The Lakers Won? Nope, the Celtics lost

For the rest of time, game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals will be remembered as a LA Laker 83-79 victory over the Boston Celtics. The score sheet will show that Paul Gasol had a double-double, 19 points and 18 rebounds. That Ron Artest poured in 20 points. It will show that despite Kobe’s poor shooting night he was able to come through and muster a large double-double of 23 points and 15 rebounds. Even though the score sheet shows a Laker win, many of the fans who watched the game know in their heart that the Celtics lost.

Throughout last night’s game it was apparent that it was the Celtics game to lose. It’s not too often, especially in these 2010 playoffs, that you see an off night like that from Kobe Bryant. But it wasn’t just Kobe Bryant who had a poor shooting night. Only one player on the Lakers shot over 50% and that was Derek Fisher’s 4-6. I guess that’s what explains the dismal 32.5% shooting. It begs the question though of how in the world is it possible that a team can shoot 32.5% and not be beaten?

The problem for the Boston Celtics was that there were plenty of reasons why they couldn’t beat a team who shot 32.5%.

Shooting. They didn’t exactly shoot the lights out with a 40.8% rate of success from the field. But it wasn’t just poor shooting. It was the inability to get baskets when they had the opportunity to pull away from the Lakers. Time after time Ray Allen was given good looks and was not able to hit. Ever since he broke out with 8 three’s for an NBA finals record he was unable to find his stroke again. There was one instance in particular last night where Ray Allen curled off a screen for a mid-range jumper, caught the ball, but didn’t seem ready to shoot. He wasn’t looking towards the basket when he caught it, so he hesitated. To me it looked like he didn’t want to take the jumper, which is just inexcusable for a guy of his caliber, in a game of that magnitude. There are always so many “what if’s” in big game’s, but what if Ray Allen had just a normal day at the office? Not a great day, just a regular ol’ Thursday at the office.

Bench. I do realize that Rasheed Wallace is a bench player who did a good job in relief of starting center Kendrick Perkins but the fact of the matter is that the bench scored a grand total of 6 points. The only player on the Boston Celtics who got significant minutes off the bench was Glen “Big Baby” Davis who had all 6 of their bench points. I don’t like to be one to second guess a very good coach in Doc Rivers but when his starters weren’t getting it done on the offensive end it seemed like it was time for a change. Part of the problem that was even more evident last night was how compact the offensive zone was for the Celtics. A few things contributed to this. Whenever Rondo had the ball Kobe Bryrant was playing way off of him. For example when Rondo was at the top of the three point line, Kobe Bryant was guarding him at the free throw line. Also, Paul Pierce was unable to shake Ron Artest in isolation situations, which made it so the Lakers did not really have to double team Pierce. Moreover, Ray Allen did not extend the defence like he can because of his inability to make his shots over the last 3 games of the series.

The Celtics needed someone to take the pressure off of Paul Pierce who was relied upon so often, and so often was unable to make something happen. Rajon Rondo did have 14 points and 10 assists but he was pretty much non-existent when he came back into the game with 9 minutes or so left in the 4th quarter. Well, except the big 3 pointer he hit in the last minute of play. I think it would have been a good idea to stick Nate Robinson and Tony Allen to try and change the dynamic of the game. It is pretty much a given that Tony Allen is going to bring energy and toughness into the game. However, with Nate Robinson it is a toss-up but the fact that Kobe Bryant was sagging so much off of Rondo made it almost impossible for the Celtics to do anything. Nate Robinson coming in and actually given a chance to make a play would have hopefully extended the defence and open up space for other teammates.

Rebounding. In each game of these NBA finals whichever team won the rebounding battle was the team that won the game. In game 7, the Celtics weren’t just out-rebounded, they were manhandled. In total the Celtics had a -13 differential on the boards, but the key stat in this was that the Lakers had 23 offensive rebounds to the Celtics 8. Without those offensive rebounds there is no way that the Lakers’ poor shooting would have prevailed. Rasheed Wallace played great defence in the post but constantly was being out-matched on the boards. It wasn’t just the Celtics’ big men though, the smaller players were not gang rebounding. The colour guys on ABC pointed this out a number of times.

Perkins. Now I’m not sure how much Kendrick Perkins absence actually hurt the Celtics to the extent that I thought it would, but what I am sure of is that it couldn’t have helped. Any key player on an NBA team could be the difference in a 4 point game. Another what if, but what if Kendrick Perkins had been good to go in game 7?

Free Throws. The Boston Celtics made it way too easy for the Lakers in the 4th quarter because over and over they were giving them easy buckets at the free throw line. Kobe and Pau alone combined for 28 free throw attempts, but the Lakers were shooting so terribly yesterday that those two also missed 10 freebies. Overall the Lakers shot 37 free throws, 20 more than the Boston Celtics. That’s not going to get it done in the NBA Finals.

On the other hand, it wouldn’t be fair to give the Lakers zero credit for last night’s victory. Ron Artest played outstanding defence the entire night and had to have convinced his critics of his true importance to his team. Ron Artest stood out to me, but you can’t play good defence without all 5 guys on the floor being in sync and the Laker defence was 100% in sync last night. As I somewhat alluded to earlier the Lakers, although bigger, seemed to have more fight for those 50-50 rebounds, which ultimately gave them the opportunity to win.

For all you history buffs out there the Battle of Britain would seem to be a great comparison to yesterday’s game 7. Despite all the thing’s that the British did right, the Germans ultimately lost the Battle for themselves.

This pill will be a hard one to swallow for the Boston Celtics. However, it would be much harder to swallow if they didn’t already have that most important 1st ring from 2008.

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About Chris Ross
Questions, comments, suggestions? Send yours to cross_can15@hotmail.com. Follow me on twitter @paintstheblack

16 Responses to The Lakers Won? Nope, the Celtics lost

  1. mct88 says:

    enjoyed reading.

  2. Great blog. job job onceagain. Even thought I wanted the Celtics to win. I was pleased with game seven. I felt that it was the best out of the seven game series.

  3. eclectic24 says:

    Excellent article, Chris. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I agree with everything you wrote but … let’s give the Lakers some credit. Neither side shot well because of the great defense that they both played and also because of the tension of a “winner takes all ” seventh game. Defense takes a lot of energy and the stars on both teams were running on fumes by the fourth quarter. Ray Allen ran himself ragged running after Kobe Bryant. Ditto for Kobe chasing after Rondo. That’s the reason they both shot poorly. Kobe is one of the best conditioned players in the NBA but yesterday, even he was dragging. The Lakers were just a bit younger than Boston’s frontline and that was the difference.

    You make an interesting point about Rivers not putting in Nate Robinson. That pesky little jitterbug with his fresh legs might have made it difficult for the exhausted Lakers but now we’ll never know , will we ?

    Kudos to both teams ; they left it all on the floor. Great game but I’m glad it was the finale. I don’t think I’d be able to take in another one like that !

  4. kwsports says:

    Great article too. I really like how you broke up the article into different sections ( free throws, bench, etc.). It’s different, but in a good way. I’ll subscribe to your blog if you do the same for mine.
    1 Question: at the bottom of your article you have, ( posted in basketball, lakers, doc rivers, etc.) How do you do that? And the home page at chrisross91.wordpress.com. How do you set that up? Because mine is still a blank page talking about widgets and what not. >:0 But in any event, great article & a great read.

  5. elizabeth1011 says:

    Chris… Great article and excellent points. I agree with you on the point that it definitely was more a Celtic loss than a Laker victory… Unfortunetly b/c of the age of the Big 3 and because of the mins they didn’t have what it took to finish strong and the Lakers took advantage of that. Kudos to that team for seizing the moment (even though I can’t stand them) gotta give credit when credit is due. Keep up the great work!

  6. Chris,

    Another organizedand well thought out blog. I enjoyed it a lot! Also, the Celtics sent the Lakers to the free throw line way way way too much.

    Would love to hear your thoughts about Artest’s postgame antics.

    Good job,
    Mike

  7. lbatll1 says:

    really good dude:

    I think the Celtics gave that game away. They consistently held a 6-11 point lead throughout the first 3 quarters. With the home crowd on their side of course, and a Kobe Bryant who was bound to show up eventually, it was just bad news though. So many times has Boston let up leads, and the one time they couldnt let that happen, they did. Tough

  8. richxiong says:

    Chris,

    It is a very professional article with detailed analysis on each part of Game 7 – shooting, rebounding, bench etc. Yeah it is always about offensive boards, extra possessions, and struggling free-throw percentage that could change the momentum in a game by a great deal.

    Although I only watch NBA games, I would definitely check back your blog for news and coverage of latest happenings in the world of sports. 🙂
    Keep up the good work.

    -Rich

  9. Andy Mac says:

    Thanks for the compliment on my blog, Chris!

    Yours is a great read as well. I really think not having Kendrick Perkins defense really hurt them. Another question I had is what happened to Nate Robinson in game 7? He just disappeared. I had a feeling Ray Allen was going to have a bad game because that’s what he does. If he would’ve had another 30 pt outing and hit about 7 three’s, the argument of him or Reggie Miller would’ve been shut closed.

  10. jram13 says:

    Hey I enjoyed reading the article. Full of facts and I agree. That was an intense game, and while I am not so much happy with the result or that is is over, I was extremely satisfied with the series, especially game 7.

  11. AKD says:

    I like this article Chris. Good analysis and I like the way its broken down. I agree with your aricle. The Lakers definitely deserve some credit for coming out and establishing themselves on the boards in the first quarter. Without their offensive rebounding the Celtics would have ran away with the game. I’ll definitely check back often. Do the same with Sideline Slander.

  12. Iggy says:

    Great article. I agree with most of your points, particularly the shooting part. If there’s one player on the Celtics that I’m blaming for this loss, it’s Ray Allen. I really believe he was the one who cost them the title with his horrendous shooting touch. Sure, the rest of the Celtics weren’t shooting that well either, but Ray had so many open looks delivered to him in Game 7, which would have helped them pull away had he nailed them, as you said in your article. Still, there should be some credit for his decent defense on Kobe Bryant.

    I think the bench wasn’t utilized much because it was a Game 7, a stage usually set for the stars and not role players who probably would have succumbed to the pressure. But I agree that Nate and Tony Allen should have been used more, since fatigue was definitely a factor. Doc should have trusted his bench one more time, and who knows, it could have paid off.

    Nice blog you have here. I’ll make sure to follow it from now on.

  13. msgpdr says:

    Hey, you pinged my blog (http:msgpdr.wordpress.com) and thought yours would be some spam site, but very well written and much more aesthetically pleasing than mine. I will check it out.

    I hate the Lakers so was sad to see how the Celts, who I don’t really care for either.

    Back to World Cup for now. Call me when Tiger posts YouTube videos!

  14. Awesome blog man, well written and thorough. A good read.

  15. VN says:

    Dude, Celtics had a HUGE chance until Kobe and Pau started the crowd cheering. In the last second, I think Kevin Garnett could have made that 3 pointer.

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