Celtics/Lakers is an act that hasn’t played in the NBA Finals since 1987. Expect plenty of nostalgia this week leading up to the series opener on Thursday. While much of the focus will be on the 1980’s matchups of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, the teams were regular finals opponents in the 1960’s, playing six times between 1962 and 1969. (The Celtics and Minneapolis Lakers squared off in the 1959 finals.)
In the media, the Celtics will be underdogs in this series, (see Saturday’s post with the ESPN predictions) something that is inexplicable to me, but it all is because of Kobe Bryant. He will be the focus of this series, as the national media latches on to his attempt to win a title without Shaquille O’Neal.
Steve Bulpett goes way back to October with a look at the Celtics trip to Rome and how that was really start of this current edition of the Celtics. Marc J. Spears has rookie Glen Davis making sure to cherish this finals appearance as something that could happen just once in a lifetime. Robert Lee has a look at how things turned around for Paul Pierce and the Celtics this year. Jim Fenton wonders if the Celtics have figured out their playoff woes. Tim Weisberg says that the time is now for these Celtics, as their window is already shrinking.
Bulpett says that the Celtics will have their hands full with Kobe Bryant, as the Lakers superstar isn’t going to have a truly off-night like LeBron James had against the Celtics in game one that series. Bulpett also asserts that Bryant’s teammates are better, which could give the Celtics fits. Bill Burt says that Pierce holds the key to banner 17 for the Celtics. Robyn Norwood has a look a the series, including some details on how the Lakers might plan to defend the Celtics, especially the big three. Mark Murphy checks in with James Posey, who will have the biggest defensive challenge of his postseason coming up – but it is something he relishes.
Steve Buckley looks at how Red Auerbach wasn’t the biggest fan of Lakers coach Phil Jackson. Yesterday, Spears checked in with Randy Auerbach, Red’s daughter, who remains a huge Celtics fan and lives in Los Angeles. Jeff Howe looks at this series as the latest chapter in the storied rivalry. Bill Reynolds has the NBA’s royal rivalry adding another episode. Paul Jarvey says that the revival of these franchises invigorates the entire league. Yesterday, Bob Ryan pointed out that this team’s best basketball has yet to be played.
Murphy’s notebook has the Celtics veterans talking about their long road to the NBA finals. Spears’ notebook has some Lakers fans who will be proud to wear green in the next few weeks. Mike Szostak’s notebook examines some of the top storylines you’re going to see over the next couple of weeks. Fenton’s notebook has Paul Pierce learning to keep his cool in this postseason.
Fresh off his 500th home run, Manny Ramirez wasted no time in adding number 501 to his resume yesterday in the Red Sox 9-4 win in Baltimore.
Gordon Edes has the Sox winning their third straight, but with concern as Big Papi is headed back to Boston for an MRI on his left wrist. Joe McDonald has the Sox back to their winning ways, and hoping for the sweep tonight in Baltimore. Jeff Goldberg has Bartolo Colon looking good in the win for the Red Sox.
Rob Bradford has a look at the new version of Manny, one who is comfortable and no longer hiding his personality. Nick Cafardo has Manny carrying on after reaching his milestone, and gets comments from some who Manny in the early days back in Cleveland. John Tomase has more on the transformation of Manny into a player even opposing fans can’t dislike. McDonald has Manny feeling relaxed after his milestone, and getting back to work.
Tomase has a look at the outing from Bartolo Colon yesterday, as well as how Dustin Pedroia made a trio of good defensive plays in the game. McDonald has more on the MRI for Ortiz and has a look at Colon remaining on target.
Edes’ notebook has the Sox hoping to break even on this road trip with a win tonight and a sweep of the Orioles. Bradford’s notebook has more on the wrist injury to Ortiz. Goldberg’s notebook has more on the upcoming MRI for Big Papi.
Karen Guregian has a piece on undrafted tight end Jonathan Stupar, hoping to win a job with the Patriots, but more importantly, happy to be alive and in good health. Check more Patriots news at PatriotsLinks.com
Kevin Paul Dupont says that the Penguins might need a miracle in their Stanley Cup Finals series with the Red Wings.