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Boston Celtics 92, LA Lakers 86 – Celtics regain control

  • Kobe Bryant scored 38 on 13-27 from the floor, dazzling the crowd at various moments.  The Laker guard went 7-8 in the first eight minutes of the third, dropping in 19, but scored just five points on 0-3 shooting in the last eight of the fourth.  Had this been Lebron James, the discussion this morning would undoubtedly have been about a lack of “clutchness” and various other character flaws.  Can we just give the Celtics their credit where its due?
  • Bryant hit a series of impossible shots throughout the third, but in this one, it was the Celtics’ ‘d’ that stood out.  Every time the Laker guard drove to the hoop, he was swarmed by 3 white jerseys.  Nothing came easy.  Defensive exhibitions like this one make it easy to understand why so many are excited at the prospect of Lebron James joining Tom Thibodeau in Chicago.  The latter is not a household name among casual fans but is respected as arguably the preeminent defensive genius in basketball today.  James, apart from his known offensive prowess, is recognized by most smart people I trust as one of the two or three best defensive wings in basketball.  With a mobile big like Joakim Noah manning the middle, the league could be in trouble if James bolts to the Bulls, and I for one am really hoping it happens.
  • Interesting to note that the Lakers actually fared well on the boards, grabbing 16 on the offensive glass to the Celtics’ 7.  From watching the game, I would have assumed the complete opposite.
  • Ron Artest went 2-9 from the floor and had great trouble containing Paul Pierce on the pick&roll.  I had said that the Lakers would regret the essential ‘swap’ of Ariza for Artest, not because Artest would disturb chemistry (Ron has a very clear sense of hierarchy), but because he just wasn’t very good at this point.  He surprised me this year with his play, dropping weight and regaining the defensive form for which he gained notoriety.  But I wonder now if the Lakers regret the swap?  For the most part in these playoffs, offensively, Artest has been atrocious (39%-28%3’s) but that was to be expected.  At the other end, he was perhaps the star of the Thunder series, making life miserable for OKC forward Kevin Durant, and had kept Pierce a non-factor in the Finals until last night.  If the Lakers fail to win the title, with multiple years remaining on his contract, I wonder how the transaction will be viewed.  With Pierce and the Celtics seeming to have figured out Artest’s mobility issues with navigating picks, Los Angeles could probably at least use some of the deadeye spot-up shooting that Trevor Ariza provided in last year’s run.  I for one could not be happier with the swap.

About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of www.Red94.net.

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