Orlando vs. Boston: Previewing the Eastern Conference Finals
While most of us, including myself, want to ponder what the rest of the NBA Playoffs without LeBron means, there still is basketball to be played. If you’re looking for ways to insert intrigue and drama into the Eastern and Western Conference Finals, then here are some ideas:
The Boston Celtics vs. the Orlando Magic
The Self-Made Men: Rajon Rondo, who may be the Celtics’ best player, was drafted 21st overall in 2006, and at the time the only thing any of us knew about him was that Bill Simmons would spend the next few years describing Rondo’s hands and fingers as spider-monkey-like, which really meant that most people, including the Boston faithful, had their doubts about the future of their young point guard. Those doubts have now been laid to rest because this year and last year have witnessed (sorry, LeBron) Rondo’s blossoming into a postseason triple double machine.
But in this series against the Magic Rondo is not the only point guard who has transmuted doubt into faith. Jameer Nelson was drafted twentieth overall in the 2004 draft by the Denver Nuggets and then traded to Orlando. At one time, a lot of us probably thought that Jameer Nelson was the slightly thinner version of Khalid El-Amin: we were wrong. Nelson has bounced back from injury and regained his All-Star form, averaging 20.5 ppg and 5.3 apg in this year’s playoffs.
If either Rondo or Nelson clearly wins this matchup, then their team probably wins the series. Rondo is more athletic and has the height advantage, but Nelson is the better shooter and possibly the player with more to prove. Rondo’s performance in Game 5 against the Cavs pretty much cemented him on anyone’s top five point guards in the League list, while Nelson’s name still remains a relatively unknown, or unmentioned, entity. This series could make Nelson into a household name.
The World Stops for Them: There was a time when referring to Paul Pierce by his nickname, The Truth, felt like an insane idea, that maybe we should call him The Liar, write him off as a player doomed to a career of tragedy, and be done with him. Now, he’s got a ring, he’s got status, and an acting career to boot.
Then there’s the man we one called Vinsanity, who came into all our lives like a Golden Calf. Seriously, who didn’t want to convert to Vinduism after the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest? Then with each passing year we realized that the calf’s gold was all brass and that our god was tarnished.
To date, Vince Carter and Paul Pierce’s careers have followed eerily similar trajectories. Both were drafted in 1998. Each came into the League as a star, groomed by one of the sacred schools of college basketball, and then both faltered. The only difference is that Pierce found redemption, and Vince continues to find more and more ridicule, stumbling to the hoop, not half man half amazing but half man and what could have been. This series can change that. If Vince Carter has a strong series and his team wins, not only does he reach the Promised Land, but he does so by playing well against two Hall of Famers, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Of course, the fact that I even wrote the last sentence and am holding out hope for him could suggest that Vince still has me conned.
I Used to Love H.E.R. : Here’s a little story that must be told about two younger brothers and how they destroyed Seattle basketball. Rashard Lewis, another product of the 1998 draft, and Ray Allen at one time had Seattle looking like an up and coming team in the NBA’s Western Conference. In 2005, they won 52 games and took what may have been the best San Antonio Spurs championship team to six games. Then their coach left, Rashard signed with Orlando, and Allen was traded. Good thing Nick Collison now has Kevin Durant’s shoulder to cry on, while Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen will issue each other longing glances as if they were cast in the Disney movie The Fox and the Hound.
He’s Back: Or at least that’s what the crew of Around the Horn tells us. I’m not sure I would say he’s all the way back, or if he ever will be, but I owe the man an apology. KG is still a productive player. The rumors about his demise have been largely exaggerated because we live in a culture that loves to laugh at the elderly. This may or may not be a result of Adam Sandler’s influence in the ’90s. KG is averaging his third lowest playoff ppg of his career, but his midrange game killed the Cavs. Against Orlando he’ll find things a bit tougher–they’re longer and more athletic than Cleveland–but the fact that his game may be peaking is definitely a good sign for Boston.
Tectonic Plates: Kendrick Perkins is one of the few big man in the League with the physical strength and Boxer from Animal Farm mentality to bang down low with Dwight Howard for not just an entire game but an entire series. He needs to stay out of foul trouble, and he needs to make Dwight press. We’ve seen him do it before, and if you like watching big men battle, then this series will make you laugh and cry and feel as sentimental as the script from It’s Complicated–yes, it’s going to feel like you can learn to love again.
Follow us on twitter@thefastertimes
- 1 First Openly Straight Figure Skater Comes Forward
- 2 Brooklyn Man Now Living Entirely Off Own Beard Garden
- 3 “Cra Cra” Now Official Diagnosis in New DSM (DSM-5)
- 4 OfficeMax Marketing Director Struggling to Make Staplers ‘Sexy’ and ‘Conversational’
- 5 Homeless Guy Woos Silicon Valley VCs with Low-Tech Crowdfunding Startup
- 6 Area Man Tailors Life To Be More Relevant To His Hulu Advertisements
- 7 Fan Banging Furiously on Glass Could Be the Difference in Hockey Playoffs
- 8 Survey: 88% of Eagles Fans Too Drunk To Spell Nnamdi Asomugha Last Season
- 9 Local Mom Won’t Stop Being First Person to Like Every Goddamn Thing Son Posts to Facebook
- 10 Shaq Confident He Will Eventually Make Funny Quip on TNT