Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Boston Celtics are a franchise with a long and storied history. In that history, there have been many legendary comebacks. Add this one to the list. Down by as many as 24 points, the Celtics dug deep and stormed back, defeating the Lakers 97-91 while adding another chapter to Celtic lore. With the comeback the Celtics took a commanding 3-1 lead in this best- of- seven series, and moved one win closer to a 17th world championship.

After a loss where their play was often ugly, the Celtics came out and played a terrible quarter as they were outscored 35-14. In the 2nd quarter, the Celtics played a bit better as they cut the lead to ten before the Lakers closed the quarter out well by pushing the lead to 16 pts. As the 3rd quarter started, Paul Pierce came out determined to change the game. He did just that, as he got to the basket consistently creating for himself and others. On the defensive end he made life very difficult for Kobe Bryant, who finished the game 6-19. While Ray Allen did a good job on Bryant in the 1st half, he needed a lot of help to do so. The ability to play Kobe 1 on 1 without worrying about sending a lot of help at him was a key in the comeback, as the Lakers supporting cast didn't see the open looks from the perimeter that they saw in the 1st half. Pierce stepped up and showed why he is the heart and soul of the Celtics, as he played his best when his team needed him the most. His teammates seemed to feed off this energy as they outscored the Lakers 31-15 in the third, and finished the quarter on a 21-3 run to bring themselves within two to begin the fourth quarter. During this run, Eddie House contributed with two key three pointers, as he was playing in place of an ineffective (SHOCKER!!!!!) Rajon Rondo.

James Posey played a key role in the Celtic comeback, as he scored 18 points and hit four three pointers. He saw significant playing time as Doc Rivers (FINALLY, everyone has been suggesting this for months) decided to play a smaller lineup to spread the floor with shooters. Ray Allen was his usual efficient self as he scored 19 points on 6-11 shooting and had nine rebounds. His defense on Kobe in the first half was very good. He has improved a lot in that regard since being traded to the Celtics. Garnett was a lot more aggressive tonight, as he didn't settle for those stomach turning 20 foot jumpers that he loves so much.

On the Lakers side Kobe Bryant struggled as he shot 6-19 from the field, though he did dish 10 assists and had four steals. LaMar Odom came out like gang busters in the beginning of the game, starting out 7-7 from the field for 14 pts. Unfortunately for the Lakers he disappeared like he often does, contributing a measly one FG after that and four points. Sasha Vujacic, who played a main role in the Game 3 victory, scored only three points on 1-9 shooting and often looked like he was a drunk stuck in quicksand trying to cover Ray Allen, including a nail in the coffin layup as Allen drove past him for a layup with a few ticks remaining.

My thoughts on the game

-As much hype as Kobe Bryant gets for his defense, I don't think people truly get how good Paul Pierce is defensively. The guy has been impressive the entire playoffs. Obviously, his defense last night on Bryant wasn't a singular effort but his individual defense was absolutely nasty.

- James Posey played a HUGE role in the comeback, with timely threes and intensity on the defensive end. As I've been saying for weeks, watching these games, he should get more playing time as Doc should employ a smaller lineup. Then again I wouldn't be opposed to any lineup that has Ben Wallace, er I mean Rajon Rondo as far away from the court as possible.

- With Eddie House on the floor, isn't it nice to have a point guard who could actually make an open shot? Every time Rondo has the ball I get the feeling he is going to do something stupid with it. Maybe the Rondo injury was a blessing for the Celtics?

- Can the Kobe Bryant- Michael Jordan comparisons please stop now? Three poor performances in these finals, and playing a helping hand in blowing a 24 point lead is good enough reasoning as to why. In Kobe's last nine finals games, let's review what he has done

1. Losing in five games to the Pistons while getting owned in every way imaginable by a mediocre player (Tayshaun Prince)

2. Shot 42% against the Celtics, and helped contribute to the biggest deficit BLOWN in a finals game since 1977.

-Doc Rivers finally coached a good game. I know my last blog entry was how terrible he is, but I give him his props, though I think the Rondo injury was the only reason for it.

- Ray Allen has played a great series.

-Every time KG gets the ball in the post something good happens for the Celtics

-Did Phil Jackson and Doc Rivers agree to do their best imitations of one another? Jackson's substitution patterns were EXTREMELY strange. Jordan Farmar playing crunch time minutes over Derek Fisher? LaMar Odom on the bench? Sasha Vujacic, who contributed absolutely nothing, getting significant minutes? Very strange.

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