I don’t love this pick. In fact, I barely will stand up for it. But I went on a friend’s radio program yesterday and said “Celts in Six” so I guess I have no choice but to dance with that so-so looking girl.
So why the hesitation? Well, the big problem I see with this pick is that it requires the Celts to polish the Lakers off in Los Angeles where the Lakers recent playoff success is ridiculous. Yeah, the Celts got one out there in 2008 but that was then and this is now. And assuming that the Celts won’t be able to sweep those middle three games in Boston, it means that the Celts will have to win TWO games in LA to make “Celts in Six” a reality. That is no easy matter.
But I think this is doable and that is because I think the Celts are deeper, tougher and perhaps just as skilled.
So here is my thesis. My baseline assumes Andrew Bynum is irrelevant. He’s soft to begin with and now that he’s hurt, I expect him to answer ausente when attendance is called. Now this isn’t a huge hit but what it does is it really shortens the LA bench and it frees Perkins and Wallace and KG to circle and pound Pau Gasol. And I mean pound. Gasol is clearly a better player than he was in 2008 but maneuvering against Boston’s front line is going to be a lot tougher than facing OKC, Phoenix and an Okur-less Utah. I assume Gasol will still get his, but I don’t see him putting up 26 and 12 nights on 10-16 shooting. He may still get his 26, but it will take him 21 shots and it will come with just nine rebounds.
Other than that, I think the Boston bench is superior, I think Fisher will get marked by either Rondo or Allen, I feel the Celts are probably +6 on the boards, and I am not so worried about KG now that he is free from Dwight Howard’s shadow. On the negative side, I am concerned when it comes to Boston’s ability to close out games, I don’t love Pierce going one-on-one with Artest and how can you not be worried about Kobe late in the game. And somewhere in the grey area is Odom. If he plays like he did in 2008, the Lakers are pretty two-dimensional and defensible. But if the 2009 Odom shows up, the Lakers become a much tougher fight.
That is a bowl full of worries but in the end, I think Boston’s defense is far superior to anything LA has seen and so long as Boston protects the ball, I think they will have enough cushion to absorb Kobe’s late brilliance. As such, I think the games will be highly competitive, particularly down the stretch, but I think the Celts will get it done. It won’t be easy but come November, the Celts will be hanging another banner and number eighteen will go down with 1969 and 1984 as one of the more special titles in Celtic history.