Really, who is the 2010 Finals MVP at this point. Any of the Big 4 for Boston? Rondo and Ray were big in Game 2, Garnett played well in Game 3, Pierce had a couple of nice moments tonight. Kobe is a default choice, but he is shooting 38 for 93 over four games. Really Gasol has given the most consistent value. But this has been a series of random factors creating chaos, whether it be officials, Derek Fisher, or here, a Boston second team coming out of nowhere.
In a series full of outlier games, here was the biggest outlier of them all. The Celtics somehow hung a 36 point fourth quarter after a 62-60 three quarter rockfight with the Lakers. Really after the defensive struggle of the first three quarters, that a four bench player lineup of Baby, Nate Robinson, Rasheed Wallace, Tony Allen along with Ray Allen could score on their first 9 possessions of the second half was unfathomable. Really, the game up to that point was one of the most frustrating games I can remember. The Celtics were shooting solidly below 40%, but they were actually running good offense. You have to believe me, but they had a lot of open looks. A particularly emblematic sequence took place early in the third where KG missed 3 straight wide open 18 footers, his bread and butter jumper. Really, these were shots they should make, and for the most part they do.
Fortunately, the Celtics defensive effort has not wavered since the Game 1 disaster, and tonight they held the fort down while the offense continued its horrendous shooting. Kobe had a big 33 points tonight on 6-11 three point shooting, but once again, he took 22 shots leaving him with the aforementioned 38 for 93. The numbers have been there, and he is a great player, but the Celtics for the most part have made him work. Really besides him and Gasol, the Lakers have had to labor, and today with Fisher in foul trouble, and Odom struggling again – the Lakers had a tough time scoring.
But ultimately, what last night was all about was the role players. Nate Robinson, Glen Davis and Tony Allen found a way to control and dominate the Lakers STARTERS, and there is no way any Celtics fan could have reasonably expected that. Really the benches for both teams were not strengths coming into this series, and we expected a starter dominated series. However, with Andrew Bynum hurt, Odom got promoted to the starting lineup which leaves the Lakers bench desperately thin. As long as Bynum is hurt, the Celtics have a very serious edge on the bench, especially with Glen Davis bringing his Green Ogre like force.
Also, as John Hollinger deftly pointed out, the lineup gave a serious infusion of emotion, and for night, the Celts were at their intense, preening best. I don’t really know what will come of all of this series-wise, but the Celtics HAD to win. these teams are too good to beat each other three in a row. The Celtics could not count on having to win 3 times in LA. I still pick the Lakers, but the Celts now have a chance.