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The Inevitablility of the Improbable


I like to spend some time browsing the other NBA team blogs once in a while.  They can be sources of insight, and they can be sources of some amusement, especially when things are going badly for their respective teams.  Not amusement at the misfortunes of the teams themselves - I am not wired that way, although sometimes it has been tempting - but amusement at the panic and fatalism which sometimes seem to accompany every loss.  Of course, we have that on Fear the Sword as well, and it is the nature of the beast to sometimes magnify a loss beyond its true significance.

Specifically, though, I am thinking back to all the angst I saw on the Lakers' blog throughout the course of this season.

I don't know how many times I popped over to Silver Screen and Roll and saw such gems as "Kobe sucks, he is a ball-hog, launching 30 shots to get 25 points", or "Gasol and Kobe can't play together, Kobe thinks Pau is too soft, you can see it in Kobe's body-language".  Then there was a time when such statements as "We can't match up with the Cavaliers" were circulating.

Kinda funny when you look back on it now.

When all was said and done, one team took care of the home-court advantage they had earned during the regular season and made it to the Finals, and of course, it was those very same Lakers.  Even when Cleveland stomped L.A. on Christmas Day, and the home fans were giving the Lake Show the styrofoam finger, I never doubted that when June came around, Kobe and his Merry Band would be right where they are. 

Yes, it is true that when L.A. was preparing to play Oklahoma City in the first round, I thought that the Thunder had a chance to pull off the stunning upset, having bought into the "the Lakers aren't looking all that good" myth.  But the fact that they won that series in six, and then went 8-2 against Utah and Phoenix, did not overly surprise me.  Some teams really do seem to have the ability to flip a switch and rev up the intensity when needed.

Of course, Boston being in the Finals is...um, a bit of a surprise.  Lake Erie is also a bit cold for swimming in January.

After defeating Miami in the first round (and how many of us breathed a little sigh of relief that we would not have to contend with Dwayne Wade in the second round?) the Celtics not once, not twice, but three times, stole home court advantage to get to where they are now (remember that Boston did it to Cleveland after Game Two, lost it, then did it again after Game Five).

Obviously, in Boston's case, unlike the Lakers', there was no flipping of a switch, there was instead renewed health and a veteran presence...and there was The Left-Handed Free Throw in a prior Cleveland series that, shall we say, might have helped them just a wee bit.

So here we are, May having gone and June walking in the door.  In the Kingdom of Joakim Noah, fountains run blood-red for their hockey team, two perfect games have already been thrown in baseball, the Yankees have had their obligatory three-of-four series against the Indians...and basketball continues its plodding march to the end of the season.

Lakers vs. Celtics.  The NBA traditionalists are giddy.  As unlikely as it seemed, based on blogs read and slumping 54-game stretches...the battle will be joined on Thursday.

All five of us who might care enough to watch Yankees-Dodgers....er, Celtics-Lakers, are enthralled with anticipation.