Ninety four teams have attempted to come back from a 0-3 deficit in the NBA and 94 have lost. That number includes yesterday’s loser, the Orlando Magic. Don’t tell the Men In Blue they didn’t try. They did. In Games 4 and 5, their vacation plans were readied by the Boston Celtics. But Dwight Howard, Vince Carter and Co. fought. They forced a Game 6. Sadly, that’s as far as they were allowed by this unstoppable Green Machine whose bloodline includes Larry Bird and Bob Cousy.
BEAT LA! Did you see that banner? One Celtics fan raised up high that poster in yesterday’s NBA Eastern Conference finale. He’s right. For who, but the boys in Gold-and-Blue, does Boston want to face? LeBron James they’ve ousted in the quarterfinals, last year’s conference champs—the Magic—they’ve outclassed in the semifinals, now it’s time for The Super Bowl of the NBA, the Oscars Night of dribbling, basketball’s Wimbledon final.
Ponder on this for a moment: Which team, apart from a LeBron against Kobe face-to-face, would we all want to see? Orlando vs. Phoenix? Nah. Zzzz. Sure, those two have their admirers but they’re nowhere near the zealots of Lakers vs. Celtics.
It’s like boxing. Mayweather against Mosley was thrilling; Pacquiao versus Clottey was crazy inside the Cowboys Stadium. But those fights were mere rehearsals. They were preliminaries. The show we all await to see—in November—is Manny beating Money.
Same with tennis. A Djokovic – Murray final at the ongoing French Open won’t prevent you and I from watching next Sunday; but that’s boring. We anticipate that. Nothing beats Federer and Nadal.
Just like the NBA. No two teams are as opposite, no two squads have as much historical pedigree and will bring more eyeballs to watch than the upcoming Final.
BEAT LA! But, wait. While it’s Mission Accomplished for Boston, it’s still Mission To-Be-Accomplished for LA. Up against the Phoenix Suns this 8:30 a.m. (RP time), they’re facing Steve Nash who predicted, “We’re going home and win Game 6 and come back in Game 7.” That’s confidence. That’s the voice of a two-time Most Valuable Player.
BEAT LA! That, too, is the chant of the Suns today: to scorch, burn, light aflame Los Angeles when they set foot inside the US Airways Center in Arizona. This contest is terrific: Pitted are Nash, the 2005 and 2006 MVP, against a one-time MVP in Kobe (2008). Nash is Canadian; Bryant is as American as Barack Obama.
No doubt, the Lakers will attempt to finish their Western Conference series today. With Boston’s Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo to watch their game with both feet up on a chair, with masseurs massaging their stiff backs—they’re fully relaxed—it’s still a work day for the Lakers. And if LA loses Game 6, it’s a pressure-packed Game 7… while Boston is getting those foot massages.
Phoenix? Despite on the precipice of losing the series, they’re undaunted. Here’s why: In this LA-Phoenix series, the home team has won every single game. Plus, the Suns have won their last six consecutive playoff games at home. Will it be 7-0 for Amare Stoudemire?
“We don’t plan on going to Phoenix and losing three times on their home court,” said LA coach Phil Jackson. “We’re not making this trip over there just to fill a date. We’re going over there to win a game. We’re highly motivated for this game, but we understand that if it has to go seven, we’re damn well ready to come back home and defend our home court again. This is a series that has taken a lot of different faces to it in the course of these five games, and we don’t expect Game 6 to be any different.”
My prediction? BEAT LA! No, not for the Lakers to lose this morning, as I’m no fan of the Suns—though it would be a perfect reward for them, after four decades in the league, to finally win an NBA Championship—I’d want for that Boston Celtics fan holding that “BEAT LA” banner to hold it aloft once more… against Los Angeles.