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Ladies and Gentlemen, We Have a Series on Our Hands

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Hmm, nice of the Boston Celtics to show up to the party, hey? Unfortunately, simultaneously the Lakers decided to go on break at various extended periods throughout this Game Two (except for Lamar Odom, who's currently in Vanuatu with his wife Khloe Kardashian, and has been all Finals, but more on that later), and thus the basketball world still hasn't seen that glorious display of perfectly matched poetry on the hardwood that this series has the potential to provide.

The result of the Celtics' showing up like the hardworking intern while the Lakers' showing up lazy and often taking smoke breaks like the veteran manager who can no longer get promoted was a 103-94 beating at the hands of the hated Green. Who woulda figured?

A few short-ish (by my standards) points after the jump.

  • Rajon Rondo is GOOD. It should go without saying, considering how he's dominated the playoffs the last two seasons in a row, as well as being one of the league leaders in assists this season, but he is still underrated by many. He is an obscene talent, and has grown into himself as a player in a strong organisation with veteran leadership. Too bad he's wearing green and not purple, though that may be fixed in a few years...
  • Ray Allen is one of the greatest pure shooters of all time, but even for him that was a once-in-a-year performance, and the odds of it happening again in this series are highly unlikely. It's reassuring in a similar manner to the fact that in Game Three of the Finals last year the Magic needed to break NBA records for shooting percentages in both a half and a game to win, and even then they did not win in a dominating fashion - it's a peformance that's not going to win more than one game.
  • Thus, for the Celtics to win this series they need more production from Kevin Garnett (6 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds) and Paul Pierce (10-4-4), and right now it doesn't seem possible that those two will improve much. Kevin Garnett, is, quite simply, old; and Paul Pierce has the best small forward defender in the world on him. That keeps level heads, as Rajon Rondo is not going to average a triple-double against us, nor is Ray going to hit 8 threes a game.
  • The Lakers need to rebound. Full stop. Asides from KG, the tallest Celtics player is about the same height as Lamar Odom and hangs around the perimeter a lot on offense - so why hand out 13 offensive rebounds in a game? Even when the Lakers got stops (a rare event in itself), the Celtics would get the ball back.
  • Can we please see some proper Triangle offense? Kthxbai.
  • Kobe comes, and Kobe goes. The Lakers called on him to bail them out in the final minutes, and he just didn't have it on his jumpshots. Possibly that's because he hasn't been taking many jump shots at all this series, instead getting to the hoop, and after picking up his fifth foul he was too hesitant of driving for fear of getting a charge.
  • Speaking of which, this whole series the foul calls have been BS both ways. Way too tightly refereed, removing any flow from the game, and some bizarre touch fouls where the contact was quite literally non-existent. Kobe's two charge calls particularly come to mind, the one at the end of the first half and the one that got him his fifth foul (where Big Baby was in the restricted zone, and stepped out into Kobe right as Kobe was driving), as does Garnett's fifth foul (it was just jostling for position). Not to mention the out-of-bounds call. I don't know if Lamar decided to share his pregame reefer with those refs, or what.
  • Speaking of Lamar Odom, WHERE THE HELL IS HE!?!?!?!? Seriously, he's been playing pretty subpar most of this season, and most of the playoffs, but these last two games have just been pathetic. IT'S THE FINALS, MAN! Cut the pull-up three-pointer bullshit, YOU ARE NOT A GUARD. You are a big man with a speed advantage, take it to the hoop!
  • Andrew Bynum seven blocks, Pau Gasol six.... sexy.
  • When the smallest starter on the floor leads the game in rebounds (by a significant amount, too), something's very, very wrong.
  • Heh, the one game the Lakers get a significant positive free throw differential in their favour, instead of -20 like the games in Oklahoma City and Phoenix, they lose. Go figure.
  • Though, to be fair, much of those fouls came due to the Celtics' trying to intimidate the Lakers be reinstigating their 'no easy baskets' policy and fouling every time they could when our bigs got an easy layup, as evidenced by Pau and Drew ending up with 25 free throws between them.
  • Asides from Sasha and Jordan, the Los Angeles bench was completely nonexistent, as was Derek Fisher. Kobe didn't have a particularly nice game either. In fact, the only two players to have decent games were the starting frontcourt, Pau and Drew - and even they contributed significantly to the loss in giving up too many offensive boards and not getting enough second-chance points themselves.
  • And then there's Ron Artest... what the critics predicted would happen at the start of the season has somewhat manifested. Artest has gained confidence to the point where he's trying to 'create' on offense, overdribbling a hell of a lot and taking some terrible shots, finishing 1-10 on the night as well as 3-8 from the line for 6 points. Ugly, ugly, stuff. At least he still won his matchup, though. Queensbridge is NOT happy, Ron.
  • The Lakers - all of them not just Derek - were getting absolutely wiped out on Boston screens. Some of them may have been illegal, but more than that was the simple fact that they weren't adequately communicating on the defensive end - it seemed no one was calling 'screen', particularly off-ball, as defenders consistently got caught off-guard on back screens, and with the width many of the Celtics' bigs possess, they were completely pinned while the likes of Ray Allen got open jump shots. More defensive awareness is required. This was happening in Game One, too; Ray was punishing us on pin-downs until he got in foul trouble.
  • With the touchy whistles, this series has been one dictated by foul trouble in both games. Any series where the refs are essentially dictating the majority of the factors in the games, is a bad series.
  • The Celtics were leading the Lakers by one with three minutes to go. They ended up winning by 9, courtesy of a 10-0 run. In this period, the Lakers did not work the ball inside ONCE. They relied on Kobe, Fish and Artest long-range jumpers to bring them home, and that's a recipe for disaster considering how the three were playing in the game.
  • Pau looked absolutely exhausted towards the end of the game. Lamar really needs to stay out of foul trouble, if only to stop Pau from being exhausted to the point of ineffectiveness in end-game scenarios.
  • The Celtics had more points in the paint than Los Angeles, even with a relatively weak performance from their bigs. The Lakers allowed too much penetration, particularly from Rondo, especially in transition.
  • Speaking of transition, the Lakers did not properly run back on D 90% of the time, allowing Rondo to push the ball, even out of baseline inbounds possessions, and wreak havoc on a forced but effective break.
Quite frankly, this was a failure of effort from the Lakers, influenced by foul trouble. Just as Game One was a combination of a failure of effort and foul trouble for the Celtics. Neither team has been capable, or allowed to, play all out at the same time as the other for a 48-minute game in this series, so far, and that is a disappointment. Hopefully, that will change in the pivotal Game Three.

Speaking of Game Three, going into Boston with the series tied should not be a major cause for worry, as Boston has been a better team on the road than at home all season - be it veteran experience, cockiness, whatever, the Celtics are at least as effective outside of Boston as they are in the TD Garden. Even the possibility of home-friendly whistles should not phase the Lakers, as they have played through it in several instances this postseason.

The Lakers need to come out intense, focused and tough. They need to not let up at all until the final buzzer sounds. In doing this, they will dictate the nature of the game, and it will be up to Boston to match or raise - if they are capable. And remember, whoever wins Game Three likely wins the series. Just a bit of pressure. But all LA needs to do is remember the last time they visited Boston in the postseason - both the game, and what happened after it.

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