Friday, June 18, 2010
THE WRONG KIND OF HISTORY
The Celtics had never lost a Game 7 to the Lakers, or in the NBA Finals until last night. But the series wasn't lost in Game 7 alone. It was lost in Games 1 and 6, when the Celtics put forth lackluster efforts, were inexcusably flat, and allowed the Lakers to walk all over them.
Let's get one thing straight: the Celtics didn't choke. The Lakers were the favored team in this series. And the fact that the C's advanced so deep into the playoffs is commendable. Despite the disappointing Games 1 and 6, the Celtics gave their maximum effort in Game 7. They simply didn't execute as well as the Lakers.
I'm going to rip Ray Allen for a bit. Defensively, he had an exemplary night. But offensively, he was a cancer. 3 for 14 from your biggest shooting threat is shameful. I know shooters can have off-nights, but he had 5 off-nights in this series. He was 33 for 90 (36.7%) from the field and 12 for 41 (29.3%) for three. Exclude Game 2's record-setting performance, and he was 22 for 70 (31.4%), and 4 for 30 (13.3%).
The Celtics couldn't find offense, and that's one of the big reasons they lost Game 7. And Ray Allen's offensive contribution was negligible. Certainly not worth $18.8 million.
The most glaring Celtic deficiency and Laker proficiency was rebounding, particularly LA's offensive rebounding. The Lakers hauled in 23 offensive boards. That's 23 times the Celtics could have triggered their breaking offense, 23 times that LA got an extra shot.
The Lakers didn't shoot well (32.5%), but were allowed to shoot often (81 field goal attempts).
The Celtics also put the Lakers to the line far too often. I've already heard grumblings from Celtics fans about the officiating, but it was a superbly refereed game. Very few mistakes. They let the players play. The Lakers actually struggled at the line, but they got there more often. 20 times more often.
The Celtics bench didn't do much, but neither did LA's. Then again, the C's bench was a matchup that favored the Celtics, so a draw serves as a win for LA.
The defense was excellent, especially the help-defense that clamped down on Kobe Bryant. Unfortunately, he got help from his friends. Ron Artest had the game of his life with 20 points, Gasol had 19 along with his 18 rebounds, Fisher's 10 points all seemed to come at key moments. Bryant finished with 23, but only 12 of those came from the floor. The other 11 came at the line. He did have 15 rebounds.
Maybe the Celtics missed Perkins in the paint, and perhaps that contributed to the Lakers' getting so many offensive rebounds. Then again, Perk was averaging only 5.8 rebounds per game this series, 3.5 of which were defensive. His replacements, Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis, each had 9 and 8 rebounds, respectively. So excuse-mongers, look elsewhere.
The Lakers played better; in Game 7 and in the series as a whole. There's nothing to do right now but mourn and look ahead to 2010-11.