NBA Finals Game 2 Preview - Goodby John Wooden




By Jim Hurley:

Okay, so it was unanimous.

The Los Angeles Lakers were the more physical team - and the more focused team - for that 102-89 win against the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of this year's NBA Finals last Thursday night at Staples Center and now every hoops expert in the land has his/her own opinion of how the C's are gonna get even in Game 2.

Yes, we're weighing in too!

Our Jim Sez NBA Finals Game 2 Preview is straight ahead but first let's hand you this little reminder:

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers get you all the game-day NBA Finals Side/Totals Winners and all the MLB winners each and every day when you either call the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or else when you go online right here. Check-in times are after 11 a.m. ET for the weekday afternoon MLB games; anytime after 1 p.m. ET for all the NBA and MLB weeknight games; and, of course, anytime after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays and Sundays for all the weekend sports action. And don't forget The Belmont Stakes is Saturday and Jim will put you right in the winner's circle with all his wagering plays! Just check in on Friday either here online or at the toll-free telephone # and bring home the bucks in this Triple Crown race! Go ahead and continue to pile up your summertime Basketball and Baseball profits with America's #1 Handicapper and make sure you're all aboard for this year's NBA Finals.


Lakers lead series 1-0; Game 2 is Sunday at 8:05 p.m. ET

Naturally, the most telling part of Game 1 in this NBA Finals series was that the Lakers were ready/willing/able to hand out their own brand of physical punishment to the Celtics ... but something's telling us that this Game 2 clash in LA-LA land is going to be more free-flowing.

Heck, how many wrestling takedowns can one basketball series have, anyway?

If the game opens up a bit more here it should benefit a few players on each side but perhaps it will benefit nobody more than Boston point guard Rajon Rondo who has been widely hailed as the "second-best" player in this year playoffs behind Lakers' mega-star Kobe Bryant.

Note that Rondo (6-of-14 field-goal shooting and 13 points with 8 assists and only 2 turnovers in Game 1) was able to slip behind Bryant's man-to-man coverage to get a couple of second-chance shots but mainly he was kept on the outside looking in at the action in the series opener and here you can expect more end-to-end rushes by the Celtics star who should reasonably look at a couple of stats here:

How many times does he get to the free-throw line (1-of-4 FTs in the opener wasn't nearly effective enough) and does he or not get into the twin-figure range in assists here? If Rondo is able to dictate more of the pace and tempo of Game 2, then the Celtics will be all that much better for it - if not, then veterans Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are going to have to generate their own shots and that was not made easy in Game 1.

If this Game 2 tilt is more free-flowing, than it also will benefit the Lakers bench - a unit that contributed a modest 15 points in 64 total "man-minutes" and any NBA expert will tell you that your reserves always play better at home than they do on the road and so the likes of guards Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar (a combined 10 points in the opener) must get out and go and make things happen ... especially when the aforementioned Bryant is catching some rare minutes on the bench.

Make no mistake about it: Bryant can thrive when the throttle's been turned up in a game and he can grind it out as evidenced by Thursday's game-high 30-point showing (although "under" bettors who had the price at 190 ½ points are still cursing Bryant for taking and making that long-range triple in the game's final few seconds!) and so he'll adjust/adapt at any speed here.

The Lakers know that seven-footer Pau Gasol (23 points and 14 rebounds in Game 1 - including 8 offensive caroms) also will be a positive factor whether the game's been turned into a full-court affair or a half-court meat-grinder game. There's no more talk of this Spaniard being "soft" anymore but a big part of Game 2 will be how Gasol handles a fired-up Kevin Garnett who registered the "softest" 16 points in NBA Finals history. In case you didn't catch some of Friday's press conferences, there was Boston head coach Doc Rivers alerting any/all media members that the one-time league Most Valuable Player was not "finished" and instead Rivers claimed Garnett's practice the day before Game 1 was his best in a long, long time.

Suffice to say that Garnett holds a major key here as he must be more active on the glass and as a defender - only 4 rebounds and 1 blocked shot in 35 minutes in Game 1 - and mark our Jim Sez words that Garnett must show major life in the opening quarter here in Game 2 or else his teammates will get him the ball in the low box less often and Rivers might just find him a seat on the pine for half the game.

Lots to digest here while looking ahead to Game 2 of Celtics-Lakers and one thing worth checking into prior to Sunday's tilt is just how have the Celtics fared while coming off a loss in this year's playoffs - and here's what the Celts have done following an "L" this year's post-season:








- 6.5


BOSTON 96-86



- 6


Boston 104-86



- 1.5


BOSTON 97-87



- 4


ORLANDO 113-92



- 3.5


BOSTON 96-84

As you can see, Boston's really bounced back from post-season losses this year with four wins in five tries and note the lone case of back-to-back losses happened in the NBA's Eastern Conference Finals series where the Celtics already owned a three games-to-one advantage while heading into a Game 5 against the Orlando Magic. Otherwise, the C's are 4-1 ATS (against the spread) in game-after-losses this post-season and that includes a Game 2 win at Cleveland and that all-important Game 6 win against Orlando.

Whether it's Game 2 of the NBA Finals on ABC, or the Brewers-Cardinals on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball, Jim Hurley's Network is the place to tune into. Click here to win both games in a Watch & Win Sunday Night!


Let's zip 'round the Baseball world with our topics du jour this first weekend in June:

The Baltimore Orioles - almost mercifully - finally pulled the plug on the Dave Trembley Era when they axed the low-key field general and installed former big-league star Juan Samuel to replace him on an interim basis. Hey, everyone knows that you can't lay all that much blame at Trembley's feet as the Orioles (now 15-40 following Friday's humbling 11-0 home loss against the Boston Red Sox) may be one of sport's most dysfunctional franchises these days but count us among the folks who believed this move was long overdue.

Now, does that mean Samuel is gonna last long here as the O's skipper?

Well, if his debut was any indication, than you already know the answer but it is tough to win when your starting pitch allows 4 runs, 5 hits and 2 walks in 1.1 innings as Chris Tillman (7.71 ERA) surely didn't rise to the occasion for anyone believing a change in managers would change this team's fortunes ...

Roy Halladay's first start following his perfect no-hitter last Saturday in Florida was far from perfect as the Philadelphia Phillies ace surrendered 10 hits (but only two runs) in seven innings of work in a harrowing 3-2 win against San Diego.

Halladay (8-3, 2.03 ERA) easily could have not gotten the "W" here but the key at-bat of the game happened in the top of the eighth inning when lefty reliever J.C. Romero induced replacement RF Chris Denorfia into grounding into a 5-3 double play moments after whacking a line shot foul into the seats. Denorfia - who entered the game when Will Venable suffered a neck injury while sliding into third base in the fifth inning - was part of the problem for the Pods who left 11 runners on base and thus allowed Halladay to wriggle away from danger ...

Finally, anyone that didn't think the Detroit Tigers had a "hangover" following those emotional Wednesday/Thursday games should think again.

Jim Leyland's crew scratched out just two runs and four hits in five-plus innings against journeyman lefty Bruce Chen in Friday's 7-3 win by the host Kansas City Royals and it was obvious that the doings earlier in the week - the "imperfect game" thrown by RHP Armando Galarraga and then Thursday afternoon's wild 12-6 win against Cleveland - sapped the Tigers at the start of Friday night's game.

Oh yeah, in case anyone wants to know: Umpire Jim Joyce will be manning first base in Sunday's Padres-Phillies game - do you think that will get some media attention?

No doubt by now you've seen a whole slew of tributes to the one-time great UCLA basketball coach who won 10 titles and made it to 12 Final Fours in his illustrious career - but maybe the most amazing part of John Wooden's life (remember that he retired following his final championship back in 1975) is that every coach who was quoted late Friday night talked about how mentally sharp Wooden was deep into his 90s and how much great basketball/life advice he was able to dispense to coaches young and old. Good stuff!

There's a whole generation (or two) that really knows next-to-nothing about Wooden - the famed Wizard of Westwood -- who lived to the ripe old age of 99 but whenever anyone writes a college basketball history it should always say that he won championships with two of the greatest players in the college game - Lew Alcindor (a/k/a Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and Bill Walton -- and he also won championships without those two hoop giants.

Just think about this: If Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski - the best coach in this generation - wins it all next year than he will have five national championships to his credit.

Or halfway to what Wooden had.
NOTE: Catch our review of the NBA Finals Game #2 of Celtics-Lakers in the next edition of Jim Sez and remember to look for our NFL 2010 Team-by-Team camp notes that will begin some time next week - folks, that's all 32 NFL teams getting our attention here over a course of the next couple of weeks. Don't miss out as we start to gear up for the 2010 NFL and College Football campaigns!


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