Celts Dominate, But Lakers Are Better Set for Future

My mom always told me that you can’t be a good person if you don’t admit when you’re wrong. So because my mother is always right, I am going to admit that prior to Game #1, I thought the Lakers would dominate the Celtics. They ran through the Western Conference, which I still believe to be the stronger conference, like a buzzsaw and the Celts were having trouble beating mediocre teams on the road. (The Hawks were really that tough?) I think it was inevitable that the Lakers would leave another team in their wake on the way to another ring. All things aside, I am more than glad to admit I was wrong.

However, looking forward, I think the Lakers franchise is in a much better position. Granted, you’re supposed to give it at least a day before you start thinking about the future, but fans of the losing team know that is never true. (The second the Nets were done I started thinking about the draft.) When you let your mind wander, it becomes obvious that while the Celtics are clearly the better team now, more rings lie in the future of the Lakers than the Celtics.

Age might be the biggest reason for this. The Big Three might only have three more years left, if that. Ray Allen will be 33 next year and has already shown this playoffs that its becoming tougher for him to make his own looks. (But when he is even close to open there is still nobody that can shoot it better). Garnett will also be 33, but his body has taken a pounding playing Center in the West for years. Pierce is the youngest, as he’ll be 31 next season and as a few good years left in him. When you look at the bench, the age doesn’t get much better P.J. Brown and Sam Cassell, who both played their share of minutes these playoffs, will be 39 next year and other role players like Eddie House, 31, and James Posey, 32 are getting up their in age.

Then you have the Lakers. Kobe’s been in the league forever, but he’ll only be 30 next year, which in terms of basketball years, makes him a lot younger than Allen and KG. Gasol may be soft, but he’ll only be 28 and is still a solid player, while Odom will be turning 29. They have a few young guns on the team as well, with Andrew Bynum only turning 21, Sasha Vujacic turning 25 and Jordan Farmar turning 22. The Lakers core of players will be around for a few years longer than the Celts will.

 

Another reason the Lakers are better built for the future is the make-up of their starting line-up. The Celtics played an incredible series, but what people keep forgetting is that the Lakers played the entire postseason without Bynum. Before the injury, Bynum was averaging 13 and 10 and was turning into a legitimate Center. If you slide him back into the 5 and pair him up with Gasol, who can then move to the 4, you have a special front court. Clearly, we saw that Gasol is not at his best when he has to bang down low, but with Bynum back, he can face up to the basket more and use his 7-foot size to take advantage of smaller power forwards. The Lakers then round out their starting line-up with Odom at the 3, Bryant at the 2 and an ever-improving Farmar at the point. it’s a scary starting 5 that leaves Walton, Vujacic, Radmanovic and Turiaf coming off the bench. Add one more capable guard to that set and you’ve got one of the most well-rounded teams that I’ve seen assembled.

The Celts on the other hand, have under-sized forwards in Glen Davis and Leon Powe (who’s game I love, by the way) and no true back-up PG with Cassell likely retiring (and firing up more shots per minute than any other player in the NBA). Perkins continues to get better, but the Celts would feel a lot better with a legitimate center to back-up him up just in case, not 6’9″ Davis. Doc Rivers also learned this post-season that Rondo’s passing skills can sometimes be a detriment. He looks to pass so often that teams would slack off him, forcing him to take shots that he never would, effectively taking himself out of the game. He needs to improve his shooting enough to be taken seriously as a scoring threat. Until then, the Celts need another PG who can both dish and score.

So enjoy it Boston. It was a great season and a dominating final game. I am glad that you proved me wrong and that you made my father very happy. But when the dust settles and smoke clears, there is some work to do for next year. Of course, I could be wrong again.

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