NBA Finals, Lakers Celtics: ProBasketballTalks' prediction post

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Laker_Celtics_logos.pngApparently nobody in Boston will be buying the team on this blog a beer next time we visit. They’ll be all too happy to serve us crow, however.

We’ve decided to put our predictions out there, to make them official and public and all that. And for possibly the first time ever (well, outside of wondering if Marco Jaric scored over his head with his wife) we all agree on something.

Kurt Helin: Lakers in 7. I believe in the Celtics. Now. I didn’t for the last two rounds. I thought it a fluke, and I was wrong. They are for real. They are back and playing defense like beasts again. And they are still going to lose this. Barely, but lose. I’ll take the Lakers because of home court (their role players just are more comfortable in Staples Center), having Andrew Bynum (even in his limited condition) which will open things up for Pau Gasol, and in the end Kobe Bryant remains the best player on the court, and he happens to be playing his best ball.

Matt Moore: Lakers in 6. They’ve beaten Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams, and Steve Nash. Can they beat Rajon Rondo? They’ve beaten Jeff Green, Carlos Boozer, and Amar’e Stoudemire. Can they beat Kevin Garnett? They’ve beaten Kevin Durant, Andrei Kirilenko, and Grant Hill. Can they beat Paul Pierce? They’ve beaten Scott Brooks, Jerry Sloan, and Alvin Gentry. Can they beat Doc Rivers? They can because of three little letters. TMT. Too Much Talent.

Rob Mahoney: Lakers in 7. I’ve spent the last few days trying to convince myself that the Celtics will take this thing, but they won’t. They can, but they won’t. Kobe Bryant is simply operating on a different plane of existence, in which defenders seem to be challenging his shots, but fail to contest the ethereal. Behind him are a number of talented players that can’t all be negated; maybe the Celtics can take away Bynum’s impact, but not Gasol’s, maybe they can take away Odom’s impact, but not Artest’s. Boston may have upset Orlando by proving how delicate the Magic’s offense really was, but L.A.’s attack is far too balanced to crumble under the Celtics’ defensive pressure. It’s been fun, Boston, but it’s time to go home.

John Krolik: Lakers in 6. The Celtics should be a much tougher test for the Lakers than either the Jazz or the Suns were, simply because of the way Boston plays defense. Remember how the Lakers looked vulnerable against the Thunder, even though the Thunder struggled to score for most of the series? Well, the Celtics are a whole lot better defensively than the Thunder are. They don’t have a Sefolosha or a Durant to slow down Kobe on the perimeter, but they’re capable of guarding that massive Laker frontline. That has the potential to change everything — expect this Laker team to have some very rough stretches over the course of this series. Ultimately, though, fatigue and that 2-3-2 format are going to be too much for Boston to overcome. Boston hasn’t been consistent enough at home for me to think they can win three in a row in Boston, and I don’t see any team winning two out of seven games at Staples. The Lakers will get tested, but I think they’ll pass with flying colors.

Warriors complained of no water in showers in Cleveland

Michael Hickey/Getty Images
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The Cavaliers are clearly frustrated.

Did someone in Cleveland take out that frustration on the Warriors after they beat the Cavs last night?

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

Players were complaining about there being no hot water in the visiting locker room showers. When they walked in, they could be heard screaming in discomfort. Most of the players emerged shivering from taking a quick wash-off.

“Man, they got to do something in ‘The Q.’ Somebody call Bron!” Kevin Durant yelled, referring to LeBron James.

No one seemed angry; the situation was more humorous.

That’s the right approach. Whenever the hot water is out in a visiting locker room, the finger is pointed at the home team for sabotage. Sometimes, heating systems just fail.

Giannis Antetokounmpo assists fastbreak dunk with football-style long snap (video)

AP Photo/Nick Wass
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Giannis Antetokounmpo is scoring more in the post, the basketball analogue of football’s trenches.

Apparently, he’s taking the comparison to the next level.

In the Bucks’ win over the Wizards yesterday, Antetokounmpo played the part of a long-snapping center to set up Khris Middleton in transition.

NBC Sports Washington:

Report: James Harden, Chris Paul and Gerald Green were holding back Trevor Ariza in back hallway

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Rockets players James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Gerald Green and Chris Paul reportedly went through a back hallway to confront Austin Rivers and Blake Griffin in the Clippers’ locker room after last night’s game.

That’s one version of the story, at least.

But it apparently isn’t the only one – at least when it comes to Harden’s, Green’s and Paul’s involvement.

Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated:

A hallway runs between the Clippers locker room and the visitors locker room, where players from opposing teams often see each other and catch up. According to a Rockets source, Ariza was waiting on Griffin, and when the game ended he charged from the hallway into the Clips locker room. When Rivers spotted Ariza near the entrance, according to the source, he said: “Let his b—– a– come in.” Ariza then turned his attention to Rivers.

ESPN reported that Ariza was flanked by three teammates—Harden, Paul and Gerald Green—but their purpose was unclear. “They were holding Trevor back,” the source said.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Harden was sitting out his seventh straight game with a strained hamstring on Monday night, and Rockets sources believe that he’ll be ready for a return to the lineup on Thursday night against Minnesota.

Austin Rivers challenging Ariza is juicy, but the type of thing people say during altercations. The rest of this sounds like the Rockets trying to position themselves ahead of the NBA handing down punishments.

If they were just trying to restrain Ariza, then Harden, Paul and Green shouldn’t be fined or suspended. But if Harden is suspended, he could serve his penalty Thursday – even if the Rockets are fibbing about him being ready to play (though they at least previously laid the groundwork for that one).

There’s a lot for the league to untangle.

Russell Westbrook ejected (video)

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Russell Westbrook jumped from fifth to second in the NBA in technical fouls in about two seconds.

The Thunder star received two technical fouls and an automatic ejection late in Oklahoma City’s win over the Kings last night, leaving his nine technical fouls behind only Draymond Green‘s 11.

Westbrook got hit in the face on a drive, but instead of a foul being called on Sacramento, Westbrook was whistled for travelling. That’s quite a turnaround from the expected call to the actual call, so I understand why Westbrook was so upset. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if Westbrook said something that warranted ejection. Thunder coach Billy Donovan also got a technical foul in the sequence.

Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:

The league used to crack down on that more with public fines, but the Thunder have skirted the rule this season.