Liveblogging NBA Finals, Game 4

Dave: Okay, here’s a new experiment, as both of us liveblog Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

Dave: Rondo starts of with his ankle at 89.555%, according to Michelle Tafoya. I have no idea what that means, but I know that Cassell and House are not nearly as fast as Rondo, so if he can’t be quick, the Celts are going to be much slower tonight.

Dave: Ummm, I hate to point out the obvious, but if the Lakers can continue running and passing the way they have been for the first 3 minutes, they’re going to win this game by approximately 87 points.

Shane: OK… after some technical difficulties, I’m here…

Dave: First timeout…time to feed to dog, then time to feed the bloggers (Thai Kitchen – yum!)

Shane: Celtics call timeout and Mike Breen is kind enough to tell us that the home crowd will cheer. Thanks, Mike

Dave: Suffice to say, I am less impressed with Kobe Bryant than Mark Jackson is. Undoubtedly, when you are triple-teamed, passing to the open three-point shooter is the right play. But I don’t think it’s exactly graduate-level basketball to know this.

Shane: Looks like all the excitement happened while we were eating dinner… Now we get to listen to inanities like “more fouls = more trips to line” until the game gets a little closer.

Dave: I can’t think of many things I want less right now than a Yukon Denali, after this commercial. Malignant cancer, I definitely want less. Same for a prostate exam. That’s about the list.

Dave: Breen just referred to Trevor Ariza as a ‘chronic asthmatic.’ Given the NBA’s history with marijuana issues, you probably ought to be careful about how you throw around that word, ‘chronic.’

Shane: Luke Walton hits a 3 on his 3rd wide open attempt… That probably wouldn’t even lead the NL in batting…

Dave: Remarkably uninformative sideline interview with Will Smith, but I can’t say I’m entirely surprised at this. He refers to his childhood watching the Celtics beating up the Sixers, which leads me to wonder just how old he is. He’s got to be older than me, and I vaguely remember the “Fo’ Fo’ Fo'” 1983 Sixers champs, so I lose a little sympathy for him. UPDATE: According to IMDB, he is actually exactly 9 years older than me, to the day. I wonder if he would find this fact as interesting as I do.

Shane: I must say that I find myself torn here… part of me is glad to see the Lakers actually playing well in this series. Even though the Celtics won the first 2 games, it never really seemed like they were dominant… in game 2, the Refs were dominant. Now, the Celtics anemic offense is rearing it’s ugly, yet predictable, head. None of the big 3 are scoring, and no one else knows what to do. Will the Celtics manage to actually stop the absolutely on fire Lakers offense?

Shane: Almost on cue, the Lakers stop playing hard, take 2 crappy shots and give up two easy baskets.

Dave: And, on cue, the Zenmeister calls timeout to excoriate the team. Coming back, bad possession by the Lakers, followed by a quick defensive foul. Phil is not amused.

Dave: A closeup of Sasha Vujacic leads me to wonder: much like barbershops in the inner city are experts in particular hairstyles, say cornrows these days, do European barbers have particular talents for greasy haircuts and the three-days-unshaven facial hair?

Shane: Good job by Fisher making an aggressive drive, drawing a foul and making a bucket after Kobe and Odom get shut down. Mark one down for experience.

Shane: After hearing Doc Rivers in the huddle, I begin to wonder how much of coaching is speaking cliches (to the players, or the press)… 50? 60 percent?

Dave: Do the Celtics have an offense? I really wonder. Guys doing stuff with the ball in their possession doesn’t count as an offense…

Dave: Great pick-and-roll with Fisher and Gasol, with Fish delivering an absolutely money bounce pass from the 3-point line to just below the foul line. Gasol is not a fast man, not by any means, but he is dangerous when he’s rolling to the basket nonetheless. Deft touch around the hoop, and as a legit 7-footer he can dunk from awfully far away from the basket.

Shane: And it’s halftime… The Lakers withstand a Celtics run, and will start the 3rd quarter in decent shape. And now, we get to listen to a bunch of bobbleheads whose opinion will not add anything to my basketball viewing experience. On the other hand, there are commercials… which will probably be more entertaining than said bobbleheads.

Dave: Shane said:

On the other hand, there are commercials… which will probably be more entertaining than said bobbleheads.

just when I was beginning to have a high opinion of Shane, he goes and compliments commercials during a sporting event. Ugh.

Dave: Apropos of nothing basketball-related at all, I have to gripe for a second about the Salvation Army. With my new roommate moving in, I decided it was time to get rid of the hand-me-down couch and recliner that I took with me from the old house, so I called them to set up a donation. I left everything on the front lawn, under a tarp, with a big sign on it reading ‘Salvation Army.’ Apparently, the truck came, and the driver knocked on the door, then left, as I was not here, without ever seeing the couch on my front lawn. They couldn’t get another truck scheduled until Friday, so I’ve had an old couch sitting on my front lawn all week. Granted, those who are familiar with my “landscaping” might say ‘but Dave, a crappy old couch is probably an improvement!’ And they’d be right. But still, if I’m going to have a couch on my front lawn, I want it to be on my terms, not because the Salvation Army can’t bother to pick up things they were scheduled to.

Shane: The intent was not to compliment commercials, but to disparage the bobbleheads… And, yes, the couch is an improvement… the plastic covering, not so much.

Shane: I’m not sure what I would have done if ABC didn’t split the screen to show Perkins walking to the locker room.

Dave: I love the unintentional humor index of basketball commentators sometimes. They’re always referring to the ‘length’ of tall, young black men, which always gives me the giggles. And now, Van Gundy just went on a whole shpiel about how Rondo needs to aim to score with his penetrations, which, well, the less said about that, the better.

Dave: Nice possession by L.A. Good ball movement, leading to an easy open 20-footer by Fisher, and a 20 point lead to the Boston timeout. Good stuff.

Shane: The theory coming into this series was that the Lakers had a great offense and the Celtics great defense. In the first 3 games, while the Lakers we not scoring at their usual pace, there hasn’t been much talk about the fact that the Lakers were getting good looks, but missing them. Now, in game 4, their hitting their open shots, and they’re up big. The real question to me is whether the Lakers will be able to hit open shots in Boston.

Dave: Degree of difficulty was 4.0 on the spinning dunk by Gasol, plus he sticks the landing. Final score: 9.7. But, of course, the Russian judge only gave him a 9.2, dropping his aggregate score.

Shane: And suddenly, it’s a game… so, where did the Lakers go, exactly?

Shane: I think we need more commercials starring robots. While we’re at it, WALL-E can star in every movie.

Shane: Looks like the Lakers are moving to the “Stand around and watch Kobe” offense… seems a bit early.

Shane: Ridiculously stupid (and obvious) foul from Vujacic… and the Celtics tie the game.

Shane: Kobe makes a great layup… and Garnett looks phenomenally intense for a guy sitting on the bench.

Dave: Sorry, phone call distraction. The Celtics defense has stepped up, but the Lakers O has completely degenerated. Suddenly Kobe has the ball in his hands, he’s holding it and giving ball fakes, and 4 other guys are standing in position, waiting for Kobe to take the shot. Which, of course, he does, since no one is moving to get it from him. Ugly stuff.

Shane: Turiaf is playing some solid D, and is really working on the boards… he’s prevented 2-3 offensive boards for the Celtics in the last 3 possessions.

Shane: Is this “Jumper” advertising campaign a sign of things to come? I feel like the DVD release is being pushed more than the theatrical release… With studios needing better DVD sales to break even on these under-performing “blockbuster” movies, I figure theatrical releases will stop being advertised at all… or something.

Dave: Public Service Announcement: According to Mark Jackson, “There’s nothing wrong with the chest bump.” Kids, don’t do drugs.

Dave: Is it possible that the Lakers’ O, with all that motion and ball movement, is too exhausting to play well for an entire 48-minute game? Because the rest of the team sure seems tired right now. Somehow, the Suns can play their game for 48 minutes, or at least at the peak of their recent run they could, but they also chose players specifically for their ability to do so. Right now, the Lakers bear no resemblance to the team that was on the court for the first two-and-a-half quarters.

Shane: So the Zen Master’s strategy is to stop using the offensive strategy that built a big first quarter lead and let Kobe hog the ball as 4 Celtics surround him, and 1 camps under the basket just in case… The Celtics are pursuing so hard, don’t there have to be back door opportunities somewhere.

Shane: Alright, I’ll ask… if the Lakers lose this one (which is looking likely, right now), do they roll over on Sunday? Or does the series go back to Boston?

Dave: Alright, I’ll answer. Assuming this lead (Celtics up 96-91) holds up, Celtics finish it Sunday. We’ve seen a Jackson team crumble like this before, the final Shaq/Kobe Lakers in ’04(?), and this Lakers team doesn’t seem able to put together 48 solid minutes.

Shane: In the annals of the worst possessions late in the 4th after a timeout, that was one of them.

Shane: And that’s it… The Lakers need to figure out how to beat that aggressive Celtics D, or they’re done.

Dave: I must say, I’m quite surprised. I really thought that the Lakers had the more talented, deeper squad. Jackson appears unable to motivate his players to play 48 minutes of good offense, and the Lakers are not talented enough defensively to keep the pressure on all game. The Celtics defense really creates their offense, so the game on Sunday will definitely come down to the Lakers’ O vs. the Celtics D.

Shane: I think I’m surprised too…  the Celtics struggled mightily in the early rounds, and it never really seems like they would put it together. But, they have. On the other hand, the Lakers haven’t faced a defense like this either…  If I had to pick one, dominant, cause, I’d say it’s the Lakers’ inexperience. I think it’s easy to forget how young the team is. I guess we’ll see what happens Sunday.

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