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NBA finals, Lakers Celtics Game 7: The time for strategy is past, now is about execution, desire

Jun 17, 2010, 1:37 PM EDT

Kobe_Pierce.jpgFormal game plans have been drawn up. Film has been broken down and shown to the teams. Xs and Os will be on the greaseboards in the locker rooms. The coaches will go through the motions because they are creatures of routine and structure.

But by Game 7 of the NBA finals, it is no longer about the game plan, nothing has really changed there for about three games. It’s about execution. It’s about the ability to adjust and adapt when Plan A is taken away. It’s about getting the 50/50 balls.

The Lakers know what they have to do to win. The Celtics know what they have to do to win. And they are a lot of the same things.

Control the paint. The most overused statistic for this series has been “the team that wins the rebounding battle has won the game.” It’s true, but that is a result of other actions, a symptom of the real cause. The team that has been able to enforce its will defensively in the paint has won the games. The team that kept the other team shooting jump shots. The team that took away the easy baskets driving to the rim. Doing those things leads to missed shots, which will mean more rebounds for a defensive team working hard inside. That is how you win.

Get transition baskets. Both teams stymie each other fairly well in the half court, easy baskets are hard to come by. However each game one team has forced more missed shots and created more turnovers, then used those to get out and run. The team that can get easy buckets in transition will win the game. Look for Rajon Rondo, who did not get run a lot in Game 6, to really look to push the pace.

Make the other team’s stars work. Ray Allen has taken over a half this series. Kobe Bryant has taken over a quarter. Paul Pierce and Pau Gasol have had good games. Any one of those guys is capable of winning one game all by themselves on the right night. If teams can defend and force one of the other guys on the team to beat you, not the guys who do it every night.

Doing all those things comes down to the basics. Execution of the game plan. Boxing out. Not losing track of your man on defense. Being smart but aggressive. Wanting that loose ball more than the other guy.

This game — this championship — is going to turn on those things, what sometimes get called the little things. One little thing, maybe.

And it won’t have anything to do with what play was drawn on the greaseboard before the game.

  1. Jason - Jun 17, 2010 at 4:56 PM

    One one hand the Lakers handled Celtics Tuesday night like it was a mid-season scrimmage against the Philadelphia 76′ers or the New Jersey Nets. That statement game leads me to believe Lakers will come out and do exactly the same on Thursday en route to another back-to-back title in yet another blow-out game. I expect the bench to continue to perform at a high level and for Lakers to beat Celtics in every statistical category. It will be a cake walk from wire to wire with the game ending in a shower of purple & gold streamers and the presentation of the MVP trophy by David Stern.
    Then reality hits. These are the same Celtics that have forced the Lakers in Games 2, 4, and 5 into dire situations. Oppressive defense in those games forced wild shots by Kobe and completely shut down LA’s other leading scorer and the entirety of their bench. At times, it looked as though the Lakers were trying to run in mud. There were stretches when Lakers’ offensive rhythm was absolutely nowhere to be found.
    Which teams will show up on Thursday? Game 7 is an enigma, and anybody that thinks they can predict the outcome is flat-out crazy.

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