June 15th, 2008 – Dr. Anklesnap
Tonight is the night, Kobe. This is the single biggest game in your career. You always tell us you live for these moments, well now it’s time to live up to the hype. Can Kobe Bryant perform when his team needs him most? So far this series Kobe Bryant has had only one good game, by “Kobe Standards.” Not exactly how most people, including Bryant, probably would have envisioned this series before its start.
I don’t want to take any credit away from the Celtics defense though, as they have forced Kobe into sub-par shooting nights; no question about it. Also, Doc Rivers has out coached Phil Jackson; there is no question about that either. With Doc Rivers there is no B.S., he will tell you how it is and give game changing motivational speeches. He also has shown strength where most people feel his major weaknesses were; the ability to make in game and series long adjustments. Phil Jackson’s laid back attitude when his team is in the thick of things has worked for years, but sometimes the “Jedi Mind Tricks” don’t work for certain players. He also needs to do a better job of making adjustments to his triangle offense to try and solve the Celtic defensive equation.
Some feel that Phil Jackson a great motivator. A good test will be his ability to motivate his superstar, Kobe Bryant. By now we have all heard of Phil’s post-game comments on Friday after canceling practice, telling the press that he thinks Kobe will be motivated by Kevin Garnett’s post game comments regarding the Lakers. Phil also said that Kobe probably wasn’t bothered or motivated by hearing that Paul Pierce at half-time in Game 4 requested the assignment of defending Kobe Bryant for the second half. Or maybe that was just some more reverse psychology mind tricks from ‘the great motivator’?
Ever since the Shaq-Kobe break-up we have heard how the whole Shaquille O’Neal trade scenario was orchestrated by Bryant so that he could be the big man on campus and that the Lakers would finally be “his team.” Whether or not that was true, the fact is Kobe wants another championship, and he wants to be the only superstar on the Lakers when he gets it. (Did I say “when” oops I meant “if”). Kobe of all people should understand how hard it is to battle your way through the playoffs to get to this point. For him to leave the 2008 season behind with the way he has performed thus far in this series would be a huge knock on his reputation and legacy. We all know Kobe is the type of guy to think about legacy, image and reputation, so what does he have in store for us tonight? Facilitator Kobe, Scoring with Blinders Kobe, or balanced attack/leadership Kobe? I certainly can’t wait to find out!
Dr. Anklesnap’s Keys to Game 5:
· Will Kobe Bryant put the blinders on in an effort to just dominate the game to bring the Lakers to victory? If so, the Lakers could be in for a rough ending to their season.
· Will the Celtics start the game hot or cold. Just as they did in Game 4, if they come out of the gate slow, the home crowd advantage will have them down big and early. The Celtics don’t want to get in a habit of coming from behind all game long. They better come out hot to silence the raucous Staples Center crowd.
· Can Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom sustain their efforts on the boards for a full 48 minutes? In Game 4 Odom and Gasol came out scoring, and being aggressive to the hoop. Then they disappeared in the second half. If the Lakers want to keep their season alive they will have to rely on Gasol and Odom to dominate the Celtics in the paint
· Do the Celtics have enough players to go, or will Doc Rivers have to lace em’ up? The Celtics are pretty banged up right now, with 3 if not 4 of their starters either not playing or playing at about 60% health. Can the Lakers play a physical, aggressive game to capitalize on their injury situation?
· The biggest adjustment of the game for Doc Rivers in Game 4 was moving Rondo to the bench and spreading the floor for Garnett and Pierce with pure shooting power. With Ray Allen handling the rock, the Celtics small lineup with Eddie House, James Posey, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett gave the Lakers fits defensively. Does the Zen Master have an adjustment to counter the move?
It will be interesting to see if the Celtics have that killer instinct to put away the Lakers on the Lakers home floor. Garnett talked about being so close to the title he “can taste it.” It’s show time folks.
Game 5 @ 9pm EST, Sunday June 15th