From Kevin Arnovitz, TrueHoop: In Game 1, Ray Allen scored only 12 points in 27 minutes after battling foul trouble in the Celtics’ sluggish loss. With two days off before Game 2, Allen had to carry his ineffectual performance around with him. He tried to play golf, but said he couldn’t focus because his head was spinning with recursive thoughts like figuring out how to guard Kobe Bryant, or capitalizing on opportunities the Celtics had missed in the series opener. “Throughout the day it would just flash in my head,” Allen said. “Whatever I’m doing I might be spaced out. Somebody might be asking me a question and I’m not right there at that moment.”
From Henry Abbott, TrueHoop: If you haven’t yet seen Kevin Arnovitz’s breakdown of how Ray Allen got open in Game 2, stop reading this and go watch that. And it brings up an interesting little playoff point: Winning a series is often about making opponents think, which often means coaching adjustments. The more I watch that, the clearer it is that Derek Fisher really can’t guard Ray Allen. Not if the Celtic big men are going to get away with all those moving picks away from the ball. Kobe Bryant can do a good job of it, though. And as Arnovitz demonstrates, the Lakers can stay closer to Allen on the break, and help a lot more as he’s coming off screens.
From Saurav A. Das, Silver Screen and Roll: Hmm, nice of the Boston Celtics to show up to the party, hey? Unfortunately, simultaneously the Lakers decided to go on break at various extended periods throughout this Game Two (except for Lamar Odom, who’s currently in Vanuatu with his wife Khloe Kardashian, and has been all Finals, but more on that later), and thus the basketball world still hasn’t seen that glorious display of perfectly matched poetry on the hardwood that this series has the potential to provide. The result of the Celtics’ showing up like the hardworking intern while the Lakers’ showing up lazy and often taking smoke breaks like the veteran manager who can
From Kenny Masenda, Ed The Sports Fan: It is with great sadness, anger, disappointment, frustration, and dismay that I write today’s post. What I am about to say is something that has been said by plenty in the past year, as well by Pau Gasol recently, who, even though he told the truth, should still shut the *bleep* up, because he’s a second-fiddle for the other team. The ugly truth is one of my childhood heroes, The Great Kevin Garnett, is dying a slow basketball death right before our very eyes, and there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it.
From Kelly Dwyer, Ball Don’t Lie: It was almost comical, this stereotype gone mad. One of the worst shooting exhibitions I’ve seen, at this level, in a long time. Tossing out the “in a long time” qualifier, by the way, because I can’t think of anything worse than it right now, and I’m hoping I’m wrong. I’m hoping there was something worse than this. There probably wasn’t. Ron Artest shot 1-for-10 in Game 2, scoring six points, turning the ball over three times and fouling out in the process. It wasn’t just that he shot miserably in a game that should have been a notch in his belt (holding Paul Pierce on the other end to 2-of-11 shooting), but it was the way he put up those 10 shots. Terrible looks, mostly uncalled-for, seriously team-crippling.
From Chris Tomasson, NBA Fanhouse: As the saga continues whether Lakers coach Phil Jackson will return next season, it’s not out of the question Jackson on Sunday sat on the bench at the Staples Center for the final time. Not that Jackson specifically noted that to his team following the Game 2 103-94 Finals loss to the Boston Celtics, but the master of motivation did touch on something that pulled no punches. “P.J. came out and told us it might be the last time we play (in Los Angeles this season),” Lakers center Andrew Bynum said of the defeat that left the series tied 1-1 with the next three games in Boston. “I think that woke everybody up.”
From Sekou Smith, Hang Time Blog: Have the purple and gold crocodile tears stopped yet? Has anyone found the shamrock green pacifier? Two games into the NBA Finals and you can tell the latest incarnation of Lakers vs. Celtics must already be a doozie, because the coast-to-coast wailing from both sides is making for the most unpleasant loud noise heard since the Concorde was grounded and Rosie O’Donnell went off the air. In Game 1 it was the Celtics who were hosed. Poor Ray Allen was shackled to the bench with foul trouble almost before the national anthem was finished and, of course, that meant Boston never had a chance. Never mind that the Celtics shot 36 free throws in the game to the 31 for the Lakers.
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: The Lakers were in Indianapolis in late January, and Kobe Bryant had Peyton Manning on his brain and football in his dreams. Quite calmly, Bryant declared that he could’ve been a football star. Had he begun playing football at age 5 the way he started basketball, Bryant said, he could’ve made it big playing that sport instead. Asked if he would’ve been a wide receiver, Bryant agreed that his build would’ve made that the logical position for him. (Just imagine Kobe’s wrath directed at the quarterbacks not getting him the ball.) Firmly believing he has NFL potential just goes further to show Bryant’s confidence that he can do anything.
From Mark Heisler, Los Angeles Times: A funny thing — tweet! — happened — tweet! — on the way — tweet! — to the NBA title. Not that “funny” is the word Ray Allen would have chosen after fouling out of Game 1 in 27 minutes on some ticky-tack fouls he hadn’t seen since UConn. Nor was Kobe Bryant any happier after having to leave at a key moment of Game 2, after a ticky-tack call he might not have gotten at Lower Merion.
From Arash Markazi, ESPN Los Angeles: “3 Mo.” After Game 1, the phrase written on the dry erase board in the Los Angeles Lakers’ locker room served as a source of motivation. After Game 2, it remained on the board, unchanged, serving as a reminder that the Lakers remain three wins away from winning the NBA championship, and a reminder that they must now to travel to Boston for the next three games. If the Lakers are to win “3 Mo,” they must win at least one game in Boston, something they were unable to do two years ago, when the Celtics not only won all their Finals home games but also came back from a 24-point deficit in the third quarter to steal one in Los Angeles.
From Art Garcia, NBA.com: The Celtics left Los Angeles with the split every playoff team hopes for on the road. With the home-court edge now in Boston’s corner, the Lakers have to be feeling the pressure as they prepare for the trek east. Well, not necessarily. As disappointing as losing Sunday night was for the defending champs, especially after winning Game 1 in blowout fashion, history suggests the Lakers still own the upper hand. Since the NBA adopted the 2-3-2 format for The Finals in 1985, splits have treated the home team well. On 10 occasions over the last 25 years we’ve seen the series tied 1-1, with the last being the Pistons-Lakers in 2004. The team that began with the home-court has gone on to win seven. The only three teams to claim the championship after splitting on the road are the Lakers (1985), Bulls (1998) and Pistons (2004).
From Jack McCallum, Sports Illustrated: To an extent, covering the NBA in the 1980s meant covering the Lakers and the Celtics. For the better part of that decade, I could set a preseason agenda of travel to L.A. and Boston — with some side trips to Chicago (a guy named Jordan was playing there) and Detroit (the Bad Boys first turned baaa-d in the mid-’80s) — and be pretty much on the money. And it came, conveniently, full circle in my final year as a full-time NBA beat writer when it was Boston-L.A. in the 2008 Finals. As you’ve been reading (perhaps ad nauseum) here and other places, there was nothing like Lakers-Celtics. It goes without saying that their rivalry made it special, but the personalities of the players, coaches, execs and even fans made them newsworthy on their own.
From Todd Behrendt, Fox Sports: Even when the going is good during the postseason, Kobe Bryant isn’t exactly chatty when he steps to the postgame podium. And when the going gets tough, well, Bryant’s interviews take on the tenor of a wisdom tooth extraction. After the Lakers’ Game 1 win, Bryant joked with reporters about his occasionally surly demeanor during his playoff press conferences. After the Celtics evened the series with a 103-94 win in Game 2, Bryant’s surliness was no laughing matter.