The Boston Celtics are up 3 games to 2 and can finish the job in Los Angeles tonight.
This series and the previous one have followed a similar pattern. Cavs and Lakers take an early lead. Celtics figure it out and storm ahead and finish the job. Orlando got smoked early, won two, and fell.
There is no telling how either team will respond tonight. The Celtics have a habit of easing up with leads in games, and even did it with games in Orlando in that series. The Lakers will be home and feel more comfortable there, I’m sure.
By this time in the playoffs, the refs should be calling the games even, no hometown discounts. These are the most important games of the year. Their calls have been more even in the last 2 games and should stay that way.
At this point, Andrew Bynum is injured and showing the effects of that injury. Even with him, the Celtics have been exposing the Lakers. Without him, they will need something special to stop the now confident Celtics 2 games in a row.
Lamar Odom has largely disappointed as has Ron Artest. Pau Gasol has the unfortunate luck of facing Kevin Garnett, who in even in his recovery year, is proving to be healthy enough to create big problems for Pau and the Lakers.
The one constant has been Rajon Rondo. His play has steadied the Celtics and he has delivered big play after big play. The moxie that Rajon demonstrates continues to amaze. He even is willing to stand up for his teammate, Kevin Garnett, to Artest, one of the league’s bullies. Rondo is intimidated by no one it appears.
Who would have thought that letting Trevor Ariza go and picking up Ron Artest up would be such a bad move?
Ray Allen has completely surprised me with his total commitment to defense against Kobe Bryant and has done it extremely well. His offense has suffered for it, but the Cs need him at the other end more, if Paul Pierce is be fresh enough to be able to give them the points he can produce.
At this point, the Celtics seem to be getting better and the Lakers worse. The Boston Celtics have slowly put a strangle hold on what most in the national media felt was a superior team.
This was by most accounts to be Kobe’s 5th championship. All they had to do was roll over the Celtics. The coverage has been, in large part, unfair to the Celtics. It had all the earmarks of an anointing.
Most annoying has been Kobe’s ‘post game press conferences after losses. Frankly, his demeanor is off-putting. He also acts as if this shouldn’t be happening to him. It is pouty and a bit boorish.
This team has been a Cavs team in disguise, it appears. It is Kobe and little else. That is the fault of Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant.
In a larger way it is the Celtics fault. They are used to dealing with star centered teams by this point. They keep the other players covered and put enough pressure on the star to have to do too much. It takes the rest of their team out of rhythm and makes them spectators.
On the other side of the floor, the Celtics talent level and scoring balance has been the difference. While they have struggled offensively during the season, they have the experience under pressure and the talent level to find a shooter who can do real damage, even against the solid defense that a team like the Lakers have played. That scorer, and scorers, can change from game to game.
It has been a fantastic series with the NBA’s two finest teams. It the end, it may be that ‘team thing’ that wins out. That is the way it should be.
Beating L.A. in L.A. would be a wonderful thing to do. I expect the Lakers to come out with great energy. But I expect the Celtics to weather it and bring home Title 18. Only a team effort by the Lakers can change that.