Q&A Session: Rey Moralde – The Lakers’ NBA Final Preview

June 2008, the Los Angeles Lakers suffered a tough loss in Game 6 of the NBA Finals to the Boston Celtics. It’s been two years now since that horrid setback happened. And the Lakers have just won their 15th Championship last year. Now, their roster is a lot more different now from 2008. Seeing the departures of Trevor Ariza and Ronny Turiaf. They added the likes of Ron Artest, Shannon Brown and Josh Powell. Not only there roster has changed, their plays form 2008 and 2010 have a lot of differences. The Lakers have utilized their Big Men more. And Kobe Bryant is now a complete player. And when I say ‘complete’, it means he’s now passing and assisting while shooting a great percentage on the floor.

They’re rematch is now set with the Boston Celtics on Thursday (9:00PM EST, 6:00PM PST). The Celtics, who have found they’re winning-swagger back, fought through championship-caliber teams. And we even didn’t expect them to be in the NBA Finals back then. It was more like Magic or Cavaliers winning the East. But hey, there’s a saying “Expect the unexpected”.

In this Q&A session, I bring in my good friend, Rey Moralde, the lead writer of  TheNoLookPass.com and the host of the Chronicles of Crotty Podcast. He’s an LA guy. So obviously, he loves the City of the Angelic. You can follow him on Twitter too. Here’s his Twitter handle, @TheNoLookPass.

The Q’s are in orange while Mr. Moralde’s answers are in Laker purple.

Let’s get started.

Now that it’s all said and done, LA is set to meet Boston in the NBA Finals. How does it feel, Rey?

I waited two years for this. It’s probably dumb for me to say this but the title last year didn’t feel as special. I wanted it to be won at the expense of Boston. Orlando was a much better match-up for the Lakers last year because they’re not as physical as the Celtics. So, yeah, I’m glad it’s back on this time around. This is, after all, the most storied rivalry in NBA history

After a 1 year absence, the Celtics are back in the NBA Finals. And every baller knows that the Lakers know them pretty well. As a Laker fan, what aspect should the Lakers improve in to avoid a similarity of the 2008 NBA Finals?

Don’t be afraid to face the Celtics defense. The Celtics defense tends to bully every opponent and the Lakers have done a better job of withstanding them in the regular season games after that embarrassing 2008 series loss. L.A. should be physical back. The frontcourt is key to their success. Pau Gasol doesn’t want to get any more LAME nicknames like “Gasoft”, right? Right.

Are you afraid that the Lakers’ bench might go through an icy-slump? And does Andrew Bynum’s inconsistency affect the Lakers’ play?

Well, the bench has had its ups and downs. Hopefully, they’ll play a little bit of defense and hit some big shots (remember Sasha Vujacic had 20 points in Game 3 of the 2008 NBA Finals). Bynum’s health is real key to the Lakers winning. He is a big body and is most capable of being physical against the Boston bigs. He didn’t do a good job on rotating on defense in the Phoenix series and that’s mostly because of his bad knee. Hopefully, he can bear it for one last series.

Who is the Lakers’ X-Factor? And why?

Easy. Lamar Odom. You don’t know what you’re going to get from Lamar Odom. One game, he’ll have an outstanding 17 and 15 game. The next, he’ll suddenly give you only 4 and 4. He HAS to perform big against the Celtics in order for the Lakers to have a chance. Remember that he got huge criticism (along with Gasol) when he didn’t play well overall in the 2008 NBA Finals.

Rajon Rondo, who is arguably the best Celtic of 2010, is now playing like a Superstar. Does he scare you?

I don’t know anyone that is not frightened by this guy’s ability. And the Laker point guard defense is well-documented. Rondo’s going to run circles all over Derek Fisher, Shannon Brown, and Jordan Farmar. I assume Kobe Bryant is going to get a shot at him as well as Ron Artest. Obviously, the Lakers are well-served to let him be a scorer the same way Lakers tried to do with Steve Nash but everyone should be wary of what Rondo’s playmaking skills can do.

The Lakers, who are in their 3rd-straight appearance in the NBA Finals, are seeking a repeat. Is there some kind of pressure for your guys?

All of the guys on the roster have won a ring except for Artest. With that said, I’m sure Kobe wants to cement his legacy by beating the Celtics in the NBA Finals. Not only that but he’s seeking his 5th ring. I think it’s more of what Kobe can add to his already hall-of-fame career. And the Lakers have wanted Boston for a while now. I don’t really think there’s any pressure, per se.

Can I ask what your final verdict for the NBA Finals or would you like to keep it a secret?

I just want to see the Lakers win. 🙂

Finally, anything else to say? Shoutouts? Your fellow Laker fans? The Celtics’ fans? Who?

Just enjoy the series. It’s rare for a Finals rematch to happen in the free agency era. Because I bet 10 years from now… heck, even 5 years from now… we’ll all be clamoring for this series again when these teams are no longer together.

PHOTO CREDITS:

1) Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

2) Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images

3) Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images

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