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NBA Finals Game 1 Retrospective

I decided to go with a retrospective diary for Game 1 of the Finals rather than our typical live blog. Why? Because my normal partner-in-crime, Britton Dennis – who happens to be a Lakers incredi-fan – is far too ADHD right now, to participate in anything live where he’d be expected to provide more than minimal side-bar commentary. His left leg has been in full-twitch mode and he’s been talking to himself with such a fury, I think he’s averaging more crazy words per-minute than Ron Artest’s Twitter page.

It’s halftime at Staples meaning only one thing; all the celebs are drinking in their secret club below the stands. Everyone but Will Ferrell that is, who hasn’t made a decent film since Anchorman. I can just imagine Ferrell standing outside, at the front of the line to get in, screaming at Leo DiCaprio to, “GET OFF THE SHED!”

That’s what happens when you make movies like Step Brothers, Curious George and Kicking and Screaming.

All really bad decisions.

By the by, a fascinating half-time feature by Jackie MacMullan, who sat with Kobe as he watched and broke down film of the all-time greats he stole moves from. Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Magic Johnson and finally, Michael Jordan. Kobe was in rare form, with a sparkle in his eye typically reserved for Sasha Vujacic, after a soothing glass of Merlot.

12:00 – Obligatory Britton Dennis quote:

“(Grunt) Well… I’m pretty sure the Celtics are going to come out and go on a 10-0 run, and I’m going to die a little inside.”

A good one to be sure, but it doesn’t even touch something he proclaimed to his roommate and I during the second quarter:

“I don’t want to tell you guys who to root for, but the Celtics practice the Dark Arts.”

Leave it to Britton to infuse a little Harry Potter into the Finals.

11:36 – Artest picks up his third foul, as he bends over to upend a charging Ray Allen.

(I just re-read that sentence. That didn’t sound right.)

That move was like the anti-clothesline. Totally makes sense it came from Ron-Ron.

11:29 – And Derek Fisher with HIS third foul. If the Lakers want to maintain control of this game, they’re going to have to take control of themselves.

10:15 – Rondo takes it through the lane completely out of control and heaves up an under-arm, prayer of a scoop shot.

I’ll tell you, for as good as Rondo has looked in these playoffs, it seems as though he has developed the cockiness of 2006 Kobe. Meaning, he takes any shot he wants, in spite of open teammates.

The big problem: He can only make a few types of shots. Transition lay-ups, dribble-drive scoops and a handful of open fifteen-footers. That’s it.

Good enough arsenal to do serious damage, but not really enough to take stupid shots. Especially when two of your teammates are Ray Allen and Paul Pierce.

9:04 – Kobe ropes Allen into his fourth foul, sending him to the bench. Ray’s only been on the floor for 15 minutes so far, giving him more than enough time to contemplate what a 2010 cheeseburger must taste like.

If you’re lost, we learned in the first half that Ray hasn’t enjoyed a burger since high school, prompting Jeff Van Gundy (JVG) to wonder how every time Allen passes an In-n-Out Burger, he’s able to pass on the goodness inside.

I’m not sure JVG realizes Boston doesn’t have In-n-Out.

I’m also not sure if JVG realizes he’s on-the-air. Live. He needs an inner mute button tonight. And I usually don’t mind JVG. It’s typically Mark Jackson that makes me want to stuff dirty socks in my ears.

7:35 – Pierce with a pretty pull-up J.

59-50, Lakers.

7:00 – Kobe answers right back, 18 points on the night.

Right before Kobe sunk his leaner, Artest looked primed to drive to the basket. Britton shouted, “NO!” roughly a dozen times. No faith in Artest right now.

Not that I blame him.

61-50, Lakers.

5:47 – During the break ABC ran a promo for The Other Guys. Britton and I couldn’t have had more opposite reactions. I piped up expressing my disappointment in Mark Wahlberg for even being involved, while Britton said at the very least, he was intrigued.

(Note: Though after watching the entire trailer, with some coaxing, I too might be a little intrigued. I do really like Mark Wahlberg after all. This had better not be another Blades of Glory, where Ferrell tricks me into thinking a film is going to be funny, before he completely craps the bed. I wish Ferrell was relevant. It would make things so much easier.)

4:48 – Pau Gasol does nothing to shed his reputation as one of the league’s best/worst floppers, as he completely feigns a bump from Garnett, literally CRASHING to the floor.

The refs blew the whistle… on GASOL. Hey, if the NBA refuses to make flopping an official personal foul, I say that refs should just call the bump on the flopping-offender anyway. Like they just did.

Garnett makes both free throws.

67-58, Lakers.

3:28 – JVG – while speaking of Pau’s dominance – just said that Gasol is the best big man in the league and thus should act like it…

He wasn’t joking.

At least, I don’t think he was joking.

Was he joking?

Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, Amar’e Stoudamire and Dirk Nowitzki would all like to have words with JVG after the game.

2:10 – A fantastic sequence for Laker fans…

Kobe blocks Tony Allen on one end, but Derek Fisher bricks a leaner on the other (ok, that part wasn’t so hot).

KG then misses a 20-footer from the top of the key, outlet went to Fisher, who then tossed a gorgeous alley-oop to Kobe, right over Garnett, who had quickly run back on defense.

He was the ONLY Celtic to get back on D, a frequent sight these past three quarters. I know Ray Allen has been in foul trouble most of the half, but Boston absolutely HAS to get some intensity out of someone other than Garnett.

Pierce looks like he’s close to wanting it. We’ll stay tuned on that one.

I’m not sure Rondo is still in the arena. “Where’s Rondo?” could be a Laker children’s book, spoofing the old Waldo series, should L.A. win the title. If I was a Laker fan and had any kind of artistic ability, I’d get right on that one.

But I’m not and I don’t. So instead I’ll go back to dreaming of LeBron in a Clippers jersey.

75-62, Lakers.

1:39 – In a desperate plea to generate some energy – and offense – the Celts bring in Ray’s four fouls. So what happens? Kobe immediately baits him into a quick FIFTH FOUL. Back to the bench for Allen.

Kobe swishes both foul shots, prompting the first, “Boston Sucks” chant of the night. Contrary to popular belief, L.A. is not a city of creativity. I know, I know, Hollywood is STUNNED.

77-62, Lakers.

:46.3 – Down by 15, Rasheed decides it wouldn’t be a Finals game without getting T’ed up. His fifth in the postseason.

So Rasheed now sits two techs away from a suspension, with Kendrick Perkins only one shy.

81-64, Lakers.

To close the third quarter, Ron Artest nails a three, putting the Lakers up by TWENTY.

I’m calling it right now. This game is OVER.

84-64, Lakers.

Fourth Quarter

12:00 – Because the game itself isn’t interesting enough to talk about, Britton and I just spent the break discussing one of Bill Simmons’ poll questions. It was essentially whether or not the NBA should adopt the yellow/red card system, which soccer and rugby each use.

We both said yes.

I noted that by adopting the card system, the NBA could also alter the suspension rule. Yellow cards or “first offenses in a game” wouldn’t count towards a potential suspension. You mess up once in a game, no biggie. The NBA will allow you some grace. Red cards or “second offenses in a game” would count towards a player’s running point total. Get three red cards – or points – and receive a one game suspension.

I really don’t see how that could fail. Plus, cards are so much more entertaining than techs. Can you picture refs running up and down the court with cards hanging off their shorts? And then making a big show of potentially running a player by calling over, say, Rasheed Wallace, and reaching down – as we eagerly anticipate which color he’d be presented with – to pull out a card?

Ah, too bad… it was only a yellow card this time.

Wait…

RASHEED IS STILL YAPPING!

COULD HE?

YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES!!!! RED CARD!!!! HE’S GONE!!!!

(See how exciting that would be?)

8:36 – Lamar ricochets a line-drive three off the side of the rim. Laker fans are less than thrilled right now.

Especially since Pierce collects a dribble-drive foul on the opposite end. Celts have a chance to make this an eleven point game.

Britton is not shocked about this run, nor is he talking much. The leg has stopped shaking. I feel a little bad for him.

At least I did feel a little bad for him. Then I realized his team is up by 13 in the NBA Finals. While mine (the Clippers) is sitting at home, praying LeBron will notice them, maybe flirt a little, and against all odds agree to a date. Hopefully leading to a long-term relationship.

Pierce sinks both free-throws.

85-74, Lakers.

6:42 – Lamar picks up his fifth foul, going over the back against Big Baby.

It’s a good thing L.A. has a better chance of feeding Ray Allen a post-game bacon cheeseburger, than losing this game.

6:12 – You know that, “Good Sportsmanship, Pass It On” commercial? What do you think Phil Jackson would do if Jordan Farmar ever solemnly approached him during a timeout and said, “Coach… I touched it”? Would Phil simply slap him in the face? Would he shove him into the Gatorade cooler? Would he give him the Sweet Chin Music? Would he banish him to an evening on the town with Ron Artest?

These are the types of things I’d like to see during timeouts. Not coaches telling their team to play more aggressive around the basket.

5:06 – Pierce knocks down a jumper and JVG starts talking smack about Mark Jackson’s Scrabble ability.

I feel like getting hit in the face with a Luke Walton inbound pass right now.

93-80, Lakers.

4:11 – Pierce back to the line, hitting both. P.P. is desperately trying to keep Boston in it right now. Every time down the floor he’s looking for the rim. Rondo hasn’t been seen for 20 minutes. He probably went to get a snow cone.

93-82, Lakers.

2:07 – Right as I say out-loud to no one in particular, “Pierce isn’t looking for anyone but himself right now,” on cue, he takes a Rondo pass (THERE HE IS!) and heads straight to the paint, getting fouled. He makes one of two.

Then Artest nails a three. That should do it. Good night Boston.

99-84, Lakers.

:26.5 – After the Lakers just dribble down the clock, Pierce passes. Only he definitely did not. Instead he dribbles a few times, picks the ball up, dribbles again and then draws the foul. Apparently traveling isn’t against the rules in the Finals.

Because Kobe is a straight-up gangster killer, he jacks up a three and NAILS it.

FINAL SCORE: 102-89 Lakers.

Oh and a Phil Jackson led team has never lost a playoff series after winning the first game.

Good luck with that Boston.

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