly displaying a complete disregard for sensible offensive decision-making, can still make a great scorer's life completely miserable.

If he ever proves he can stay healthy for extended stretches, Andrew Bynum can become the next great center in the NBA.

Once you take the stars out of the equation, Derek Fisher is on a very short list of guys everyone expects to come through when the stakes are highest.

The Celtics have their own set of issues to deal with.

It starts with Kevin Garnett. Just when you thought he would be relegated to a secondary role for the rest of his career, based on his tired performance in the first two games, he reminded us he's still capable of putting the Celtics on his back when needed.

Ray Allen can go 0-for-13 and still have everyone expecting the next shot to hit nothing but cotton.

Paul Pierce, one of the great individual scorers and clutch players of his generation, certainly liked playing against Luke Walton and Vladimir Radmanovic in the 2008 NBA Finals a lot more than he enjoys facing Artest.

The Celtics would sweep the Lakers if Rajon Rondo, the best player to this point in the 2010 NBA playoffs, had a consistent 18-foot jumper.

Kendrick Perkins, Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis have the scowl, the activity and the relentlessness to help the Celtics win the title. The question is whether they have the size and the talent to combat the Lakers' front line.

With so many elements of this series up in the air, one thing is certain: No one knows what will transpire in Game 4. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Tim Legler is a regular contributor to the Daily Dime.

Dimes past: May 18 | 19 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | June 3 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

2. Artest Deserves More Credit For His D

By Arash Markazi
ESPN Los Angeles

BOSTON -- Despite being lauded for his defensive efforts against Paul Pierce in the NBA Finals, Ron Artest doesn't think he's played very well, and Pierce would agree with him.

"I don't really see anything he's doing special that any other teams haven't done throughout the course of the playoffs," Pierce said. "That's it."

So despite struggling against Artest during the Finals and the regular season, Pierce thinks it's simply a coincidence some of his worst games have come while Artest is guarding him?

"I think so," he said.

Artest has yet to have a breakout offensive game during the Finals, hitting only two of 14 shots for eight points in the past two games, but none of that seemed to matter to him as long as Pierce -- who has hit seven of 23 shots for 25 points in the past two games -- was held in check. Even though Pierce has played like a shell of the player who won the Finals MVP two years ago, Artest still wasn't happy about his effort against Pierce.

"I feel I haven't been playing defense the way I want to play defense," Artest said. "In Game 4, I want to come out and play better defense and get back to how I'm used to playing defense. I'm giving up things I shouldn't be giving up and not giving enough effort, so in Game 4 I want to improve on that."

To read the entire column, click here

3. When Instant Replay Shows Too Much

By Henry Abbott

With just under 40 seconds left in Game 3 and the Celtics down five, Lakers big man Lamar Odom had apparently rebounded a missed Paul Pierce free throw. But as Odom came down with the ball, Boston guard Rajon Rondo dashed onto the scene and inserted an arm. The ball spurted out of bounds.

Odom raised his hands in a gesture that said "It wasn't me!"

Which is how it was called. Yet … the referees exercised their right to review the play, to see if in fact the ball may have gone off Odom. The referee crew reviewed the video, as did the enormous audience watching on television.

In real time, nobody in the arena was certain about anything, but in slow motion it was plain as day. The ball was off Odom.

But only -- as everyone at home saw clearly -- after Rondo fouled Odom by pulling his hand off the ball.

The referees could not, by rule, call that potentially game-changing and obvious foul. Instant replay is their silver bullet to avoid the embarrassment of everyone at home knowing far more than they do, but they are limited in their use of it, and are only allowed to review the call that was made. The call that was made was out of bounds. Video showed that call would rightly go the Celtics' way -- the ball had gone off Odom. The foul that was obvious to millions would be ignored. Celtics ball.

To read the entire blog entry, click here


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