Thursday, June 05, 2008


This is the matchup everybody wanted. The NBA must have wet its pants when LA made it this far and the Celtics were able to overcome the Pistons. The best rivalry in NBA history has been renewed as the Celtics and Lakers meet in the NBA Finals for the 11th time. Not to mention two major TV markets and teams with national fanbases.

If you've been watching ESPN or FSN, or listening to sports radio; you know the storylines already. Jackson vs. Auerbach. Is Kobe better than Jordan? Will KG get that elusive ring? I won't bore you by rehashing those worn out talking points.

It's a classic battle between offense and defense. It's also a clash between a team that plays as a team, and a team centered around an individual. The Celtics beat the Lakers twice this year, once in Boston and once in LA. But the Lakers didn't have Paul Gasol for either of those contests, and both times they scored more than 90 points. In the post-season, the Celtics are 2-7 when allowing 90+ points.

The big question everyone seems to be asking is "Can the Celtics stop Kobe Bryant?" The quick answer is "No." Kobe is a freak of nature, and will lead both teams in scoring this series. But the Celtics can stop the rest of the Lakers. If they do this AND stay consistent on offense, they'll come away with the title.

Remember, LeBron James put up lots of points as the Cleveland series came to a close, including 45 in game 7, but it wasn't enough. Kobe might very well average 35 points a game this series, but that isn't the end of the world for the C's.

The margin for error in this series is slimmer than it was against Detroit, Cleveland, or Atlanta. Rajon Rondo will have to play like he knows what he's doing all the time. Ray Allen will have to remain hot. KG will have to shoot the ball in the 4th quarter. Paul Pierce will have to stay on his game on both sides of the court. The bench will have to contribute some offense.

But unlike the "experts" (9 of's 10 experts picked the Lakers), I think this is the Celtics' series to lose. They've got home court advantage. They've got depth. They've got the defense.

Celtics in 6.

Photo Credits:
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File
AP Photo/Mike Kullen, File
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File


Curt Schilling took another big step toward returning to the Majors. He threw 25 pitches off a mound, all fastballs. Tomorrow he's scheduled to throw 35 pitches. This is part of the strengthening phase of his rehab, which was a point of contention before the season started. The Red Sox wanted to go down this path, but Schilling wanted surgery. It's still early, but so far the Sox look like they were right.

If pitching off a mount continues to go well, Schilling will start facing live batters in simulated games, batting practice, and minor league rehab outings. Don't expect him to be pitching at Fenway anytime soon, but keep a dugout seat reserved for him.

Boston Herald


A decent start by Beckett, 3 scoreless innings of relief, and some timely hitting propelled the Red Sox to a 5-1 victory last night, and into first place in the division.

JD Drew once again had the big night at the plate. He went 2 for 3 with an RBI double, 2 runs, a walk, and a stolen base. He hit 3rd, replacing David Ortiz. And at least for one game, he did a good job at it.

Dustin Pedroia continues to struggle. He went 0 for 3 and left a couple men on base. He's 3 for his last 25 (.120 average). Since May 22nd, his average has dropped more than .030 points. He's gone 7 for 54 in that stretch (.130), with only 3 RBI. Even with Ortiz out of the lineup, I wouldn't mind seeing a switch with Youkilis moving into the 2 spot. Or maybe even Drew hitting 2nd with Youkilis 3rd.

Coco Crisp seems to be hitting again, going 2 for 2 with a run and an RBI sac-fly, but he also jammed his finger trying to steal 2nd in the 6th. Rays' short-stop Jason Bartlett blocked the bag with his knee, and Crisp ran into it. He's day-to-day, and his thumb was wrapped in ice after last night's game, which he did not leave early.

The Sox look to sweep the Rays tonight. Remember, the game starts at 6 due to the Celtics/Lakers game. Jon Lester opposes James Shields. The Sox might miss Ortiz a great deal tonight, as Papi is 7 for 14 in his career against Shields with 4 doubles and 2 homers.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Charles Krupa