When I thing of L.A. and Orlando I think of sun, sand and women in bikinis. I think of palm trees and convertibles. I think of quick shots and lacks-a-dasical defense. I think of no sense of urgency, no fire, no energy. On the other hand, I have nothing but love for Houston and Boston right now. They have all of those things that Orlando and L.A. are lacking.
In my humble opinion, both L.A. and Orlando are more talented then their opponent (I guess you could argue in Boston’s case but L.A. is clearly more talented than Houston minus Yao and T-Mac) and yet they are going into Sunday night’s game facing possible elimination.
I don’t get it. How in the hell can Houston take L.A. to a game 7 without T-Mac and Yao?
Then I was watching highlights and interviews on NBA.com, when I heard Aaron Brooks say something very interesting. He said “We can’t allow the Lakers to work harder than us”. I like that, we can’t allow. Houston is hanging their hats on effort. The same effort that helped them win 22 games in a row a season ago, the same effort that got them out of the first round for the first time this millenium is the same effort that might just help them make it out of the second round as well. Houston is winning in the battle of the intangibles. Recovering loose balls, chasing long rebounds, deflecting passes etc. I know you’ve heard it a million times, but it’s the little things that make a difference. “Attention to details” as my drill sergent used to say. It’s one of those times where following your game plan really pays off. Houston’s strategy is actually
quite simple. On defense they just give Battier as much help as possible but basically it’s one-on-one coverage most of the game. Of course they have Artest and Battier, both named to the 2nd team all defensive team a couple of weeks ago. Most teams don’t even have one guy that can challenge Kobe, Houston has two. I guess if I could chose 4 guys in the NBA to guard Kobe both Battier and Artest would be there right after Bruce Bowen and Raja Bell. They also have Hayes and Landry who are both undersize but they have huge hearts. They are strong and not afraid of any challenge, and Landry is also one of Houston best bench scorers. Scola is in no way athletic but he has a great basketall IQ and is always where he needs to be. The one thing that Battier does that is so special is that he doesn’t foul. He backs up off of Kobe and gives him the jumper as opposed to crowding him and allowing him to blow by with a quick first step. In short, he’s giving Kobe outside shots and just putting his hands up. On offense they give the ball to Brooks, who is the best PG in this series, and they spot up around the arc with Scola posted up down low. From there it’s all Aaron Brooks, penetrate and shot or penetrate and kick to a shooter. Just like San Antonio. That is where the problem lies. L.A. was prepared to guard Yao, they were prepared to guard Battier and Artest, but they never in their wildest dreams thought about Brooks destroying them. And that’s exactly what he’s doing. No one on the Lakers roster can stop him. Game 7 is going to be fire against fire. I expect Brooks to once again have a big game but he will be outshined by Mamba. They may be able to squeak by Houston Sunday night, but Denver will eat them alive in they don’t get it in gear fast.
As you may know, I am a huge Lakers fan but I’m mad at them right now. I’m mad that they aren’t bringing that energy. If I weren’t such a big fan on L.A., I would stop cheering for them. I’ve already stopped cheering for Orlando. I’ve had it with them. Instead of stepping up and trying to lead their team to a championship, or at least a date with Cleveland, they’re complaining about their coaches game plan. It’s the same game plan that got them through the regular season and into the 2nd seed in the East. I knew a long time ago it was flawed. It is kind of like Pheonix was with D’Antoni. They don’t run as much because they don’t have Steve Nash but they shoot more 3-pointers than any other team in the league. The worst part about the whole thing is they have Dwight Howard. I haven’t looked at any stats but I am willing to bet you that Big Baby Davis is averaging more shot per game than Howard. Orlando doesn’t even try to throw the ball down low, they never have. They’ve played like that all year, but now it’s a problem. I have to give D12 his props though, he did step up big last game. I personally think he is going to step up big again in game 7, but I think Paul Pierce will too. I think Ray Allen will too. Maybe even Big Baby, he’s been playing real well as of late and do I even need to mention Ragin’ Rondo. He’s been on fire since the playoffs started. Who will step up for Orlando? Turk? Sweet Lew? My money’s on Lee or nobody. We’ll see tonight.