Bring out the clichés at Staples Center like LA brings out the celebrities. It’s Game 7, and it’s going to be glorious.
After the Lakers manhandled the Celtics 89-67 in Game 6 on Tuesday night, they were able to continue their season and play on for a deciding Game 7 on Thursday night. The Lakers played like champions, but that’s what the Celtics did in Game 5 – hence our final game predicament here. At this point, the teams know each other more than ever. There’s nothing to scout, there will be no surprises, there will just be competition, and lots of it.
So what exactly is this preview about, and where am I going with this? I’m asking myself the same thing as I write this.
Ok, here’s the deal. The team that wins the first quarter has won every game. Even when the score in the first quarter was close at the end, it still counted towards a winner. So as Charles Barkley loves to say, “So why even play the game?” Well, in this case, unless it’s like a 15-20 point game at the end of the first, then that stat doesn’t really matter. And it better not matter in this case, because that means one team completely gave up.
How about rebounding? The team that has had the rebounding edge in each game has won every game. Honestly, just by watching each game I could have guessed that one. The most aggressive teams have won each game – not much of a shocker in a series between two hardnosed rivals. With the competitors on each bench, there is no doubt that each will come out of the gates giving up their bodies for every loose ball.
Will/does home court count? The stat here is that the Lakers are 2-1 at home this series and 10-1 overall this postseason. Also, the teams have split all four games this season in LA. So let me analyze this one. First off, being 10-1 is a big deal. The Lakers obviously play VERY well at home and in this series they have been a different team. And by team, I mean the bench shows up and they actually look like champs. As for these two teams splitting their games in LA, you have to realize two things about the two games the Celtics won there (1 in the regular season, 1 in June): 1) In the regular season, Kobe didn’t even play, and 2) Ray Allen went off from deep. Both of these are very drastic game changers and odds are Kobe will play and odds are Ray Ray won’t go berserk from three.
As for each team’s bench players, this will likely play a big part in the 2010 Finals winner, based on the other games this series. The Celtics bench (mostly Glen Davis and Nate Robinson) willed them to victory in Game 4, but they were nonexistent on Tuesday night. The Lakers bench has guys like Shannon Brown (who had two SICK dunks in Game 6) and Jordan Farmar who just play better at home. I’m not expecting a repeat in Game 7, but things would have to change then.
From an injury standpoint, the advantage has shifted. The Lakers were playing from behind all series, until Kendrick Perkins went down in Game 6. Andrew Bynum has been crawling on the court since the start of the series, but now Perkins is out for the finale. Bynum says he will play, but his effectiveness may only come into play because there is no Perkins. Doc Rivers may have to turn to playing Tony Allen a lot more, which makes the bench play so important for Boston.
What more can I say? Well, I’m not done yet. Here’s an X-factor for each team:
Celtics: Rajon Rondo – The leader of the Big 4 and the most consistent player for the Celtics all season and all postseason. The pulse of Boston lies within Rondo. When he’s rebounding and fast-breaking up the court, no one, and I mean NO ONE can stop him.
Lakers: Ron Artest – No, I’m not choosing Kobe, Pau Gasol, or Bynum. I’m not choosing someone who is depended on to score points, rebound or play lock down defense. I’m choosing the guy who was brought in to replace Trevor Ariza and help the Lakers repeat. The reason he is the X-factor is because the Lakers cannot win if he makes bonehead moves or continues to shoot when he is off.
I can’t wait for it to start and wrap up June Jubilation with a bang.