I love Game 1, because the speculation stops. No more lists of the Five Keys to the Finals. No more wondering how often Kobe will guard Rajon Rondo, or how the Garnett-Gasol match-up looks two years later, or how the Celtics will defend Bryant.
We get to see it all, starting tonight. Much of it will unfold as we suspect, but there will be surprises—a wrinkle in defensive positioning, a match-up that gets more time than we’d expect, a role player who triples his scoring average.
A guy I’m watching tonight: Kendrick Perkins. Reading Kevin Arnovitz’s TrueHoop post today about re-watching the ’08 Finals reminded me how openly the Lakers helped off of Perkins in that series. Things are different with Andrew Bynum healthy, but if the Lakers stick someone other than Bynum on Perk thinking they can give that person a rest for a possession or two, Perk can go into his back-down game. If the Lakers help off of him too aggressively in the screen/roll, Perk has improved his ability to score on the move enough to punish the Lakers.
He’s not going to score 20. But he could score 12. And that could be huge.
Consider this your Game 1 open thread. After three days of build-up, tell us what you’re seeing—what’s going well, what strategic move surprises you, what player is giving his team an unexpected boost.
And, as always: Go Celtics.