NBA Finals: Game, Set, Match?
Wow. What a comeback.
That’s what I was left with last night after watching the Celtics climb out of holes that were, in some cases, 21, 24 and 20 points deep to capture Game 4 — and control of the series — 97-91. While the comeback was certainly one for the ages, Boston started the game like they wanted to be back on the east coast. They ended the first quarter trailing 35-14. In fact, they –as a team — were almost outscored by Lamar Odom, who finished with 13 first quarter points.
But after that was complete, the Celtics outscored the Lakers in each of the remaining stanzas with the biggest margin coming — again — in the third quarter. However, the weirdest thing about that first half was the Lakers built that nice lead WITHOUT one field goal from the player they call “MVP.” Unfortunately from the Lakers perspective, it didn’t get much better for Kobe when the second half started.
While he did score 10-fourth quarter points, he had to do it over some sterling position defense from Paul Pierce. Pierce’s defense was effective enough against Bryant, allowing the Celtics to play a “stay at home” style of team defense instead of worrying about trapping or doubling Bryant. This also meant if the Lakers were going to hold Boston off, it would have to be done by the hands of Bryant.
For Boston, it was the Big Three leading the way — again — but they would not have been able to finish their comeback without the 18 massively-huge points from James Posey. Oh yeah, don’t forget about Eddie House either (11 points, 2-4 from behind the arc). In fact, when Doc “Can’t Coach” Rivers put House and Posey in with the rest of the Trio, the team really took off on the offensive end.
No longer could the Lakers slack off of a Rajon Rondo in hopes of disrupting Garnett, Allen or Pierce. They too had to play “stay at home” defense, but in the case of LA, this makes them a much less effective defensive unit.
The play of the game, from where I was watching, was Ray Allen’s game-sealing layup in the closing seconds. After being unnecessarily pestered by Sasha Vujacic (nice follow-up game, there, Sasha), Allen waved a Kevin Garnett screen off in order to take an over-aggressive Vujacic off the dribble. And boy, did he ever.
Take a look:
After that, it was all over but the crying.
Game 5 is on Father’s Day (this Sunday) at 8:30. Will the Celtics close it out or will Kobe extend the series so that it at least goes back to Boston? One more thing before I finish:
For some reason, I found delight knowing Justin Timberlake — a person born in Memphis, TN — can’t be feeling good after leading the “Go Lakers” cheers in the fourth quarter. I guess that’s what you get for being a bandwagon fan.