Wednesday, June 18, 2008

That Was Definitive

The Boston Celtics Throttle Los Angeles Lakers, 131-92, To Win Title

This was a thrashing. It was a merciless, thorough victory by team exulting in their collective greatness after so many seasons of individual futility. There was Garnett blocking a Lamar Odom layup with with his team up 35 points and less than six minutes to play. There was Pierce and Allen hitting back-to-back three-pointers to push the lead up to 39 less than a minute later. Soon after that all three were hooting and hollering from the sideline as Eddie House played them home.

This was not so much a contest at it was a coronation. Bill Russell and John Havlichek were on hand. It was final scene in Star Wars more than it was the final game from Hoosiers or Teen Wolf. There was no drama. The outcome was never in doubt. There was no nothing.

Even though the Lakers had sent the series back to Boston by squeaking out a win in Game 5, it was clear that no one was taking them very seriously in this sixth game. Least of all themselves. It's actually amazing how a team that is/was capable of finishing with the very best record in the Western Conference this year and making it all the way to the Finals could have such little self regard. There was no fight in them at all. And aside from, maybe, some passion exhibited by Pau Gasol in the second half of Game 5, there was no fire in this team at any point during the Finals.

The champions of the Bestern Conference actually managed to put forth an effort so dismal and so joyless that the only comparison that kept coming to mind was a game played in the very same building on November 29, 2007. That was the night that the Celtics, just starting to flex their muscles, demolished a fractured Knickerbocker team, 104-59. This was that game. All that was missing was Barkley cracking jokes ("Jerry West just rolled over in his grave!") instead of Jeff Van Gundy cracking jokes.Although the Lakers did manage to put over 30 more points on the board in Game 6 than the toothless Knicks did that night in November they also allowed the Celtics to put up an extra 30-spot as well. Both losing teams scored a paltry 15 second quarter points. The Knicks gave up 27 to the Celtics and the Lakers gave up 34.

Either way, both teams were cooked by the half and both games were laughers down the stretch. The Celtics dominance, after a while, even stopped being exciting. On that night in November and this one in June the Celtics built their lead without actually having to do anything that extraordinary. They just played slightly harder, slightly faster and with slightly more purpose. No single player went off for 40 points or 13 blocked shots. In both games the Celtics just seemed to score 5 baskets for every three that the other team could muster. They seemed to get better shots more often than not while the other team didn't.

Each game was a simple and thorough beating by your 2007-2008 NBA champion Boston Celtics, who apparently are a team so good that they can make a 57-win LA Lakers team featuring the league's reigning MVP look as helpless and directionless as the 23-win Knicks.

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