Los Angeles Lakers win second straight NBA title

The defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers came into their title defense this season with high hopes as repeating as NBA champs. Not only was their championship team relatively intact this season with the exception of Trevor Ariza who signed with the Houston Rockets in the offseason, the Lakers were thought to have a legitimate shot of winning their second straight NBA title.

Even though they would be without a key piece the championship puzzle in Ariza, the Lakers made a bold move in the offseason to sign arguably one of the best defenders in the league in Ron Artest. Despite being a head case in public opinion, Artest’s skills and determination on the defensive end of the floor is undeniable as he would be a major upgrade of the Lakers on the defense with his physical play and ability to guard the best offensive play on the opposing team.

It was somewhat of a rocky start for the Los Angeles Lakers to start this NBA regular season as they struggled with some injuries and team chemistry, but once this team got going, there seemed to be no stopping them as they started to dominate on both sides of the floor and become arguably the best all around team in the league once again.

Despite dominating their Western Conference opponents throughout the majority of the season, the Los Angeles Lakers weren’t getting as much recognition as LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Even though many people believed that the Cleveland Cavaliers were the true best all around team in the league, the Cavs failed to come through in the playoffs once again as they were knocked out by the defensive minded Boston Celtics in the second round and sent home with their tail between their legs and a lot of questions surrounding the future of LeBron James in Cleveland.

With the Cavs officially knocked out of the playoffs, all the attention turned to the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics as these two archrivals seemed destined to meet in the NBA Finals once again. Despite being the underdogs once again against the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals, Rajon Rondo and company dominated Dwight Howard’s squad and cruised to the NBA Finals to face off against the defending champs.

Obviously, this NBA Finals got a lot of attention for the heated rivalry and possible redemption for the Lakers who lost in convincing fashion to the Celtics back in 2008, but was also getting some much needed recognition was the emergence of Kobe Bryant as arguably the best player in the league once again.

Not only did Kobe Bryant make everyone forget about LeBron James throughout these playoffs, but he proved his worth the team in the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics with some memorable performances which ultimately gave him his second consecutive NBA Finals MVP award for his efforts.

Along with Kobe Bryant, the Lakers role players finally stepped up at the right time alongside the Black Mamba as Pau Gasol, Ron Artest and Lamar Odom played a big part of the Los Angeles Lakers second straight NBA title.

The Boston Celtics put up a valiant effort in these NBA Finals as they played with a never say die attitude and forced the defending champs to an epic game seven, but in the end, Phil Jackson and company were just too much as they overcame a 13 point deficit and were able to win yet another NBA title!

Boston’s Bench Huge in Win

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Looks like we’re headed back to Los Angeles after all. Subs Glen “Big Baby” Davis and Tiny Nate Robinson spearheaded a terrific fourth quarter run that helped the Celtics tie up the series two games apiece with the Lakers.

Davis scored 18 points total, but nine was scored in the deciding quarter. His energy was a huge factor for the Celtics. Despite having shorter arms than his counterparts, Davis was very active inside and was determined to put a body on someone.

“Just will, that’s all it is,” Davis said. “This is what legends are made of, this is where you grasp the moment. … Just play in the moment.”

Boston’s Big Three combined for 44 points. Ray Allen, who did not make a field goal in Game 3, scored 12 points. Paul Pierce dictated the Celtics offensive pace early on by playing aggressively and attacking the rim. Pierce scored 19 points. Kevin Garnett’s relatively huge game in Game 3 was wasted. He didn’t have a repeat performance but managed to notch 13 points and six rebounds.

Entering the fourth quarter, the Lakers were up by two. Phil Jackson took a gamble and kept Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol in at the start of the fourth. Jackson figured that the Lakers should go for the kill, but boy was he wrong. Not only did the Celtics pull away with its bench midway through the fourth, but Bryant and Gasol had dead legs in crucial moments in the game.

Nate Robinson scored 12 points in a span of 17 minutes. His energy brought the Celtics play to a new level the Lakers just couldn’t match. Robinson’s energy was so high that he was issued a technical foul after reacting to a hard foul from Lamar Odom.

Robinson had this to say about Boston’s bench performance, “We just knew we had to bring our energy, that’s the main thing for us. The more energy we bring, the better offensively we are and the better defensively we are.”

Bryant scored 33 points and tried to keep the Lakers in the game in the fourth. He brought the Lakers within six by sinking two free throws, but Rasheed Wallace hit a three to push the lead to nine. From then on the Lakers didn’t have enough left in the tank to pull off a comeback.

Gasol scored 21 for the Lakers, but like Bryant, was highly ineffective in the fourth.

Carmelo Anthony talking three-year extension with the Denver Nuggets

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During the 2009 NBA regular season and playoffs, the Denver Nuggets went through a resurgence of sorts as they quickly evolved from a first round playoff exit team to a possible title contender. This move could be directly contributed to a bold move by the Nuggets as they pulled the trigger on perhaps their biggest trade in franchise history.

The trade involved bringing in hometown boy Chauncey Billups from the Detroit Pistons while sending future hall of famer and fan favorite Allen Iverson to Motown. Initially, this trade was heavily criticized by loyal fans of both the Pistons and the Nuggets, but it turned out to be the missing piece to the puzzle for Denver as they went from a second tier team to a Western Conference title contender over night.

Both Billups and Iverson aren’t getting any younger were thought to have no more than five years left in them, but Chauncey heading back to his hometown was just what he needed to resurrect his career once again as he was a major contributor to the team and one of the main reasons the Denver Nuggets were able to reach the Western Conference Finals in 2009.

Unfortunately, the Denver Nuggets were unable to take down Kobe Bryant and the eventual NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, but the consensus was that Carmelo Anthony and company would be a force to be reckoned with for the foreseeable future.

Even though the Denver Nuggets started this past NBA regular season the right way and seemed to not miss a beat since the 2009 NBA playoffs, the team started to breakdown as the season progressed, but they were still able to clinch a high seed in the West once again.

Despite the Nuggets getting back into the playoffs with high hopes of competing for an NBA title with the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers standing in their way, the team took a severe blow just before the postseason as Nuggets head coach George Karl was ruled out of the first round of the playoffs against the Utah Jazz.

George Karl was ruled out due to being diagnosed with cancer for the second time in his life. Despite his advanced age and nature of the disease, this was something he could be yet again and that he did, but just not in time to help lead his boys back to a possible NBA title.

As a result, the Denver Nuggets really struggled with their team chemistry and were dominated by what was thought to be a lesser opponent in the Utah Jazz.

Now the question of whether or not the Nuggets will shake up the roster for the foreseeable future has been asked with the one key piece to the puzzle being Carmelo Anthony and a possible contract extension after next season.

Much like LeBron James this summer, Carmelo Anthony will without a doubt be the top free agent next summer, but the Nuggets will look to try and avoid all the hoopla and sign the All-Star to a contract extension as soon as possible.

Reportedly, the Denver Nuggets have been in talks with Carmelo Anthony about a possible three-year contract extension, but he will almost certainly wait until LeBron James and Dwyane Wade sign contracts after July 1st to determine his worth to the Nuggets.

Dirk Nowitzki will opt out of his contract this summer

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During the NBA offseason this summer, there will be a number of big name free agents available to the highest bidder and ready to either turn around a struggling NBA franchise or turn a good team into a great team with NBA title aspirations.

The big fish in this NBA free agent market pool this summer is without a doubt LeBron James. The three teams with the most amount of money to spend this summer (New York Knicks, Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat) will be going after arguably the best player in the league, but there’ll be plenty of other players that could be possible game changers if they decide to sign with another team like Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer and Dwyane Wade.

The one player that has gone unnoticed until recently as another big name that could be available this summer is the Dallas Mavericks sharp shooting Dirk Nowitzki.

The first round playoff series between San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks was not pretty to say the least for Mark Cuban’s team. Heading into the playoffs as the second overall seed in the Western Conference, the Mavs had high hopes of being able to compete with the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers in an effort to get back to the NBA Finals.

Unfortunately, they fell short against the Southwest division rivals as Manu Ginobili and company just dominated the Mavs in convincing fashion and the first round playoff exit was just another disappointment in the postseason for Dallas.

Before the NBA trade deadline went down during the regular season, the Dallas Mavericks drew first blood as they made deal which sent Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson and Brendan Haywood to Dallas from the Washington Wizards.

Even though the Washington Wizards gave up two potential All-Stars in deal, the Dallas Mavericks gave up relatively nothing as they sent troubled small forward Josh Howard and veteran forward Drew Gooden to Washington in exchange.

Despite the trade being criticized early, most NBA analysts thought it was the biggest deal that went down since the Boston Celtics traded for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen before the 2008 season. The team struggled with their chemistry early on, but once they got going, there was no stopping the Dallas Mavericks as they just had too many weapons in the starting lineup and off the bench.

Ultimately, the team became much better and Dallas Mavericks looked like a title contender once again, but obviously that wasn’t the case as they suffered another early round playoff exit.

As if that wasn’t bad enough to see the Mavs get knocked out in the first round by their division rivals ,after clinching the second seed in the Western Conference, Mark Cuban has received more bad news as of late as his star player Dirk Nowitzki seems destined to opt out this summer.

This might not be the devastating news that everyone thinks it is for Dallas as it has become obvious to this point that the Mavericks can’t win that elusive NBA title with Dirk Nowitzki. With Dirk opting out, the Mavs can go after a big name free agent or two to fill the void and possible make the Mavs a force to be reckoned with in the Western Conference.

Differences between 2008 and 2010 Finals Evident In Game 1

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The Los Angeles Lakers are out for revenge as shown in their performance in Game 1. This time around they were the bullies and the more physical team. They outrebounded the Celtics 42-31 on the boards, including 12-8 on the offensive glass. No one expected the Lakers to be more physical than the Celtics. Having Andrew Bynum around, despite not a hundred percent, has benefitted the Lakers. They now have an extra body to clog the lane and prevent Rajon Rondo from wrecking havoc in the lane. Bynum’s presence also keeps Kendrick Perkins off the glass and forces the 34-year-old Kevin Garnett to cover Pau Gasol sinlge handily. Gasol scored 23 points and grabbed 14 boards and that’s with Garnett guarding him all game. It was a different story this time around. After two years of getting pushed around in the 2008 Finals, Gasol’s game matured while Garnett’s regressed. It was really Gasol’s aggressiveness, willingness to use his 7-foot frame and motivation to shed the ‘soft’ label that really set the tone for the Lakers.

Bynum has not been getting a lot of credit for the Lakers victory. His presence gives Gasol confidence because it means that the Spaniard doesn’t have to battle in the paint alone against Garnett and Perkins. Bynum was also efficient on offense – he scored 10 points on 4 of 6 shooting and grabbed 6 rebounds.

Of course, Kobe is still Kobe. He dropped 30 on the same Celtics team that gave him such a hard time two years ago. The Celtics missed rotations, tried to cover him one-on-one and allowed him to involve his teammates. Poor Ray Allen was in foul trouble all night long and was unable to establish any offensive rhythm to his game. That was also a big difference of Game 1 – Kobe trusting his teammates. His teammates responded by drilling threes or making the extra pass to open shooters.

Somebody tell defensive coordinator Tom Thibodeau that he still works for the Celtics and not the Bulls or whatever team that has interviewed him.

Without the streaking shooting of Eddie House and energy of Leon Powe, the Celtics starters had no support off the bench. Instead these 2010 Celtics had to field Nate Robinson and Rasheed Wallace who combined for nine points. A big reason why the 2008 Celtics beat the Lakers was their bench support.

Of course the biggest and most important difference is Ron Artest. Artest got into Paul Pierce’s head early on by tangling him up just 27 seconds into the game. Pierce still scored 24 points but half were from the free throw line. Artest made sure Pierce had to work for his points. His presence allows Kobe to check Rondo, unlike two years ago where Kobe had to guard Pierce in the closing moments of games. In Artest, the Lakers have an enforcer on the defensive end.

Things are different now between the Celtics and Lakers. Will the result be different too?

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