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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. Otto from LA - Jun 18, 2010 at 1:09 PM

    Dear “life’s vessel”
    Where did you EVER get the impression I am your friend OR a Lakers fan? The thought of either makes me a bit ill. I live here, that’s all. I was being a civil Celtic Fan, offering congratulations, and you just got in the way.
    Take your baby talk somewhere else. You are an embarassment to Laker Fans everywhere. Or far too brilliant for the rest of us, and deserve the appropriate audience.

  2. Foul Dwimmerlaik - Jun 18, 2010 at 1:23 PM

    My apologies to you, my dear friend Otto. How non-observant of me to miss you civil tone.
    My condolences to you in your your time of deep sorrow over the stunning loss by your team to the juggernaut know as the Lakers. I wish you peace in your heart and calm in your mind.
    I honor you with a might Hazzah in hopes that your misery wil soon come to an end.
    Hazzah, my close and lifetime friend Otto, Hazzah!

  3. NormanDale - Jun 18, 2010 at 1:36 PM

    I read your post with amusement. We all know the NBA is a superstar league. I think we agree that on the Celtic side Pierce & Garnett are the superstar players and Kobe & Gosol are the Laker counterparts. When you compare regular season free throws per game average against the 7 game Championship the numbers don’t lie. The 2 Celtics shot less free throws per game than their regular season averages and the 2 Lakers shot MORE free throws in the series per game than regular season. When you look deeper at the numbers something else “jumps” out. All four players played more minutes per game in the finals. Yep…you guessed it, the Lakers averages went up while interesting enough the 2 Celtic averages went down. The Celtics, less free throws per game minutes, the Lakers more free throws per game minute. And as you say, Davis is the only Celtic who attacks the basket. Guess what? His free throw numbers also went down per game. but minutes per game went up. Imagine that!! Oh by the way….the Lakers shot 123 3-point shots to the Celtics 107. So much for the theory that the Celtics are the jump shooting team. So let me get this straight…The Lakers are the team that shoots more outside shots….but they are also the team that attacks the basket and gets to the line more???? Pretty interesting theory….I call bulls**t on this…numbers don’t lie…the referees did not call an even series…nothing you say can change that…but you are World Champions and that is all anyone will remember….shame on the NBA though…this is why people feel the the NBA is the one league that possibly has tainted refs and series…Donaghy is not really that nuts…he’s been saying it for years???

  4. Anonymous - Jun 18, 2010 at 1:58 PM

    Dumba** that would be “NORMA” Rae…and I don’t back off my statement…The NBA got what they deserved…Artest thanking his “Hood”. By the way…his parents,wife,children and ANYONE else who is really important in someone’s life should be real proud that they are thought of behind his “Hood”…really nothing else to say…the NBA is a “trash talking boy in the hood” league and the NBA will eventually suffer for the Artest’s of the world!

  5. NBA fan - Jun 18, 2010 at 2:03 PM

    Congratulations to the Lakers for taking another title. I was pulling for the Celtics though and was hoping they could steal the last one in LA.
    I know it sounds crazy but I predict next year that we’ll see a Lakers/Heat matchup. Pat Reilly has a lot of money to go free agent shopping this off-season. D. Wade is staying in Miami and I think a pairing of D. Wade and Chris Bosh could happen. If he picks up some additional interior players (who can actually play), you’re looking at a championship run.

  6. FOUL SPELLERLAIK - Jun 18, 2010 at 2:11 PM

    I keep reading your “hazzah” stuff, and have to let you know that you’re spelling huzzah wrong.

  7. Laker Fan - Jun 18, 2010 at 2:15 PM

    Phil is lucky to have MJ and Kobe!
    Celtics are lucky to have had Mr. “FixIt” Auerbach, no?
    2 more championships and we will top you on that department too and ours were really earned!

  8. Whining about refs? - Jun 18, 2010 at 2:38 PM

    I thought the Celtics got away with waayyy too many no calls throughout the playoffs. In game 7 the Celtics were manhandling the Lakers with no calls the first 3 quarters.
    They finally started calling the hard fouls in the fourth quarter.
    I honestly thought this game was going to be fixed FOR THE CELTICS.
    BTW I’m not a fan of either team, but I do have made love for Artest hes the man

  9. Foul Dwimmerlaik - Jun 18, 2010 at 2:42 PM

    I am using the old Hobbit spelling which was in usage before the old English “Huzzah”. The English, when they translated it to there language, changed the spelling so they could identify Hobbits for mass execution.
    However, I salute you with a Huzzah for your positive efforts at correction of a possible misusage of the word.
    And now, I will salute you in my language for your constructive efforts……

  10. jerry - Jun 18, 2010 at 2:47 PM

    And if that wasn’t dumb enough, he then went on to thank his psychiatrist!!

  11. DCLAKERFAN - Jun 18, 2010 at 3:27 PM


  12. dan - Jun 18, 2010 at 3:31 PM

    It was a great game, boston could of won had they knocked down a couple more shots, please, enough of the refs. Doc told his team before the game be the aggressor not the retalitator, They became the latter in the 4th. They were a tad bit slower than our youth. Boston didn’t have their starting center, Lakers has theirs for 12 minutes. The refs called a good game, but the loseing teams fans have to blame someone, might as well be the refs. We were getting to the 50/50 balls more, Rebounded more, controlled the glass, those things oh and ROn Ron, won the game for us. Not the refs. Hope Celtics can make it back next year, We will be there waiting for them.

  13. Anonymous - Jun 18, 2010 at 3:38 PM

    you HAD to be watching a different game….stop crying and grow up..the Lakers won, say it with me t h e L a k e r s w o n. See, once you come to grips with it, you can move on with your life.

  14. Qman - Jun 18, 2010 at 3:52 PM

    I don’t like to blame the refs but that is a serious difference 20-4 in the most critical QTR of all. It was game 7 for crying out loud it should have been close to even – both teams were fouling consistently on every play. It’s not that the refs were making bad calls its that they were not consistent. You can’t expect a team who has been not getting calls for 3 quarters to suddenly start getting ticky tack calls and not do it for both teams.
    You watch the NBA long enough you start to see a pattern and I seriously seriously think they are one step above the WWE in integrity. It isn’t fake or planned but they DEFINATELY call it in a way that favors one team or another. This was true of both teams in this series – that’s how it got to 7.
    Congrats to the Lakers. They beat the Celtics. I’m just not so sure that the next time they meet the NBA wouldn’t like the Celtics to beat them and we get more mysterious calls favoring the Celts. The NBA has lost all integrity in my opinion, any long time fan will tell you they think the same thing

  15. 1mangang - Jun 18, 2010 at 3:53 PM

    Right on, I’d have 11 titles to if I had Michael, Kobe or Shaq playing for me. lets see him do it from the ground up. Say, the Clippers or the Timberwolves. Take the Nuggets for that matter. If it wasn’t for Perkins going down it would have definately been # 19 for the Celts, Doc is a better coach!

  16. Jeffrey - Jun 18, 2010 at 4:31 PM

    Hey, I thought the series was fantastic. This was a physical, hard-nosed series. Game 7 was like a war.
    The Celtics didn’t get to the line ‘cuz they don’t take it to the hoop. Ray Allen? No. Paul Pierce? Artest did an incredible job defensively on him. KG? Just like when he played here in Minny, he settled for fall-away J’s instead of going strong to the basket. That’s his game. He didn’t shoot free throws here, either. Rondo? No jump shot. Lakers left him alone from the outside, which limited his penetration in the half-court.
    Nonetheless, the Celtics fought like warriors and are to be commended for their paly. Great series!
    And what’s wrong with Artest thanking his ‘Hood? Something wrong with acknowledging the people you grew up with and hang with in your neighborhood? Or does the word “Hood” rub you the wrong way? Maybe conjures up some of your own bias? Artest was awesome, man.

  17. tigertom - Jun 18, 2010 at 4:47 PM

    Me thinks perhaps FoulDwimmertalk needs to get a life (or maybe a JOB!), and become a real “human”, rather than a Hobbit wannabe stalker. Phil, run for your life!!!!

  18. Bill - Jun 18, 2010 at 4:53 PM

    Great game. Great series. Warriors on both sides.
    Give Andrew Bynum the MVP award. He took out Kendrick Perkins
    (an accident, ok). Had Bynum not put in his injured warrior minutes throughout this series, but most especially in Game 7, the Celtics would have taken home another trophy.
    Kudos to Bynum and the Lakers.
    —Celtic fan to the grave.

  19. Striker - Jun 18, 2010 at 5:00 PM

    Add to that the traveling violation by Gasol touching the court before the ball left his hands to go in the basket.
    Just to note: I was rooting for the Lakers.
    And after todays World Cup Officiating fiasco, I’m down to the NFL as the only sport I can tolerate watching.
    NBA… Done. (Lame Officiating)
    MLB… Done. (Perfection Denied)
    FIFA… Done. (Blatant disregard for rules and reality, plus those ANNOYING horns.)
    I’m down to the NFL. Hope this final season 😉 doesn’t produce too many Hochuli moments, but the truth is that they are pushing it as well.

  20. DMC - Jun 18, 2010 at 5:40 PM

    Really? Would you? So you’re a better coach than the people that went before (or after) Jackson? Jordan didn’t arrive in Chicago when Jackson did, and Kobe didn’t suddenly show up in L.A. upon Jackson’s arrival. Do you seriously think Doc Rivers is a better coach than Phil Jackson? And you also think Perkins would have made all the difference? Delusional much? Phil Jackson’s strength appears to be the ability to motivate players, especially those that might be a bit more talented than others. Was the Boston hero Red Auerbach a crappy coach? I mean, he seemed to have a plethora of star players (a lot of people think Bill Russell was the greatest player of all time, not Jordan, so your reasoning would indicate that Red must have sucked)…just think how good the Celtics would have been if Doc Rivers was their coach back then! Wow!
    As far as all the folks whining about the officiating, I agree. If this series had been called fairly, the Lakers would have won it faster than in seven games – in spite of all the moaning about the Lakers getting away with fouls, perhaps you might want to take a good look at the hard fouls, typical and extraordinary, that the Celtics got away with. Sure, hard fouls are a part of the game, but flinging people around and purposefully tripping other players is not only dirty, it’s dangerous. Oddly enough, the officials had a great deal of difficulty seeing obvious fouls committed by Paul Pierce among others. Did the Lakers get away with some fouls? Sure, but that’s typical for any game…on the other hand, as bad as you Celtics fans think the ratio was on fouls, it should have been far larger. The Celtics not only play “aggressive” ball, but they tend to also play dirty ball – the Bad Boy Pistons of their day. And for all the talk of how the Lakers fuss about calls made or missed, I have a hard time understanding why a few more technicals were not called against Wallace, Pierce, and Garnett, who appeared to be trying out for “tantrum time” on nearly every call that went against them, even when the fouls were painfully obvious.
    And arrogance, which is what Kobe is often accused of? How about Paul Pierce saying that the series would not go back to L.A.? “Big Baby” (great moniker…and pretty fitting) slobbering all over himself, celebrating how he had just won the series single-handedly (oops…guess not!)? Fans in Boston using “cheers” against Kobe that couldn’t even be played on TV…very mature. Look, I thought Kobe’s little airplane thing was stupid – I don’t like that behavior at all and it doesn’t belong on the court – but it appears that this is the modis operandi for Boston, overdoing it damn near every time they do something halfway good. Aside from the fact that junk can be quite a motivator for your foe, it looks immature. As was once said, act like you’ve been there before.
    Lastly, for all the pinheads (or maybe it’s just one pointy-headed moron posting using lots of names) that keep bringing up the rape charges against Kobe…grow up. The charges were dropped and it appears the “victim” was trying to pull a fast one; I seem to recall a little matter of certain “evidence” indicating several “rapists” might have been visiting her at the time, although she only pointed her finger at the guy with the money and the fame. Remember, anybody can accuse anybody of anything, but that person is innocent until proven guilty in our country; if you would prefer living in a country where you are guilty just because somebody says you are, feel free to move along. If you insist on calling Kobe a rapist, you should be OK if people call you a child molester…for if one person out there says it is true, it must be.
    I think that one thing really needs to be remembered above all else, posters: this is a sport.

  21. Otto from LA - Jun 18, 2010 at 5:41 PM

    The hobbit get a job? Would YOU want him/her/it as an employee/co worker? Sit next to it? Leave it alone…
    I am uncertain what’s more disturbing or embarrassing to real Laker fans. The Hobbits childish attempt at sophisticated/intelligent sounding communication, or the clowns around Staples Center last night that destroyed and burned other “fans” property while “celebrating”. Pretty sad.
    Before anyone else says it, I also view ANY destructive Celtic celebrations the same. Any destruction by anyone is just stupid and very unsportsmanlike

  22. rc - Jun 18, 2010 at 5:47 PM

    At least they left quietly and didn’t riot and burn cars and beat people unconscious in the street. Class act, you loser fans!

  23. R2Three - Jun 18, 2010 at 6:12 PM

    Please spare us the complaints about officiating. To me, the worst officiated game of the series was game 2. The officials actually did a surprisingly decent job in this game letting the guys play as much as they could have. I know you saw Kobe get thrown to the floor and a no call right? The Celtics ran out of gas and couldn’t handle the Lakers and their lenght and athletisism plain and simple. Be a man about it and respect the fact that the best team won last night. It was an entertaining series but Boston wasn’t the best team in this series.

  24. NormanDale - Jun 18, 2010 at 8:35 PM

    Jeffrey: I already posted the numbers about the fouls shots. Whetehr or not KG goes to the basket as much as he should is irrelevant to my argument. How did the Lakers two main scorers averages go up on free throws compared to the season statistics and the Celtics went down. The 2 Celtics did NOT go to the line at the same rate as the regular season eventhough they played more minutes per game,they actually went less even with the extra minutes. Doesn’t make sense. No matter how you twist it around the Celtics got to the line,as a team,much less in this series than the regular season, the Lakers as a team went to the line more than what they did in the regular season. What changed? Are you saying the Celtics decided to be less agressive than during the season, and the Lakers in turn said to themeselves we need to get more foul shots than the regular season. So in effect, both teams chose to change up how they played once they got to the championship series? Interestiing perspective!! Concerning Artest’s comments. Nothing bias or racial about it. I would think it odd if someone white or black got on national TV and the first people he thanked was Billy his best friend down the street or little Tommy his best friend from 5th grade. Yeah, I think that would suck that childhood friends would get honored OR EVEN be first in someone’s thoughts over say his family, children, wife, etc.. It’s terrible and quite frankly think HOW the people closest to him felt about that. Classless!!! That is your analogy right?Friends take precedent whether it’s the “hood” or neighborhood kid from the “burbs”

  25. CarpCarpCarp - Jun 18, 2010 at 10:18 PM

    Good article describing an ugly and entertaining game 7. Both teams worked hard on defense but there were many missed open shots. The refs might have given the Lakers an advantage on the foul calls, but the Celtics can’t complain because this game should have never even been close. Perkins rebounding presence was definitely missed, and much credit should be given to Lamar for doing the dirty work to ensure his teammates could clean up the boards. The biggest moment in the game was Fisher’s three to tie the game – as Kobe said ‘he is the heart and soul of this team’. Conversely it is obvious to me that KG is the key member for the C’s. Boston was a league leader in fourth quarter leads this season because Doc Rivers failed to recognize Garnet’s ability to dominate in post at the end of games. River’s is a great coach who has the respect of his players, but he failed in giving the team strategic direction.

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