About one year ago this time, things weren’t looking so hot for the Boston Celtics organization. Boston was coming off a 24-58 season that included a streak of 18 consecutive losses, the death of franchise legend Red Auerbach and the 2nd worst record in the NBA that only resulted in the 5th overall lottery selection.
The Los Angeles Lakers franchise was also in the midst of much turmoil just having been eliminated from the playoffs in the first round for the 2nd straight season, with superstar guard Kobe Bryant demanding a trade publicly from the front office executives immediately.
How quickly things can change.
The two historic organizations find themselves in the 2008 NBA Finals, facing each other in the championship for the 11th time. The Celtics hold the 8-2 edge in head to head series play but the Lakers have captured the last two match ups in 1985 and 1987.
This rivalry has made the NBA what it is today. The Bird vs. Magic era brought excitement to the league like there had never been before and now both teams are loaded with future hall of famers and leaders like Paul Pierce and Kobe Bryant.
Last summer, the two NBA All-Stars were playing pickup ball together at UCLA’s gym. Both were frustrated with the outcome of their seasons and knew that trade talks would be likely for both of them.
“I remember being in the gym with Kobe, and me and him were arguing over who was going to get traded first,” Pierce said Monday after the Celtics held their first practice in preparation for the NBA finals.
“He went public about getting traded, … and I was like, ‘Shoot, I’m going to getting traded before you,’ and betting that it would happen. That’s what so crazy, now we’re both here sitting in the finals, where a year ago we were both in the gym.”
Big reasons why both players find themselves 4 wins away from a championship are the acquisitions that were made to get their teams to where they are today. For the Celtics, the important moves were made before the season while the Lakers pulled some strings right at the trade deadline.
Boston acquired SG Ray Allen on draft day via trade and then shortly after made a 7 for 1 player swap to package former league MVP Kevin Garnett into beantown as the newest member to the Celtics organization. And as they say, the rest is history. Combined with the force of Pierce, the three have reenergized basketball fans in Boston for the first time since the mid 80′s. As for the Lakers, they were able to trade for All-Star PF Pau Gasol right before the trade deadline for almost nothing. His acquisition has sparked a 2nd half turnaround that put LA atop the Western Conference.
After the Celtics downed the Detroit Pistons in six games and the Lakers took care of the defending NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs in five, the stage is set for what many are calling the best Finals match up in over 25 years.
Lets take a look at the probable match ups between teams and which club has the advantage at each position.
At points guard the Celtics will go with Rajon Rondo and he will be matched up against veteran Derek Fisher. Fisher certainly wins some points for experience but Rondo has been more of a contributing factor offensively dishing out assists and scoring big buckets when needed. The best part about this match up is that if Rondo needs a quick blow, veteran back up Sam Cassell will step right in and provide the veteran experience that Rondo lacks to equal that of Fishers.
ADVANTAGE – BOS
The most important match up of the series will be at the shooting guard position featuring two of the NBA’s premiere perimeter players in Ray Allen and Kobe Bryant. Both can flat out shoot the ball and anything within a few steps over the half court line is in their range. Allen’s defense can be suspect at times due to ankle problems, while Kobe has been on the NBA’s Defensive 1st team multiple times. Allen will not be the only one covering the reigning MVP, look for some help from fellow wingman Paul Pierce but their job will be simple, hold Kobe to his averages and let the other Lakers beat you.
ADVANTAGE – L.A.
While Paul Pierce is not helping out with Bryant he’ll have his hands full guarding Lamar Odom. This match up will create problems for both sides because at 6’10″ tall, Odom has a 4 inch height advantage and will try to post up his smaller defender when the opportunity presents itself. However, Pierce has the speed advantage and will create for himself opportunities to take the ball to the hole off the dribble which could put LA’s big men in foul trouble.
ADVANTAGE – EVEN
When it comes to Kevin Garnett, it really does not matter who’s covering him because he’s going to have the advantage regardless. The Lakers will send Vladimir Radmanovic for some KG duty but as we saw in both the Cleveland and Detroit series, it doesn’t matter who’s covering the big man because he can beat you in the paint or from the outside with his 18+ foot jumpers all night long.
ADVANTAGE – BOS
The match up at the center position between Kendrick Perkins and Pau Gasol could be a big factor one of the series. Perkins showed Boston fans that he’s capable of being a beast on the boards against Detroit when he hauled down 16 rebounds and dropped 18 points in their Game 5 win. Gasol lifted LA with a similar effort in their Game 5 win grabbing 19 boards and scoring 12 points. Gasol does have a little better offensive touch then Perkins which makes him more a threat in the paint.
ADANTAGE – LA
The series gets underway on Thursday night in Boston at 9:00pm EST. The home court advantage that the Celtics earned during the regular season may be a huge factor with possible Games 6 & 7 to be played at the TD Banknorth Garden in front of the hometown crowd. LA, who has yet to lose a playoff game at home, will try to steal one of the road before returning home for Games 3, 4 and if needed 5.
As the Lakers go for their 15th banner and the Celtics quest for Green 17 continues one thing that is certain, this match up has the potential to be one of the greatest of all time and all we can do now is enjoy every minute of it.
Celtics vs Lakers NBA Finals tickets now available.
Midway through the 2008 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers sat right in the middle of the pack of all the Western Conference powerhouses. The Rockets were in the midst of reeling off a 20+ game winning streak, the Suns had acquired Shaquille O’Neal and the defending champs in the Spurs were simply on fire. That’s right about when some guy named Kobe decided that it was time to start playing some ball, and he and the Lakers haven’t stopped since.
The reigning MVP dropped 39 points en route to Los Angeles’s 100-92 victory over the San Antonio Spurs Thursday night, securing a spot in the NBA Finals for the first time since 2004.
“I think it is a tremendous accomplishment,” Bryant said. “I think the West is extremely tough. We’re all extremely excited and proud about it. Now, it’s time to go on and see if we can’t finish it off.”
The Lakers trailed by 13 points after one quarter and gradually chipped away from the deficit with the help of Bryant’s firepower. At the end of three quarters of play, the Lakers had gained a 1 point advantage on a 3-point field goal by Vladimir Radmanovic (8 pts) that came with :28 seconds left on the game clock. The teams would trade buckets for the first two minutes of play in the 4th quarter before Luke Walton (5 pts) nailed his only 3-pointer of the game giving L.A. the 70-68 edge, a lead they would not lose the rest of the game.
Midseason acquisition Pau Gasol might be the most excited member of this Lakers line-up to be heading to the finals. Halfway through his season he was stuck on an awful Memphis Grizzlies team that was already making golf reservations for their summer plans. A trade right before the deadline moved Gasol into Lakerland and both parties couldn’t be happier with what they got. In yesterday’s win, Gasol netted 12 points and grabbed a playoff career-high 19 rebounds.
The only other Laker in double-figures was veteran forward Lamar Odom. Odom finished with 13 points on a 5 for 10 shooting performance and grabbed 8 rebounds in 34 minutes of action.
“My heart’s still pumping, that adrenaline is still running from the game,” said Odom. “Maybe when I sit down and have something to eat, I’ll realize what just happened. We came out here, played our game, and won. It’s satisfying, but one more step.”
That next step will be against either the Boston Celtics or Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals, which begin on June 5th. The Celtics currently hold a 3-2 series lead with Game 6 taking place tonight in Detroit. The Lakers will certainly be watching intently but coach Phil Jackson knows that no matter who the opponent, it will be a challenging series.
“We look at both those opponents (Boston and Detroit) with a great deal of respect and know that we have a great, great hill to climb to be able to finish in the finals and win,” said Jackson who will be going for his 10th NBA championship ring. Currently, he is tied with former Celtics coach and legend Red Auerbach with 9 titles as head coach.
While Jackson credits the Western Conference title win as a team effort, Spurs head coach Greg Popovich points out that his team’s offensive struggles combined with L.A.’s defensive intensity were the keys to them winning the series.
“I thought we did a fine job,” he said. “We just didn’t muster the offense, for a variety of reasons. The fact that we didn’t come through offensively is a disappointment, but part of that is a credit to the Lakers. We just played a team that was better. That’s why the Lakers won. The better team won. You get a seven-game series, you win four games, you’re the best team.”
Tim Duncan’s effort in the loss was outstanding. The former MVP scored 19 points, hauled down 15 boards and dished out 10 assists for a triple-double. It just wasn’t enough to lift the Spurs past Kobe and the rest of the Lakers lineup.
“Just got to gear it up again to go to next year,” Duncan said. “Love what we had this year. We just weren’t good enough through stretches.”
Now all the Lakers can do is sit and wait because their next stop is the 2008 NBA Finals.
You don’t win the MVP award in the NBA for mediocrity, you win it for having clutch performances in the games the that matter most. Welcome to the world of Kobe Bryant.
Tuesday night Bryant put on another impressive display that helped lift the Los Angeles Lakers to a 93-91 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in San Antonio. The defeat was the Spurs first loss at home during the 08′ postseason and could not have come at a worse time. The defending NBA Champions now find themselves trailing the series 3-1 and heading back into enemy territory, facing a must win situation.
Bryant dropped 28 points and grabbed 10 boards in the game that put the LA only 1 win away from returning to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2004.
“It is a big step for us,” said Bryant. “Tonight we came out and did a much, much better job to win in this building in this particular game. It’s big for us.”
Up two points with 2 seconds left the Lakers were in situation that called for one more stop to secure the victory. Coming out of a time out, the Spurs ran Brent Barry off of a double screen for the game’s final shot. Barry’s 3-point attempt to win the game did not connect, many believed that he was also fouled in the last ditch effort to pick up the victory.
“That’s not going to get called in the Western Conference finals,” Barry said. “Maybe in the regular season. But that call shouldn’t be called in the Western Conference finals.”
Tim Duncan led all scorers with 29 points while hammering down 17 rebounds but it was not enough to overcome the reigning MVP.
“Obviously we’re in a hole and it’s 3-1,” Duncan said. “It’s one loss and an elimination, but we really feel that if we clean a lot of this stuff up we have an opportunity to get right back in this series.”
Tony Parker and Barry both added 23 points a piece for the Spurs but throughout the game it was the Lakers lineup of youngsters that out hustled and out worked the veterans that just last season tasted what it was like to be crowned NBA Champions.
“I told them at the end of the ballgame, their energy was terrific,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “Coming out and responding to a loss and getting a lead … and playing with that kind of energy, I think, carried us over and we responded every time that they came in, tied the ballgame.”
One statistic that San Antonio head coach Greg Popovich and the rest of the Spurs lineup can not be happy about is their rebounding effort as a team. They were out rebounded 46-37 on the night which led to 26 second chance points by the Lakers compared to only 4 for the Spurs. That can not happen again in LA if they expect to pull off a victory.
Game 5 will be on Thursday night at 9pm. The Spurs will look to extend the series at least another game so they can play Game 6 in front of their home crowd, while LA is looking to wrap things up in their own backyard.
One thing is certain; Kobe is going to continue to put up MVP numbers because that’s what MVP’s do. It’s now up to the Spurs to shut down the rest of the Lakers club to keep their hopes of repeating as champions alive.
Lakers vs Spurs Tickets available for all remaining games. Tickets also available for potential Lakers vs Celtics or Lakers vs Pistons NBA Finals.
Ever since their first tour in 1994, Dave Mathews Band has been selling out shows across the country year after year. Their live sound draws large crowds to huge venues and along the way, the band has even recorded a few live albums during their tour stops. The 2008 Dave Mathews Band tour looks to be another great show to add to your calendar, and to accommodate fan requests, the band is even adding a few new stops where they will be playing shows at as well.
One of the treats about this tour is going to be the band debuting songs from their newest album which has yet to be released. They are currently recording the tracks in the studio working with some artists including Green Day, My Chemical Romance and Alanis Morrissette. Former guitarist and good friend of the band Tim Reynolds will be playing on the album as well, making his first recording with DMB since the album “Before the Crowded Streets” was released in 1998.
There are 54 shows scheduled during the summer tour, and DMB will be making stops in 40 different cities. The tour kicks off on May 30 at the Post-Gazette Pavilion in Burgettstown, PA and wraps up with three shows at UC Berkeley in Berkeley, CA on Sept. 5, 6 and 7. Some of the cities along the way where DBM will rock out include Hartford, CT, Mansfield, MA and George, WA.
If you haven’t already, contact Ace Ticket today with any of your Dave Matthews ticket needs. Listed below are the tour dates and locations for the 2008 DBM summer tour!
Fri 5/30 – Post-Gazette Pavilion – Burgettstown, PA
Sat 5/31 – Post-Gazette Pavilion – Burgettstown, PA
Tue 6/3 – Susquehanna Bank Center – Camden, NJ
Wed 6/4 – Susquehanna Bank Center – Camden, NJ
Fri 6/6 – Toyota Park – Bridgeview, IL
Sat 6/7 – Busch Stadium – St Louis, MI
Mon 6/9 – DTE Energy Music Theatre – Clarkston, MI
Tue 6/10 – Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain – Scranton, PA
Fri 6/13 – New England Dodge Music Center – Hartford, CT
Sat 6/14 – New England Dodge Music Center – Hartford, CT
Tue 6/17 – Darien Lake Performing Arts Center – Darien Center, NY
Wed 6/18 – Molson Amphitheatre – Toronto, ON Canada
Fri 6/20 – Saratoga Performing Arts Center – Saratoga Springs, NY
Sat 6/21 – Saratoga Performing Arts Center – Saratoga Springs, NY
Tue 6/24 – Tweeter Center for the Performing Arts – Mansfield, MA
Wed 6/25 – Tweeter Center for the Performing Arts – Mansfield, MA
Fri 6/27 – Hersheypark Stadium – Hershey, PA
Sat 6/28 – Nissan Pavilion at Stone Ridge – Bristow, VA
Tue 7/1 – Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre – Charlotte, NC
Wed 7/2 – Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion at Walnut Creek – Raleigh, NC
Fri 7/4 – Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park – Charleston, SC
Sat 7/5 – ROTHBURY – Rothbury, MI
Mon 7/7 – Lakewood Amphitheatre – Atlanta, GA
Wed 7/9 – Ford Amphitheatre – Tampa, FL
Fri 7/11 – Cruzan Amphitheatre – West Palm Beach, FL
Sat 7/12 – Cruzan Amphitheatre – West Palm Beach, FL
Sun 7/20 – Mile High Music Festival – Commerce City, CO
Tue 7/22 – Qwest Center – Omaha, NE
Fri 7/25 – Verizon Wireless Music Center – Noblesville, IN
Sat 7/26 – Verizon Wireless Music Center – Noblesville, IN
Tue 7/29 – Crew Stadium – Columbus, OH
Wed 7/30 – Blossom Music Center – Cuyahoga Falls, OH
Fri 8/1 – Louisville Slugger Field – Louisville, KY
Sat 8/2 – AutoZone Park – Memphis, TN
Tue 8/5 – Riverbend Music Center – Cincinnati, OH
Thu 8/7 – Verizon Wireless Virginia Beach Amphitheater – Virginia Beach, VA
Sat 8/9 – Alpine Valley Music Theatre East – Troy, WI
Sun 8/10 – Alpine Valley Music Theatre East – Troy, WI
Wed 8/13 – AT&T Bricktown Ballpark – Oklahoma City, OK
Fri 8/15 – The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion – The Woodlands, TX
Sat 8/16 – Superpages.com Center – Dallas, TX
Tue 8/19 – Staples Center – Los Angeles, CA
Wed 8/20 – Staples Center – Los Angeles, CA
Fri 8/22 – Coors Amphitheatre – Chula Vista, CA
Sat 8/23 – Cricket Wireless Pavilion – Phoenix, AZ
Mon 8/25 – Raley Field – West Sacramento, CA
Wed 8/27 – USANA Amphitheatre – West Valley City, UT
Fri 8/29 – Gorge Amphitheatre – George, WA
Sat 8/30 – Gorge Amphitheatre – George, WA
Sun 8/31 – Gorge Amphitheatre – George, WA
Fri 9/5 – University of California, Berkeley – Greek Theatre Berkeley, CA
Sat 9/6 – University of California, Berkeley – Greek Theatre Berkeley, CA
Sun 9/7 – University of California, Berkeley – Greek Theatre Berkeley, CA
Alicia Keys is one of the most successful R&B recording artists in the world, and is currently strutting her stuff on the “As I Am” UK tour. Don’t be worried though, you will have a chance to see her very soon because her US tour kicks off in about a month in Hampton, VA on April 19th, 2008.
Keys has enjoyed a lot of recent success especially with her smash hit single “No One” which has gone double platinum, selling over 2 million copies worldwide. This track helped her earn two 2008 Grammy awards for Best R&B Song and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.
Make sure to check out Alicia Keys in a city near you. Tour dates listed below! Alicia Keys Tickets are availalble now.
2008 Alicia Keys Tour
Sat-Apr-19 Hampton, VA Hampton Coliseum
Sun-Apr-20 Philadelphia Liacouras Center
Tue-Apr-22 Pittsburgh Peterson Events Center
Thu-Apr-24 Chicago, IL Allstate Arena
Sat-Apr-26 Columbus, OH Value City Arena at Schottenstein Ctr
Sun-Apr-27 St Louis, MO Scottrade Center
Wed-Apr-30 Minneapolis, MN Target Center
Thu-May-01 Kansas City, MO Sprint Center
Mon-May-05 Los Angeles, CA TBA
Wed-May-07 San Diego, CA San Diego Sports Arena
Fri-May-09 Las Vegas, NV MGM Garden Arena
Sat-May-10 San Jose, CA HP Pavilion at San Jose
Mon-May-12 Phoenix, AZ Jobing.com Arena
Wed-May-14 Dallas, TX Nokia Theatre at Grand Prairie
Sun-May-18 Houston, TX Toyota Center
Thu-May-22 New Orleans New Orleans Arena
Sat-May-24 Tampa, FL St. Pete Times Forum
Sun-May-25 Miami, FL American Airlines Arena
Wed-May-28 Atlanta, GA Philips Arena
Fri-May-30 Greensboro, NC Greensboro Coliseum
Sat-May-31 Cincinnati, OH US Bank Arena
Tue-Jun-03 Detroit, MI Joe Louis Arena
Thu-Jun-05 Cleveland, OH Wolstein Center at Cleveland State
Fri-Jun-06 Toronto, ON Air Canada Centre
Sun-Jun-08 Montreal, QC Bell Centre
Wed-Jun-11 Boston, MA TD Bank North Garden
Fri-Jun-13 Washington D.C. Verizon Center
Sun-Jun-15 Baltimore, MD 1st Mariner Arena
Tue-Jun-17 Newark, NJ Prudential Center
Wed-Jun-18 New York, NY Madison Square Garden
The Los Angeles Lakers 106-88 victory over the Miami Heat last night extended the team’s winning streak to 10 games, and gave them a one game lead for the best record in the Western Conference standings over the San Antonio Spurs. Since acquiring Pau Gasol, the Lakers have been unstoppable and have proven to the rest of the NBA that they are once again a serious contender for a championship run.
The Lakers do have some tough opponents on the horizon that will challenge their winning streak with competitive games. Tonight they face off against the Portland Trailblazers who have struggled recently but have played well against the West and on Sunday 3/2 they will host the Dallas Mavericks for what should be a dandy. That match up will feature two of the biggest names featured in trades this year in Gasol and Jason Kidd.
With the recent surge, some power rankings have listed the Lakers at the number one spot over the Boston Celtics for the first time all year. In the two meetings of the teams this season, the Celtics were victorious in both games. Things could get interesting come playoff time and the rivalry that hasn’t meant anything in recent years could quickly become the NBA Finals.
I’m sure every Celtics fan has heard the rumors regarding Sam Cassell coming to the Celtics over the past few weeks. The seasoned veteran hinted at his interest in joining the Green Machine but couldn’t say much as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers released the oft-injured guard yesterday opening the door for a move to the Celtics. Cassell has played in 38 games this season, averaging 12.8 points, 4.7 assists, and 2.8 rebounds. No word on whether or not the Celtics will pursue Cassell. Sam could provide some veteran leadership and experience off the bench for the Celtics. Cassell needs to clear waivers by midnight tonight to be eligible in the playoffs for any team that signs him.
Recap – Hockey in the Pacific Division has been a neck and neck race for the top spot since week two of the NHL season. The Anaheim Ducks have held a share of the lead before, but currently sit just one point below the Stars in the standings. This team is very streaky and right now that is working in their favor. (more)
Recap – When it comes to the NHL there are some good teams, and some bad teams. The LA Kings are a bad team, a really, really bad team. Through 50 games, LA has only accrued 19 wins and 40 total points. Those are the lowest totals in the entire NHL. Defense is not the team’s strongpoint, not that they have a strongpoint, but they have allowed 168 goals which is the 2nd highest in the league. The Gretzky days are only a distant memory now and attendance is at an all time low. This franchise is in serious trouble and the ownership needs to decide if they really want to stay in LA for much longer.
2nd Half – Even a miracle would not give this team a playoff birth. The Kinds used 4 goaltenders in the first half of the season and none were effective. At 23 years old, left-wingman Dustin Brown has a bright future ahead of him and right now he’s merely playing for his next contract. With 24 goals and 15 assists, someone will save him from his misery in LA.
Team Name: Los Angeles Kings (19-29-2)
Pacific Division Standing: 5th place
Conference Standing: 15th place
Final Predictions – 5th in Pacific Division, 15th in Western Conference