The Lakers locked up the Celtics and the Series at 3-3 with an impressive win.
You almost knew it would go something like this. The Lakers clobbered the Celtics 89-67 in the series first blow-out.
The Lakers took an early lead and never looked back. I had hopes that the Celtics had learned their lessons from the season and would put L.A. away in game 6 to close it out without a game 7 in L.A. But they always seem to let up with leads. That has even been the case for much the playoffs. The Lakers simply wanted it more.
Now they have to do it the hard way, with their backs against the wall. Fortunately, they only seem to play their best that way. Unfortunately, the Lakers aren’t like the other teams they have been playing.
The entire season comes down to one game now. It is an away game and unfortunately, the Lakers play very well at home. Fortunately, the Celtics play very well on the road.
So two very confident teams will meet one more time on Thursday night for all the marbles. One will leave justified in their confidence. The other will leave with something less and an off season to wonder what could have been.
I still say the Celtics are the better team. I still say the Celtics have more talent top to bottom. The Celtics have more shot makers. The Celtics have more scorers. The one surprising thing is that the Celtics might not be the best defensive team. The Lakers’ defense has been just great.
If the Celtics are to win, they have to be better at offense and defense. Their defense has been rock solid for the most part all season and more so in the playoffs. It is their offense that has sputtered from time to time this season. It certainly sputtered in last night’s game. 67 points. Wow. That qualifies as a beat down.
The Lakers have done a nice job of containing Rajon Rondo. That has been key for them. Rondo makes the Celtic offense go and is a big play player at the defensive end. Doc Rivers and Rondo must find a way.
Both teams could be without their starting centers. I asked in an article yesterday, if Perkins was injured. There is no doubt about that now, after he sprained his knee in the first quarter and left the game in pain.
Andrew Bynum left early with great pain as well. So which team will be able better to play without a key big man? The Lakers have been doing so without Bynum many times in the past. The Celtics have not. Perkins is a quiet, I mean not so quiet contributor to the starting 5 and it will create a bit of a chemistry issue for them.
On the other hand, they got Rasheed Wallace and have Glen Davis. Davis has played with the starter as a starting forward last season with Garnett out. It is quite a different thing to be playing starting center.
That leaves Rasheed. How interesting is it that the Celtics’ season could come down to such an enigmatic personality? He can certainly fill win for Perkins. But what happens to the second unit? In a game 7, the bench players will be on a very short leash. They will either provide instant relief or be on the bench for the rest of the game.
Doc will ask the starters to play big minutes, I’d imagine. But before he does, I hope he gives Nate Robinson and Glen Davis an opportunity to help. They can in short minutes.
It will be a game of will. It will be a game of rebounding, transition play and defense. But it mostly will be a game of will. One prize, two teams competing for it.
There is no doubt that the two best teams in the league will decide which one is the single best.