What a difference a game makes. Last I posted was after game 2 of the Finals where I chastised the refereeing. I thought there were way too many missed calls, make up calls, bad calls and flops that both teams were guilty of. Here are my quick notes:
Game 1 - Kobe turned into F YOU mode and went off and controlled the game. The Celtics didn't look ready and everyone wrote them off after they lost. Everyone threw the fact that after a game 1 win, Phil Jackson has never lost (such a logical flaw btw, just because something happens over and over again does not GUARANTEE that it will happen the next time). The whole Laker team played well but Game 1 MVP goes to Kobe.
Game 2 - "If we play how we're supposed to play, we'll win." - Doc Rivers. And what do you know, they played their game and won. Thanks in part to a Finals record eight 3 pointers by Ray Allen. He goes off screen after screen and has Fish chasing and chasing him and Andre Bynum and Pau Gasol NEVER step out to help on those screens. And then they look at each other like, ugghh why didn't you step out on him!? Ray Allen was the offense that night and the game 2 MVP goes to him, Ray Allen.
Game 3 - I know why Derek Fisher cried after the game in his post game interview: Derek Fisher is known for hitting big shots. He hit the .4 shot against San Antonio, he hit those 3 pointers against Orlando last year in the Finals. He has a knack for hitting clutch shots in clutch situations. However, he's never, NEVER, been asked to carry a team, let alone in the Finals. The Lakers hadn't done anything and were about to go down 1-2 in the series. Fisher then drives the lane and scores a layup with Rasheed contesting, he hits running jumpers, and then I saw something I though I'd never see: Kobe Bryant setting a screen for Derek Fisher. And he did that screen where if he rolled to the basket, he would have had an easy bucket, but he didn't roll. It's like when you're in a pick up basketball game and everyone's tired but you still want to win so you set on ball screens for the hot shooter/best player at the moment and stand and watch to see if he scores. And Fisher scored. Topped off with a dagger and 1 with KG, Big Baby and Ray Ray fouling him as he made the layup and Pau screaming in his face as he helped him up. Game 3 MVP goes to Fisher, something he'd never deserved more than that day. Emotions got the best of him and he let it out with a couple tears.
Game 4 - Fast forward to the end of the third quarter with the Lakers up by 2 - 62 to 60. Glen Davis and Nate Robinson come in to rest the starters and with pure hustle, hard work and determination, they took over the game. To the point where Rondo told Doc Rivers to keep them in. Capped off with an and 1 put back by Glen Davis to where he screamed his heart out and Nate Robinson jumped on his back in joy. It's like when you're playing a pick up game and you're obviously over matched in talent, except your team wins by simply putting forth more effort and you just get emotional and just have to scream after a foul. Only it's not a pick up game, and it's a must win with thousands of fans screaming with you. Game 4 MVP goes to Glen Davis, emotions got the best of him and he let it out with a yell that I could hear from Los Angeles.
Game 5 - Both teams view this as a must win. Celtics don't want to go down 3-2 and have to win two games in Los Angeles. Lakers don't want to go down 3-2 which would allow the Celtics to win just one of two in Los Angeles, something they've proven they can do (game 2). Fast forward to the third quarter where Kobe goes into Beast Mode. He has to take over this game to give the Lakers a chance because quite simply, no one else showed up. Paul Pierce is torching Ron Artest, the defensive stopper and forcing LA to play 4 on 5 on offense. A liability on BOTH sides of the ball. Bryant scores 23 straight points in the 3rd quarter, constantly yells and pleads his team: "LET'S GET A STOP!!" Unfortunately for him, those stops never came and Paul Pierce hit shot after shot to match Kobe's onslaught.
Fast forward to the fourth quarter when Derek Fisher and KG have a jump ball. Fisher wins the tip inexplicably and Kobe gets the ball, passes it up to Ron Artest who Paul Pierce smartly fouls and doesn't give him a chance to make the shot. Ron Artest misses both free throws, Kobe tries to grab the rebound and Pierce rips it away. You could read Kobe's lips in the replay, he yells, "MAN FUCK!!!" I'm not trying to be Kobe Homer (and when I rip him a new one in game 7 review, you'll believe that) but Kobe gave his all and his teammates didn't show up and he still tried to make the right play by passing the ball up to a streaking Ron Artest. He gave so much of himself in the third that there quite simply wasn't enough in him for the fourth quarter. Pierce was too much for Ron and the Lakers to handle. Game 5 MVP goes to Paul Pierce, emotions didn't get the best of him and he just let his game speak for himself.
Game 6 - Big news of the night, Kendrick Perkins goes down and hurts his knee early and will not return. Add that to the fact that the Lakers have their backs against the wall and are playing for their basketball lives and the Los Angeles takes game 6 with ease. Bench players play well at home and suck on the road holds true here as Sasha scores 9, Farmar and Shannon score 4 each. For Boston, Rasheed scores 0, Tony Allen scores 2, Glen Davis scores 0, Nate Robinson scores 6 on 2 for 8 shooting. Marquis Daniels adds 5 but that was when the game was already decided late in the fourth. Lamar and Pau took advantage of no Kendrick Perkins and get 10 and 13 rebounds respectively. Pau gets a near triple double as they make him the focal point of the offense as they should always do when a team has no post defense (even with Perkins) and ends with a stat line of 17/13/9 with a steal and 3 blocks. Game 6 MVP goes to Pau Gasol, emotions didn't get the best of him because you can't get too cocky when you just tied the series and 3-3 and going to a game 7.
Game 7 - Dog fight. Perkins out and Sheed starts. No ticky tack fouls called. Oh, and Kobe will never me Michael Jordan. He had a chance to get his name closer to that level, but instead he brought himself down. Forced way too many shots, didn't pass out of double teams, tried to make game 7 his, and almost shot the team out of a championship. If it wasn't for Ron Artest's defense, which lead to offense, offensive rebounds and put backs, and his run in the second quarter to bring keep the Lakers competitive, Kobe would be hounded this entire summer for being the biggest choke artist in the history of sports.
I honestly can't say enough about Ron Artest. He hit his shots, he hustled and he worked hard which is pretty much all you can ask for from a Basketball player. Capped off with his huge 3 pointer in the 4th to put the Lakers ahead by 6 after Rasheed's 3 pointer, which cut the lead to 3. That was so huge, even if Ray Allen hit a 3 pointer to answer because it bought the Lakers about a minute of game time near the end. Add that to the and 1 he got in the fourth and this game was Ron's. Game 7 MVP goes to Ron Artest, emotions got the best of him and he let it out with the most unfiltered post game interviews in the recent history of the NBA. My fav part was when he called out his brother, Daniel Artest saying "This is my brother, Daniel Artest, he got in a fight with Trevor Ariza on twitter!" Whatever you want to say, Ron, you just earned your ring. [Sidenote: LA brought Lakers for his defense, seems like they brought him for his charisma and personality, he provided both along with game 7 offense.]
I do have one beef with Ron's answers in his post game interviews. He goes off about how Kobe passed him the ball and how Kobe never passes him the ball! Kobe doesn't pass as much as he should but when he does, he almost always passes to Ron! He's the only one during the playoffs that teams left open and Kobe always did that jump pass to Ron for either a swished 3 pointer or a 3 pointer that was no where close to the rim. He followed suit in game 7 crunch time and Ron delivered.
By the way, Game 1 MVP went to Kobe and Game 2 MVP went to Ray Allen.
SOOO, if you're keeping count, that's one game MVP to the following: Kobe, Ray, Fisher, Glen Davis, Paul Pierce, Pau, Ron Artest.
So why did Kobe get the Finals MVP? First because the Lakers won. Second, He consistently got the stats and while Fisher in game 2 was the MVP, he didn't do anything too much of note in the other Laker wins, and in game 6, he also put up good numbers but Pau outdid him for that game, and the same case for game 7. Although it could be argued that Pau should have won the Finals MVP and he would have had the Lakers consistently made him the focal point of the offense, which they probably should have. But life goes on...
And one more thing. Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson discussed how if in game 6, the Celtics won, Kobe would have won the Finals MVP. This is so ludicrous. If the Celtics won, the Finals MVP would have gone to Rajon Rondo hands down. Rondo was the glue that held everything together for the Celtics. Without him, they don't win, simple as that. Always in control of the game, always hustling, always putting up great numbers. The only reason Jerry West is the only player to win the Finals MVP and be on a losing team is because that was the first year they started awarding a Finals MVP (1969) and they didn't realize how stupid it was until the next season.
I'll be posting a season in review post in the near future but this was my Finals Post.