Q&A: Red’s Army
John Karalis: Virtually none. The only thing he needs to do is not do anything stupid after the play (like swing an elbow) or show up a referee. I think the refs are pretty aware of Perk’s situation, and they’ll give him an opportunity to really earn the suspension. But they won’t tolerate any sort of swinging elbows. But that won’t matter when it comes to actual game play. He’ll still play his game.
Chuck McKenney: None. Most of Perk’s troubles come after the whistle. I believe he will still continue to bang away on Gasol and Bynum. Can he refrain from collecting another tech? While the refs will likely give him plenty of slack, I doubt it.
2. Can you guys go over some of the more significant differences between the 08′ Championship Boston team and the 2010 squad?
John Karalis: The Rajon Rondo of today would torch the Rondo of 2008. He’s so much better. He’s in total control of that team. That’s the biggest difference. Pierce is a half-step slower but he can still get his shot off. KG isn’t the same player he used to be, which is probably the most significant drop off since then. Although it’s not so much of a drop that it changes the face of this team.
Chuck McKenney: Rondo is better. A lot better. The Lakers can no longer ignore him on offense. I think the benches are similar. While Posey was the guy taking and making clutch shots in 2008, Rasheed is (hopefully) filling that role now. Powe was the energy guy in 2008, Glen Davis has that role now. If Nate Robinson can contribute 10-12 points in a few games, then the 2010 bench can surpass the effectiveness of the 08 squad.
3. Which bench player from the Celtics, and which from the Lakers will help carry their teams during the series?
John Karalis: The Celtics have so many options off the bench, it really depends on the game. In one, it can be Tony Allen’s defense… in the next it could be Glen Davis’ energy and then it could be Sheed in the game after that. Meanwhile, the Laker’s bench is all about Lamar Odom. He’s starter-quality. But he can be kept in check.
Chuck McKenney: Lamar Odom is the only bench player on the Lakers capable of having a major impact on this series. One could argue that Odom MUST dominate if the Lakers are to beat the Celtics. The Cs have a few more options. We might see Davis step up one game and Wallace in another. And there’s always the Nate Robinson wild card.
John Karalis: He’ll see some Kobe on him. The game plan is still to force Rondo to shoot, so we’ll see them sag on Rondo a little. If there’s any sort of pick, the Lakers will go under it and dare Rajon to shoot. They’re already talking about taking charges, which is directly targeted at how to defend both Pierce and Rondo. It’s all about getting over and blocking his path to the hoop.
Chuck McKenney: The Lakers are going to throw Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar at Rondo. But the key to stopping him is the help defense. Will Gasol and/or Bynum rotate over in time to seal off his penetration?
5. Talk about the Pierce vs. Artest matchup.
John Karalis: It’s going to be a battle. They’re both bulls. But Pierce is a smart player and he likes the physical play. There’s a chance Pierce can turn Artest’s defense against him and draw some early fouls on him. Yes, that means more Pierce “theatrics”, but I’ll take effective theatrics over ineffective stoicism. In the end, I expect this matchup to be about even.. which is fine. The Celtics have other mismatches they can exploit.
Chuck McKenney: I’m worried about Artest’s ability to clamp down on Pierce. If Paul forces the issue, he could wind up shooting 40% with 4 TOs per game. It will be interesting to see how physical the referees let Artest get with Paul. We might see a few double technicals.
6. Do you think Kobe having to guard Ray Allen has been overlooked? Seeing as to how much Ray moves without the ball.
John Karalis: Anyone who guards Ray will have a hard time because the Celtics will set 2, 3, even 4 picks per possession if they really want to get him the ball. There’s no doubt that can wear a guy down. It might be another reason for Phil to put Fisher on him. Guys who cover Ray all game could get worn down, which could affect their offense.
Chuck McKenney: Yes. Most of the media attention has been on how the Lakers will guard Rondo. If Kobe gets a bulk of those minutes, Ray will surely enjoy his 4-inch height advantage by shooting over Derek Fisher. This is why you’ll see Kobe cover different guys throughout the series. The Lakers won’t want Ray or Rondo too get too comfortable.
7. If KG had not been injured in ’08, do you find it believable that we may very well be watching Boston go for a 3 Peat this season?
John Karalis: It’s very believable. The Celtics took the Magic to 7 games without him, so I feel great saying we would have won that series. And they certainly COULD have beaten the Lakers last year. I’m not saying it definitely would have happened… but it definitely would have happened.
Chuck McKenney: It’s obvious KG’s injury was the main reason behind the Celtics exit in the 2nd round of the playofffs last season. It’s ridiculously hard to repeat, nevermind three-peat.
8. Are you at all impressed with any “adjustments” that Pau Gasol has made in hopes of being “tougher” in the paint?
John Karalis: No. He’s the same guy he always has been.He’s a very skilled offensive player but he’s not tough and he won’t suddenly get tough now. There’s nothing like pressure to bring out someone’s true colors… and Pau’s true colors are about to come out.
Chuck McKenney: I give Gasol a ton of credit. He’s one of the most talented big men in the game. Is he tougher? That’s hard to say because he’s gone up against under-sized, finesse front lines in the playoffs (OKC, Utah and Phoenix). The Celtics have the ability to throw three big men at him, all with different styles of defense.
9. Why is that Boston fans have such confident and aggressive mind frames and Laker fans are so delicate and sensitive?
John Karalis: While all the LA folks are getting their teeth capped, tans sprayed and caviar delivered, we Bostonians are digging out of blizzards and working our asses off at these things called “jobs.” Over here, it’s not about who’s prettiest, it’s survival of the fittest.
So while all the folks in LA are trying to play mind games and tell people what they want to hear, we tell the truth… the blunt, in-your-face truth.
But we mean it in the nicest way possible.
Chuck McKenney: New Englanders are tough bastards. We can thank February winters for hardening our souls. If you can shovel your car out of 2 feet of snow and make it to work after a treacherous commute down Route 128, all before 9am, you believe you can do anything. Folks in LA freak out when it rains too hard or when there’s a shortage of Louis Vuitton man purses. Enough said.
10. Give us your predictions for the series.
John Karalis: The Lakers frontcourt will be disappointing once again. Gasol will disappear and Bynum’s knee will be an excuse. Odom will be kept in check of the bench. Kobe will go off because he’ll feel like he has to. He’ll average 30 points a game but it won’t be enough. Celtics in 6.
Chuck McKenney: Celtics in 7. Rondo is the MVP.
There you have it ladies and gentlemen. Raw and uncut. Tonight is Game 1 of The NBA Finals and we definitely would love to hear back from all of you Boston AND Laker fans about your thoughts and comments. And make sure you check out John and Chuck @
Dave E. Gold