We’re only one game into each series. Technically, game one isn’t even over in Los Angeles, but watching Jason Richardson and Louis Amundson fight with each other for a rebound en route to a 26 point deficit five minutes into the fourth doesn’t really spark much optimism. The Lakers are headed to dominant defeat of the Suns in the opening game of the Western Conference Finals, and we all know what happened in the first game of the Boston-Orlando series. The Conference Finals look like nothing more than a formality at this point. Sure, a lot of people are convinced that the Magic made proper adjustments in the second half against the Celtics and appear poised to strike back in game two, but I’m not convinced. Granted, I didn’t catch game one due to my watching the Amgen Tour of California ride down the Auburn streets that I used to stomp on in my younger days, but it’s clear the Magic just can’t match up with a more driven Celtics team. Everyone thinks the Magic will adjust their game plan, but what’s to say the Celtics won’t. The Big Three know that the window is closing; meanwhile, Rajon Rondo is busy establishing himself as one of the premier players in the league. I’ll be the first to admit I was a huge Rondo doubter coming out of Kentucky. I thought he’d be nothing more than a role player at best. But four years later, I’m ready to give the kid his due. I’m sorry, but 29, 18, and 13 in any game, let alone a pivotal postseason game, is enough to convince me that he’s for real. I was all but ready to post about Rondo last Sunday had it not been for Dallas Braden’s perfect game. As stacked as the Magic are, they simply won’t be able to outlast the Celtics this time.
Back to the West Coast, it seemed like Phoenix would at least be able to hang with the Lake Show. After watching this debacle tonight, I’m not so sure. The Suns have the same problem they seem to have every year. They’re talented, they can run, and they have plenty of firepower, but they just don’t have the drive and competitiveness. The Lakers are simply to big and even too fast. There’s no debating that Amare Stoudamire is a beast down low, but no combination of Suns can stop the trio of Gasol, Bynum, and Odom. It might be a different game in Phoenix, but they’ll likely be down 0-2, so they’ll be lucky to head back to Southern California with anything better than a 3-1 deficit. Thus, it seems pretty much inevitable that we’re going to see a Boston-LA rematch of the 2008 NBA Finals. Boston got the best of LA last time, but the Lakers are clearly better. Can we really say the same about the Celtics? I’m not so sure.