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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. Ron - Jun 4, 2010 at 12:50 PM

    Some did. I saw many here prediciting a Celtics sweep.
    I guess they got their comeuppance last night when the Celtics went down 20, eh?

  2. RC - Jun 4, 2010 at 1:08 PM

    If KG does not show up (or can’t show up), Doc will have to make some line-up changes to try to win this series. He (KG) obviously has issues which seemingly no one wants to talk about. He is constant settling for (and missing) 19ft jumpers. He can’t drive past Pau Gasol or anyone seemingly. And on the defensive end of the court, he is not grabbing rebounds or legitimately contesting any shots by the opposing team. If he is going to be a liability from an effort point-of-view, he needs to be on the bench becaue the Celtics are going to need to clean up in the “hustle” stats to compete in this series.

  3. Lakers4Lyfe - Jun 4, 2010 at 1:28 PM

    This series really does highlight the difference between the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference … and it’s clear the east can’t compete. Maybe they’ll bring bottles of oxygen out for the Celtics next game. Looks like they needed it. And now you know why the Celtics finished 28th in defense for the season. Let me say that again, 28th in the league!!! 28th!! lol Look it up, lmao. While your crusing the stats at, go look at where the Lakers finished for defense. hahahhaha

  4. Omnius - Jun 4, 2010 at 1:40 PM

    It’s nice that Aging Gang Green recognizes their problems in losing game 1, it’s a whole other thing to actually be able to do anything about it which they can’t. As they say Pride Goeth Before a Fall and the Ancient Celtics are about to have a very big fall. The Aging Celts may have been able to beat the Eastern CreamPuff Conference teams, but the Lakers are a whole different kettle of fish.
    His Airness Kobe made a great statement shot at the end of the game to let the Aging Blunders know that it will never really be close because even if it is Kobe will be there to sink the game winning shot. Ron Artest did a nice job keeping Pierce from having a great scoring game and Fisher was far better than Celtic fans ever thought he would be. Lakers will win the Sweet Revenge Series in game 5 or 6, their future is so bright us Laker Fans got to wear Shades!

  5. Ron - Jun 4, 2010 at 1:46 PM

    The Boston run had you on the edge of your seat?
    What run? Boston cut the 20-point lead down to 11, didn’t get closer than that (unless you count 10 in the last minute of the game).
    That had you on the edge of your seat? Are you not grasping at straws here? Maybe a little desperate, even?
    Yeah, I think so.

  6. IMJCS2 - Jun 4, 2010 at 2:00 PM

    Nope, none of the above….and 10 points is nothing in the NBA. LA is notorious for blowing big leads in the 4th. Michael, Reggie, Kobe, and many others have erased 10+ points in the same or less time. I understand where you’re coming from, but I’ve been an NBA fan far too long to feel comfortable with a lead less than 20 points within the last few minutes of a postseason game.

  7. Matty - Jun 4, 2010 at 2:11 PM

    For all you are bitching about the refs: the Lakers got more fouls called against them than the Celts. Read the stats.

  8. ERIC - Jun 4, 2010 at 2:26 PM

    so you’re saying if the refs stop doing their job the Celtics can win? Lakers took the Celtics to school last night so unless the celts can get taller overnight i dont know whats happening.

  9. Drew - Jun 4, 2010 at 2:44 PM

    Sure, the Lakers showed a lot of toughness but Boston played as if they expected the Lakers to fold – throwing balls away carelessly, letting role players drive the lane on them, and still far too many second chance points for the Lakers.
    It’s like I said before, the Lakers can certainly win this series for a multitude of reasons, but one game is not indicative of a whole series. If the Lakers duplicate the same performance in Game 2, I’m a believer.

  10. rufe - Jun 4, 2010 at 2:53 PM

    Obviously the Lakers had nothing to do with their win. It was the Celtics who were the only participants in the game.

  11. tejano2k - Jun 4, 2010 at 3:28 PM

    I agree with all those that say…”this ain’t Eastern Conference NBA”. The Western Conference is “refined by fire” basketball. There’s at least 2 other teams that could make a respectable showing against ANY of the Eastern Conference wannabes. In the West, you have TOP competition game in/game out, ALL THE TIME. Then the comparison to the East. Like playing Iron Man vs Pee Wee Herman. So where’s the best “REGULAR SEASON” NBA player nowadays (from the East).? Not on any Finals court that I know of. He’s probably trying to figure out how he can get on the best plae available and hop right into the Lakers roster. Not sure if there’s room for him right now. We have Kobe…enough said.

  12. j bo - Jun 4, 2010 at 3:33 PM

    “I understand where you’re coming from, but I’ve been an NBA fan far too long”
    Really? Yet you posted: “Despite all the reports, this was not an all out beat down.”
    Even though this was a beat down so bad it is historically noteworthy?
    The Lakers dominated the Celts everywhere on the floor. Read it yourself –
    Maybe you’re talking about a different game. To be clear, this thread is about the NBA finals game last night.
    You probably should have picked up on this in all your time being and NBA fan, but as someone else pointed out, you may not be the most observant. The final scores of games that are decided early don’t always reflect the true story. Sometimes when a team goes up huge in the 3rd qtr, they start drawing out possessions and running time off the clock. Similar idea to what happens in Hockey and Football. There is nothing wrong with draining all the time off the clock and cutting into your lead a bit. It doesn’t matter how much you win by, it matters that you win. LA could have kept their foot on the gas and scored another 30 in the 4th qtr, but they were more concerned with winning then disrespecting their opponent. (unlike the celts) Its possible to win by 30 and not have played a great game. Just like it’s possible to win by 11 and completely dominate.
    ps, i don’t live in LA either, I just watch basketball.

  13. Anonymous - Jun 4, 2010 at 4:25 PM

    It’s obvious you don’t live in LA….you have zero class, you make no sense, and are clearly a ‘playoff’ NBA fan. You’ve likely never been to LA for any length of time….if ever. Hopefully the Finals end sooner than later so you’ll crawl back under your rock until next year’s postseason. Nearly all of what you just typed was a rant totally unrelated to our–I guess–debate. Any knucklehead playoff-only “fan” could’ve typed what you just did. Please, dude. You’re pathetic. I’ve been tactful throughout, and you keep responding with meaningless, narrow-minded rants. Grow up man.

  14. Anonymous - Jun 4, 2010 at 4:43 PM


  15. Savoir Laire - Jun 4, 2010 at 4:50 PM

    Is it any wonder that LA fans and teams are considered the biggest bunch of pussies on the planet…by everyone other than people in LA? What a bunch of morons…gee, the series is over after one game, gee, KG can’t drive or shoot, gee, we’re so good and tough we’re going to tip over the Celtics bus after we beat them, gee, the West is so much better than the east. I’m not even a Celtic fan and I hope they win just to shut you MF’ers up. Oh, and by the way, the Lakers were supposed to win it again, according to everyone before the season began. The Celtics–question marks around KG’s health, Rondo’s toughness, Pierce and Allen’s age. So why so defensive, LA fans? You make me sick…

  16. sal - Jun 4, 2010 at 5:09 PM

    Speaking points for BOS fans:
    Before game 1 loss – LA doesn’t stand a chance. This Boston team is amazing and the only team in the league that plays togeter. Rondo is better than Lebron
    Before game 2 loss – LA got lucky, their fans are all bandwagon lovers. It was only one game.
    Before game 3 loss – It’ll be different on our court
    Before game 4 loss – The refs are out to get us
    After game 4 loss – I’m a bigger MLB fan anyway, NBA is stupid.

  17. nresq - Jun 4, 2010 at 5:28 PM

    What’s wrong? Preparation H not working for you today? Only gonna get worse as the series goes on. Suggest you try another sport.

  18. IMJCS2 is dense - Jun 4, 2010 at 6:19 PM

    If you’re IMJCS2 now posting as Anonymous, your comments were far from thoughtful.
    All you’ve done is respond to people’s smack talk about Boston by talking smack about the person. You haven’t said anything about basketball that isn’t questionable at best. You really thing Boston Mgt won’t make changes after this year? You really think the game was close? Are you insane?
    I would reccomend staying Anonymous. If you keep using IMJCS2, people will realize after a few posts that you don’t know what you’re talking about. At least this way people will assume its a bunch of morons.
    Far from an LA fan, but I’d way rather see them win over boston. Same reason as has been mentioned above. Boston shows no respect for the teams they play, win or loose. They aren’t the only ones, Cavs were dancing throughout the season. I just hate to see that kind of stuff rewarded. Look back at LA, they have spoken highly of OKC, Utah, and Phoenix both before and after the series.

  19. Anonymous - Jun 4, 2010 at 6:23 PM

    Somehow I know you’d catch that….I simply forgot to put my name in the field. You just proved my point though. Anger Management sessions are definitely in order for you, my friend. All nastiness aside, here’s to a good series! Cheers.

  20. bill sievers - Jun 4, 2010 at 6:23 PM

    The Lakers really stepped up last night, but this series (sorry Laker fans) is FAR from over. If you really disect last nights game the Lakers played great, but the Celtics played like total CRAP! The Celts need Ray Allen on the floor (#1) not on the bench with foul trouble, look for more defensive help on Kobe in game 2. KG (#2) needs to step up against Gasol and play more intelligently than emotionally. Pierce (#3) needs to shoot the ball better, he’s more than capable of that! And as a team they need to shoot free throws better (#4). They only lost by 13 with all these faults, and have been the best road team in this years playoffs! I picked the Celtics in 6, it may go 7 but I’m sticking with my Celtics, adjustments will be made!

  21. tb - Jun 4, 2010 at 6:24 PM

    Ahmen. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
    IMJCS2, you should check out
    it will be a good starting point for you.

  22. IMJCS2 is dense - Jun 4, 2010 at 6:29 PM

    ” your comments were far from thoughtful. All you’ve done is respond to people’s smack talk about Boston by talking smack about the person. You haven’t said anything about basketball that isn’t questionable at best.”
    Witty comeback: “Anger Management sessions are definitely in order for you, my friend.”
    ZING! I need anger mgt because I pointed out you’re wrong in personally attacking people on a sports blog. I’ll contact my therapist ASAP.
    Let me know if you want to talk about basketball sometime.

  23. nresq - Jun 4, 2010 at 6:41 PM

    Thoughtful comments, but more wishful than anything else. See my post above. Who’s going to provide the defensive help on Kobe? What about that guy’s man? Lakers have too many ways to score, Boston will top out at 90 max. Simply put, if Boston can’t figure out a way to keep the score down they just ain’t going to win. Final comment on your “only lost by 13” comment: Last night was not nearly as close as the score ended up. Lakers went into run out the clock mode and stopped scoring in the 4th. As soon as Kobe came back with around 6 min. left that was pretty much it.

  24. alltimeballa - Jun 4, 2010 at 7:04 PM

    As all of us know, this is a series. The Lakers looked great but no one here, even the most rabid Laker fan really thinks that Boston will lay down and just go away. No team has been counted out of these playoffs as often as The Celtics. As in every series leading up to this one, the series doesnt start until you lose on your home court. All true basketball fan and particularly any who have played the game understand that this is NOT the time for Lakers to celebrate. Boston will prove formidable.

  25. Ron - Jun 4, 2010 at 7:08 PM

    I agree with you that 10 points is nothing to make up in the NBA, that is just my point in particular to game 1.
    Boston just didn’t seem to have what it took last night to break that barrier. They got it down to 11, then KG blew the dunk, then next thing you know, its 15 again. The down to 11 again, then back to 15. Then to 13, 10 in the last minute.
    It never broke double-digits. And even though it took Boston only 3½ minutes to get it down from 20 to 11, that was it for the remainder of the game.

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