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NBA Finals, Lakers Celtics: How Boston blew the championship

Jun 18, 2010, 2:31 AM EDT

Bynum over Boston.jpgIt was the type of the game the Celtics wanted. It was an ugly game, dominated by defense and sloppy play. Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol combined to shoot 12-40 from the floor, and the Lakers shot 32.5%/20%/67.6% as a team. The Celtics had their game plan, and they executed it to a T. Kobe looked mortal, even downright bad. The crowd was dead. Boston was all set to grind its way to its 18th championship. And then the Lakers were the ones pouring champagne on each other as the Celtics were left to wonder where it all went wrong. 

So how did it all go wrong for the Celtics in game 7? First of all, the Celtics had an absolutely disastrous game on the glass. The Celtics got 32 defensive rebounds; the Lakers had 23 offensive rebounds. That means that when the Lakers missed a shot, the Celtics got the ball 58% of the time. That’s absolutely abysmal — Golden State had the worst defensive rebounding rate in the NBA this season, and they managed to snag 68% of their defensive rebound chances. Just so we’re clear here, the Warriors often used Corey Maggette at the four. 
Early in the game, Boston’s inability to cleanly grab any rebound or loose ball kept them from building a substantial 1st-quarter lead. They led by nine points after the first quarter, but the Lakers’ 5 second-chance points and 10-0 advantage on the offensive glass kept Boston from really breaking the game open early. 
Overall, the Lakers had 17 second-chance points, which accounted for a full 20% of their offensive production. The Celtics, meanwhile, only managed to get five second-chance points, and all five of them were scored by Rajon Rondo, the smallest Celtic starter. Whether it was Perkins being out, Bynum, Gasol, and Kobe wanting it more, or the ball just bouncing the Lakers’ way, the Celtics’ inability to secure the basketball consistently was a big reason they lost game 7 and the NBA championship.
Even though the Celtics were getting killed on the glass, they still had a chance to secure the game in the third quarter. Four minutes into the third, the Lakers’ only points in the quarter had come from a free throw and a Ron Artest tip-in, Boston was up by 12 points, and the Lakers’ season was on the brink. What the Lakers knew, and what Boston had failed to recognize up until that point, is that the Lakers had too much talent not to make a run at some point in the game. 
While Boston had the lead, they blew their opportunity to do what they did in the deciding game of the 2008 Finals and what the Lakers did to them in game six; demoralize their opponents so completely that they had no hopes of making any sort of legitimate comeback. 
The Lakers were down and playing as badly as they were capable of playing, but they still had Kobe, they still had Pau, they still had experience, and they still had a crowd behind them. 12 points was nowhere near enough, and the lead could have been a lot bigger. Kobe curled off a Pau Gasol screen, caught Rasheed Wallace standing at the free throw line, and drained his easiest look of the night. Pau Gasol posted up Rasheed Wallace and drained a nasty left-handed hook after spinning baseline. On the next Laker possession, Derek Fisher got a double-screen and drained a mid-range jumper off a curl. A possession later, Odom cleaned up an Artest miss. 
All it took was four players doing what they do best — Kobe on the perimeter, Gasol in the post, Fisher on a catch-and-shoot, Odom doing the dirty work — to cut the lead to six points, get the crowd involved, and put Boston their heels. Paul Pierce hit a big three to stop the bleeding, but that run was the beginning of the end for the Celtics, whose only chance of victory was to continue playing defense at an insanely high level. Before Kobe’s jumper, the Lakers had scored 37 points in 28 minutes — after it, the Lakers scored 44 points in the final 20 minutes of play. 
The Celtics had a chance to cling to the lead in the fourth, but a critical mistake by Ray Allen (getting caught with his hand in the cookie jar by Kobe, leading to three free throws), and an absolutely massive game-tying three gave the Lakers all the confidence they needed to take it at the Celtics, got the Celtics panicked and committing fouls left and right, and all but sealed the game and the championship for the Lakers. 
Boston briefly threatened the Los Angeles lead during the insane three-point fest that ended the game, but the majority of the quarter was devoted to the Lakers methodically marching to the free throw line and the championship while the Celtics melted down around them. 
The Celtics had plenty of chances to put the Lakers away, and they failed to capitalize. They got the stops they needed, then failed to get the rebounds. They held Kobe and Pau at bay, but failed to capitalize by making shots themselves. They played 36 minutes of great defense, then got desperate and foul-happy when the momentum began to turn. The Celtics came out and executed their game plan, but they didn’t go the extra mile and make sure the inevitable Laker run wasn’t going to cripple them. On the flip side of things, once the Lakers made their big push and got the lead, the Celtics were completely unprepared to try and make a comeback of their own. When mattered most, the prohibitive favorites coming into the series were the ones who had to dig deep and believe in themselves, and that’s exactly what they did. Now they get free ugly hats and champagne. 
The Celtics had the lead. They had the defense capable of holding it. They had a team of veterans with championship experience. None of that means anything now. When they had the chance to get the big prize, the Celtics played the scoreboard. What they needed to realize was that they were playing the defending, and now still reigning, NBA champions. 
  1. kev - Jun 18, 2010 at 3:38 AM

    The amazing thing is that the celtics have been spending the past two weeks telling anyone who’ll listen they knew that the lakers were gonna crack under the pressure.

  2. huh - Jun 18, 2010 at 8:58 AM

    who was it that said the series isn’t going back to LA. Has he backpedalled yet?
    Im not a Kobe fan but I also didn’t want the Celtics to win.

  3. Foul Dwimmerlaik - Jun 18, 2010 at 10:14 AM

    Let the whining and the gnashing of Celtics teeth begin. Let those naysayers who doubt the brilliance of my true love, Phil Jackson, come on this board now and espouse their drivel upon us.
    I lmfao at those fools.

  4. Jodeman - Jun 18, 2010 at 10:52 AM

    You love Phil Jackson? Do you spoon too? Does he have a pet name for you like ‘snooky cakes’?

  5. james - Jun 18, 2010 at 10:58 AM

    How about 82 free throws for the Lakers in the last 3 games to 40 for the Celtics? How about 20-4 in the 4th qtr? What the Celtics defense is “hacking” but the Lakers is not? B.S. Gasol charged PP, shoved Rondo to the floor on a late rebound and travelled but he’s a hero? Even my Laker friend said “we were given the game in the 4th qtr by the refs”. KG gets 1 free throw in 2 games? Celtics played tough defense and were abused by the refs. I’ve watched enough NBA games and finals for 45+ years to know a hack job when I see it and while the first 3 qtrs were called fairly the 4th was not.

  6. Foul Dwimmerlaik - Jun 18, 2010 at 11:05 AM

    Ah, a fellow admirer? Yes, I do love Phil. We have not spooned yet, but I am hoping soon to meet him and make our relationship a physical one. He does not yet, as of this time, have a pet name for me as we have yet to encounter each other. But, as I am King of The Hobbits, I am hoping he will refer to me in a loving manner as “Your Majesty” or “your Worship” or “My Little Kingy Pooh” or some sort of similar designation.
    Hazzah, My Phil, hazzah!

  7. Mark G - Jun 18, 2010 at 11:08 AM

    Geez……..another whining Celtics fan……I feel so bad for them………..NOT. Face it………Phil Jackson is the best coach in our era. Period. I’ll spoon him .

  8. NormanDale - Jun 18, 2010 at 11:19 AM

    This series was horrible. As one of the previous posters put, in the last 3 games there was a ridiculous difference in the amount of free the Lakers shot over the Celtics. It’s funny everyone assumes the home team gets the “calls” in basketball. Obviously that did not hold in this series. The Lakers shot more foul shots in Boston too. 37-17 in the last game???
    The best part…having Ron Artest be the first person interviewed after the game….Does he thank his parents first, oh no…does he thank his teammates first, oh no…what about the fans,,does he thank them first, nope…he chooses to thank his “hood” first! That’s just great, his “Hood”…well David Stern GOT exactly what he deserves….RON ARTEST IS NOW THE FACE OF BASKETABLL…isn’t that grand,,,just ridiculous!!!!

  9. Randy - Jun 18, 2010 at 11:34 AM

    The Lakers were too long for the Celtics. C’s ran out of stream after playing terrific defense most of the game. Great heart on both teams. Kobe’s defensive rebounds were vital. Artest proved to be the edge in Game 7 – Amazing Happens! Three-peat is possible, but it won’t come against Boston. Hopefully, Jackson returns and the Lakers pick up another guard who can play intense defense. It’s great to be a Laker and UCLA fan; I’m losing track of all the championships since 1970.

  10. acdc - Jun 18, 2010 at 11:44 AM

    re: KG gets 1 free throw in 2 games?
    While I love KG and he gets a rep of being a snarling, tough-as-nails player, it’s really only true on defense. Honestly when in the series did we see KG ever try to power it to the hole? Aside from some alley-oop plays. Other than that, his offense consisted of fadeaways. The only Celtic that even attempted to play strong in the paint was Big Baby. You can’t blame some referee conspiracy for that.
    Once things started falling apart for the Celtics, they stopped playing solid defense and started going for picks. You live and die by that defense as you’re not always going to pull off a crazy defensive play. Remember in the earlier game when Rondo chanced on a steal, missed, Fisher went for the open shot, yet Rondo still managed to recover on D and strip the ball away from behind Fisher? Yes, truly amazing… but that’s not going to happen every time! Isn’t the first thing they teach you about defense in pee wee league to stay in front of your man, keep your arms up or out and contest the shot instead of reaching in and swiping downwards at the ball. Once you drop your arms, all your opponent needs to do is raise his arms take the foul. That’s exactly what Kobe took advantage of over and over when his offense wasn’t going. That’s not a referee conspiracy either.

  11. Otto from LA - Jun 18, 2010 at 11:50 AM

    First, to all OTHER Laker Fans, congrats! The Lakers EARNED the championship with their consistent and hard play. I’m proud the Celtics gave them a strong run.
    To FOUL DWIMWIT or whatever it is, what on earth are you talking about? Ther’s got to be something wrong with you. PLEASE go away, take your hobbit and such with you. You have no place on a board that praises champions. Go to your rubber room and pretend Phil is with you, again…

  12. Ken H - Jun 18, 2010 at 12:00 PM

    Look at the Celtics top guys (Pierce, Allen and KG), they’re all jump shooters. Look at the Lakers top guys (Kobe, Pau and Lamar), Kobe is now more of a jump shooter, but the other two primarily score on the inside. Over all the Celtics depend much more on outside jumpers than the Lakers and your not going to get fouled as much taking jump shots. I felt the final game was called with a “let them play” philosophy, the Celtics were very physical and committed a number of fouls that weren’t called.

  13. Anonymous - Jun 18, 2010 at 12:17 PM

    “Whining” Celtic Fans???????!!!!!!!!
    Even in the context of the usual trash talk, thats rich coming from anywhere in La La Land. Look, your Lakers won. The Celtics ran out of gas. Congratulations on the title. What IS it with you guys “out there?” What’s with the wired, hateful, off-the-wall obsession with Boston???
    Give it a rest.

  14. Hackpiper - Jun 18, 2010 at 12:20 PM

    “Whining” Celtic Fans???????!!!!!!!!
    Even in the context of the usual trash talk, thats rich coming from anywhere in La La Land. Look, your Lakers won. The Celtics ran out of gas. Congratulations on the title. What IS it with you guys “out there?” What’s with the hateful, off-the-wall…and rather weird… obsession with Boston???
    You sound like a bunch of teeny bopper girls. Give it a rest.

  15. Hackpiper - Jun 18, 2010 at 12:22 PM

    Oh oh. Double post. Sorry. But you get the gist….

  16. Foul Dwimmerlaik - Jun 18, 2010 at 12:25 PM

    Please, my good friend Otto, let us rejoice in our conquest together. Two fellow compatriots, exalted in our common victory. If it is jealousy that consumes you over my soon to be relationship with My Phil, please to do not concern yourself. If it shall soothe your anger, I shall send you photographs of Phil and I in full embrace.
    In the meantime, join me in a mighty Hazzah for the victory that belongs to our team. HAZZAH!
    And now I shall depart with a full-throated lmfao at those who doubt the Lakers and My Phil.

  17. Anonymous - Jun 18, 2010 at 12:27 PM

    Screw the lakers and all their ignorant fans! Celtics are the best franchise ever! Phil Jackson…Are you serious? the guy has been lucky to have the MJ and then Kobe…Please…

  18. Dennis S - Jun 18, 2010 at 12:28 PM

    I was at the game and while all the Celtics fans were hoping and hollering for most of the three quarters – guess what? They were no where to be found at the end of the game!! Couldn’t stand the music.
    Now instead of the chest pounding and false bravado – all I hear is whining and excuses!
    Act like men Celtics fans and accept your comeuppence you bunch of big babies!!!!! ha, ha ha

  19. Anonymous - Jun 18, 2010 at 12:30 PM

    How can you love Phil Jackson. Sure he is a winning coach, but he is also a pompous a$$

  20. Omnius - Jun 18, 2010 at 12:45 PM

    John Krolik you are all wrong Boston did not blow the championhip, the Lakers just plain took it because they are the best team in the NBA over the past 3 years. Unfortunately for Boston their 3 year shelf life expiration date expired in the 4th quarter as the Lakers saved their best 4th quarter for the last game. Missing Perkins didn’t help but as I feared the Celtics came out inspired by missing Perkins and the Lakers came out complacent thinking they had it won, just like against Houston last year. Game 7 was an awesome defensive war that was the perfect Hollywood ending for a great series that will go down as one of the truly great NBA Finals series for the ages. Boston did not crumple when the Lakers regained the lead in the 4th quarter, it was a battle of two championship caliber teams. As a Laker fan I salute the Celtics for making it so difficult for the Lakers to win Sweet Revenge for 2008!

  21. Foul Dwimmerlaik - Jun 18, 2010 at 12:46 PM

    Please understand that my love for My Phil transcends what mere mortals can comprehend. Phil is life’ essence and I am life’s vessel. I appreciate your inability to understand. And I understand that it is not through ignorance or hatred, but only through the instance that you are merely a simple being.
    But, I salute you, Dear Anonymous, for your efforts at understanding and your inquiry as to how it is that I love My Phil
    Hazzah to you and you descendants!

  22. Bobo - Jun 18, 2010 at 12:54 PM

    Lakers were handed that championship. That was the worst called game of the series. For the NBA (known for rigging games) it was surprisingly a well officiated series up until game 7. It’s easy to catch up and take the lead when you’re sent to the line one every play…or when nothing is called against you. Gasol made an obvious foul on KG, slapping his arm when going up…nothing called. Gasol did that bad acting job and just jumped and flung his arms around and launched the ball straight up and got a call when no one was even touching him.
    NBA is such a pathetic league…. glad I only wasted time watching 5 games this year, and all in this series.

  23. Sal - Jun 18, 2010 at 12:59 PM

    Norman Dale you are a Jackass, oh wait that would be that little short plug, Nate Robinson and Big Baby. I see you don’t have any comments for how Bib Baby and shorty were celebrating in game 5 as if they had won the series. I much rather have Ron Artest and his clamp down D any day of the week, and celebrate in any way, say anything he wants after he helps the Lakers win Championships. What I know is this; You guys win when the refs let it play “nasty”. But Norman “Rae” why don’t you whine on Paul Pierce who after game 2 he said, and I quote, ” We aint’ coming back to L A.” This is what you should worry about Norman “Rae” The only reason this series took 7 is because Bynum was playing in one leg. What you should worry about is that well, the Fab Five are coming back next year and Kobe’s hunger to win championships will not be satisfied until he passes the great one of all times, Jordan. Funny how you Bostonians blame anyone else when you loose, but you should look yourself in the mirror, because the only losers I see is your team. Give credit where credit is due. Laker’s had the bigger balls and heart and you can take that to the bank.

  24. I hate the Lakers - Jun 18, 2010 at 1:01 PM

    Are you kidding me, the Lakers were the team the NBA wanted to win. They wanted those idiots to win because of all the help the dumb idiot refs gave them. 20 more free throws then the Celtics, come on who can tell me this game wasnt rigged???? I hate the Lakers

  25. I hate the Lakers - Jun 18, 2010 at 1:03 PM

    Are you kidding me, the Lakers were the team the NBA wanted to win. They wanted those idiots to win because of all the help the dumb idiot refs gave them. 20 more free throws then the Celtics, come on who can tell me this game wasnt rigged???? I hate the Lakers

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