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Sunday, June 08, 2008

NBA Finals: Not What Lakers Fans Bargained For

It is hard to describe how I feel after game 2 of the NBA Finals. With the Los Angeles Lakers losing Game 2 in a spectacular fashion with a failed comeback to the Boston Celtics, and by experiencing a huge disparity in refereeing yet almost winning both games it is difficult.

But, I can try...

I am disappointed. I am annoyed. I am mad. I am tired. I am worried. I am wondering what should have been. I am hopeful.

There, at least that is a start.

And now, for a couple of observations that I have from Game 2 of the NBA Finals. (Before I read what Henry Abbott will put together on TrueHoop in the morning.)

Did anyone notice that for Game 2, a new line across the center of the court was installed to clearly denote the back court from the front court?

Seems like the NBA asked the Garden to make a change after that monstrosity of a Larry O'Brien trophy was responsible for two bad calls that went against the Lakers in Game 1. First it was the phantom backcourt violation by Pau Gasol, then it was the non-call when Kevin Garnett went over the line to flip the ball back into play. In Game 2, a line appeared across the center of the court and not surprising -- no backcourt miscues.

Boston Garden changes the floor for the Pat O'Brien trophy with a newly added center line after Game 1 controversies.Boston Garden changes the floor for the Pat O'Brien trophy with a newly added center line after Game 1 controversy. See red circle for the line that was added for clarity.

Yes there was a free throw shooting disparity, was it really 38-10? NBA Referees have "Garden Fever", only seeing fouls the Lakers commit.

I keep looking at this stat and it is the one that stands out the most to me. 38-10 (19-2 at halftime!), that is a huge disparity. 38-30, 38-25, even 38-20 might have been considered within reason. We are talking about 28 more opportunities to score -- that is more than the Celtics largest lead. Definitely some home cooking going on there. While I do not believe the NBA conspiracy theories about referees being in on these things, it is hard to imagine that anyone thinks this game was called consistently. Just another case of Boston "Garden Fever". Guess we can add it to the list with Bloody Socks and Spygate.

Want to know what is even more spectacular? The Lakers, criticized for their jump shooting ways in Game 1 (where there was only a 7 free throw difference), went to the basket time after time in the first half. Only to see no-call after no-call when similar hacks and holds led to free throws for Boston on the other side of the court. Most have not looked at the shot charts from inside the elbow and paint. Is that really 20 shots inside by the Lakers to 17 by the Celtic. I guess the Lakers were not settling for "just" jumpers.

To put this in a little perspective, Utah cried foul after the first game of the Round 2 series against the Lakers. What was the free-throw disparity? 46-30, only a difference of 16 attempts. If a differential of 16 is considered a disparity, what the heck is 28?

Interesting. As long as the Lakers enjoy the same benefit at Staples Center, that is fine by me. But, it could also go either way as in Game 2 of that same series, the Lakers had a 43-16 free throw differential. Let's hope it does not get any worse.

Hats off to Leon Powe.

The guy came to play and had a great game. The coast-to-coast made me sick as he went to the bucket without on Laker stopping the ball. Awful defense. Did ABC have a time machine or did they coincidently just happen to air his story on the night of his career?

Kobe Bryant's performance.

I heard it on ESPN radio tonight, and I am sure the Kobe haters will be out tomorrow on TrueHoop and other blogs crucifying Kobe Bryan publicly yet again for this performance. If you follow my rationale below, you will clearly see that this is not the case for Game 2. I will be the first to agree that Kobe was off in Game 1.

Let's break down that box score a little bit from tonight. 11-23 from the field, 1-3 on three pointers, and 7-7 from the line for 30 points, with 8 assists and 4 rebounds. A very good performance overall.

However, let's dig into this a little bit and focus on the foul disparity. Let's just say on 4 of those missed shots (I would suggest it was closer to 6-7) that Kobe is fouled and it is called. And again, conservatively let's say that he only makes 6 of the remaining 8 free throws. What does that look like?

11-19 from the field, 1-3 on three pointers, 13-15 from the line for 36 points. Pair that up with the 8 assists and 4 rebounds, and that is the MVP caliber performance we are all looking for. That is the kind of game Kobe played tonight.

The Lakers have a lot to be happy about.

Ok, so we did not steal one of the two games like we had hoped. However, this "great" Boston Celtics defense never held you under 85 points, you scored over 100 points once and both games were in contention in the last two minutes. The Celtics were not able to come up with a convincing win on their home floor in either game. You had a chance to steal both games. There is a lot to look forward to in Los Angeles on Tuesday night.

The Celtics defense is not that great, we are constantly getting open looks. Do you think Boston will really shot 64.3% from the 3-point line the rest of the series. It is just going to be more fun that what you original anticipated.

Don't see it my way? Sound off with a comment below.