Monthly Archives: June 2008

Odenized Just Went Nova.

My first reaction? “Holy Sh*t Balls.”

Ryne Nelson, AKA Odenized, AKA The Jones’ Mascot, AKA My Homey Ryone, has just bumped up a paygrade.

Shifty little bastard is taking over as editor… of SLAM Online.

That’s right. A blogger. Is Online Editor. Of SLAM freaking magazine.

This is the guy I’m used to harassing for violent dunks and my favorite commercials or interviews. We shared a common love of the absurdly ridiculous, often passing back and forth absurd moments we’d catch on League Pass. Him sending me links from his network of video, me tipping him off about clips to pull.

And now he’s the editor of the biggest basketball magazine on the planet’s online section.

Stunning.

Cheers, Ryne. Couldn’t have happened to a better blogger.

Immediately, there have been two reactions. “What? Ryne can speak/write? I thought he was a nebulous force that just ejected video like an NBA blog version of the Wizard of Oz, frightening us with his entertaining and quirky magic!” and “I’m telling you, you’re seeing bloggers get more and more legit gigs.” And that’s certainly something to look at. But tonight is for celebration, muchachos.

As tribute, I give you the greatest thing Ryne ever sent me, which I requested for a week after seeing it during my week long LeBron binge, where I watched the Cavs four times in a span of 8 days.

Here’s to you, Ryne. We have all the faith in the world in you. Cheers, buddy.

Deadspin, The Big Lead, Bissinger, The LA Times, and The Three Handled Online Media Gredunza of Doom

Okay, to catch you up.

LA Times does a story on blogging, featuring The Big Lead’s Jason McIntyre.

The Big Lead clarifies and stands by its/his position.

Deadspin opens fire on the article and, though respectfully, McIntyre.

Some of these debates we let go by. There are a number of pitches that we don’t swing at. But this one we’ll weigh in on, because it touches a nerve.

In the article, Jason/The Big (?) mentions a “sketchy middle ground” that sports blogs are being pulled towards. This caught me because HP is smack dab in the middle of that sketchy middle ground.

Every single day I wake up, and pray for many things.

The ability to fly.

A car that transforms into a dinosaur with a flamethrower in its mouth.

Soundgarden to reunite.

But one thing I also tend to pray for is this.

“Dear Lord, giver of Dwight Howard and taker away of Shaun Livingston’s internal leg structure, please, give me a job blogging. It’s all I want to do. And every second I spend processing reports, moving Excel columns around and fake smiling at pictures of coworkers’ kids is another second closer to my inevitable psychotic breakdown. Thanks, Lord. ‘Preciate it.”

You know, along with every other blogger on the planet.

When I started HP, I really just intended to goof around: “Hey! I can make snarky comments about X player sucking! Whee!” When it took off, or however you would describe it, I had to re-examine the goals. And I slowly pushed them higher, wondering how far I could take it. And now HP is in a really weird place.

First, there’s the issue of “should we want access.” Will, of course, has always been vehemently against “access, favor, or discretion.” After reading the book, it makes a lot of sense. It’s essential to his approach, and that of Deadspin. He’s also got a real beef against the mainstream media columnists. Like we all do. Jay Mariotti is my personal pet peeve. The man puts pixels to screen in a word processor and my soul dies a little bit. So Will’s got a bent against the journalism thing, and he’s brought a voice to that dissent.

Contrast that with another one of this site’s role models. TrueHoop. Henry Abbott’s got a strong journalism background and an approach to professionalism that is second to none. He’s a blogger, but to him, blogging is just software. It’s not an ideology.

So when we started to find out things about how our work was being spread around, we were shocked and confused. We found out that a major blogger had sent one of our pieces about how the NBA programming schedule was moronic to… the people in charge of NBA programming. That took me back a step. It changed a lot of the way I started to look at things, because now, it wasn’t just me venting to a bunch of other guys in offices, the people I was writing things to were reading me calling them a bunch of f*ckheads. Now, don’t get me wrong. I will still maintain that sticking the Lakers on national television 1 billion times and the Heat 50,000 was a poor policy, popularity of the Lakers be damned. But I also don’t want someone out there posting a letter talking about how I suck at my day job. You can write about me sucking at this gig. This is open for such criticism, it calls for it, and honestly, a lot of the time, it makes me do a better job.

Then all of a sudden, doors started to open for us. I asked myself, “If I’ve got a chance to cover the All-Star game, but I know that people with a traditional media background that are reviewing my credential application are looking at HP, what do I do?” I ended up cleaning it up a little bit, just making sure that the first thing they read wasn’t one of our more, um.. liberal pieces. Because for me, access does actually help. I originally thought of access the wrong way. My only thought was, “Wow, I could get interviews with players, and that will bump my hits.” Well, that’s kind of true. Unfortunately, player interviews are uniformly and largely boring. I’ll still do them if I find I have an interesting approach to it, or if its for a larger article, or you know, if someone pays me (but we’ll come back to the issue of payment).

However, getting to see games and practices, and talking to coaches and front office officials? That does help. Because we look at the big picture a lot around here, and to do that we examine small stuff, and those are details that don’t get picked up by beat reporters trying to slam out their piece in 40 minutes to make a deadline, or the columnist trying to explain why a coach should be fired, or by watching ESPN. The small stuff helps me with a bigger picture, which helps me be more informative, which means that when I write something, it won’t just entertain, but actually provide some inside information on why certain things happen.


So, yeah, there have been days where I’ll bump one of Corn’s obscene rants to the bottom of the page and keep my bland analysis to the top of the fold. This of course, results in a screaming phone call from Corn later and various insults thrown at me for the better part of a week. Look, if I could get the press media agents to see that just because we have a different tone doesn’t mean we don’t have an audience or a legitimate insight, I would. But they’re not going to. And as long as that’s the case, as long as they see expletives and such and decide it lessens our credibility, which affects whether they grant us credentials, I’ll continue to manipulate our image. Because I want to be able to write well. And part of that is research.

There was some discussion during the Cuban debacle (you know, the blogger one, not the Bay of Pigs one), about whether I was just after free seats to a game and the food. I’ve got news for you. I have a wife, a day job, and an addiction to OneMoreLevel.com. Driving three hours to hang out with journalists in an environment where players are skeptical and defensive towards me and routinely hand out scripted answers doesn’t exactly get me jumping for joy. And I don’t eat the food. So there’s that. I genuinely feel like my site gets a lot out of having access, and think it’s good for the work. I respect that Deadspin doesn’t need it, but that in itself brings me to another point, and the most important.

We’re not all going to be Deadspin.

Deadspin is a phenomenon. It’s a movement. It’s a juggernaut. It’s the Big One (versus The Big Lead). And it’s a terrific site. I was totally on Will’s side in the Bissinger debate, and think that in all honesty, we do a disservice to ourselves as an artistic/journalistic/blogospheric/whatever-you-want-to-call-it community by giving the old codger the: “Well, if you listen to his points…” No. He screamed at a representative of what sports bloggers do. Bissinger makes broad generalizations that are picked up by other mainstream media outlets as a rallying cry against us, when we have yet to take a gig from them, or show any such interest. In this instance, seeking out the minority voice does us no good, because Bissinger’s viewpoint is representative of a larger, mainstream attitude towards sports bloggers. Bissinger’s a great novelist who’s out of touch and out of place on this issue. You want to be in on the discussion? Grow up, quit spitting names and screaming, and let’s have a discussion.

But in Leitch v. McIntryre I, I have a hard time getting behind Deadspin’s declaration of outrage. Why? Because I don’t have a book deal. I don’t have a magazine gig. I guest spot a lot of places, and enjoy it, but I’m not getting paid, outside of the FanHouse gig, and trust me, there are enough talented writers over there that it’s not like I’m top of the charts. I’m in that sketchy middle ground that McIntyre mentioned, because I have to be. Because I will do whatever I have to in order to get where I’m trying to go, as long as I don’t completely sell out my integrity, my family’s welfare, or my ability to call Vince Carter a douchebag. That’s the one exception I’ll make. Deadspin can do what it wants to, because it was honestly the first major sports blog on the scene. It’s the flagship. And it sets the rules. And the odds of anything else coming to rival it without a ton of financial support and resources is unlikely. When you’re the only game in town, and you get paid more than everyone else, you can make those kinds of decisions. The rest of us can’t afford to, as much as we may like to.

What frustrates me most about this situation is how generalized it’s become. Journalists can be lumped together. Why? They have codes. And ethics. And formal organizations with membership and I’m sure handshakes and winking and elbow-rubbing and God knows what else. Lord knows that’s what one of the best journalism schools in the country was like when I was there. And it was a big reason for why I didn’t end up as a part of it, even though I clearly have a thing for writing.

We can’t be lumped together. What I’m trying to do with HP and with my career is completely different from Skeets, or KD, or TrueHoop, or BlogABull, or The Dream Shake, or BrewHoop, or, God help me, Friedman. Some of us blog because it’s fun, and that’s all we want: A place to talk about how much Rafer Alston is the worst point guard of all time, in their flawed little opinions. Some have been given the opportunity to do it professionally, even if it means they can’t write elsewhere, and even if they are constrained by editors. Some of us want to get paid and will essentially make their blog an ode to Kobe Bryant in order to somehow cajole a media agent to hire them for the next magazine promo gig. But the point is that none of us have the same goals, the same time to write, the same resources, the same salary. So to say that we all should do one thing or another is ridiculous. Because I’d be totally willing to bar cursing entirely if it meant I could do this professionally, and if I could do this professionally and get away with it, you can be sure I’d curse as much as I do now, if not more. But with the rules the way they are, I choose to bend them. And I think HP’s do a pretty good job. I’m not completely without scruples, and there are definitely things I won’t do. If a team hired me, I wouldn’t blog about them on HP anymore. It just wouldn’t be in the spirit of the site.

So just to review: Bissinger=still an assh*le. HP,=still doing the weak sauce apostrophe thing (which I should note, Corn HATES). Deadspin=still king of the hill, but needs to realize the difference between itself and the rest of the sports blogosphere. The Big Lead= not unreasonable, but I don’t agree with all of their opinions on this. Sports blogs= diverse. And Vince Carter still = Douchebag.

However, to the people in the NBA National Television Programming Department, I just wanted to say I’m sorry. Because while athletes and GMs and coaches get paid millions of dollars to be part of an organized game, and therefore have to accept the criticism that comes with it, I wouldn’t want someone blasting out about how crappy my work on that Powerpoint presentation is. Sorry about that. You’re not f*ckheads. Just put New Orleans and Atlanta on a little more next year, cool?

Holy Crap, There’s Two Of Them

How awesome is it that there’s an awesome new blog, and it now makes two kickass daily reads about the Memphis freaking Grizzlies?

Plus now we have Cavs and Heat blogs. Although the Cavs blog needs to quit wasting its time with baseball. We joke, we joke.

I think that just about seals it up. We need a few stronger ones in select places.

But I hereby declare the state of the NBA Blogosphere to be strong and healthy, with great potential and tremendous ridiculous upside.

Great Exercises in Internet NBA-Related Postings 6.23.08

I can breathe! I can breathe again! And so, I can dump links with witty commentary again! Woo-hoo! As a friend of mine likes to say, embrace the offseason!

Offseason Survival Guide, Day 1

Oh, God. It’s actually happened. We have to make it 4+ months till next season. 4 months with nothing but next week’s draft, summer league, and the Olympics to get us through. It’s going to be okay, though. Do you hear me? We’re going to get through this, together. So to help you out, each day from now till the start of the season, we’re going to give you something to do that translates and reminds you of the game.

Today’s thing to do to kill time before the 2008-2009 NBA Season:

Watch George Carlin videos.

It’s important to laugh in these tough times, and with Carlin’s passing last night, we feel it’s vital that you immediately watch as many as possible. In this way, you can remember the irreverence of Nellie Ball, the defiance of the Hawks, the anger of Yao Ming, and, well… Ron Artest. Carlin would want to kick the living sh*t out of us for getting all sappy, so I’ll just say he’s been one of my biggest heroes and influences, and it sucks he’s gone. So long, buddy. If there is an afterlife, we know you’re pissing someone off in it.

JCNOOOOOOOOOO!

NO, Juan Carlos!

Why?

Why would you do this to us?

Are we not good enough for you?

What about our good times? Have you forgotten this?

Does that mean nothing to you?

I’m seriously bummed about this. I don’t have an NBA team to call my own, but I have a special affection for the Grizzlies. I will maintain that this team was better than its record, which is supported by their point differential. The were better than six other teams in that department, and they tended to hang with teams before getting crushed late, or fall into deep first quarter holes and find themselves unable to dig out of it. But they have Rudy Gay, one of the best up and coming players in the league. They have (had) three promising young guards. They have Warrick, who’s rediscovered a love for being a beast, and they have Darko, who, while he may never be the starting beast we hoped for, is still slowly becoming a solid center that adds a lot outside of the box score.

Losing JCN is crushing. I loved watching the guy play. Speed, athleticism, three point shooting ability. And even though he wasn’t that big of a piece of the Grizzlies’ lineup, and most Memphis fans are going “meh,” it doesn’t make it suck any less. Navarro’s the type of player that is part of our philosophy, if we have one. Streaky, under the radar, and brilliant for small stretches. And now the only time we’ll see him is if we get to see the Olympic coverage. Devastating.

By the way, shouldn’t the Spanish team destroy everyone except us? I mean, Gasol, JCN, Fernandez, Calderon … that’s a hell of a lineup. As long as they don’t run into a fleet of Kendrick Perkins, they should be fine.

But getting back to Navarro, we’re really sad at this. It’s time to focus our positive energies on Javaris Crittenton, I guess. Just a shame that the European market is making such strides in catching up with the US. I hear Andre Barrett is close to signing overseas as well. Stupid economy, depriving me of lightning fast combo guards.

We’ll miss you, JCN. Viva el Navarro.

Boston Celtics, 2007-2008 NBA Champions

Congratulations to the Boston Celtics, the best team in the NBA for the 2007-2008 season, the 2008 Playoffs, and the 2008 NBA Finals. I’ve criticized KG when I felt it was necessary, rooted for him when he was emotional, and rooted for him tonight. It was awesome to see him win the championship and to see all that emotion pour out of him. I loved Pierce in those playoff season when he was holding that team up. To see him vindicated was absolutely phenomenal, and he was the Truth. For Ray Allen to come back from his slump, that was legendary. He was incredible, with so much confidence. Calm, confident, and focused.

For the Lakers?

Um.

Yeah, they got killed. I guess my initial instincts were correct, but even I didn’t see this coming. A complete and total disgrace on the court tonight. Look, the Celtics’ defense would have killed anyone. But to completely fail to compete? Damn. Let’s go to the bullet thoughts, shall we?

  • You know, doubling in the block is great. Closing out on perimeter defense about 50% of the time? That’s nice. But maybe, just maybe, you should start with, oh, I don’t know, DEFENDING UNDERNEATH THE LITTLE RING WITH THE NET HANGING FROM IT. How many dunks, lay-ins, and easy buckets did they get tonight? I mean, don’t get me wrong, the “3 pointers decide the game” theorem continued it’s dominance tonight (Lakers hit 10, shot 37% from the arc, Boston hit 13, shot 50%), but seriously, the shot chart doesn’t do the offensive rebounding advantage (14-2…!) justice, and easy underneath buckets justice. Which, of course, will be defended by Lakers fans as easily fixed by…
  • The Bynum Question. “If Bynum was in there, we would have won! Lakers Rule!” Look. Bynum coming back could help. It could push them into an atmosphere. They could win 82 games. Okay, maybe not. But it could all work out. But three months of improvement does not a career make, especially not in the face of two knee surgeries. He could come back 100%. He could not. You remember “Oh, he’ll be back in March!”? How about “Oh, he’ll be back for the second round.” Yeah, that was a while ago, kids. I’m not raining on the parade. The Lakers were the best team in the Western Conference. And I put them tops to make it back here, probably a 3-1, maybe 5-1 depending on what the Blazers do in the offseason. I’m just saying, let’s not pretend like all the Lakers’ problems would have been solved by the presence of Bynum. A first-aid kit won’t heal a series of gunshot wounds, defensively.
  • Oh, Lamar. I do think Odom will benefit from Bynum the most. I’ve long said he’s an oversized 3, and Bynum’s presence will allow him to play there. Maybe he’s not good as the second option, or the third option, but maybe the fourth? It sounds weak, but it’s impossible to give up on Odom, with all the flashes of brilliance he exhibits. Or maybe he’s deadly as a third option, but only in the regular season, and can be solved in the playoffs. But with Bynum on the floor, he gets to slash and kick and work on his face-up, and maybe, just maybe, drop some layups. But this series was a disaster for him. He was outworked, outclassed, and outsmarted on a consistent basis. If anyone’s going to get traded, it’s Odom. It’s unlikely, considering the Lakers’ tenuous cap situation and the fact that they, you know, made the Finals. But Ziller thinks so, and I heard something of value on ESPN radio today (I know, shocker). Jalen Rose said if you don’t make adjustments in the offseason, you don’t go forward, you go back. Might be true, might not.
  • Pau Gasol is a soft Euro Forward/Center with a few great hook shots and a terrific game at the elbow, but who suffers in rebounding and post defense. We knew this before the season, we knew this in Memphis, we knew this when the trade went through, and we know this now. Just the facts, mi amigo.
  • 22 Points on 7-22 shooting, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 4 turnovers. M.V.P.
  • But no, we’ll let this one slide. There wasn’t anything Bryant could do. I think he honestly wanted to start taking over the game in the 2nd, but once the Celtics pushed into the lead, they weren’t letting Kobe loose. We’ll talk about the defense in a minute, but Kobe wasn’t going to be able to do anything. Everytime he went around the screen, he was doubled, immediately. The one time he did split the double team? He found another one waiting in the lane. So he drove and kicked to Sasha. Who bobbled the pass. Again. I don’t know whether it was Bryant’s passing, or the shooter’s hands, but no one could catch a damn thing tonight. It looks like there should be another pass there, but you can’t once you give the Celtics a chance to recover. When they close, that’s it. You’re either shooting over them, or not shooting at all. Or tossing up bad shots. Thing is. Farmar and Vujacic were 4 of 6 from the arc. So there were shooters. So why weren’t they out there more? And who was in their place? Big men, like Turiaf and Ariza? No! It was everyone’s favorite!
  • Vlad Radmanovic? Really, Jax? Really? 20 minutes? Really? Again? Really?
  • I’m not going to dog Doc Rivers. He’ll get his due. But when you look at it? Jackson underperformed, more than Rivers rose up. Jackson badly managed his roster, failed to make adequate adjustments, didn’t go back to what was working (Gasol in the post), presumably out of some sort of misguided stubbornness about what he considers to be the gameplan. This is a dynamic game, and he forgot that in this series, wrapped up in his own genius.
  • Oh, yeah, and like the Paroxi-wife always says, “Luke Walton looks like a weasel.” Not a judgment statement. Just a fact. Weasel-like, she says.

On to the Celtics, and one of the greatest team performances in NBA Finals history.

  • Let’s start with Rondo. The whole series, he was trying to be something he’s not. The guy that flashes to the rim and hits a crazy layup. Or nails the pull up J. He’s not Chris Paul. He’s not Deron Williams. And he doesn’t need to be, and he shouldn’t be. Tonight, for whatever reason, he remembered what he is. He facilitated the offense, grabbed rebounds, played defense, and created turnovers, which he immediately turned into transition opportunities, if nothing else disrupting the Lakers’ full court trap, designed to limit the Celtics’ possession time. He committed himself to it, and he played superbly. He was a joy to watch, because he was just himself. LA, you got Rondo’d.
  • By the way, TrueHoop called it. He said young legs would be the difference. And with Rondo, that was certainly the case. Now if only Henry hadn’t taken the Lakers to win the series.
  • Speaking of young’ns, how about Big Baby Davis? The highlights from the first half are all going to show Davis’ lack of length getting him killed by Gasol, which is going to happen. But he wasn’t out there to do that. I felt like Davis should get burn so that he could provide energy and enthusiasm. And that’s what he did. If you’re hustling, you don’t need to be lights out.
  • I’ve bagged on Perkins at times in this series. I don’t think he had a great series. I think he had a great 2nd game, and a great sixth game. But tonight, he was more than great. Playing with that shoulder, and putting so much body on Gasol to get him just off enough to discourage him, was gritty.
  • James Posey. Book it, trademark 2008, J.E. Skeets. “Big. Game. James.”
  • Doc Rivers. Okay. Here goes. This is going to be painful.
  • Doc, I may have… been too harsh on you. Sigh. I’m sorry. I was wrong. You’re not Greg Popovich, but as someone that always says that you don’t need to be the best, you need to be the last guy standing at the right time, I have to admire you. You really inspired a team of veterans, and you made all the adjustments you needed to when you absolutely had to. You outcoached Phil Jackson. And it doesn’t really matter what I, or anyone else says. You’ve got the ring, now. And we can all kiss it.
  • If only for one night, Rivers used Perkins, Powe, and Davis in a three-headed monster, dynamic, interlocking mechanism that dominated the lane, controlled the boards, and flummoxed the Lakers’ frontcourt beyond frustration. Dominant.
  • Ray Allen. While KG was screaming and struggling and yelling and barking and passing out, where was Ray? Smiling. Confident. Working. And knocking down clutch three pointer after clutch three pointer. He led Bryant through a series of screens with precision that make the word “gauntlet” seem cuddly. And when he got the ball, unlike the Lakers’ shooters? He was ready to pull the trigger. And Ray had no doubts at all about it going in, our doubts be damned.
  • KG. Nothing got me tonight, emotionally speaking. The Garnett sick falling down and one got me yelling, as did a couple of his defensive plays, but really the one thing that really put it to me? His post game speech. I don’t care if it was scripted and overdone. One of my best friends in the entire world is getting married on Saturday, and when I give a speech at the rehearsal dinner, it’ll be scripted to a degree. And I’ll mean every second of it. Same deal.
  • The communication on defense stars and ends with Garnett. He’s always barking out orders, talking about adjustments, planning for the next attack. He’s lethal as a commander. And he finally brought it offensively. The turnaround. The spot up. Dunks. Putbacks. The full Ticket. And this time, El Tigre Monstruoso as he’s known around these parts, brought the bite with the bark.
  • The Motherfriggin’ Truth.
  • Pierce was the one guy beyond every player on the floor, Kobe included, who simply refused to get caught up in strategy, defensive adjustments, and confusion, and just attacked. Constantly. And it paid off for him time and time again. He was a tireless defender, no matter his assignment, and his offensive repertoire was every bit as dynamic as it ever has been.
  • This was without a doubt, the best dribble penetration defense I’ve ever seen, and Josh Smith, LeBron James, Tayshaun Prince, and Kobe Bryant can attest to that.
  • They were an excellent team, forged in a once in a lifetime opportunity. It paid off, and now the Celtics have more to add to their legacy, and another banner to hang.

Okay, well that wraps it up. We’ll have a piece up by the end of the week on where HP goes from here, as well as a season wrap up, and the start of the official HP offseason. We might have a little less up for a few days while we take a very hard earned break, but don’t worry, because we’ll be over at Ridiculous Upside, slinging the draft and D-League Voodoo.

Thanks for the season, NBA. Thanks to all the bloggers with us and for the links, advice, and support. We couldn’t have done it without you. Thanks to the Paroxi-wife and Corn-Girl, we DEFINITELY couldn’t have done it without you.

Great season, folks.

Let’s do it again soon.

Hardwood Paroxysm. Where The Fun’s Just Getting Started Happens.

NBA Finals Pre-Game 6 Thoughts

  • On the day of Game 4, I had predicted a Lakers win. But I woke up, and the first thing I thought after “God, I hate the sun” and “Man, my wife is smokin’” is “You know, the Lakers really can’t defend under the basket.” Then I went through my day and I found myself thinking as I was putting on socks, that “Wow. You know, Odom really doesn’t have a single matchup advantage because of his skillset right now.” I kept trying to shake it off. By mid-day, I was thinking, “Jackson just does not trust Farmar enough to let him get minutes.” And so on. I stuck with my original prediction, just as I am tonight. But I’m in the same situation. My original pre-series pick was Boston in six. I’ll stay with it. But I’m going to say right here that my matchup momentum gut feeling is with the Lakers.
  • Don from With Malice said that the longer this series goes, the more it favors the Lakers because of Jackson. There have been other suggestions that while Doc was winning the intragame adjustments, Jackson was winning the intergame adjustments, and with the smaller advantages becoming smaller, Jackson’s advantage was growing. I’m not sure about that. Jackson has still been flummoxed by Boston’s defense, and the Lakers have yet to play true Lakers ball yet. They start hot and then freeze. Burn, freeze, burn, freeze. The games are pretty much decided by what point the buzzer sounds in that cycle.
  • The big advantage for LA? They can improve, Boston can’t as much. Yes, Garnett can play better and Rondo can not act like he’s brain damaged and the Celtics can get back to rebounding. But the Lakers have Farmar who’s starting to realize “Hey, I’m really pretty good” and eventually, Turiaf’s going to have his big energy game. He doesn’t play well on the road, though, so that could be an issue. However, the Lakers simply have more healthy guns right now.
  • I don’t know what in the hell took him so long, but Jackson finally started to realize that the two-point backcourt with Bryant at the figurative 3 is a good idea against these guys. By putting more shooters on the floor, you force the Celtics to the perimeter, which opens the passing lanes. At some point tonight, the Celtics are simply going to have to try and freeze the Lakers’ supporting cast by saying “Fine. Take the three pointers and the 18 footers. You hit ‘em, you hit ‘em.” They got the series lead by dominating the glass. Abandoning that strategy for fear of Radmanovic, Vujacic, Fisher, and Farmar is not a good adjustment. Make those guys beat you for forty minutes.
  • Kevin Garnett must score 20+ and have a double double for the Celtics to win tonight.
  • We’re adding a new drinking stipulation to the BDL drinking game tonight. Whenever Radmanovic gets burned, it’s “Radman! Drink!”
  • The Lakers need to send Bryant on some off the ball screens through the paint. Having him pop out of a Gasol screen, catch the entry from Fisher and shoot will probably be effective. Likewise, every inch of separation means it’s that much easier for him to get to the rack, which he needs to do. It’s not that Kobe can’t nail those jumpers, Lord knows he can better than anyone. But drives means attack, and attack means fouls, and fouls means pushing the defense back on its heels.
  • For the Celtics, I would honestly let Paul Pierce attack off the screen and roll on every possession till the Lakers prove they can stop it. That’s how poorly they defended it in Game 5. Eventually they’re going to wisen up, and it’s at that point that Garnett has to roll to the rim, hard, and Pierce has to find him. Those two need to have great energy working back and forth for the Celtics to thrive offensively.
  • Jordan Farmar: When playing Rondo, work off the weakside screen to the baseline. That’s where he’s most effective on the drive. Defensively, have Vujacic work the full court press to wear him out, then trap him hard at the wing. Make him make the right pass. The Celtics’ turnover margin has been terrible in this series and the Lakers haven’t capitalized.
  • Rondo: When playing Fisher, use the wing screen to get to the middle of the lane for the floater. It’s his best attack move and if it gets going, he’s going to get in rhythm, which means that nightmare of a jumper might fall. If Rondo has a big game, it’s almost impossible for the Lakers to counter it. Against Farmar, post him. You have the size and length, and Gasol’s likely to come hunting for a block, leaving his man open under the rim for approximately the 7,000th time this series. If Rondo can force the double with his size advantage and make the interior pass, those easy buckets make the Lakers’ confidence crumble.
  • Lakers: Double in the block. They’ve done it amazingly well in this series, and they need to keep it up. Do whatever you have to to make KG push the ball out. If Pierce comes in, double with the guard. If KG goes low, bring the weakside big help.
  • Celtics: Let Kobe have ISO, just keep the flash and go going. He keeps settling for jumpers in those situations, and the little 17-second-left-on-the-shot-clock-mid-range-Js are bad for his business.
  • The Boston crowd is absolutely phenomenal. If Kobe gets that “f all of you” poison in his blood, one of two things will happen. He’ll start jacking shots and take his teammates out of position, and lose, or he’ll score 60 and win. He’s done a good job of not letting those things affect him all year, but this may be a night when he needs to.
  • I’ll still take Celtics, 97-90, but I don’t feel good about it.
  • I do feel great about getting to watch this game. Enjoy.

Flight Ubuntu

Int. Celtics’ Charter Flight
The Celtics are strapped in and waiting for their plane to leave the terminal. All the seats are green. A giant “Ubuntu” poster hangs over head. The overhead bins are stuffed with hotel towels that read “(Hotel Chain)- Los Angeles,” small bottles of shampoo, and In and Out Burger kid’s meal toys. Doc Rivers sits in the front row, a clipboard beside him buried under a stack of motivational books and what appears to be a gigantic six sided die with all the primary members of the Celtics’ bench on it. KG is strapped to a chair, occasionally twitching and gnashing his teeth. Rajon Rondo seems to be struggling with a Gameboy Advanced, with limited success. James Posey is randomly punching seats in front of him whenever their occupant isn’t looking. Big Baby Davis is eating. Assistant coach Tom Thibideau is harnessing the dark arts.

Rondo: God, why can’t I beat this level of Dr. Wario?!

Sam Cassell (after tossing entire bag of peanuts into his mouth the second he opens it): Maybe because you keep fake passing it to everyone on the plane?

Rondo fakes a toss to Pierce and tries to get back in time to finish the level. He fails. Again.

Leon Powe: Is it just me or are we taking a long time to get out of here?

James Posey (punches himself in the face when he’s not looking): Is it just me or do you take a long time to get out of anywhere?

Leon Powe: I’m sorry, who’s the hero on this plane?

Paul Pierce, James Posey, and Sam Cassell all simultaneously answer: Me.

Thibideau cocks an eyebrow, then resumes summoning demons.

Tony Allen: You know, Leon’s right. We are taking a long time to get out of here. It’s been almost thirty minutes.

PJ Brown stops, slowly turns to face Allen’s chair.

Brown: Who the hell are you?

Tony Allen: I’m… I’m Tony Allen.

Brown: Who?

Allen: You know. Tony Allen. Drafted by the Celtics in 2004?

Brown: Wait, I thought Rondo was their first draft pick.

Allen: No, you know, I was drafted before. Where the hell do you think Bird came from?

Brown: According to Thibodeau, I don’t want to ask. So you used to play?

Allen: You’re older than me. I scored 6 points last game.

Brown: I thought your name was Eddie House.

Allen: No, Eddie’s over…hey, where’s Eddie?

Int. Los Angeles Major Chain Hotel
A man is standing at the counter, he seems very agitated.

Eddie House: What the hell do you mean they just left?! I scored six points last night! Damn it! How many times can this happen?!

Int. Plane
Loud noises seem to be coming from the plane’s propulsion system.

Doc Rivers slams down the Sudoku he’s working on on top of the play diagrams.

Rivers: What is the world coming to when a man cannot figure out his own Sedoku due to plane noises? We have to focus, here, boys! Focus! Ubuntu!

All Celtics: UBUNTU!

Stewardess: I’m sorry, gentlemen, I don’t know how to tell you this. But I’m afraid there’s been some sort of mechanical problem. We’re going to have to bring in new parts. We’ll have to get you on another flight.

A collective groan drifts out.

Doc: Okay, boys. You heard the lady. Get all the stuff from the hote…the equipment and head out. Rondo, you’ve got the Ticket.

The players grab their things and start to wander off the plane. Rondo comes over to KG, who’s currently growling. He shackles one arm and undoes a strap, preparing to lash the other one. He occasionally and arbitrarily head fakes while he does it.

Rondo: I wonder what caused the problem?

KG (very low tone, almost a growl): I did.

Everyone stops.

KG: My intensity and fearsome will to win shook loose the mechanical pieces and rendered the plane inoperable. Much like my defense and determination will destroy our enemies immobile.

Rondo (head fakes again): What a bunch of crap. Was it that intensity that shook the rim around on those free throws you clanged there, last night, Chief 2.0?

KG’s head slowly turns and his teeth gnash.

Perkins: Hey, Rondo, make sure that the other lash is…

KG bursts out of the chair and mauls Rondo. The other Celtics try and pull him off, KG discards them. Finally, Pierce puts a hand on his shoulder and KG eases back into the Cobra pose long enough for Perkins to shackle him again.

Rondo is shaken, but unhurt.

Rondo: He could have killed me!

Pierce: No. If he wanted to kill you, you’d already be dead.

Perkins: Still. I wonder what it is that took out the plane? I mean, it seems odd with us leaving LA on a one day turnaround and all.

Ext. Tarmac
A single figure runs away from the plane at full speed. He dashes, and there seems to be a light giggle coming from him as he sprints for the buildings. A security officer looks up, but then decides that pursuing the suspect might make him spend more time in traffic, so he decides to just leave early instead, pushing his Lakers cap back on his head. As the figure escapes into the night, his floppy hair flowing in the wind, a security camera picks up only one word of the figure’s gibberish.

Saboteur: MACHINE!