Learn To Fly – LA/Boston, Game 6

Well… game 6.  LA are heading home down 2-3… see what The Purple and Gold Blog and I think…
Ezra: They’ve always said that a team takes on the personality of their coach. Phil Jackson has always had a mild demeanor and has never let the pressures of the game affect his coaching. But the Lakers are taking this a bit too far. Instead of meeting the challenges of Game 5, they put forth a pathetic display of effort for defending champs. The past 2 games, they looked like they never expected and weren’t prepared to deal with everything that everybody knows the Celtics are able and will do on every game. But what is even more troubling is they are readily able to acknowledge the mistakes they did yet can’t seem to translate that to something tangible on the court.
I’ve been a Laker fan all my life. I haven’t seen a Laker team struggle with themselves as bad as this Laker team. It kinda makes you wonder how they ever won last year’s title, let alone get this far in the playoffs this season. It’s simply mind-boggling as to how this Laker team approach and prepare for the biggest games of their professional career. 
But as they always say, you lie on the bed you make. Well the Lakers have put themselves in this predicament whether they intended to or not. So, it’s up to them to dig themselves out of this hole they made.Well, yes. The Lakers are on the brink of elimination… but all that’s happened thus far is that we’re exactly where we would be after 5 games, with the last two in LA.
Don: Is it worrying? To be sure. But I still expect LA to win game 6.
Many people picked this to go 7 games, and for that to happen someone has to even it all out at 3 a piece in Game 6.
Could Boston win? Undoubtedly.

Here’s why I think they won’t tho’ (or rather… why I think LA will win game 6):

  • I expect Kobe Bryant to be even better in game 6.
  • I expect everyone else to show up. Peripheral players tend to play a lot better in their own space (and I’m including “supposed superstars” in this group for now!!!).
  • I expect Phil to do a better job. To an extent, part of his mystique is on the line here: does he really want to be out-coached by Doc Rivers for the second time in as many Finals match-ups? 
  • This LA team has – for the last two years – always come through when they need to… not necessarily when they should. Well… I’m not sure it gets any bigger in the “need to” category than Game 6 of the Finals when down 2-3.
  • Lastly… and I’m not even sure I should share this thought: but I expect some *beneficial whistle* this game.

kobe-with-rEzra: You’re not alone on the officiating leaning on the Lakers’ side for Game 6. A lot of my friends are thinking the same. But one friend thought that anyone but Kobe just does not like playing in Boston because of the memories of last year’s Game 6.
It’s been a frustrating weekend, but I don’t doubt this team will get it together these next 2 games. The Celtics may be one away from a win, but they haven’t been so successful in finishing out teams on the road the last 3 years. They’re 1-7 so far. They got eliminated by Orlando last year after leading 3-2. Then they failed to closeout the Eastern Finals against the same team after taking a 3-0 lead. So things aren’t looking so well for Boston.
But you’re right. I think this team has now grasp their predicament and will show up on Tuesday and Thursday. Getting yelled at by Kobe in the locker room after Game 5 should also cement that.
Don: Well… I hope so (on having a grasp of their predicament). My big hope is for Odom. I really want him to show up.
I believe that LA just might shop Lamar Odom during the off-season.
Something that’s stood out for me these playoffs is that LA need a guy who can hit the open shot. Not just Kobe (and he’s never *open* per se).
LA have to come out with a literal fire in the belly, if they don’t – then it’s dire straights for the guys in gold.
Ezra:That other guy is supposed to be Derek. But he’s got what’s been going around the team lately…zombienitis. The Lakers have the most clutch backcourt in all of the NBA but only if Fish decides to join Kobe. It would be nice to have a live Odom, but the entire Laker team needs to be alive on these next 2 games for the Lakers to have any hope of repeating.
As far as the off-season goes, I think Kobe, Pau, and Fish are the only safe bets to be untouchables. So everyone, including Lamar, will be on the market.

Don: But first, back to LA. What does this mean?

It means that we’re more likely to see a lift from LA’s bench. That the players not named Kobe Bryant will lift, and play somewhere near their better selves. The Lakers have always lifted when they “need to” – as aside from when they “should”. Facing elimination, on the very brink of it against the closest thing to a mortal enemy that basketball can provide… they need to.
But continuing to focus on the positives… Saurav A. Das brings up a great point over at Silver Screen and Roll in his piece The Lakers Are Two Home Games Away From A Title (which, I recommend everyone go over there and read, it is excellent, and highly focused and motivating).
He started with a quote from Kobe Bryant, which really puts everything into perspective as to where we (Lakers-fans) and the team we support are now…

“Listen, if you told me at the beginning of the year that we’ve got two games at home to win a championship, yeah, I’ll take that.”
And that’s really something that illuminates. Where are we? Win two more games at the Staples Center, and LA take home Larry for the second season running.
Along with Kobe, I’ll take that.