In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit I missed the entire fourth quarter. After the scintillating 2008 Game 4, and being in the stands in 2002 against New Jersey – I like to think I have a decent sense of what is “possible”. I was getting annoyed in the third quarter as the Lakers lead was hovering in the 15-20 range … the Celtics were showing no signs of life offensively, but were a run away from making it interesting. Fortunately that ended with a thud in and I could sleep easy.
Really the Lakers just wanted this game more – there is no real mystery. The hustle stats show. The Lakers outrebounded Boston 52-39 overall but an almost incomprehensible 30-13 in the first half when the game was basically decided. The 12 steals, 8 blocks … floor burns, everything was tilting the Lakers way. In a lot of ways the yammering I did for Game 1 apply just as truly here. Aside from a potentially fatal injury to Kendrick Perkins, there is little about what transpired in Game 6 that could not be addressed by simply hard work and just making shots.
The Lakers played a great defensive game – that is self evident. However, the Celtics shot 33%! When a shooting percentage gets that low, defense cannot be alone an explanatory variable. It is hard to remember so many missed dunks, layups, anything. There was a veritable cornucopia of offensive suck – and only Ray Allen was exempt from the wagging finger of shame in this regard. In particular, Rondo have his most useless game of the series. Entering the finals, we expected that he’d have to be the Celtics best player for this whole thing to work – and really besides Game 2 that has simply not been the case. That they are so close to the ring despite that is a kind of miracle.
So after all of this, there is a Game 7. I think at this point the Lakers are the favorite, but they have been so all series. Note the Lakers have the two routs in this series, while all of Boston’s wins have been nervous. In a way the best thing for the Celtics (besides winning) was getting creamed. The team’s attention will be refocused, the players were allowed to rest … and to be fair, the defense only allowed 61 points over the remaining three quarters. The answers are there in front of them. Now if Kendrick Perkins cannot go tomorrow – that does hurt their defense and their ability to be physical. It hurts it a lot – and asking Admiral Akbar to pick up the slack is a bit too much. Ultimately in a series that has had everything, a final plot twist was necessary. I am both looking forward to and dreading Thursday night at the same time.