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There are so many “ifs” one can talk about after their team loses a tough game, especially if that tough game is in the NBA finals. There is one “if” in particular though that I believe would truly have changed this game. My “if” is that if Paul Pierce had performed to the ability that he is capable of, then the Celtics would have won this game by a double-digit margin.
Pierce did not play like he is capable of and the Celtics did not win by double-digits. Instead, the Lakers took Game 3, winning 87-81. One positive sign is that the Celtics basically played without Pierce tonight and about half of Kevin Garnett and still only lost by six points.
Game 3 was all about Ray Allen for the Celtics, since someone had to come up big for them with Pierce and Garnett both having off nights. Allen had a great night and finished with 25 points, five rebounds, two assists, and was 5-7 from beyond the arc. Garnett started the game off very rough but came back a bit to finish with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Paul Pierce was the problem tonight both offensively by scoring only 6 points and getting into early foul trouble.
The Celtics did get help from their bench tonight through James Posey and Eddie House. Posey had nine points and seven rebounds while playing most of the minutes that Pierce was on the bench for. House also came in due to Rajon Rondo’s twisted ankle at the start of the third quarter. Rondo turned out to be fine after getting taped in the locker room, but House still finished with six points, three rebounds, and two assists.
The Lakers once again went to Kobe Bryant most of the night for all of their scoring. Bryant finished the night with 36 points and seven rebounds. Pau Gasol had nine points and 12 rebounds in the secondary role. While Leon Powe provided a great spark off the bench for the Celtics in Game 2, Sasha Vujacic was the spark of the bench for the Lakers in Game 3. Vujacic had 20 points in 28 minutes of and was 3-5 from beyond the arc.
I am not worried so much about the loss and I do not think it has anything to do with the Celtics past problems on the road in the playoffs. Those road woes ended in Detroit with the two wins there. Like I stated earlier, if Pierce had played like he is capable of then the Celtics would have easily won this game.
I believe that the Celtics will have a good shot at Game 4 based on the fact that they let this one get away from them and will be itching to get back to their winning ways. Also, Pierce typically plays a greater game after one that he has performed badly in. Nothing to worry about with Rajon Rondo either, as he was able to return to action after coming out with his ankle injury. Game 4 will be Thursday, June 12 at 9 p.m. in Los Angeles. Beat LA!!