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NBA:  The Finals

17 June 2010

As I type this, I am watching the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics warm up for the seventh game in a seven game series to decide who will be this year’s NBA Championship.  I won’t predict a winner, but I will provide you with the storyline regardless of who comes out on top as I have no plans on staying awake through the three hours this game will take, then attempt to type out something interesting and coherent.

As you’ve probably heard, there likely is no more storied rival in the NBA as the Celtics and the Lakers.  They’ve met 12 times in the NBA finals (including this year) with Boston winning nine and L.A. two.  Of the 63 NBA Championships awarded, these two teams combined have won 32.

This year, Boston was an unlikely entry into the finals.  The team, although 2008 champs, is considerably older and had significant injury problems throughout the year.  They were seeded 4th in the Eastern Conference side of the play-offs, but managed to play excellent team ball.  Throughout the final series against the Lakers, nearly every starter has averaged double-digit points in each game.  In contrast, the Lakers have consistently only had one player in double digits, Kobe Bryant, probably the best basketball player in the NBA today.  Tonight’s final game is in LA and the Celtics aren’t favored to win.  Most people believe the Lakers are a better overall team, and the game is being played in LA.  If the Celtics win, it will be a bit of an upset.  If you’re a Celtic, you see this as the middle-class, hard working man versus the celebrity, silver spoon in your mouth spoiled teenager.
On the other hand, much can be said if the Lakers take the series.  First, some argue that it would put Kobe Bryant on par with basketball’s best player ever, Michael Jordan.  Jordan won six NBA Championships; this victory would give Kobe five.  In addition, it would go towards solidifying Phil Jackson as the best basketball coach of all time.  He already has the most NBA Championship rings as a coach with 10.  He actually has 12 rings because he won two as a player, also the most combined titles of any person alive.  Even a win will do nothing to debunk the celebrity label of the Lakers.  There will surely be more Hollywood personalities sitting in the seats of the arena than at a Democratic Party fundraiser.

At the end of the day, when you look at this game in the broad sense of sports, few will talk about this game or the series three days after its complete.  Most people see the end of the NBA season as a small summer break in significant sporting events.  This year, soccer’s World Cup will fill the void to some extent, but you can bet that as August approaches, America’s real national sport, football, will begin to dominate sporting news.

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The Basics – The NBA Finals

The NBA Finals is played in a 2-3-2, best of seven format.  When teams are pitted against each other, the team with the best record from the regular season is said to get “home court advantage.”  What this means is that they’ll get the most games played at their home court, so long as the series lasts seven games.  In the 2-3-2 format, the home court advantage team will get the first two and the last two games at home (this year that is in L.A. with the Lakers).

 Essentially, the first team to win 4 games is the champion.  A series type final is the most common.  Professional football with the NFL is the only one that does not.  The other sports feel that it takes several games to truly determine which team is the best.  In the NFL, each team only plays 16 games.  By contrast, NBA teams play 82.

-The Lakers or the Celtics have won 32 of the 63 NBA Championships.


Home Court Advantage: a team is said to have home court advantage when, in a series type format, that team plays the majority of their games on their home court
Michael Jordan: widely considered the best player to play in the NBA, and one of the best athletes ever.  With his team, the Chicago Bulls, he won six NBA Championships.  As a college player at the University of North Carolina, he helped his team win the 1982 National Championship.
 NBA Championship Rings – when teams win championships in most major sports, the members of the team win championship rings, much like a high school or college ring, except significantly more extravagant.  I saw a 2006 NBA Championship ring going for over $10,000 on a collector site.

Double Digits: Scoring at least 10 points in a game.

From the field: Refers to all shots taken (2 or 3 points) except for foul shots.

Conference: A group of teams, usually geographically associated.  In the case of the NBA, there are the Eastern and Western Conferences.

Triple Double: When a player achieves double digits in three of five statistical categories (points, assists, rebounds, blocked shots, and steals).  For example a player with, 10 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 assists in a single game would have attained triple double.

Rebound: After an attempted shot that does not go in the basket, the act of retrieving the ball after the miss is called rebounding.  The player that retrieves the ball gets a rebound in that statistic column.

Assist: When a player gives the basketball to another player who then immediately scores.

Fast break:  a play in basketball in which a team moves quickly down the court in an attempt to score before the opposing defense can get set up.