Today is a really big day. (But then again, aren’t they all?)
A Game 7 of the NBA Finals will be played tonight by the two most storied franchises and rivals in the history of professional basketball. The L.A. Lakers will try to win Game 7 at home against the visiting Boston Celtics. For the first time in twenty-six years, these two teams are playing in a winner-take-all one game tour de force battle for the richest prize in basketball. Cliches be damned, events like tonight cannot be topped. They are the pinnacle of American sporting competition and we, the fans, are incredibly lucky to see two great teams battle it out in the biggest game of ’em all.
In honor of an incredible series, here are ten reasons why this series and why Game 7 will be incredibly cool to enjoy as a fan tonight:
Ten years ago, did anyone think Paul Pierce would be gunning for his 2nd Finals MVP after surviving a near-fatal stabbing? (A testament on overcoming adversity.)
Nine is the number for Rajon. The guy who’s everyone touting as the Next Legend. But, he’s been quiet the last two games. Will he put up a monster performance? Is he really the best PG in the NBA? If he is, the Celtics have a really good chance at winning #18. If he has even a mediocre game, Lakers will likely take it home.
Eight is for the transformation that Kobe Bryant has taken (his old number). Incredible to think that the last decade’s best sidekick can morph into one of the game’s finest leading men. Back in 2005, did anyone have the Lakers without Shaq in three straight Finals and as possible back-to-back champions?
Seven threes in a row and then three games without a made trey? Only Ray Allen can make me feel good even when he narrowly misses a 3. Maybe it’s me, but he seems to like the rims in LA. Game 6 did give us one positive. Ray’s back. And he’s likely to have a huge game. This is Jesus Shuttlesworth, after all.
Six games weren’t enough. And really, aside from Game 5, there has not been a game where both teams brought their play at high levels for the majority of the contest. Game 5 was superb due to the Kobe offensive explosion (all good shots) and the Celtics’ wonderful passing along with Pierce’s exquisite shooting. There’s a feeling that a ‘moment’ will come along where we all will appreciate it like a nice painting or a fantastic glass of wine. (The Kobe lefty-oop and The Rondo ice reversi lay-in have been the closest to that we’ve seen.) Will we see Rondo nail a huge 16-footer to win it? Or a Ray 3 off an inbounds play to force OT? Or a Kobe 35-footer to win the title? The possibilities are endless.
(Though, in reality, if Boston wants to win; they’ll need to be dominant for most of the game. The team that begins well has done well in every game so far. The odds of ripping out another 24-point comeback are slim to nil for Boston. How they hit the boards and create good team offense will determine Boston’s performance, ultimately.)
Five years later and thankfully we got a Game 7. The NBA’s 2-3-2 format is terrible, but luckily, these teams are so even that they clipped the statistical probabilities of getting to this point (only the 4th time since the ’85 move to the 2-3-2). Huge cash cow/best marketing opportunity is a Game 7 of the Finals. And the old format wasn’t good enough?
Four plus three equals get better, Kendrick Perkins. Injuries are an unfortunate and sad part of the game. Hopefully, Perk makes a full-fledged recovery from the torn ligaments. Heal up, big man. Same thing goes with Andrew Bynum. And by the way, how tough is he for playing with a torn meniscus? Don’t know if it’s smart, but the Lakers and their fans better remember this if Bynum recovers slowly or never comes back to full speed. Big guys get injured a lot, this is why it’s important to be in shape.
Three years ago, did any Celtics fan in their right mind think this day was possible? (Kudos to the entire Celtics organization for reworking the entire culture and the whole roster in order to put together a champion.) The Cs had one of the worst losing streaks (18) ever going. Gerald Green, Bassy Telfair, and a really bad group of Cs were around Paul Pierce. Somehow, the Celtics are just one win away from two titles in three years. Talk about a tip o’ the balances.
Two is for Pau Gasol. In Game 6, he was kicking ass. With the exception of Game 5, he’s been pretty damn good all series. Hopefully, people can take off the Lakers hatorade and respect that a finesse-yet-tough 4/5 from Spain is one of the two or three best bigs in the game right now. Gasol’s proving his value and then some. Then again, I believe Agent Zero had the trading quote of the century when Memphis gave up a dollar to receive two nickels and a dime. That trade is up there with the McHale-Parish heist from Golden State right now.
One week ago, did you think Glen ‘Uno Uno’ Davis would be the best player in an NBA Finals game? To me, he is the epitome of anything being able to happen, whether that be positive or negative. Sure, the dude messed up earlier in the year with the broken hand/punching a friend incident (he’s younger than me though I could give Baby a run when it comes to gin and tonics with fervor; the point is him being immature shouldn’t be a shock even with the ‘big’ contract), but look at how he’s come back strong. That’s how a champion handles adversity. Hopefully, it’ll show up in Game 7 tonight.
Predictions are insanely hard to make. It is my sincere hope that we have a great basketball game and the players determine the outcome, no matter what happens. Whatever happens, just bank on anything being able to happen. Anything within the realm of possibility can happen. That’s why nothing is impossible.
Even if it’s Rasheed busting ass all night long and hitting a 3 to win the title. Remember, anything is possible.