In every series up to the this point in these playoffs, the Lakers have been an excellent home team, not yet losing a game at the Staples center. This evening, the Lakers look to keep that streak going as this game 2 will be just as pivotal to the outcome of this series as the win they claimed in game 1. If the Lakers are able to go up 2-0 over the Celtics, Boston will be in the difficult situation of needing to win 4 of the next 5 games with their only home games coming in sequence over the next week. And while recent teams (2004 Pistons, 2006 Heat) have been able to sweep those middle home games on their own court, it’s a task that few teams are up to as winning 3 games in a row against a Finals opponent is difficult (especially when the teams are evenly matched as this year’s Lakers and Celtics are). All this is said to stress the importance that both teams are placing on this game and to emphasize that this is a must win game for Boston and that they’re going to play accordingly. If you’re the Celtics, losing this game is not an option.
And that means the Lakers will also need to bring their best effort. There is no comfort level in the Finals. A 1-0 lead is nothing to be too excited over and as Kobe said in yesterday’s press conference, “we’re not thinking about game 1” – with the message being a clear one: the Lakers need to approach this game fresh and bring the intensity and focus that they had in game one but with an in-the-moment emphasis tilted towards the task at hand.
And while we’ve been talking adjustments, there are still a couple of things that have yet to be explored. After re-watching the Lakers’ game 1 win, there were a couple of things that became abundantly clear. First and foremost was how reliant the Lakers were on the P&R to get good looks at the basket – especially Kobe. The Lakers really used this action to disrupt the Celtics half court defense as Kobe did an excellent job of forcing the hedge man (usually Perkins) into staying with him and then working him off the dribble to get favorable angles to the rim or create open passing lanes to an open Gasol flashing to the FT line. If the Celtics are to win this game, they’ll need to find an answer for the Lakers P&R, and this will be something I’ll be watching intently over the course of the game (and will have more on in the upcoming days).