Friday, June 06, 2008
THE TRUTH GETS HURT, THEN HURTS THE LAKERS
The Celtics beat the Lakers last night 98-88 behind a legendary Curt Schilling-esque performance by Paul Pierce. In the 3rd quarter, the Lakers appeared to be starting a run, when Pierce fell awkwardly on the baseline. It appeared that teammate Kendrick Perkins stepped back into Pierce's leg, causing it to turn in an unconventional way. With the help of a wheelchair, Pierce was taken back to the locker room. It seemed certain that Pierce was out for the game, and perhaps the series.
But a few minutes later, he came back through the tunnel, pumping up the crowd along with the Celtics. He went back into the game, and entered Boston Celtic history.
Pierce started the game 1 for 4 in the 1st half, with three points, three fouls and a couple of turnovers. He didn't miss a shot in the 2nd half, going 6 for his last 6 and tallying 19 points. He was 3 for 3 from behind the 3 point arc in the 2nd half, and 3 of 4 in the game. His consecutive 3 pointers at the end of the 3rd quarter gave the Celtics a 75-71 lead. A lead they would not relinquish.
Who knows what Paul Pierce's knee will do between now and game 2 on Sunday. But despite having that bad wheel, he still put this team on his back and carried them on to victory.
But Pierce wasn't alone. KG had 24 points and 13 rebounds in his NBA Finals debut. Garnett's monster slam in the 4th was the extremely loud death knell for the Lakers.
However, the slam was Garnett's first field goal of the 4th quarter. He looked uneasy in the final frame, making passes when he should have shot. Making shots when he should have passed. These weren't tough decisions either, these were no-brainers.
Ray Allen had himself another good night. He had 19 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. Rajon Rondo had 15 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds.
Sam Cassell came off the bench strong, nailing some tough shots. But that might have been the worst thing to happen to the Celtics. If Cassell starts thinking it's okay for him to shoot when he's not given a clear look, and guys like KG, Allen and Pierce are on the floor; he will shoot. And it will be and ugly shot more often than not. Almost as ugly as him.
The Celtics turned the ball over in numerous silly ways. Bad passes, dribbling into one's own foot, and so on. They gave LA the ball 13 times, which helped keep the game close whenever the C's were on the verge of pulling away. They need to stop doing this and I mean now.
The defense was outstanding. They held one of the best offenses in basketball to 88 points. They held the NBA MVP to 9 of 26 from the field with 24 points. That's called containment, folks. Covering Kobe was handed off between Allen, Pierce, and Posey. But it was mostly Pierce, and he did a great job of making life difficult for Kobe Bryant. The Celtics didn't give Kobe an inch, knowing he's good enough to turn that inch into a yard in a split second.
The big question over the weekend will be Paul Pierce's health. Game 2 is Sunday night.
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