Kobe didn’t get suckered into saying too much about a potential meeting with the Boston Celtics, but he offered a brief view of how the Celtics have been playing. (OC Register)
“Once they stepped back and let Rondo do what he does, that team just started taking off,” Bryant said. [...]
Bryant credits Rondo for Boston’s growth but remains steadfast – as he was in 2008 – that the Celtics’ foundation is the defensive greatness forged by associate head coach Tom Thibodeau.
About the failures of LeBron James and Cleveland last round against Boston, Bryant said: “I just thought it was great defense.”
“I just wasn’t surprised,” Bryant said. “I knew. Give them (the Celtics) a series to prepare, and they’re going to be prepared like you wouldn’t believe. They’re going to hone in on things that you do and take those things away from you, and if you can’t make adjustments one through eight or 10 or whoever’s playing for a series, you’re going to have problems.”
An assistant coach for the past 20 years, Thibodeau has helped his teams finish in the top 10 in field-goal defense 17 times. He was mostly by Jeff Van Gundy’s side, but before that Thibodeau was a 76ers assistant when Bryant was 14 and often training with the team … with Thibodeau helping young Kobe along.
Bryant ended his MVP season in ’08 by shooting 40.5 percent from the field in the six-game failure against Thibodeau and Boston. Bryant’s assist-to-turnover ratio was a brutal 5-to-4.
Trust Kobe — he knows from experience. Kobe and the Lakers came into the 2008 Finals looking like world-beaters, blowing everyone out and scoring absurd amounts of points in every game. And then the Celtics limited the Lakers’ offense throughout the series, then stomped on their throats in Game Six.
Is Kobe worried? I doubt it, the man’s as confident as anyone in the world. But he’s got a whole lot of respect for the C’s, and rightfully so.