LA-Boston game one: Same series, different teams.
Posted by: SPQR on Jun 04, 2010 - 01:38 AM
So here it was all over again. First game of the Lakers-Celtics series and one team dominated in every department. One team sent a message of blood in no uncertain terms. Deja Vue.|
How bad was it?
The winner out rebounded the loser 42-30.
The winner outscored the loser 48-30 in the paint.
The winner had an incredible 16-0 edge in second chance points.
The winner held a 12-5 fast break edge.
Bring back any bad memories? Sound familiar?
Really the only difference from the first game of the 2010 NBA finals and the 2008 series was…the winner. This time it was the Los Angeles Lakers who had all the answers and posed all the problems for their long time rivals.
After one game, it seems like the exact same series, only different teams.
In a total reversal of both teams’ destinies, the Lakers made the opening statement and that statement was this: We are not the 2008 Lakers. We are the defending champions of the NBA.
How different are they? Let’s count some of the ways.
Kobe Bryant, no stupid ball player, obviously learned his lessons well. No longer forcing jump shots in the teeth of the defense, he picked his spots. He attacked the rim. He got into the lane. And when all that was not available, he passed the ball off. Kobe slowly turned the screws on his old tormentors and in the third quarter exploded for 14 points, like a smart bomb timed to go off at exactly the right moment. By the time he and his mates were done, Boston was down by 20 and game one was over.
Kobe hounded Rondo into a pedestrian game. This step in itself almost doomed Boston’s cause. Because Rajon Rondo is the gas that powers the Celtics engine.
Pau Gasol also learned his lessons well. The rough stuff did not bother him. Not from Perkins, Big Baby or shoves from thug Rasheed Wallace. Instead of pulling back into a safety zone, Pau took it and laid down 23 points on 8 of 14 shooting, picked up 14 big rebounds and had three blocked shots. The Celtics, who privately laughed and made fun of Pau two years ago, must have wondered where this guy came from.
How different are these Lakers? As different as Ron Artest. Artest hooked up with Paul Pierce right at that get go and went down hard with him. As he got up, he put his weight on Pierce. You know, like using him as you would a footstool to get up with if you fell in your living room.
And that was just for starters. He and Kobe hounded Pierce so effectively that while the game was being decided, the Celtics star only had 9 points. That was the 2008 Finals MVP Paul Pierce. That’s how different the Lakers were.
The Celtics also had to contend with our injured Andrew Bynum, whose heart is as big as his huge body. Drew struck for 10 points and 6 rebounds. He also helped with Pau in making it hell for the Celtics to drive the lane, which was really a super highway to the basket for them two years ago. Andrew Bynum did not play in the series two years ago. That’s how different we were.
Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar came off the bench and scored much needed points to keep things on an even keel as the starters rested. Did we have a bench against Boston two years ago? That’s how different we were.
How different were we? Two years ago, we could not win one meaningful game against the Celtics. Oh yeah, we won a couple. But those games were just pride savers. When we won both of them, we were behind in the series and the die was cast. We knew, they knew, everyone knew, the series had already been decided when we won those two games. Boston won every meaningful game in those finals. That’s how they won it. This year, it took us exactly ONE game to turn the trick we could not do at all two years ago.
Just that fast, the Lakers are half way there to continuing their formula of taking both home games and building an insurmountable lead on their opponent. After the game, Dennis Rondo said they have to win game two. He is right. If we win game two, the series will go on, but just like two years ago, any games the Celtics win from there will just be pride savers. They know it and we know it. Nobody is going to beat this Lakers team four out of five games.
As the third quarter unfolded, all the veneer of the vaunted Celtics was stripped away. They looked as helpless and confused as we did back then. The ultimate manisfestation of this was Rasheed Wallace. First he bumped hard into Derek Fisher. I am not sure what he expected to accomplish with that. To expect Derek Fisher to back off or cower from physical play is like throwing a match into big puddle of gasoline and not expecting a fire to ensue…..you actually can get a pretty bad burn if you are that stupid.
Next he decided pushing Pau Gasol might make a change. It did not. All it showed was that voided of their vaunted defense, without the effectiveness of their stars who were so instrumental in their last championship, they had been reduced to a caricature of the Celtics: a brawling thug, unable to answer in any basketball sense the dismantling they received. They were reduced to their base nature and it was beautiful to watch.
The Celtics predicate everything on their defense. If Los Angeles keeps ripping at it like they did tonight, there is no hope for them. For them to have a shot at this, they will have to turn that around, achieve some measure of control in the paint, and also figure out how to get Rondo and Pierce more room to operate when things are still being decided.
And they have to figure those things out by Sunday.
Right now after one game, just as we saw back in 08, one team has one hell of a lot of answers to come up with on both sides of the ball. The only difference is that it’s now the Celtics who are looking up and Lakers who are looking down.
Like sticking in a very sharp stiletto, the Lakers drew a large measure of blood today in our opening win. If they repeat this on Sunday night, they will cut the Celtics throat with a fatal slash.
After one game, it’s the same series, but different teams.