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NBA finals, Lakers Celtics Game One: Who are these guys in green and what did they do with the real Celtics?

Jun 4, 2010, 1:55 AM EDT

Boston-Bench.jpgThe Celtics were angry when they went in the locker room. John McEnroe angry.

That’s not the norm for a veteran team, and it was not at all like the Celtics team that has marched through the playoffs. But they didn’t play like those Celtics, either. These Celtics were pissed. Not with the referees (well, yes they were but not as much as you’d think).

They were angry with themselves. For the rebounds they gave up, the bad passes, the blown layups. For simply getting out worked all night.

“You saw it in guys’ faces, you heard it , from reactions after the game just how the guys felt,” Paul Pierce said. “It wasn’t a typical loss locker room. There was some angry people in there and they showed it. But that’s just the pride.”

That pride went before the fall in Game 1. Little things started to snowball on the Celtics, their pride got wrapped up in frustration, and pretty soon the Lakers were winning the hustle categories (17 to 4 on 50/50 balls, according to the Celtics own numbers). And the Lakers were winning the game.

Boston had better get that pride back by Sunday for Game 2. And bring a few adjustments with it. One loss to start a series on the road can be overcome. Two and that mountain gets a whole lot higher.

Boston’s problems started with dribble penetration. It’s something the Celtics usually shut off better than anybody in the league. They overload the strong side of the floor so there a wall of big men to greet the penetrator, but the Lakers did a good job quickly swinging the ball around the court to the weak side. The Celtics, as they do, closed out on the guy getting the pass, and usually that means a contested jumper on the weak side from the opposition.

The Lakers made a conscious effort not to settle for that jumper and to drive off of the pass. Other times they just blew by guards from the top of the key. They did what they wanted and got into the paint, and that is where things started to break down for the Celtics. A big man would have to come over to help the guard who was beat. That in turn led to offensive rebounds for the Lakers as nobody helped the helper, nobody was there to box out Pau Gasol (who had eight offensive rebounds alone).

“There was huge dribble penetration,” Glen Davis said. “We can’t have that next game if we want to win. We’re a better defensive team than that. We’ve got to help out.”

It also led to foul trouble. That and a quick-whistled referee crew. Ray Allen had two early fouls and sat, and he didn’t like it at all. But it wasn’t just Allen, it was Piece and Tony Allen and a number of other Celtics. (And it wasn’t just Celtics, Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher had early foul troubles and had to sit, the officials were in love with the quick whistle all around.) Ray Allen admitted he frustrated having to watch so much of the game and said one foul of his five was clearly legit.”

But they also knew the fouls were a symptom of bigger issues, not the problem in and of themselves.

“I thought the fouls were called because (the Lakers) were more physical,” Doc Rivers said. “I thought the Lakers were clearly the more physical team. I thought they were more aggressive. I thought they attacked us the entire night, and you know, I’ve always thought the team that is the most aggressive gets the better calls.”

However, the fouls helped the snowball pick up steam. The Celtics rhythm was thrown off and they could not adjust. Gasol was aggressive and outplayed Kevin Garnett, who could not get comfortable. And at times KG looked like his knees still bothered him. A lot. He missed two easy chippies under the basket. He made some horrific passes. The length of the Lakers had him and other Celtics rushing shots.

This is a veteran Celtics team. They got over the anger and frustration pretty quickly — certainly more quickly than their fans will. They know it’s about making a few adjustments then just playing with a lot more energy. They knew what they needed to do.

Because one more game like this one and the Celtics will have plenty to really be angry about.

  1. luffy - Jun 4, 2010 at 3:13 AM

    “Who are these guys in green and what did they do with the real Celtics?”
    WTF? these are the Celtics, they are for real, just admit that the Lakers are just better. This isn’t the East playoffs anymore. Now you see the difference between East and West…
    While some fans may think, “Oh the Cavs won game 1 but the Celts came back”, Please child, as I’ve said this team ain’t from the weak east..
    Celtics Defense? Defense my A$$! Perhaps they should do Zone too?
    Lakers had more Rebounds, Blocks and Steals…
    Rondo? just another choker from the East. Nothing compared to Westbrook, D. Williams and Steve Nash…
    Lakers in 5 or 6…

  2. let go of the kool aid golden girl - Jun 4, 2010 at 4:33 AM

    no worries fans. the celtics will rebound. the refs will learn to swallow the whistle the deeper we go into the series and Kobe will have to stop whining every time he gets his crap swatted and actually play defense. The celtics will come out and play much more agressively and passionately and come back to Boston tied 1-1.

  3. luffy - Jun 4, 2010 at 7:02 AM

    A frustrated Celtic fan, yes, keep dreaming dude…
    Perhaps after the Lakers grabs game 2 you’ll be convinced…

  4. bostonbred - Jun 4, 2010 at 8:19 AM

    east – west – that’s not the answer. that was not the celtics who played last night. lakers will see the celtics team on sunday. get ready.

  5. faith - Jun 4, 2010 at 8:50 AM

    bostonbred, if you think the Laker will sit back on this win and not know that the Celtics will bring it, then you don’t know basketball, but the Lakers will be ready or it’s a payoff to let the celtics win. the Lakers team last night is ready to win the whole thing and you can take that to the bank.

  6. davidly - Jun 4, 2010 at 9:21 AM

    Man, it’s the same every year. Aside from the obvious “if they play exactly the same as they did last night, this thing is all but over” talk (duh) – the tone of these kinds of articles must give one the impression that the author has never witnessed a “series” before. Teams lose. Teams win. Momentum changes. I don’t know the stats, but I’ll bet the average finals goes to six games.
    Brace yourself for a slew of articles on the 11th and 12th of the month (when the series is tied going into game five in Boston) wherein the assertion is made that the Celts have all the momentum, the Lakers are in big trouble with no answer, and on and on, blah, blah, blah…
    Then, of course, all of you “fans” who troll your way into the forums to talk trash – as if you actually have a say in the matter. Whatever.
    We got a series!

  7. Joe, Post Falls - Jun 4, 2010 at 9:38 AM

    Forget that Phil Jackson has never lost a series after winning game 1, this series is not like any of those. This thing is not over by any means. I am a Celtic fan with great respect for the Lakers and this could go down in history with the classic finals these teams have had over the years. I am not worried just nervous with anticipation. Hey Refs, let them play!

  8. The Lake Show - Jun 4, 2010 at 9:55 AM

    I just hope that when the Lakers win, we do it on Boston’s floor. Payback for 2008! Game two… Same old script. Putting the Celtics on their backs! Lakers in 5! With Artest and Bynum healthy, this is what would have been the result in 08′ if we had them. It would have been another 3 peat we are working on! Go Lake Show! Send Boston back home to their “Tea Party”!

  9. Drew - Jun 4, 2010 at 10:27 AM

    The shifts in momentum in a series always lead to wild hypberbole. The Lakers win one game and all of the sudden it’s “clearly the Lakers are better”, “the Celtics won a weak East”, “Phil Jackson’s undefeated streak…” blah blah blah.
    Yes, the Lakers might win this series but the Celtics are going to play better than that. When Cleveland blew out Boston in Game 3, everyone said the “aging” Celtics were done. When Orlando stole a couple of games, people thought the “aging” Celtics would collapse.
    One thing Boston is going to need is Ray Allen on the floor. Nobody expected Boston to win two games in LA, so relax.

  10. tb - Jun 4, 2010 at 10:28 AM

    The Lakers destroyed Boston last night. Not just in one game, or even the series. No, the beating the delivered is going to cause management to blow up the team and start over. It was that bad. Atlanta Hawks bad. They tried to rely on the hit and miss strategy of bullying an opponent and got manhandled. Maybe they can get a teaching coach to work with Rondo on his J and start building around that… Everyone remember the Celts before the big 3? Imagine that, with Rondo playing the role of Pierce, only with out the draft picks. Playoffs in 2015?
    If LA wins it in Boston, they have every right to celebrate in the most disrespectful fashion. Boston deserves it. With everything that happened in 2008 and Boston’s “proud” tradition of their coach lighting victory cigars before the game was over.

  11. JD - Jun 4, 2010 at 10:42 AM

    I guess it’s time for the Celtics to try their vaunted zone defense.

  12. JD - Jun 4, 2010 at 10:46 AM

    Drew you must be blind. It was HOW THE CELTICS WERE BEATEN that concerns every fan that saw that game. They got beat at their own style. Well you can throw the “soft Lakers” theory out the window.

  13. IMJCS2 - Jun 4, 2010 at 10:53 AM

    Well said. I can’t wait for game two! This series is going to go back and forth…..every blow met with an equal or more powerful counter. I’m a Lakers fan, but I can’t wait to see what the Celtics bring to the next game. We can count on them being fired up, MUCH more physical, and KG back in rhythm. It will be interesting to see how LA manages a ticked off Boston team. Game two is going to be awesome!

  14. JD - Jun 4, 2010 at 10:58 AM

    If game 2 gets called like game 1, I see suspensions for Perkins and Wallace on game 3 cuz there’ll be definitely double technicals being called..count on at least 2.

  15. IMJCS2 - Jun 4, 2010 at 11:09 AM

    I disagree. Had a couple of the odd misses by the Celtics gone in down the stretch, this game would’ve gone down to the wire. Despite all the reports, this was not an all out beat down. LA simply brought more physicality than Boston was expecting, and it blind-sided them a bit. Frankly, the Celtics’ last run had me on the edge of my seat. LA better start playing the 4th like they do the 3rd, because Boston won’t be so easy next time.
    …and your whole junior high we’re-gonna-get-you-back mentality is disturbing. (unless, of course, you are a junior higher)

  16. davidly - Jun 4, 2010 at 11:23 AM

    Suffice to say that many of the comments on sports’ forums are of the junior high variety. A lot of observers have lamented trash talking players. Imagine if the players talked the way some of these fans did; Wallace and Artest on their worst nights have way more class than half of the commenters on this thread.

  17. nresq - Jun 4, 2010 at 11:30 AM

    After all the smack-talk is said and done by Celtics fans, the plain fact is that the Lakers present MAJOR match-up problems for the Celtics. Gasol is going to be a HUGE problem for Boston; Garrnet is not himself (injuries, age, or both), so he can’t guard Gasol 1 on 1. Who can they bring to help? No one stops Kobe, that’s a given. Fisher is a veteran presence and his outside shot must be respected given his performance in this postseason. Bynum, even with limited mobility and minutes, was a factor in Game 1 so he must be covered. Who’s going to do that? Perkins? Davis? Then there’s Artest and Odom; what do you do with them? The Lakers have speed off the bench with Brown and Farmar. At the end of the day the Lakers have too much firepower, length and height, and are clearly motivated. If the Lakers continue to play gritty defense and rebound the series is pretty much done. Boston isn’t going to score much more than 85-90 a game. Who thinks they can hold L.A. under that point total in 4 of the next 6 games? Not impossible, certainly, but its going to be very, very difficult. It says here Boston might win 2 games.

  18. eugene - Jun 4, 2010 at 11:33 AM

    Everybody has an off game. Glad the Celtics got this over with early. Both are great teams, but this game only reflected one side of that reality.

  19. bbky - Jun 4, 2010 at 11:36 AM

    Judging from the postings this is a site most frequented by rabid Laker fans rather than basketball fans. Are the Finals now single elimination? Calm down. Take another hit of Extasy. Watch the series and learn.

  20. nresq - Jun 4, 2010 at 11:42 AM

    Hey BBKY, love to hear from a response from a self-described expert to my post, above. Always happy to learn something, like how to spell Ecstasy. What say u?

  21. tb - Jun 4, 2010 at 11:46 AM

    IMJCS2, to be clear, the following is sarcasm. Most should be able to figure this out on their own, but I wasn’t sure about you.
    I’m sorry for being immature on a sports blog. Obviously my conduct was out of line and this was neither the time nor place for such behavior. It’s very middle school-esq for me or the LA team to hold a grudge from 2008. I mean, the Boston fans only threw rocks and tried to tip over the Lakers bus while the players where inside. No mature adult would be upset or want payback for that. If you loose a game, the winning team has every right to endanger your safety and damage property. It was also immature for me to point out that the Celt have a long tradition of being poor winners. No real adult would enjoy the irony that comes with someone getting a dose of their own medicine. Again, sorry for the lack of maturity. I know grudges and rivalries are looked down upon in sports. Only middle school sports teams do stuff like that.
    Boston fans are great. Still waiting to hear Pierce start complaining about how LA is flopping.
    Oh, in all seriousness, do you really think BOS lost the game because a few odd misses? Do you think Defense might have factored in? What if LA had converted their few odd misses? Would they have won by 40? 50?

  22. IMJCS2 - Jun 4, 2010 at 12:01 PM

    Apology accepted.

  23. Jodeman - Jun 4, 2010 at 12:04 PM

    You my friend, are a dumb a$$. Nothing is going to change for the Celtics or management. Go back to RO-dao Drive (pronounced rodeo everywhere else in the world except Cali) and drink your over priced cup of coffee and watch your girlfriend carry her dog around in her purse. R-tard.

  24. Nedley Mandingo - Jun 4, 2010 at 12:07 PM

    Celtics aint bout it, unnnnn, yeaaaaa boyeeee!!! Celtics aint got no swagga, yeaaaa, unnnnn!! Lakers, all day every day, unnnnn, yeaaa, unnn, yeaaa boyeee!!!

  25. tb - Jun 4, 2010 at 12:44 PM

    I don’t live in Cali, but might grab the gf, her dog, and some overpriced coffee and head out there for the championship parade. It will go well with all the Celtic bitterness.

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