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The Celtics looked absolutely lost against the Lakers Thursday in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Los Angeles owned the Boston Celtics after only trailing 2-0 in the opening minutes, and continued to pound in the baskets left and right. The Lakers easily won 102-89 and will look to continue their momentum into Sunday’s Game 2.
Nothing went the Celtics’ way as open-look shots were missed all over the place. The team was outscored in every quarter, with the exception of the fourth. The defensive pressure that the Celtics possessed in every other round of the playoffs was absent and they just never looked to be in the game whatsoever. Everything went the way the Lakers wanted and the Celtics paid the big price for it.
Paul Pierce was the leading scorer for the Celtics, but still was not that impressive. Pierce scored 24 points, but got half of them from the charity stripe. He also led the team in rebounds with nine. A team that has their small forward lead them in rebounds in the NBA Finals has something wrong. Rajon Rondo had a decent game as well with 13 points, eight assists, and six rebounds. Nothing spectacular, but not bad either compared to the rest of the team.
Lets look at the bad end for the Celtics in Game 1: Kevin Garnett. Garnett looked lost and hopeless, and was completely outplayed by Pau Gasol. Garnett did have 16 points, but he was only 7-16 from the field. There were some pretty open looks that Garnett completely miffed, especially a fourth quarter layup that he bobbled twice before eventually having the ball taken away by the Lakers. Garnett looked slow and old, factors that need to change fast if the Celtics hope to compete with the Lakers the rest of the series.
Ray Allen had a rough game as well, and could not stay out of foul trouble (there were ticky-tacky fouls and questionable calls all over the place, but lets not blame the officiating). Ray was never able to get a rhythm going, finishing with just 12 points while he was 0-2 from beyond the arc. In fact, the Celtics were just 1-10 from beyond the three-point line, with the one basket coming from Rasheed Wallace (9 points, 4 rebounds).
So, the L.A. Lakers had a good game from…who do you think? Kobe Bryant of course. Bryant is going to get his points in the playoffs regardless of who is defending him. Just like Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, and Dwight Howard before him, Kobe was dynamite as he finished with 30 points and 7 rebounds. However, the Lakers had another offensive weapon in Pau Gasol, who had a double-double with 23 points and 14 rebounds. Andrew Bynum added 10 points and Ron Artest, who was a defensive machine matched up against Pierce, put up 15 points.
The battle of the bench will still be the key to this series I believe, assuming the Celtics starters can figure it out. The Lakers bench is not nearly as talented as the Celtics. The Lakers bench only added 15 points to the game, while the Celtics bench added 16. Although its only one point more, I believe that if the Celtics can win the battle of the bench then they will win the series.
Game 2 is Sunday night at 8 p.m. and the Celtics will look to bounce back by avoiding foul trouble, hit the open-look shots, and hopefully tie this series up 1-1 as they head back to Boston for Games 3-5.