One Down, Three To Go

Darius Soriano —  June 3, 2010

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When the team you follow every day gets to the Finals, you hope that they play to their capabilities.  You hope that the focus, determination, and competitiveness are there.  You look for the little things – holding a box out for that extra second, passing on a semi-open shot to reset the offense, fighting through a screen to recover to an offensive player.  Tonight, the Lakers were a team filled with guys that were doing those little things and displaying the aforementioned qualities and it led to a 102-89 victory to take that all important 1-0 lead in the NBA Finals.  What a night.

From the outset, this game had an intensity befitting an NBA Finals match up between heated rivals that had just faced off for the championship two seasons ago.  After just 27 seconds of game action, Paul Pierce and Ron Artest got tangled up wrestling for position to grab a rebound and they tumbled to the ground with their bodies and arms locked together.  This led to Ron getting up angry, Pierce reacting similarly and both teams moving into to separate them.  Only seconds later the refs were issuing double technical fouls to bring order to the proceedings.

But, the refs didn’t stop there.  Over the first quarter (and really, throughout the game) the refs seemed determined to not let this game get out of hand and for them to keep the players under control at all times.  This led to frequent whistles and an uneven pace to the early stages of the game.  In the first quarter, 18 fouls were called and each coach went deep into his bench to compensate for their suddenly foul plagued starters.  If, before this game, I were to tell you that in the first 12 minutes of game 1 that Michael Finley, Sasha Vujacic, and Luke Walton would all play you’d have thought I was crazy.  But, sure enough, they did – spelling Ron Artest and Ray Allen and Kobe as all of these key players found themselves on the pine early with 2 fouls each.

But the refs and the foul trouble were just one story line.  Surely, Ray Allen playing only 27 foul plagued minutes hurt the Celtics.  Ray was one player for the C’s that looked confident with his offense and his shooting coming of his big men’s screens was spot on early.  But the bigger story was the performance of the Lakers.

As it’s been over the course of these playoffs, the Lakers were led by their stars.  Both Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol set the tone for their team and led their mates to victory.  Whether or not the loss of 2008 was fresh on these players minds, they played like they had something to prove; like they wanted to vanquish those memories and replace them with ones that they could later recall with joy instead of sorrow.  But at the same time, they played like those memories gave them strength, like they were the fuel igniting their will to go the extra mile and make the needed plays to secure the victory.

Kobe would finish the night with 30 points on only 22 shots and rack up another 7 rebounds and 6 assists.  And while his early defense on Rondo left something to be desired – Kobe got lost on several back cuts by Rondo when over helping on KG – his offense was just superb.  There may have been a few forced shots here and there, but for the most part, Kobe was in control.  Navigating the Celtics defense and attacking at every opportunity.  It was pointed out several times during the telecast, but Kobe got to the rim much more frequently than at any point during the 2008 Finals and was able to either finish in the lane or draw fouls on the man that was guarding him.

And then there was Gasol. Soft?  Uh…not so much.  With the presence of Bynum forcing KG to now guard Pau, the big Spaniard went to work on both ends of the floor – taking it to KG at every turn – and doing everything the Lakers needed while stuffing the stat sheet along the way.  The man ended the night with 23 points on 14 shots, 14 rebounds (including 8 huge offensive boards), 3 assists, 3 blocks, and a steal.  Scoring in a variety of ways (hooks, running the floor, put backs) and contesting shots in the paint on the other end, Pau was the catalyst for the Lakers dominant inside play on the evening.

But, even though Kobe and Pau led the way they had lots of support in this game.  Every Laker that saw the court did his job and did it well.  Bynum had decent stats – 10 points, 6 rebounds – but most importantly he played 28 minutes (a number that Phil said he would like Bynum to play in a pre-game interview on ESPN radio) and really gave the Lakers a second presence inside.  And the rest of the bench players played well too, even if their overall stats and +/- numbers don’t reflect it.  They all played under control and consistently made the right decisions on offense to keep the Lakers’ momentum going throughout the game.

Especially impressive to these eyes was Ron Artest – especially on defense.  Sure, Paul Pierce ended the night with 24 points on only 13 shots (making 12 of 13 from the FT line).  But he never found a rhythm on offense and never really threatened to change the tenor of the game with his ability to score the ball.  Ron just did an excellent job of deny Pierce his sweet spots and making him work to even catch the ball.  But Ron was also solid on offense, going 5-10 from the field for 15 points and making 3 of his 5 three pointers.

Over the course of the evening the Lakers proved that they’re ready for this match up.  Ready to exorcise their green demons.  Ready to compete from the opening tip of the opening game and land the first punch.  Simply put, the Lakers were the better team tonight.  But, this is only one game.  On the Lakers’ whiteboard in their locker room after the game, it simply said “3 mo'”.  Game 2 is just as important as game one and the Lakers will need to duplicate this effort and level of execution of they expect to go to Boston with a series lead.  But for now, enjoy this win.  The Lakers lead the NBA Finals and being able to say that never gets old.

Some key numbers:

*41-32.  This was the Lakers rebounding edge over the Celtics.  As the old Pat Riley saying goes, “no rebounds, no rings”.  Well tonight the Lakers controlled the backboards and it was a key component to the victory.  I already mentioned Pau’s 8 offensive rebounds, but the Lakers had 13 as a team and their constant pressure on the C’s defensive glass didn’t allow Boston to get out in transition and get the easy buckets that their offense feeds off of.  And even though the Celtics had 12 offensive rebounds of their own, they didn’t get any 2nd chance points while the Lakers had 16.  Considering the Lakers won the game by 13, I would say that the Lakers ability to convert offensive rebounds into points was pretty important.

*48-30.  This was the Lakers advantage in points in the paint.  The Lakers really did an excellent job of attacking the Celtics interior tonight.  Be it on standard post ups or off dribble penetration, the Lakers tried to get into the lane at every opportunity and punish the C’s with shots close to the hoop.  I mentioned Kobe’s want to drive, but Fisher, Farmar, and Brown were all attacking the paint off hard drives and coming off curls.  This really compromised the C’s defense and it went a long way in winning the game for the Lakers.  The flip side of that coin was the Lakers limiting Rondo’s penetration and not really allowing Allen or Pierce to get anything going to the basket all night.  And when you consider that KG and ‘Sheed are now both jump shooting bigs, Boston needs their guards/wings to get into the lane for their offense to really hum.  Tonight they didn’t and we saw the results.

*0-4.  That’s the Celtics record when giving up 100 points in these playoffs.  The Lakers reached that threshold tonight and if they can continue to put up points, this series will be really difficult for Boston.  The Lakers had 84 points after 3 quarters and there have been several games  this post season where Celtics opponents didn’t get that in a full game.  The Lakers offensive efficiency was 114.6 on the night.  Against the vaunted Celtics defense, that number is just amazing.

Darius Soriano

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54 responses to One Down, Three To Go

  1. went from comment 267 on the game chat to #1 on the recap. whoop whoop!
    Unfortunately, I had a dream last night that we lost game 1…

    Fortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth!

    That game was great. I feel like a new man after that win. Hopefully I keep this feeling all the way through the finals. Here’s to Celebration today and grave digging on Sunday.

    Someone get the wheelchair for Pierce and some protien powder for Rondo. They are TOO weak! Pau Gastrong!!!!!

  2. Great play by our bigs tonight. Set the tone for the whole game in that 1st half. The soft label won’t truly go away till we win the series, but this was a great first step. Inspired play from Pau especially. He played like a man on a mission (the Kobe effect?).

    Not pleased with Kobe forcing the issue in the 4th quarter which led to the Celtics cutting the lead down to 11 in 4 minutes. I hope that the offense getting stagnant for most of the 4th quarter was just a fluke and that it had more to do with us playing to protect the lead rather than Boston finding a scheme that works.

  3. This is the kind of a game that makes you proud even if you had lost. The kind of a game that truly makes you feel good after the win, with no ifs and buts.

    Even Odom’s ineffectiveness serves as a promise of some sort, because he won’t be such a statistical no-show (well, at least he’ll show up once or twice).

  4. The effort was tremendous from wire to wire, showing how much the team wanted to take it to Boston. I loved that nobody backed down, let’s keep it going for three more Ws.

  5. DJ-F.L.A.S.H. June 3, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    The Lakers again managed to let a team go on a run and make the game competitive while Fisher was out at the beginning of the 4th. Should we just live with one of these scoring droughts a game, or is it reasonable to expect the Lakers to consistently score the entire 48?

  6. Kobe does not forgive.

    Kobe does not forget.

  7. Let tonight be the beginning of the end of the Rondo myth. Over the past few weeks he’s become some sort of media-driven NBA Godzilla, a force so great no one could dare come near him, as unstoppable as the freaking oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico… or some other bulls–t.

    All along I’ve seen a good point guard; he’s the fourth one the Lakers have faced in this postseason, and last I checked things turned out OK against the other three.

    The fact that Garnett has to guard a Lakers 7-footer — and be checked by one — is simply huge. The guy is strictly a face-up player at this point in time and tonight was no anomoly, aside maybe from those two missed layups. I didn’t expect him to be a factor in this series before it began and tonight supports that position.

    As the wall says, “3 mo.”

  8. Great game from our starters. Even brown and Farmer played kinda good.

    Sure seemed like Bean Heads looked slow. Did they fly or walk from Boston?

    Now if Phil goes back to his end of the year ways and keeps Sasha on the bench!

    Hey do you think Boston would like Sasha? Streight trade for a Larry Bird jersey.

    Anybody who dosen’t think Kobe is the best player in the world should watch dancing with the stars.

    Maybe we could get Cedrict Maxwell for Sasha? Throw in a hot women tennis star!

  9. 7. Yeah, for the greatest player of all time he sure misses a lot of uncontested layups and 12 footers, doesn’t he?
    The Celtics are going to hit back hard in game 2. I hope no one is going to buy this “injury” nonsense. Garnett, Rondo, they all might need wheelchairs to move around, but they’re not injured.

  10. in the series the celtics beat us, vladimir radmanovic was guarding paul pierce in 2008. I said to myself… that’s not good. the clippers should never have let him go… he was ‘hot’ as a clipper. Defense on Pierce was a problem all could see. Ron Artest in the first minute of the win 2 nite, showed ‘all’, that things have changed and the problem is accounted for. Artest, as we all know, has the potential to ‘ruin’ it all. ie: taking that shot with 50 seconds remaining in game with new shot clock. A ‘brain’ sez- run off 20 seconds and take a shot. His ‘mind’ said: I be jus’ playin’ ball mo’fo and I jacked up an open 3 and miss’d … no big dang. Dude- Helloooooo – But God made ‘all’ 4get that… when Artest caught the gr8 one’s air ball and flicked it in with a fish like timing.. Laker win : Artest in heaven : voila – With Bynum a walkin’ a 7′ body to the hoop, instead of ronnie turiaf – Garnet not what he once was – Rondo is no bob cousy – big baby – rasheed wallace has prison time in his future – The Lakers are lucky the Celtics won and we got home court. ALL laker fans went ballistic when cleveland / orlando lost. Home court vs boston.. argh :( no no no nyet…. not that…. Kick boston’s ass from here to the gulf.. omg – phuck –
    The only guy who can beat us in Ray Allen. If the coach of the Suns didn’t put in Steve Nash to end the game…. and kept on playin’ that guy who sacha has a thing for… we might have lost… we probably would have lost … cause we dint have a solution for this dude.. Boston doesn’t have a solution. Boston has no solution *improper english*– for jordan farmer driving to the hole.. Watch shannon brown completely destroy the green. We had a problem with Radmanovic guarding whomever> If artest doesn’t go mental – If ray allen doesn’t score 26 pts the next 4 games – lakers can’t loose.
    Home Court is everything: 2-3-2 sux Boston sux.
    the city of boston is gr8- but boston sucks and will loose in 5 so we can celebrate in a great american city. boston, mass. with artest hitting the game winner – the vib is really strong – wanna know another time when the vib was really really really strong ? I tell ya’ll. When James Taylor sang the Nation Anthem game one boston garden. Even Phil Jackson was meditating. The Vib was all celtics. I knew then, that the celtics would win. James Taylor is no BP executive. His rendition of the N>A> is on u tube. I don’t know who sang it in game one in LA and of course my choice would obviously be, Randy Newman or Tupac… just as long as it wasn’t rosanne rosannadanna I be down w / dat. Laker’s can’t lose and if we do, it’ll be because Kobe play’s like he’s on the harlem / bedstuy globtrotter’s and that ain’t a gonna happen all because ron artest caught an airball to save kobe’s chuck. If the Boston Philharmonic plays the anthem in boston game 3, then we have to make adjustments. btw: someone inform Phil to play Adam Morrison(no relation to jim) , the guy we got with shannon brown… it’d do wonders 4 his ‘superego’.
    the boyz a natural. Don’t limit him. Laker’s in 5. It’s not just a business, it’s personal. Boston sux.
    If the Wizard Of Westwood passes us on during the time of Laker blow out… we will all be melancholy and will remember the great ones and the love they stood for, whilst the breath graced ‘em life.

  11. Well, that should shut up the Celtic fans who were saying they would sweep. Sunday we’ll shut up the “analysts” who predicted Boston in 5.

  12. go lakers

  13. This is becoming absurd.Chris Sheridan is complaining about the refs,sure I guess he was waiting a FT disparity of at least -20.

    Meanwhile Wheelchair guy gets fouls for being breathed on..

  14. The Celtics are O-Ren and the Crazy 88, but if you saw that movie you know that the winner wears yellow.

  15. Re: The Refs
    I hate to complain about the refs and free throw disparity… but it seems on the road the Lakers are a -20 and at home they are lucky to be even. Tonight the Celtics attempted more FT’s then a Lakers team that at home out toughed them, out hustled them, scored more in the paint than them, and attacked the basket more than them. I would like to see total playoff FT disparity charts for every NBA Finals team in the last 20 years. I want to know if this NBA Finals Lakers team is the worst at getting calls/Ft’s of the 39 that preceded them.

    Re: The Bynum
    Alright… I’ll be the one to say it. This guy is again playing on a leg that will need surgery in two weeks. And you can see it. He isn’t close to the same athlete. But this guy is competing… on a team where you don’t now if Lamar Odom will show up, Andrew Bynum even if he doesn’t score… the other team feels his presence. There might be a number of reasons the Lakers aren’t getting pushed around under the basket, but would you like to know reason number one? Its #17.

    Re: The Artest
    If Andrew Bynum is the reason the Lakers aren’t getting bodied up by the Celtcs bigs… then Ron Artest is the reason this Celtic team isn’t trying to intimidate the Lakers by taking cheap shots. I don’t think enough can be said about this guy. I don’t think its a coincidence that before the first game against the Celtics during the regular season Artest wrestled with Pierce before tip-off. And I definitely don’t think it was a random occurrence that Artest body slammed Pierce on the Lakers first possession during the first game of the NBA Finals. Artest is crazy, crazy like a Fox… Rick Fox.

    Re: Brown and Farmar
    It will be forever forgotten that if it weren’t for these two the Lakers might be down 5 with the starters coming in at the 7 minute mark of the 2nd quarter instead of up 5. So let it be said here and heard one last time.

  16. paul pearce is dreaming of vladie rodmanovic.
    ron artist is dreaming of double double / chocolate shake. kobe is dreamingof 3 mo’ after this ez one.
    pau gasol is dreaming of bull rings full of bulls.
    i am dreaming of adam morrison banking in an 8′ footer via lamar @ hoop, who passes up one ez slam dunk via chick, to show sam jones’s bank shot ala; when celtics won 11 out of 13 except fo’ bob petit and some other team.
    adam the ‘natural scorer’ morrison. start mjbenga / morrison / odom / brown / farmer or sacha or that guy from china we let go: just 4 the experience and call a time out : up 2 pts. down 2 pts. no prob. then putt in the boyz : and have some funn. we iz a gonna win by 34 pts.
    game #2… I luv la…. 6th street… we luv it.
    santa monica blvd. we luv it……………….lakes / minny app o lis lakers.

  17. Where is “Celtics Nation”? I want to hear more about how Rondo cannot be stopped by any of the Lakers personnel.

  18. No complaints tonight, great game. The free throw discrepancy in Boston is going to be disgusting, hope our guys can handle it. Go get game 2!

  19. Kobe does not forgive.

    Kobe does not forget.

    TRUE

  20. knock ray big babie allen to the floor w/ mjbenga to start the game. ala. rambis / mcCale : eject mjbenja and loose the ray, pay backs a be’otch. lamar goes for 18 / 7 / 2 with smiles to the balcony. lakers in 5

  21. Ok, as Lawrence Tanter says heeeerrrreeee we goooooooooooo

    1. Bynum was HUGE tonight. in presence and in productivity, the Celtics had no answer for him, and for the first time in almost three calender years, the Lakers’ best five included him on the floor.

    2. Ron Ron not backing down against Pookie was huge. yes, at times Pookie got his, but at no point was this HIS game, and that credit goes fully to the man from Queens.

    3.Tactically, I thought a huge factor would be limiting Ray Ray’s threes. Mission Accomplished. It’ difficult for me to reconcile his hatred for KB24 with his undeniable excellence, but I maintained that eliminating/limiting Ray Ray from the Celtics’ arsenal was the death knell for Bean Town, and it was so tonight. They Cannot win without him playing good to great, and when he is a nonfactor, fahget about it.

    4. the other tactical factor I felt was the Lakers’ holding Rondo off the offensive boards. Well, not only did that happen, but the Lakers in fact DECIMATED Boston on the O Boards. It was THE factor in our victory.

    5. there are moments in an NBA season where fans say, “I could do that.” They usually involve a dude floating around the 3 point line and hitting a jumper. tonight the MAN moment was RON RON packing Glen Davis (he’s a player, let’s not disrespect him) recovering, and helping the Lakers secure the ball. This action happened in an instant and was the physical, MEN against MEN moment in which we fans realize we can’t do this stuff, and it was the moment the Lakers won this game physically against Boston

    6. there will be more moments like this, but in closing, let’s just leave it in the hands of Kobe Bean Bryant. When he gets support like he had from Pau, Jordan, ShanWow, Bynum, Fish, and the gang….there is NO answer. the floater over K Perkins…..there is no other player in the league who hits that shot. Period.

    and now we move to the true must win of the Finals. the Celtics came out here to win 1. We show up on Sunday, and, as Riles once said, (paraphrasing) in the next four games, I GUARANTEE EVERYBODY HERE, WE’RE GONNA WIN IT AGAIN

  22. It’s just one game…… Every game counts in a race to four. The Lakers are one step closer to the trophy. It won’t be a sweep, but you can’t give away games if you want to win a championship. The never lost the lead, never allowed Boston back in the game, and never gave Boston anything to say “….if we do this we can win”.

  23. I have to admit, Odom’s play at the beginning of the 4th had me thinking the Lakers could give up a 20 pt lead….

    Agreed that Pau was really the key (Kobe was Kobe and his legs looked great). It’s like good play from those two is the baseline that has the Lakers in the game. The next level is the supporting cast, and for me the question marks are Odom and Artest. They make me nervous whenever they have the ball. Ron was great tonight.

    I thought Fisher did well fighting to stay with Allen, and Bynum was a difference-maker inside, not so much with inspired play but keeping the Celtics honest at both ends and one great possession late in the shot clock. And it was good to see Farmar (who I often see as a liability) using his quickness and getting to the rim.

  24. I’d be willing to bet that Doc Rivers will switch and put Paul Pierce on Kobe to start the game and switch Ray Allen onto Ron Artest. Pierce really bothered Kobe in the 4th, so it’ll be up to Artest to pound Ray Allen in the post.

    And I loved how Ron went crazy after that block and takeaway from Crybaby Davis. That’s the kind of energy and passion we’ve been wanting from the Lakers all season long.

    15, you should read Hollinger’s post on Daily Dime on ESPN today. It’s all about Sasha, Walton, Farmar, and Brown. So looks like someone noticed.

  25. Last night’s game seemed to confirm a lot of what we thought going in.

    Artest is a huge upgrade from 2008 (duh) and will make Pierce’s life uncomfortable. 11 points through three quarters…..

    Bynum was just huge. That 28 solid minutes is what allowed Gasol to be the monster he was. That is a piece I don’t think the Celtics can solve (if his knee can hold up).

    KG is not the 2008 version. I think he can play better, but Gasol wins that match up every game.

    Kobe can guard Rondo. Doesn’t need to shut him down, just keep him from going off.

    A couple of question marks for me heading into next game.

    What impact will R. Allen have on the game (he won’t be in foul trouble again)?

    How will Kobe (and Artest) deal with the inevitable switch with Pierce guarding Kobe? Will Artest be able to make Allen or whoever else is on him pay?

    Will Odom show up this series? He struggled offensively in 2008 and didn’t look much better last night – though him on Big Baby is a match up I like.

    I think Perkin’s T situation now becomes a bigger issue. If he was going to have to sit a game – game 1 or 2 was the game to sit.

  26. I actually thought there were a bunch of bad calls both ways – so can’t complain about the officials if they were even.
    Good win for game 1. Gonna hafta step up bigger for game 2. Keep attacking Ray Allen and get him in foul trouble. WIth Tony Allen in their the Celtic floor shrinks and they become much easier to defend and help off of.

    Don’t let up Lakers. Not until Princess Pierce is crying his way home.

  27. How can people think for a minute that LA somehow got “the calls”? The C’s shot more FT’s. In a game where the Lakers were clearly the aggressor somehow the other team still manages more FT’s?

    Mind boggling to even think about it really.

  28. 25) VoR,
    I agree about Perkins, and if he has to be thinking about not getting technicals, it will affect his game to some degree. Wallace is also close (two Ts away, I think). I doubt that he cares enough to pay attention, but losing him for a game would have a significant effect on their rotations.

  29. Anyone want to bet the Stern pulls out his non-secret weapon for game two?

    BENADICT ARNOLD SALVATORY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    No foul trouble for Allen in game 2 but no doubt 9 fouls on Kobe and Andrew before the first tip.

    Ron is probably getting a tech right now while sleeping at home from Sal.

  30. As exciting as this win is it won’t really matter much if the Lakers come out and lay an egg on Sunday. Thankfully based on Ron’s, Pau’s and Kobe’s comments they are very aware of this. I am reminded however how utterly dominant they looked in the first 2 games against the Suns and how that series go much harder after wards.

    The thing to take away from game 1 is there were some very good signs that we can hopefully maintain and build on. However I think this series is just as difficult as it was before game 1.

  31. Buttas, the calls were all over the map last night for both teams. Lakers had their fair share of quesitonable calls, so no sense that the officials ‘gave’ this game to the Lakers at all. Lakers just delivered a beat down.

    At the same time, a couple of the fouls on R Allen were really dubious and taking him out changed the complexion of the game. I can see some frustration on that point from Celtic fans.

  32. No doubt the biggest factor for the C’s funk was the absence of Ray. There is also little doubt that he won’t see more than 3 fouls on Sunday.

    We will have to be ready for that and adjust.

    Kobe had the same early foul trouble and managed to stay in the game. I think that although there was at least one foul on Ray that was dicey, for the most part Kobe drove at him and created the opportunities.

    Again we were the aggressor last night and it was rewarded in spades.

  33. Laker fan in Boston here.

    My sense is that the Celtics fans feel like they’re up against a skyscraper. The Lakers manhandled the Celtics, and frankly, the Lakers have room to improve. They didn’t play their best ball.

    There are simply too many things that the Celtics must do to make this a series, and these things ironically play right into the Lakers hands.

    L.A. struggles at times against spry, young teams, teams that jack up a bunch of threes, teams that push the pace. The Celtics do neither. Rather, Boston makes their money inside the paint, from put backs or from attacking the basket.

    The L.A. Skyscrapers didn’t — and won’t — allow that.

    Watching Artest all over PP is a thing of beauty. There are no easy looks. It’s physical. It’s rough.

    I think the Lakers have a good chance to win this thing in Boston. I could feel it in the first 5 minutes that L.A. is the aggressive team, and physically dominant team. I don’t see how Boston wins 2 games this series.

  34. - Artest also did a great job wrestling for offensive rebounding position. He was fouled once that led to FT’s, putback once, and other times even if he wasn’t able to get the ball he was able to pin Pierce underneath the basket so that he couldn’t get out on the break for a three.
    If Ray Allen (as Zephid suggested) is put on Artest, Allen’s transition game should suffer as well. I also don’t see Pierce being that much more effective against Kobe. It seemed like Kobe was more passive and looking to set people up instead of attacking when Pierce was guarding him. So I welcome that matchup from Doc, as long as Artest doesn’t get suckered into trying to score in the post one-on-one.

    – The Perkins on Gasol matchup didn’t pan out. Perhaps because Bynum made it look easy scoring and getting position on Perkins. My recollection of ’08 mainly comes from Garnett’s length bothering Odom and Gasol rather than his physicality. He has a thinner frame than Gasol so the soft label may moreso stem from Garnett’s bully tactics on Gasol affecting Pau’s mentality rather than physical game. Again, with Bynum and Artest, there’s just more personnel in the paint that you have to account for.

    – Loved how prepared we were for the double team on Kobe. Our recognition and timing were stellar. Granted, the C’s didn’t communicate or rotate as well as we’re accustomed, but we did a great job of coordinating our activity and Kobe picked the defense apart.

    – It seems Kobe has mostly/fully recovered from his leg and back injuries, as on multiple occassions he was calling for the alleyoop in the half court. Our guys have to see that and get it to him.

    – Bench. It’s clear the C’s bench is vastly worst than ’08. PJ Brown and Posey provided poise, clutch shooting, and solid defense for the minutes they played while Rasheed, though knocked a couple shots down, balanced it with terrible fouls and inept rotations. Allen, Finley and Big Baby were no-shows and bothered by either our athleticism or interior defense. If their bench is supposed to match our solid play (of the home version) of our bench, it will take at least 10pts a game from Nate and a few shots from Big Baby.

    -As a basketball fan, loved watching the game overall. So many sequences were it was rotate-rotate-rotate, and pass-pass-pass; being patient looking for 3rd and 4th and fifth options. It was great to see.

  35. It was like a heavyweight fight. I was looking for Mike Tyson to come out of his ring corner. The Lakers showed an intensity and emotional white heat that can only manifest itself when one’s emotions have been stirred and abused for two years. I would not be surprised at a Laker Sweep.

  36. Just to make it absolutely, abundantly, completely clear: I no longer have any objections or complaints at all, about letting go of Ariza and bringing in Ron Artest to take his place in the line-up. This is why we did it, and so far it looks like it’s working very well.

    Also, as I was telling my husband during the game last night, any real tough guy would have spent the game getting in Ron’s or Kobe’s face… ;)

  37. Man I love Kevin Arnovitz. Can I just post a permanent link to anything he writes?

    http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/16478/pau-gasol-a-different-kind-of-dominant

  38. #15 Re: The Artest
    If Andrew Bynum is the reason the Lakers aren’t getting bodied up by the Celtcs bigs… then Ron Artest is the reason this Celtic team isn’t trying to intimidate the Lakers by taking cheap shots. I don’t think enough can be said about this guy. I don’t think its a coincidence that before the first game against the Celtics during the regular season Artest wrestled with Pierce before tip-off. And I definitely don’t think it was a random occurrence that Artest body slammed Pierce on the Lakers first possession during the first game of the NBA Finals. Artest is crazy, crazy like a Fox… Rick Fox.

    Exactly. You didn’t see any of KG’s faux tough-guy bark act with Crazy Pills up in there. KG had real fear in his eyes, the likes of which I have not scene since one Anthony Peeler clocked him with an elbow back in the day.

    With the 2008 “shower” story now coming to fruition, we Lakers fans really need to start celebrating us some Ron Artest.

    Sticking with my “Lakers in 5″

    smiling a buck tooth smile

  39. Down, Down, Down. C-Words Goin’ Down.

  40. Kobe did a very good job controlling the game in the first half when Pau look a little frustrated. But then in the second half he looked amused, as if saying this is how you are going to guard me. The celtics,push, elbow, rout guys out of with the push and their knees, push and scratch after the whistle. A lot of nagging stuff. But I think Gasol showed in the second, half that type of stuff is not going to work. And as the game went on we saw a bit less of that.

    One interesting thing about about the foul plagued game. I think only one illegal screen was called on the Celtics and the officials didn’t catch them one type pushing the lakers in the back as they went up for shots and rebounds. The celtics push the lakers almost every single time. I think Phil will lobby a bit for those obvious calls.

    Also, I was really disappointed with Lamar. Other than few finishes at the rim, he looked pretty lost offensively and defensively. He will have to pick it up game 2 and for the rest of the series.

    And Fisher, he was a couple chippies away from a really good game. He had some really good shots rim out. Keep it up Fish, he knows what to do and showing he can still do it.

  41. funny quote. great post. don’t know if the tv cameras caught this, but when sasha played in the 1st q, there was a time when he and ray allen were running up the court, and sasha laid a shoulder into his chest. in plain view. the crowd loved and the refs didn’t catch it. i was surprised the celtics didn’t go to wallace more, but maybe his technical had something to do with that. it was a great win, but it’s only 1, and sunday should be very, very tough. it’s surprising that the celtics look so tired with the rest they had – i specifically remember the dunk kg missed in the 4q and artest chasing down the ball. kg kinda limped back to the bench a little later. go lakers!

  42. Fantastic effort by the Lakers.

    Game 2 is going to be much harder. The Celtics are going to come out swinging on Sunday, and the Lakers have to be ready.

    If Game 2 is called loosely (rather than tight, like Game 1), it favors the Celtics and their bully-ball tactics.

    Lakers have to be prepared to punch back.

  43. Hey Darius or Philip,

    Love the victory, great effort on both sides of the floor, and no one was willing to give an inch.

    My question is about the screens we set. Is it a part of our offense not setting a hard screen?

    Every time we go high PNR we never are able to set a hard screen. Kobe being fresh is able to get around but we don’t get nearly the same looks that Boston gets on their bigs’ screens.

    Yes that is one of Boston’s best attributes and I’m wondering why the Lakers haven’t decided to import this to their offense.

  44. J.D. Hastings June 4, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Watching the game from the opening tip I thought the Celtics didn’t respect the Lakers. It looked to me like they figured Cleveland and Orlando were tougher teams and they’d just have to hit LA in the mouth to make them give up. Kudos to the Lakers for expecting that, standing up to it and returning the punch. Once they did that I don’t think Boston was ready to respond.

    I expect game 2 to be a completely different story now that they know they’ll have to battle, and expect them to compete better at every position. The Lakers will have to bring the same intense focus and complete dedication to the game plan to win.

  45. Flip,

    I was surprised by how spent the C’s looked as well. When they let game 4 against Orlando (at home) get away from them I knew they would pay for it one way or another. Had they won that game they would have had an extra week of rest. That would have done wonders for guys like KG and Rasheed.

    Instead they seemed to lose their legs in the second half of last night’s game. That is something to keep an eye on. They get two days rest here. But looking at the schedule that will change. There will be three games in five days coming up. The scheduling of games 2, 3, and 4 may really test what looks like a tired team. If there is one game in Boston the Lakers have a great chance of winning it is game four.

  46. 1) the refs were awful, but they were awful on both ends. I don’t think they affected the game in any way other than making it less fun to watch. the commercial breaks are bad enough, we don’t need to see every other posession stopped for a foul call.

    2) No doubt in my mind Artest was an upgrade over Ariza after yesterday.

    3) Fish is having one of his best postseasons ever.

    4) Bynum makes such a huge difference against the Celtics. As bad of a matchup as he was against PHX, LO is a bad matchup against the Celtics. If we get this out of Drew for the rest of the series….Banner

  47. It was a great win. The Lakers played hard and really brought it to the Celtics. I expect a much closer game 2. Boston will come out be more aggressive (both offensively and deffensively). Pierce will likely guard Kobe at the start of the game since he is taller than Allen and therefore harder for Kobe to shoot over. All five Boston players will crash the boards hard and Boston will try to push the pace some more.

    It will be a defensive slug fest. I expect a low scoring game with both teams struggling to get into the 90s.

  48. 46 – Yes, that every-other -day format after Sunday may well help the Lakers.

    Can’t wait to find out for sure!

  49. One thing I like is that the statistic I’ve been repeating ad nauseum for the past week (Laker 0-4 record vs Boston with Fish guarding Rondo & with 5-2 Kobe guarding Rondo) was being repeated on ESPN boards and Celtics Hub :D

    Oh, and after last night, it’s a 6-2 record :D

  50. as good as kobe was, just imagine if somebody had come out and said they could stop him

    another note: how silly did Rasheed Wallace look? comes in snarling, howling at the refs, makes a dunk to close the gap to 18 and trots down the floor, then throws the ball away after a rebound. Rasheed, you can’t deny 2 facts: 1) its impossible to flip the switch for the playoffs after that stinker of a regular season he had 2) Ron Artest is better than you, more intense than you, and crazier than you.

  51. #7 (Chris J.):

    I totally agree with you. The media rides the hot hand into the realm of pure hyperbole. Even Magic did it by calling Rondo the best point guard in the game.

    People forget that very good players go on exceptional runs when faced with favorable matchups. But greatness is defined by consistency, not anomaly. If Rondo is so exceptional, then why didn’t he will his team through the second half of the season (when they were atrocious), the way D. Williams did with vastly inferior talent?

    To actually earn the “best PG in the game” label, Rondo will need to play like he did against Orlando/Cleveland for an entire season. Until then, I have him 3rd behind Williams and Paul (when healthy).

    Rondo should have some better games in this series, but that won’t change the fact that he let the Lakers defense utterly dictate his play in the most important game of the season. Forget Williams/Paul–can you imagine Nash or Billups allowing that to happen?

  52. I noticed that the some of the Laker strategy on both ends in GM1 could be attributed to their experience with Phoenix, which is odd because obviously Boston and Phoenix are so different.

    For example, Boston’s defense is predicated on loading up on the strong side, which to the casual observer looks like a zone, even if it’s not exactly a traditional zone.

    But attacking it is very similar to attacking the zone. Against a zone, a weakside LA big (Lamar) flashes to the high post, creating high-low mayhem. Against the Boston defense, the weakside flash is also there out of the triangle, and the big hole in the middle that is typical of a zone IS THERE against Boston’s defensive scheme. (Help comes to the big, leaving either a big-to-big pass around the basket or, ahem, offensive rebounds.)

    When the Lakers run the P&R, the roller (Gasol) dives to the free throw line, filling that high-post space that the weakside dive man filled when running the triangle. Same type of effect. This is how they beat the zone in Phoenix and it seems to have have helped them get underneath or below Boston’s outstanding perimeter pressure.

    Secondly, and more obviously, on the few possessions where rondo had the ball in transition, a laker was picking him up by the 3-point line. If he gets any deeper, then you get those transition threes for PP and Ray. Thank you Nash and co. for 6 games of preparation, and thank you Westbrook and co. for demonstrating the transition game in general back in April.

    Here are just a couple things, but I think this is the biggest:

    Lakers seemed desperate to eliminate open threes for Boston in their half court sets. So what they did was switch a big man out to deter Ray’s three out of the baseline double-screen action.

    This idea of switching a big on a small had a similar effect as the switching in the Nash P&R. Even worse for the Celtics is they like to run clock before initiating their sets, so when Ray comes off the screen and a big is there to deter the shot, then 1) sure, he has a mismatch with a big on him, but it’s a mobile big like Pau or Lamar and 2) there’s usually not enough time on the clock for a re-set, to punish the Lakers for having a guard in the paint against a big on the switch.

    So here are three relevant comparisons to show how the western conference route for the lakers, often lauded as the worst preparation for Boston, actually taught LA a few things.