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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The Finals: Rating the intangibles

As the days until Game One drag on, sports writers will be struggling to come up with new and different ways to fill space and air time writing about the 12th meeting of the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.

The Herald treats us to Kobe Bryant's studied nonchalance while the Globe offers us the fantasy game in which Bob Cousy, John Havlicek, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Bill Russell suit up for the Green across from Magic, Johnson, Jerry West, Kobe Bryant, Elgin Baylor, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (what no Paul Pierce?)

So in the interest of yet another perspective before Thursday night's tip-off, let me offer a few intangible match-ups:

On-the-court enforcer: The battle is between the Lakers' Ron Artest and the Celtics' Rasheed Wallace. Advantage Lakers. While Wallace has long been among the league leaders in scowling and collecting technicals, no one can match Artest for his 73-game suspension for inciting the Palace at Auburn Hills Fan Riot while a member of the Indiana Pacers.

Off-the-court: That would be Bryant versus Pierce. The LA shooting guard wins this one hands down. As a defendant in a sexual assault case dismissed when the accuser declined to testify, Bryant walks away from Pierce, who was merely an interested observer in the case where his knife-wielding attackers were sent to prison.

Ill-mannered journalist: Here the match up is closer, but KTLA's Ted Green edges out the Herald's Ron Borges. While the Plagiarizer tried to match Artest for incitement with a Game Six call-out against the Magic's Dwight Howard, Green wins this one with a cheap shot "Guide to Hating the Celtics" that mocked Pierce's stabbing. The LA Times unsuccessfully bleeped the offending words:
By the way, Pierce's idea of a fun night is going clubbing and getting stabbed. Good times!
Bench strength: No contest here. The whiny Sasha Vujacic has no real peer on the Celtics bench in matching big mouth with small accomplishments.

So the Lakers take the intangibles. What does that mean for the series? While Bryant says his team is aching for payback after the 2008 slapdown and has big man Andrew Bynum available at half speed, you can't ignore that Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo has morphed from first-time playoff contributor to one of the best players in the league.

Add to that the fact the Celtics are playing their best basketball of the season at the right time, knocking off Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and Howard in succession and the prospect of Bryant and his supporting cast doesn't really pose a terrifying challenge.

Celtics in 6.

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