NBA Preview for 11/20/08

November 20, 2008

The Lakers and Celtics are the greatest rivals in the NBA and last season's "dream matchup" in the Finals is widely expected to be repeated this year. To this effect, last Friday the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers were highlighted on an ESPN Doubleheader in what were supposed to be showcase games for the two inevitable NBA Finalists. The Celtics hosted the new look Chauncey Billups led Denver Nuggets and the Lakers hosted Allen Iverson and the Pistons. Astonishingly both powerhouses lost at home throwing into question the invincibility of each.

Let's try that again. Tonight, both teams once again highlight a national television doubleheader, this time on TNT.

The Celtics (10-2) host the surprising Detroit Pistons (8-3) in an early season game that will help determine whether Allen Iverson really has taken the Pistons to the next level. The Pistons are coming off impressive victories last week against the Lakers and the Cavaliers, ending those two teams 7 and 8 game winning streaks respectively. The Celtics recently struggled at Milwaukee and at home against the New York Knicks (that game without KG), but ultimately pulled out victories in both games.


The Pistons take an early lead and make the Celtics play from behind. Iverson badly exploits his mismatch with Rondo and puts up some significant offensive numbers. This proves critical, as the Celtics generally rely on their defense to beat teams up. This doesn't work against the Pistons who are the perfect foil for the Celtics as they still have the remnants of their own physical brand of basketball, but now have AI to add the needed offensive spark. Rasheed Wallace, who tends to show up for big games, posts up effectively all night and adds several 3-pointers. When the game is tight, Rip Hamilton makes the big jump shots to seal the deal.


Reigning Defensive Player of the Year KG comes back with renewed energy and stifles Wallace on the inside. Rondo exploits Iverson's gambling defense on several forays to the hoop and dishes out 10 assists. The other big men, Perkins and Powe, both contribute on the boards. Ray Allen gets on a hot streak and has a big 3rd quarter, with several shots from beyond the arc. When the game gets close in the 4th quarter, Paul Pierce takes over. A frustrated Sheed gets two quick technicals and is ejected before the final buzzer.

My guess? Scenario 2.

In the second game, the Lakers (8-1) visit the Suns (8-4) to continue what has been one of the NBA's most interesting rivalries, even before Shaquille "Tell Me How My Ass Tastes" O'Neal came to Phoenix. The Suns had an impressive victory over the Pistons last week, before losing at Utah. The Lakers for their part have played only once since last week's loss, cruising to a 116-109 win at home against the Bulls.


Nash repeatedly breaks down the Laker point guards, first Fisher, then Farmar, and gets to the lane on his way to 22 points and 12 assists. Stoudemire surprisingly outboards the Laker big men and scores several times in transition, reminding us of the D'Antoni era Suns. Even when they slow down in the second half, they get an inspired contribution from Shaq, who effectively shows the "the kid" Bynum a host of offensive moves he hasn't used in a while. The Lakers make a run in the 3rd quarter, but Barbosa comes off the bench and hits two critical 3's. In the 4th quarter, Bynum and Shaq start getting rough and both must be restrained. In the last 3 minutes, Kobe tries to win the game by himself, but misses three jumpers in a row due to Raja Bell's tough defense.

After the game Shaq tries to give a humble on court interview, but then makes some odd reference to the "student and the master."


Kobe, secretely still fuming inside about Shaq's summer rap, comes out with extreme intensity from the opening tip-off. His big 1st quarter gives the Lakers the lead from which they never look back. Fisher hits three first half 3's and Bynum has several dunks on put backs. Shaq quickly gets into foul trouble and Gasol and Bynum dominate the boards over the smaller Stoudemire. When the 2nd unit comes in, the lead only grows as the Lakers score regularly in transition. In the second half the Lakers suffocating defense takes the game out of reach. They appear just more athletic than the Suns. At one point, Bynum dunks on a beleaguered Shaq who shoves him after the play. The two must be restrained. Kobe sits almost the entire 4th quarter and six Lakers score in double figures.

During the postgame interview, Kobe is typically boring and mentions "defense", "keeping focus", and "one game at a time", but his smirk and glaring eyes say something else: "Shaq, tell ME how MY ass tastes!"

My guess? Scenario 2.

Manish Pandya
Staff Editor of

1 comment:

  1. Finally...a fresh new look at sports!! Yeah yeah..Much Luv from Orlando!!


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