If you are a Lakers fan, what are your fears for tonight’s game? To start the conversation, how ’bout:
(1) FOUL TROUBLE
Kobe Bryant getting into foul trouble — especially early. The Celtics can absorb foul trouble with one of their Big 3 and probably still be fine. The Lakers would be sitting ducks with Kobe on the bench in foul trouble.
We don’t want an injury happening to a player on EITHER team — after all, we don’t want Celtics fans claiming the only reason they lost was because _____ was injured.
At best, whining erodes your mental toughness. It puts you in the mentality of a victim, not a champion.
At worst, any brawl or similar outbreak would stain basketball’s most legendary rivalry. Lakers and Celtics alike need to make their minds up now that nothing like that would happen on their watch, that they will pass the rivalry to the next generation untainted.
(4) HOLLYWOOD BALL
The Lakers can’t win doing just the fun and glamorous stuff like 3-pointers, they’ve got to do the dirty work too, like defend and rebound.
(5) HERO SYNDROME
We don’t need any Lakers breaking away from the game plan with “I’ll save us” syndrome. That goes for #24 of course, but 10 times doubly so for anyone not sleeping with Vanessa Laine Bryant. Play inspired, but play within yourself.
(6) TITANIC CAPTAIN COMPLEX
If the ship is obviously going down, don’t resign yourself to the fate of going down with it. Most of us didn’t like to see the Suns eliminate the Lakers without Kobe trying to do SOMETHING extraordinary about it. I admired his restraint, but if the game plan clearly hasn’t worked for 45 minutes, it probably isn’t going to work the last 3 minutes either, so go for it!
This is a military term for people who are anxious to go home. We don’t need any Lakers starting their summer vacation early. Everyone needs to do everything to support the success of their team, including cheering on the bench. Leave it all on the floor and pick up no regrets.
(8) POOR OR UNEVEN OFFICIATING
I don’t want to see calls favoring Boston because they are the home team. I don’t want to see calls favoring the Lakers to extend the series. I don’t want to see calls favoring all-stars. I just want to see a fair and well-officiated game, and if they can’t do that, then at least do not be biased, or worse, be zealous to not appear biased and blow your whistle according to some ill-conceived quota system. Please, just call the game and call it well.
(9) WHAT IF THE LAKERS AREN’T GOOD ENOUGH?
The Boston Celtics are the best team money can buy. They had the best record in the regular season. They have the best defense in the NBA. They hold the record for the biggest turnaround in the history of the NBA. They swept the Lakers in the regular season. The Celtics have 3 all stars who are probable hall of famers. They have an assistant coach, Tom Thibideau, who is a defense guru and the mastermind of the best defense in the NBA. They have a veteran bench that has outplayed the Lakers’ bench all series.
The Lakers have their starting center out for the season, their backup center’s been out for 2 seasons, and their power forward is now playing center. Their key players, Bryant and Gasol, hadn’t even played together for half the season prior to the playoffs. The Lakers defense ranked 19th in the NBA, meaning it’s closer to the bottom than to the top. They have just 1 all star.
Maybe the Lakers just aren’t good enough THIS YEAR to beat the Celtics.
Maybe this is just the Celtic’s year.
Well, that’s a fear I can live with.
I’m okay with Kevin Garnett finally getting a championship ring. I’m happy for Ray Allen if he gets to ride on a float with his kids. I’m relieved for Danny Ainge, who may have been fired had he not pulled off the trade of the decade.
And one thing that makes it easier to be this happy for the Celtics is … next year Bynum will be back! 🙂