I sit down to the Celtics-Heat Game 5 fully expecting the Celtics to be eliminated tonight. With the humiliation of the Lakers still fresh in my mind (because ESPN refuses to let it go), I figure “Well, as long as they keep it close and don’t unleash any cheap shots at the end, they will retain some sort of integrity.”

Oops.

Apparently integrity consists of failing to execute down the stretch (your supposed strength) and letting your opponent carve you up and finish the game on a 16-0 run. Yay integrity!

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Pictured: Integrity.


Look at Shaq, there, sitting on the bench in his suit. It is reported that Shaq is upset because he feels like he let down his teammates and the city of Boston. Yup, sounds about right.

shaq

Inside Voice: "Does South Beach still have that Ben & Jerry's? And would it be open this late?"


Boy the Shaq saga has come a long way, hasn’t it? Remember the days when Celtics needed to bulk up in the middle to compete with teams like the Magic and the Lakers?

Oops.

And remember all that fun Shaq was having, wooing the city of Boston with his antics, like being a statue in Harvard Square, and conducting the Boston pops? Hey, it was all good. Shaq was the final piece to take this team over the hump, right?

Oops.

No worries. The REAL advantage this team has is at the point guard position. Rajon Rondo will carve up Mike Bibby, make him look silly.

Oops.

Heck, Rondo couldn't even dominate Bibby when healthy, much less with one arm.

Oops.

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"Tis but a scratch."
"A scratch? Your arm's off!"


Ok, so game time. Here are some ET live blog bits and pieces:

1st quarter

The crowd boos Rondo the first time he handles the ball. Apparently, they disapprove of him playing through injury and/or having the nerve to let Dwayne Wade injure him. One of the two.

3:55 left in the first - Jermaine O’Neal straight to the locker room for treatment for his back. I’m actually excited about the possibility of seeing Krstik, a not-over-the-hill-or-injured-beyond-repair Celtics big man.

1:57 – Shot of Rondo lying on the floor, looking downtrodden. I can almost hear him wondering forlornly "I wonder how the Thunder are doing...sigh...sniff." Did you just imply that a guy playing through a recently dislocated elbow is some sort of wuss-bag? Oh no you didn't.

1:22 – Wade fights past Green for a rebound. Hits an obscene shot over his shoulder.

End of First - KG has 12 points, is 5 of 7.

Second Quarter


9:10 remaining – Mike Miller misses a gimme then taps in his own miss. It’s the first field goal from a non-big-three player on the Heat since the late third quarter of game 4. Wow. Guess you DON’T need balance to win games...

Interview drop in: Doc Rivers discussing whether the Lakers are "done" or "too old"...he says "If they’re too old, how old are we?” And speaking of the Lakers, behold how to fully and masterfully take advantage of a Kobe Bryant impression:



Wait, was this a dude doing an impression, or actually Kobe?

From this Press-Enterprise article (and it was on Sportscenter this morning):

Kobe Bryant, quote machine: "I think [my having a limited practice schedule because of off-season knee surgery] played a part in the fact that guys felt like they could take days off because I'm not there... And it's upsetting to me. They knew going in what my knee situation was, and we communicated that with them -- me not being able to practice and them having to pick up some of that responsibility in practice with the intensity and things of that nature...but at the same time, you can't use that as a crutch or an excuse, that because I wasn't out there, they didn't work as hard as they should."

Ah, just when you thought he wasn't a completely arrogant ass who can't keep things in the locker room where they belong. Oh wait, never thought that.

Back to the Game:

7:32 left in the second – Pierce nice move and lay up. This comes after two phenomenal D Wade plays. Reggie Miller says “Anything you can do, I can do better.” Really, Reggie? Way to lean on the vernacular there. How about "Anything you can do, I can do, but a little slower and not as good."

5:44 – Rondo one arm catch from Allen. One arm spin, one arm shot. Courageous. Not particularly dominating, but courageous. Hey Doc, could you take out Mr. Courageous and put in a healthy guy?

5:08 – Garnett and Wade get called for a double foul during a pick. Not sure what Wade did there, except take KGs elbow to his face. I do, however, know what KG did - piss off the best player on the floor. Bad idea.

3:44 – Rondo runs into James Jones with the bad arm. Looks like he's been shot with a bazooka. Or maybe I just like saying bazooka. And boobs. And Matlock.

3:23 – Rondo is not shooting...like at all. I agree with Reggie Miller that Rondo is hurting the team offensively.

1:44 – Pierce gets his third foul. Weak call.

Halftime - Celtics 49-45. Wade has 23 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals. Zoinks.


Third Quarter


Hilarious, telling slow-motion shot of Pierce’s "What the hell are you doing?" face when Rondo passes him the ball...before they even reach half court. Me thinks Pierce is getting sick of his point guard - one arm or no.

8:40 – Pierce gets fourth foul. DVR review shows Pierce grabbed LeBron’s shirt. Dumb.

LeBron shoots a three on pierce, who has four fouls, instead of driving to the hoop. Basketball IQ: 2. Well, he hits it. So, basketball IQ goes up to 4. 54-52 Celtics.

8:12 – Allen hits a three while being fouled by Wade, 3rd foul. DVR step-by-step replay shows wade’s hand meets Allen’s hand after ball leaves. 4 point play. 58-52, Celtics. Ray Ray with 15 pts.

7:02 – In a phenomenal sequence showing how hurt Rondo really is, he squares to shoot twice with nobody within ten feet of him. Chooses to pass to pierce who bounces in a three. Celtics 63-57.

6:36 – James again takes a long jumper against Pierce, a defender with 4 fouls. Basketball IQ: 2. This time, he misses. IQ: 0. Apparently, basketball IQ not necessary to dominate when you're a dominating physical specimen. Know knew? The Heat, apparently.

Boston shooting 55% so far. And only up 6. Not a good sign.

5:10 – KG swats Howard, Bosh swats Pierce five seconds later. This is basketball! We’re not going down like the Lakers did! I mean, we’re going down, just not in quite the same manner as the Lakers did.

Fourth Quarter:

How about we just go with a canny visual depiction of the fourth quarter?

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Bron Pose!


So the Heat won. And yeah, the Heat are saying all the right things. They're paying the Celtics some big time respect in the post-game conferences, and that's nice. But damn if they don't pepper their "all the right things" soundbytes with a lot of contrived BS here and there...

If I have to hear teenage coach Eric Spo say the phrase "It took a lot of time to develop our game" or "We've been through a lot of heartache" one more time, I'm going to scream. Hey, Eric - you know what "a lot of heartache" is to most players, teams, and coaches? Twenty years of frustration and defeat, not 6 games in January when you couldn't get your built-to-destroy-all-challengers-without-mercy team's shit together. But I guess hyperbole isn't limited to the Heat coach:

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"Dear Lord, thank you for allowing me to overreact to winning in the second round of the NBA playoffs. Amen."


Ok, LeBron, we know you wanted to beat them. But don't try to deflect the hatred people feel for you onto them. To come out and say that your inspiration to come together on the Heat was the Celtics? Really? If that was the case, why are you just saying it now? You had plenty of opportunity to give the Celtics props throughout the season...why come up with this now? I'll tell you why, because you didn't think of it until now. You were having a nice dinner with D Wade last week and you turned to him and said: "Hey, you know that whole issue about everyone hating us? What if we go with this angle?" Come on, LeBron. You won. Congrats. Just enjoy it. But don't now try to pretend that what you did is what the Celtics did. Seriously.

So for all of those Heat-haters out there, perhaps we can look forward to some sort of Post-Celtic "We did it!" let-down, but I doubt it. We may be in for a long summer of having to watch LeBron and D Wade hold up the Larry O'Brien trophy in the Sportscenter victory montage. Oy.

Did I crown the Heat before they even started the Eastern Conference Finals? Yes.
Did I just jinx them? Hope so.

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Due to family obligations, I enter at the opening of the fourth quarter. It appears I haven’t missed much. Big Laker lead hints that this one could already be over.

JVG has just suggested that Phil Jackson close out the game without playing Kobe, as that would make the win more “meaningful.” A side of dumbass with that order, Jeff? Here’s an idea, maybe instead of the Lakers removing critical pieces of their team, your brother just coaches better?

11:27 remaining
Three ball from Reddick gets the Magic to within 14. 78-64.

10:59 remaining
Kobe baseline jumper makes it 80-64.

9:45 remaining
Nelson hits a three. 80-67. The Magic showing life, if "life" can defined as not completely sucking.

8:15 remaining
Kobe nails a three. Lead back to 16. Magic timeout. Jackson: “Bryant knocks down a dagger three.” Jackson knocks down a dagger cliché. Drink.

Bad commercial watch: Transformers playing basketball? Followed by a Transformers sequel trailer. After seeing another movie, my wife and I snuck into the first Transformer movie for five minutes in the theatre, and got simultaneous headaches in two.

7:04 remaining
Ariza throwdown. Laker lead is 18.

6:37 remaining
Mark Jackson and Mike Breen begin the Phil Jackson suck off session, calling him the best ever, etc, etc. Oh, KG why did your knee have to give out? At least when Phil was tied with Red, there was room for “the greatest” ambiguity. With the tendency for the league to tag superlatives to the current players and coaches, he will be called the best ever, bar none. Oh well.

5:50 remaining
Breen says that Kobe was sometimes “not the easiest teammate to play with.” This is a euphemism for “douchebag.” On teams that win, Kobe is quite pleasant and lovely.

4:43 remaining
Dwight has another dunk slapped away. Howard is so deceptive – seemingly powerful, yet so easy to strip down low, even though in this case, he kept the ball high.

2:52 remaining
Reddick drive takes them to within 12.

2:33 remaining
Kobe jumper puts it back to 14.

1:58 remaining
Reddick three takes it to 11. This does not constitute a "duel."

Bad commercial watch: A speedy Kobe puppet fetches sneakers and jerseys for LeBron to prove his rapidity. Has anyone else noticed that the LeBron and Kobe puppets speak in jive, call each other “my brother,” and dance to rap music? Where’s the watermelon and fried chicken? I can just imagine the negotiations with Kobe and LeBron’s agents – “Uhm, yeah, LeBron/Kobe find these commercials offensive, but if you want to pay them a ton of money, just use puppets and go ahead and do whatever you want."

:40.4 remaining
Mark Jackson: “As I watch the Lakers celebrate, I wonder what Shaquille O’Neal is thinking right now.” You don't need to, Mark. Just subscribe to his frickin' Twitter broadcast. I just got a message: "Congrats Kobe. Go to hell, Master of Panic. I'll be at IHOP at 10 A.M. Meet me there and I'll buy you a short stack."

Watching SVG shake hands with Phil, all I can think is "Poor little chubby bastard. He won't be back next year."

Kobe’s daughters are dressed like cheerleaders. Looks a little creepy, but if I were a Laker fan, I suppose I would find it adorable.

Phil seems to look very fragile as he hugs people out there. Is this man ok? They’re talking about him perhaps not returning due to “health issues.” I wonder if we could maybe unearth Red Auerbach’s corpse and have it just be an honorary assistant coach for Doc next year, so that he could maybe catch back up with Phil on the championship count. Am going to nba.com to search for rules on whether coaches must in fact be alive to coach.

Love to hear the “boos” at the intro of David Stern at the Larry O'Brien Trophy presentation. Stern hands it to Joey Bus, who looks like he’s 12 years old, and worse, sounds like it too. What is going on with that retard?

In most of the post-game interviews, they ask about the humiliating loss to the Celtics last year. Amusing. Oh, I hope the purple and gold and the green meet again next year.

Funny to watch Kobe and Phil embrace; these two were ready to meet in WWF Smackdown two years ago. It’s amazing what winning will do.

Congratulations to the 2009 NBA Champion Lakers. I’m not going to say World Champion, because then a whole bunch of Eurotrash is going to post comments about how it’s only the "North American" championship. Whatever.

What a playoffs. From the amazing Boston/Chicago series to this finals, we were always able to count on one thing - that the officiating would suck consistently. And it did. But the best team won anyway.

Here's to a summer of Basketbawful working his ass off to provide posts that entertain throughout the off-season.

Ta ta, y'all.

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Paul mug

For those who love Worst of the Night, don't worry. I'm sure Bawful will take care of you....

Ok, onward...

Is it me, or is the Lakers' Staples opening introduction the most lame, least intimidating production in the league?

1st Quarter

9:43, 1st - A driving Derek Fisher loses control of the ball, flops, and hits his head on a baseline camera. Not imagining that an offensive player could simply lose control of the ball on his own, official calls a foul.

8:12, 1st - Kobe acts as if he's been fouled with the old arm flail. None is called. Miracle.

8:00, 1st - Rondo passes on an open lay up for the second time in two games. This man simply doesn't want to shoot the rock. He's playing like I play when I've had a big chili dinner and am feeling an onset of diarrhea.

7:28, 1st - Gasol with a nice drive and dish. 12 - 5 Lakers.

7:01, 1st - Gasol misses, gets rebound. Hits follow up as phantom foul is called. Why is it that officials like to automatically reward a successful offensive rebound with a foul call? 18 - 5 Lakers. Feels, smells, tastes like game four, including the feeling that the Celtics are cooked. Don't trust that feeling, I tell myself.

5:15, 1st - House hits a three, reminds world why he is needed over Rondo.

4:53, 1st - Kobe with his third three pointer. Looks like he wants to put a towel on that wet spot.

3:50, 1st - Allen hits a three, reminds world that the Celtics have a lot more people to beat you than the Lakers do.

3:35 1st - Kobe fouled, crowd chants "MVP" during free throws as if they're trying to convince themselves of it.

2:38, 1st - Kobe with a great fake-three-bullet-pass to Radmanovic for two.

Celtics timeout. 31 - 15 Lakers. Breen says "The Celtics have 'em right where they want 'em." Could history repeat itself, I think? If superstition applies, do I have to keep blogging for the comeback to happen?

Kobe makes his silly "elite eight" comment again (about equating his position to March madness, how he only has three wins left for a championship), and how if someone told him at the beginning of the season he had three shots to win a championship, he'd take it in a second. Interesting positive outlook. He sounds almost mature, but "elite eight" talk from a guy who never went to college seems silly.

1:08, 1st - Garnett 2nd foul. Legit call. Hits Gasol on the arm.

End, 1st - 39 - 22 Lakers.

2nd Quarter

2nd - Tony Allen getting some quality time. Dunks on an inbounds play. Mihm has been in the game as well, in order to foul and not score. Both coaches have decided, it appears, to try every possible combination of players. Either that, or they've both decided to make the TV audience go "Who?"

8:14, 2nd - Posey draws the charge, but it's a blocking foul. Bad calls go both ways...

7:37, 2nd - Garnett's third foul is another phantom, assisted by Gasol's overacting. But I agree with the commentators that Garnett shouldn't have slapped at the ball, and that you have to avoid even the appearance of a foul, because, sadly, the refs can't tell the difference.

Celts on a 15-0 run thanks to one Mr. Pierce. Early playoff criticism was that the Celts don't have a go-to guy. Pierce has solidified himself as the man.

Gasol doesn't break to the basket hard enough for a Kobe pass. Gasol has that all-I-have-going-for-me-is-I'm-tall feeling.

Cassell and Tony Allen have been in the game for quite a while. Causes me to think maybe it's a sign of respect to Phil Jackson. Maybe Doc just assumes Jackson will have perfectly prepared the Lakers for looks they've seen before, and he feels he has to show the Lakers a look with which they are unfamiliar.

Jack Nicholson jaws with Bavetta on a Fisher foul. Earlier he is seen trying to take up Doc Rivers' valuable time. There is no surer sign he expects the Celtics to win. He may be the biggest jock sniffer of all time; he used to bother Bird back in the '80's too.

Breen says Bird called Luke Walton to wish him luck? Jesus, Larry. I know he's Bill's kid and all, but he's playing against the Celtics. Where's at least a little of that patented Larry humor? How about a little "I wish you luck, Luke. I hope you score 50, but that the Celtics whip your team's ass"? I'm really going to have to just try to avoid any and all Larry Bird news from now on, and just try to watch old videos and commemorative DVDs of him kicking ass and taking names and enjoying the hell out of it.

Halftime: Father's Day Tribute

Bill Walton interviews son Luke for Father's Day. They reminisce about playing ball with Larry Legend in the back yard, and how Larry would trash talk. Yes guys, I miss that trash talker Larry too. The end of the father-son discussion feels forced and scripted, and Bill looks like he can't speak past whatever dental work has been done to him. Are those teeth, or is that a giant wedge of ice cold vanilla ice cream in his mouth?

3rd Quarter

9:54, 3rd - Celts take the lead, 58-57.

9:26, 3rd - Phantom call on Pierce against Kobe. MVP chants from the crowd are weak and uninspired.

8:26, 3rd - Pierce, after thinking hard, gives the ball to a wide-open Rondo. Rondo hits a jumper. This is a sign of the Apocalypse for the Lakers.

7:16, 3rd - Garnett called for his fourth foul. He never touched Gasol on the play. Stern wants to have at least six games. Sense this will go six, but an even stronger sense that the Lakers won't be able to get even close with the home cooked calls in Boston.

6:04, 3rd - Kobe gets 4th foul, second charge. If he gets in trouble, it's over. He may already be in trouble.

5:00, 3rd - Rondo fouls Fisher hard on a shot make, then gives away the ball on an awful pass on a drive. Jackson said earlier he's "penetrating to pass"... no truer words have been spoken, and no more ineffective guard play has been played. Get him the hell out of there, Doc.

Celeb watch: Paula Abdul, Matt Damon, David Spade, Sylvester Stallone, Denzel Washington. Matty Damon proudly sporting the green hat - he may hunt for goodwill in this building, but he won't get it.

Lakers lead by 9 at the end of the third. It's going back to Boston. I can feel it. No comeback this time.

4th Quarter

11:47, 4th - Odom gets called for a foul. Why? Because Pierce kneed him in the groin. At least the horribleness of the officiating is consistent, but that's the rationalization for bad officiating we hear all too often these days.

Odom hits a three. Laker lead is 12. Boston here we come.

9:10, 4th - Lukey boy hits a basket. Bill smiles through the ice cream bar in his mouth.

8:35, 4th - Vujacic (a.k.a. Ginobili-in-training) falls to the floor and even whacks his head on an acting job, pretending 38-year-old Cassell just tossed him to the floor. Officials rightly call jump ball. Expect a fine next year on that, Sasha.

6:22, 4th - Luke doesn't use the force - fouls Pierce in the backcourt to put the Lakers in the penalty. Gets sent to the bench. No close up of Bill on that boner.

5:40, 4th - Pierce falls to the floor, tosses the ball to Posey while sliding on the floor (is that a travel?), who hits a cold-blooded three. Posey is consistently not sucking in this series.

3:54, 4th - KG goes to the line for the first time of the night. Not bad officiating, he just simply doesn't drive to the hole like he should.

3:31, 4th - KG and Pierce pick up their fifth fouls three seconds apart. KG's call is a tick-tack away from the ball. More often than not calls on his defense have been ridiculous.

3:10, 4th - Bryant with a huge slap away of the ball on Pierce, reminiscent of what Pierce did to him the game before.

2:14, 4th - Kobe shooting free throws. More MVP chants, even though he's been crap in the second half (2-12 since a 15 point first quarter).

:37.4, 4th - Players are beating each other up right and left without calls. That "don't call anything in the last 5 seconds" rule officials like to apply appears to have been extended to the final 2 minutes. Kobe with another huge steal off Pierce - could have been a foul, but not the way officials call the end of games for an away team.

:26, 4th - KG blows a weak put back of a Ray Allen miss. Boston, here we come.

House makes it interesting with a three, but Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy are spouting off that "this Laker performance won't get it done in Boston." This, to me, is the surest admission that "home court advantage" in the NBA goes way beyond just a crowd cheering in your favor...

...all the more reason to be glad the Celtics have home court advantage.

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