I've decided to post WaveOcean's mandatory game recap first.
In the playoffs, the opportunity never knocks harder for bench players to step up and win games for their teams. When the stakes are higher, you know the star players will have their big games. The difference between who wins and who loses is the role player whose special night is that night. Such is the case with the Boston Celtics. Their team really doesn't have any superstars that can carry teams. It's all role players who have off nights and on nights on a regular basis.
In Game 3, Kevin Garnett had a big night. Tonight, it was Paul Pierce's turn to emerge in the NBA Finals. He scored 10 of the Celtics' 19 points in the 1st quarter and finished at a respectable 7-12. Ray Allen played a little better than he did in Game 3, shooting 4-11, but still couldn't hit a 3 pointer. Kevin Garnett missed almost every wide open jumper he took. Rajon Rondo had a relatively quiet game, finishing with fewer rebounds and assists than he usually gets in the playoffs.
But the story of the game was Boston's bench. In the 4th quarter of a very grinding and low scoring game, they provided a lot of energy and hustle. It rubbed off on the rest of the Celtics, as they finally began to consistently make layups and open shots they had been missing for most of the game. The result was a jaw-dropping 36 point fourth quarter, led by Glen Davis (7-10, 18 points, 5 rebounds, 22 minutes) Nate Robinson (4-8, two 3 pointers) and Tony Allen, who scored just 3 points but made key plays down the stretch. To quote Phil Jackson, "They played desperate and got away with it." Indeed, Boston had no choice but to win Game 4. They could not afford to fall behind 3 games to 1.
As for the Lakers, Lamar Odom tried, (5-10, 7 rebounds) but could not fill the void of Andrew Bynum, who played just 12 minutes on a drained knee and took two shots. Pau Gasol did not provide as dominating a presence as he had the first three games, shooting 6-13 and grabbing just 6 rebounds. After his game 3 heroics, Derek Fisher regressed back to his usual game of hitting just 3 shots. Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown looked effective early, but their performance didn't last. This left Kobe scoring 33 of his team's 89 points, including 6-11 on 3 pointers.
The pivotal game 5 will put the winner in very good shape to win the NBA Finals. I still say it is more imperative for Boston to win on Sunday. Teams have won both games 6 and 7 at home in the past. The Lakers accomplished it themselves back in 1988 against the Detroit Pistons. Either way, I look forward to an intense, thrilling, suspenseful contest.
It was nighttime.
Wearing my leather catsuit and stockings, I tip-toed toward WaveOcean's room. I opened the door without so much as a creak. He was asleep, his arms above the blanket. I approached his bed, silent as a cat. Gently, I moved his arms up close to the bed frame. He did not stir. In one of my hands I held two pairs of handcuffs. I put one end of each pair around each of his wrists, and put the other ends on each side of the bed frame. He still did not stir. Then, quick as lightning, I snapped all four rotating arms into the ratchets, chaining his arms to the bed. This, of course, woke him up.
"Hey!" he yelped, realizing immediately that he was trapped. "What is this? Help! What's happening to me?" I cupped one of my hands over his mouth and put a finger to my lips. "Shhhhhhh," I said with a devilish grin. "It's late at night, and we're in an apartment. We don't want to wake up the neighbors and have them know what I'm up to, do we?" WaveOcean looked at me, his eyes narrowed in anger. "What are you doing?" he said quietly, struggling to maintain his composure. "I can't take it anymore, Wave. Tonight is the night," I said. I walked over to the end of the bed, where his feet were, climbed on, and began crawling toward him. "Don't worry, I don't want to hurt you," I said. "I want to help you." He didn't look reassured. In fact, his eyes were glazed with fear. "Stop," he gasped, "What are you going to do to me?" Within seconds I was directly above him. "It's time," I said. "Time for you to cast aside your doubts and your torments. Time for our souls to intertwine forever. Time for us to join together...as Laker fans."
"No," he said immediately. But I could sense only scattered defiance in his voice. All the talks I had with him in the past had taken their toll on his will. The majority of him was not resisting anymore. But he still needed one final push. And that's what I was setting out to accomplish. To help set the mood, I got up, walked over to his radio with an iPod dock, inserted my iPod, and put on Free Me by Emma Bunton. Then I climbed back onto his bed. "Let me ask you something, Wave," I began. "Why do you watch basketball? For excitement and entertainment, right?" "Yeah," he replied. "It's fun, it gives me a thrill, and I get to see skillful and athletic performances by can't-miss stars." "So then why do you insist on following the Cavaliers?" I asked. "Because they're my team," he said simply. "Because they're your team?!" I repeated. "Look at you, Wave. You don't live in Ohio. You started watching basketball at the beginning of the 2000s. You were drawn in by the Shaq-Kobe era." He did not respond. I continued, "And do you really feel proud watching the Cavaliers? Look at how LeBron rewarded your fandom in this postseason. He was apathetic and he said he spoils people with his play. Absolutely disgraceful. If he stays with Cleveland, you won't feel good watching that team. You said it yourself that you can't look at LeBron the same way ever again. And if he leaves, there's no way you'll get as much thrills watching the Cavaliers as you do the Lakers." He bowed his head, looking ashamed. "I guess you're right," he said meekly.
"Don't get upset," I said firmly. "This isn't an embarrassing thing to admit. Compared to any team, the Lakers are must-see TV. You shouldn't feel bad about acknowledging their allure towards you. You can't hide it anyway. Look how many Laker games you've watched this year. You think everyone on SSR doesn't know you have a special fascination with the Lakers? And that's another thing. Look how much you like to spend time with Laker fans. Look how well you've gotten along with them. This season, you've contributed so many comments to SSR, chatting frequently with members of that blog, making connections and leaving good impressions. And they've given back to you. You kept worrying because you were rooting for another team, but time and again they reassured you that you're always welcome on the site and they enjoy your company, and that you're a good person. Why, after the Cavs were eliminated, Saurav gave a shout-out to you in his cavs-celtics game 6 overflow thread. How many times have writers done something like that for people who aren't rooting for the Lakers? You mean something to them. And they think you would have even more fun with them if you were rooting for the Lakers. That's why they've been coaxing you to join them. And you want to. I know you do. But you're holding out for reasons that aren't strong, and I want to help you put those doubts aside."
"But if I do," he said worryingly, "Won't everyone tease me because I just now gave in to siding with the Lakers after all this time?" I caressed his cheek. "No, you won't. They'll completely understand if you do. EmmCeee said that all the comments you've posted have clearly separated you from a bandwagon fan. And besides, we all have to start as Laker fans at some point. Even as bandwagoners. Madz said so. Nostance said that not everyone is born a Lakers fan, but you can become one. Some are born, others are made, like SoCalGal said. Is this not enough reassurance for you? Inside all basketball fans are Laker fans, who want to root for a decorated franchise that treats its fanbase to thrills, victories, and a feeling of family. You've shared more with these people than you ever did with Cavs fans. Isn't it time to stop feeling guilty and join with them? With me? With all of us?"
Unfortunately, since the Lakers lost game 4, this is only the first half of a two-part tale. The conclusion will come after game 5. How the story ends will depend on who wins on Sunday!