Hate Mail: The, um, fallacy of Tim Floyd's innocence
LOS ANGELES -- History will remember the 2010 NBA Finals more fondly than I will. And for your sake, history better remember the 2010 NBA Finals more fondly than you will, or you're following the wrong sport. Maybe you should try croquet. Hey, the World Cup is going on. Try the beautiful game, with its goal-an-hour offense. You can keep up with that.
|The NBA Finals: Where repeatedly alternating ineptitude happens. (Getty Images)|
Yeah, yeah, yeah -- it has gone seven games. And the history books will be kind to a seven-game NBA Finals featuring historic teams like the Lakers and Celtics and historic players like Kobe and K.G. and Pierce and Pau and Ray Allen. History will love this series.
But here in the present, I hate it. Maybe you do. Maybe you don't. TV ratings say people are watching it, but what does that mean? People watch poker. People watch Dancing With the Stars for god's sake. People will watch anything.
Even this. Game 7 could change everything, but the first six games have sucked. One team has played well, one team has played poorly and after two weeks Boston has three wins and Los Angeles has three wins and those of us on the outside are left waiting for a game -- or even a single possession -- to grab our imagination.
There have been moments, of course. Ray Allen making his first seven 3-pointers in Game 2. Shannon Brown staring down into the basket as he finishes off a one-handed alley-oop in Game 6. And, um, that's it. Six games into this series, that's all I remember. That, and the officiating. The referees have blown their whistles like so many vuvuzelas, and I'll remember that. But those three games in Boston? It's almost like they never happened.
Unless I'm supposed to remember Ray Allen going cold in Boston. Or Kobe Bryant going one-on-five (not his fault; his teammates left him no choice). Or a series of games that weren't nearly as compelling as the final scores want to suggest.
Not that the final scores have been all that suggestive. I've seen sexier schnauzers.
Numbers can lie, and here's an example: Through six games, the Lakers have outscored the Celtics by an average margin of 92-89. Sounds seductive, right?
Wrong. One game was a 22-point blowout. Another was a 13-point snoozer. The margin in another was nine points. Look, not one of the six games has been closer than six points. And just one of them was that close. It was Game 5, and the Celtics won 92-86, and that score is misleading. Only for a few seconds in the fourth quarter -- in garbage time -- were the Lakers within five points. And never were they closer than five.
Game 6 recap: Berger, Doyel in Los Angeles
|Schedule and Results|
Game 1: LAKERS 102, Celtics 89
Game 2: Celtics 103, LAKERS 94
Game 3: Lakers 91, CELTICS 84
Game 4: CELTICS 96, Lakers 89
Game 5: CELTICS 92, Lakers 86
Game 6: LAKERS 89, Celtics 67
Game 7: 9 p.m. ET - Thursday, June 17 (L.A.)
And Game 5 is indicative of this whole series. Six games into the NBA Finals, we don't have a single last-second shot. Final second? Hell, at this point I would settle for something exciting in the final minute. The closest late-game situation of this whole series came in Game 3, when the Lakers led 82-80 with 2:05 to play. That was the last time the teams were within a single possession. Los Angeles was pulling away 91-84 when the final horn sounded.
It has been more than merely a series of lopsided games. They have been consistently uncompetitive -- as in, one team doesn't seem to be trying. In Game 1 it was the Celtics who were outrebounded by 13 and were treated afterward to a humiliating film session by coach Doc Rivers, who showed his team graphic evidence of its lack of effort in the 102-89 loss.
In Game 2 it was the Lakers who mailed it in, letting Ray Allen get open early in the game -- over and over and over -- and then letting the Celtics score 16 of the final 20 points to seal it 103-94.
Game 3? Boston never showed up. It was disastrous. Playing at home, coming off that Game 2 win in Los Angeles, the Celtics trailed by 17 before mounting a feeble charge that dissolved in the final two minutes.
Game 4 was a 96-89 Boston win that never got close. It was a seven-point margin, basically, for 48 minutes. Nice final score. Nice game? No. Not at all.
Game 5 was the same thing. A 92-86 final that never had drama other than the possibility of Kobe Bryant punching his slacker teammates in the head. Kobe scored 38 points. He was terrific. His teammates scored 48. They were tepid. So was the game.
And then came Game 6, the worst game of this series. And that's saying something. Boston shot 33.3 percent from the floor and was outrebounded 52-39. For the second time in three games, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo needed 15 field-goal attempts to score a measly 10 points. Rasheed Wallace took seven shots and missed them all. And on and on for a Boston team that trailed by 28 points early in the fourth quarter. Bill Russell was in the building for the celebration, but he left with several minutes still to play. Why stick around? The moment was there for the Celtics, and they shrunk like a cheap T-shirt.
Who will shrink in Game 7? No clue. Nothing about this series has been predictable. The Celtics are full of old guys who simply can't play at a high level from one game to the next. The Lakers are overrun by knuckleheads like Ron Artest and Lamar Odom whose play swings wildly from sugar high to cough-syrup low.
Add it up, and one game hasn't foreshadowed the next -- but the overall series has taught me one thing: Somebody will shrink. Between the Lakers and Celtics, somebody always does. Game 7 is a dryer on high heat. One of these T-shirts will start choking a team by the neck.
Rivers, a kind man, was asked after Game 6 which team he thought would "embrace the moment" in Game 7.
Said Rivers: "Maybe both teams will, and you'll get a great game."
Maybe so. There's a first time for everything.