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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"Anything Is Possible!"

For all intents and purposes, my life as a Boston sports fan will never get better than this.

The Red Sox (twice), Patriots (three times) and now Celtics have all won titles in the last six years, coincidentally the perfect time for me as I've appreciated each title more as I get older and realize this time is fleeting, no matter how sweet.

Moving back home from college and being single with a job at night has allowed me to soak this up probably more than I will ever in the future when hopefully marriage, kids and a more time-consuming job take over my life.

In its 26th postseason game of the year (an NBA record), the Celtics completely embarrassed the Lakers, 131-92, in game 6 of the NBA Finals at the TD Banknorth Garden.

The Celts won their first championship since the glory days of 1986. It's the franchise's 17th title.

The Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen fittingly played their best game of the season while their teammates weren't too shabby either, putting up a season-high for points.

After such a disappointing game 5 performance, KG had a legendary showing that should silence his critics forever. He scored 26 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, dished out four assists and had three steals. He came out on fire with 17 in the first half as Boston left little doubt that the soft Lakers would not win one (let alone two in a row) back in Boston.

Despite playing on little rest (since he'd spent time with his son in an LA hospital), Ray Allen scored 26 points with four rebounds and three steals. Ray was 7 of 9 on 3-pointers (tying a Finals record), a great ending for a guy that really found himself at the end of the Detroit series and in the Finals.

No surprise with the win that Pierce was named Finals MVP. The 10-year veteran with the C's scored 17 points and dished out 10 assists. He outplayed Kobe Bryant (22 points on 7 of 22 shooting with 1 assist and 4 turnovers)-who many think is the best player in the world-by so much in this series, it's almost surreal.

With the series over, it's clear that the three biggest things that seperate the Celtics from the Lakers (and which countless experts failed to see before the series) was 1) defense, 2) teamwork and 3) toughness.

The C's set another Finals record with 18 steals for the game while also outrebounding LA, 48-29.

Rajon Rondo picked a fine time to have one last amazing performance as he had 21 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and six steals. Kendrick Perkins only had two points and four rebounds in 13 minutes but the grit he showed by playing through pain was inspirational to his teammates and the appreciative home crowd.

James Posey had another sick game with 11 points, three rebounds and three steals. Eddie House had nine points and five assists. P.J. Brown posted six points, three boards and two assists while Leon Powe notched eight points and four rebounds. All 11 Celtics that played scored, Big Baby saw his first action of the series and gave the C's three points and four rebounds. Even Tony Allen got a highlight as he threw down a ridiculous reverse alley-oop in the fourth quarter.

In the first quarter, it seemed like the refs (a source of constant chatter during the playoffs) were doing their best to get the Lakers to a game 7. Boston couldn't hit a shot in the first quarter but their hustle for loose balls and knack for making the extra pass paid off as the Celts led 24-20 after one.

The Lakers began to pack for their flight home in the second quarter as Boston blitzed them with a 34-15 frame.

Another difference between the teams is that the Celts could make big comebacks in LA, the same wasn't true for the Lakers last night (and yes I remember they almost came back in game 2).

LA and Phil Jackson were exposed for the frauds that they were. And the highly-touted Western Conference was a deeper league this season but can we agree that Boston and Detroit were the best teams? Is there any doubt the Pistons would have similarly disposed of the Lakers in six or seven games?

The third and fourth quarters were something for the soon-to-be-released Celtics championship DVD's. They couldn't miss. Boston took the third 31-25 and put up a ridiculous 42-32 final quarter of the season.

Boston made 49.4% from the floor and 13 of 26 on 3-pointers. They made 32 of 27 free throws and handed out 33 assists. They had just seven turnovers in as flawless a performance as you could ever dream about on such a big stage.

The Lakers shot 42.2% from the field and 10 of 27 on threes. They had a pathetic two offensive rebounds (Boston notched 14) and 16 assists. Los Angeles turned it over 19 times.

I feel immensely lucky to have seen such a great team all season long. Three All-Stars put their egos aside and reached their ultimate goal (in the first year) that they'd all missed by themselves. Doc Rivers showed that he's a good NBA coach. P.J. Brown came back late in the season and won his first ring in 15 NBA seasons. Eddie House and James Posey brought energy and hustle night in and night out while Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins showed how much game they have. Leon Powe, Big Baby and Tony Allen each had their moments too. You can't say Sam Cassell really did much positive after coming to Boston but it's nice to see a guy who'll probably retire get another ring.

With Andrew Bynum healthy next season, the Lakers could very well find themselves back in the Finals. I really believe that the C's have a window of two or three more seasons where they'll be in the mix as well. They have to re-sign Posey and Powe but I wouldn't count out Pierce, Garnett and Allen in the next few seasons. What better way to cement their legacies in the game than with another championship or two?

The Celtics' parade will be tomorrow in Boston, complete with Duck Boats and a ceremony at Copley Plaza. Winning championships will never get old; these are the golden days of Boston sports that we'll talk about for the rest of our lives. The Bruins might as well move since they're never going to join the fun (without dumping Uncle Scrooge, I mean owner Jeremy Jacobs).

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