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

——————————————————————————————————————-

Comments are much appreciated. Please leave them down low.

Follow Mark On Twitter (@InOutNBAMacGelo)

Shoot me an email at cualocsin12@gmail.com

Advertisements

NBA Playoff Recap 5/23: Suns avoid 0-3 series — Lakers lose.

GAME THREE

1st-seed Los Angeles Lakers vs. 3rd-seed Phoenix Suns

(109-118)

Both teams started fiery. The Suns looked for Amar’e to score easy points. And he used Andrew Bynum’s fouls to his advantage. STAT finished with 9 points and 3 rebounds in the 1st Quarter alone. Kobe Bryant pretty much did his work, scoring 15 points in the 1st alone. The Lakers and the Suns were playing ball like it was UNO, a back-and-forth battle. Alvin Gentry adjusted the Suns’ defense, making them execute zone defense more often. And it was successful. The Suns end the 1st half with a 15-2 run, with a 54-47 lead.

The 3rd Quarter starts, Derek Fisher becomes unstoppable. He scores 11 points in the 3rd alone. Ironically, the Suns’ players were just willingly driving down the basket, with Bynum in foul trouble. The other Laker bigs were not playing like they used to, particularly Lamar Odom. Pau Gasol only made 1 block. Kobe still was doing business, Ron Artest was helping out. The Lakers trimmed the lead down to two after three quarters.

Amar’e Stoudemire went on a tear the whole game, scoring 42 points and hauling 11 rebounds. He was too much for the Lakers to handle. He went inside willingly, and he converted he’s oppurtunities. The Suns’ 42 FT’s compared to the Lakers’ 20 FT’s helped the Suns’ causes as well. The Lakers lead the turnover ratio, having 17:7 turnovers against the Suns. The Phoenix Suns might’ve been blessed by the Basketball Gods to win this.

Amar’e Stoudemire, who scored 42 points and had 11 rebounds, lead the Suns in scoring and in rebounding. Meanwhile, Steve Nash, who averaged 14.0 assists/game coming to the game, had 15 assists and 17 points. Kobe Bryant had 36 points. And yes, he played facilitator again with 11 assists. Pau Gasol added 23 points and 9 rebounds. Oops! I almost forgot, Robin Lopez scored 20 points and had a block. Adam Morrison, DND-CD — why’d I even say this? Nevermind!

Lakers lead series 2-1. Planet Orange hosts Game 4 on Tuesday. And they need to win it so badly. Stay tuned for updates, here in HHC.

PHOTO CREDITS:

1) AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

Follow Mark on Twitter:

@InOutNBAMacGelo

NBA Playoff Recap 5/19: Lakers seize 2-0 lead over Suns.

GAME TWO

3rd-seed Phoenix Suns vs. 1st-seed Los Angeles Lakers

(112-124)

After losing Game 1 to the Lakers, the Phoenix Suns had their minds set to win Game 2. A win could boost their momentum plus they could head home more light-headed. The Lakers on the other hand are trying to win their 8th-straight playoff win and grab a commanding 2-0 series lead. Let’s see what happened during the course of the game.

The 1st Quarter saw the Suns turn the ball over alot. And when I say alot, I mean 7 times in the 1st Quarter alone. The Lakers were pretty much using it to their advantage. Ron Artest always had open-looks throughout the 1st. Ron Artest scored 10 of his 18 points in the 1st Quarter, which includes a three at the buzzer. Kobe Bryant scored 9 in that Quarter with 6 assists. The Suns looked for Amar’e throughout the 1st; he ended with 8 points.The Lakers won the starting quarter with a 34-22 lead.

The 2nd Quarter featured the Suns’ bench. Their bench was scorching hot. Everyone made it a priority to contribute. The Suns’ Jared Dudley was pretty much the main catalyst for his team’s bench; scoring 15 points, shooting a perfect 5/5 behind-the-arc and snatching 3 steals. Anyways, this bench made an unexpected 11-0 run. The Lakers would then put their starters back. The effect would quickly come in as the Laker starters would stretch the lead to 11 after 2 Quarters.

The Suns’ Jason Richardson scored 12 points in the 3rd alone, finishing with 27 points. Meanwhile Grant Hill scored 14 during the 3rd, despite being cold during the 1st 2 Quarters. Hill would later end up with 23 points. Both of them combine for 26 points of the Phoenix Suns’ 34 3rd Quarter points. After the 3rd Quarter, The Suns see themsleves tied with the Lakers.

Now, the 4th Quarter begins. The Suns put their productive bench in while the Laker starters played much of the 4th’s duration. The Suns lost due to the fact that they’re undersized. Not only that, but also because of their lack of defense. In the end, Kobe Bryant, who played facilitator in the game, scored some key buckets to finish off the Phoenix Suns. The Black Mamba scored 21 points and had a career-playoff-high 13 assists. Pau Gasol ended with 29 points while hauling in 9 rebounds. The Phoenix Suns’ captain Steve Nash finished with 11 points with 15 assists. Amar’e Stoudemire scored 18 points and some 6 rebounds.

Even though the Suns lost, Planet Orange still ain’t giving up. Why? Here’s some fact. At some point of the game, the Lakers lead by 16. Then the Suns showed some life. Tying the game at 90 apiece after 3 Quarters. This is still a long series, we still don’t know what else is gonna happen, but hey, we’ll keep you updated here in HHC. Game 3 is on Sunsday, errr, Sunday.

PHOTO CREDITS:

1) Harry How/Getty Images

2) Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Follow Mark on Twitter:

@InOutNBAMacGelo

Lakers versus Jazz (2nd-Round Preview)

Another familiar playoff match-up will be showing up on our television screens once again. This time it features two Western Conference teams, the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Lakers. Who do you have winning this series, the reigning NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers or the 6th-seeded Utah Jazz? Analyses for this series are down low.

Here are some in-depth analysis for the upcoming series:

Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers

Let’s start with the reigning NBA champions, the Lakers.This might be the biggest chance that the Jazz can upset this Laker team, and avoid them from repeating as NBA champions. Before the Lakers advanced to Round 2, The Oklahoma City Thunder (Western Conference’s 8th-seed) pushed them to a Game 6, where the Thunder could’ve won with a Russell Westbrook three that missed the mark, which makes them vulnerable. Now, they face the 6th-seeded Utah Jazz. If they want to win, they should play a more cohesive game. Of course, Kobe might be the leader, but he needs those supporting cast to step up. If they want to win, they have to tackle some of these problems during the series. Andrew Bynum is going through pain with a hyper-extended knee (may miss Game 1), and most of their players are inconsistent, mostly the bench that is. And, with Bynum questionable for Game 1, there’s a great possibility where Lamar Odom will be pressed into the lineup, which is a disaster for the Laker bench as they will lose one of their main contributors. But, if Kobe Bryant hoists those jumpers consistently, then there’s no doubt that the Lakers might win. Remember, he can shoot for 30, 40 or even 50 if he wants to. So, Jazz fans, watch out for the Black Mamba. The Lakers X-Factor is Pau Gasol. Pau needs to make shots and grab those boards. Outplaying Carlos Boozer is one of Gasol’s main priorities too. As i’ve said, Carlos is playing great ball now. If Pau plays a decent game  against Boozer on both defense and offense, then the Lakers are in for smooth sailing.

Utah Jazz

I’ll be honest, I did not imagine the Jazz would be even here in the 2nd-round. They have no Mehmet Okur and no Andrei Kirilenko during the series, and still they managed how to play better than the Nuggets. (It’s gotta be, Jerry Sloan.) I’ve said it once and i’ll say it again, The Jazz have the biggest chance of turning the Lakers as upsets. If Carlos Boozer continues that All-Star performance that he had from the Denver series and Deron Williams continues setting up the players, it’ll be a smooth transition to the Western Conference Finals. They’re only problem are those injuries from Okur and Kirilenko, they have been vital for the Jazz all season, and it’s sad to see them in street clothes on the bench. X-Factor is Wesley Matthews. They need his energy on the court, and his scoring skills too. He has to able to put up impressive numbers for the Jazz. The Jazz’s overall play is lethal for their team’s success.

The Final Verdict – Uhmm, i’ll take the Lakers in 6. Sorry, Jazz. But, that’s what I think.

Submit your comments down low.

Follow Mark Locsin on Twitter:

@InOutNBAMacGelo