by Jack Maidment
I scare myself. I really do. I said it, I said it, I said it.
Then again it was hardly like I disclosed how the Timberwolves could make The Finals next year. It was a case in stating the obvious, but I will take a small amount of credit for drawing up the blueprint for a Boston come back even if it was common knowledge.
Some people might be saying that I actually said the Celtics didn’t have a chance. And, well, I did. But. That’s not the point.
Everything they didn’t do in Game 1 they did in Game 2 and that is why the Lakers are heading to Boston on the back of a beat down.
Not a classic 20-point-demolition-job-beat-down but a we-sucked-in-Game-1-lets-play-like-we-can-beat-down.
Ray Allen, quite simply, was imperious. His eight threes were enough to draw one of the Laker Bigs out of the domain of darkness that Los Angeles patrols down low in the second half, allowing the rest of the Celts to get involved, especially Glenn Davis and Rajon Rondo.
He was so hot that you knew that every shot he took was going in. Not in a ‘he’s my favourite player and he’s great’ kind of way, but in a ‘I feel something weird going on, there is no way this guy is missing tonight’ way.
They gave him the ball, normally with Kobe or Fisher draped over him and his snatch release did the rest. He was unguardable.
(Which leads me to the question: A ridiculously hot three point shooter can win you really really important basketball games. Not only do you get three points but the other team is utterly demoralised as the same guy comes down the floor, continuously, making shot after shot. How do you play that? And why did teams not grab the opportunity to trade for Ray Allen when the Celtics were dangling him for all to see in February?)
The Best Point Guard in the Game When Paul, Williams and Nash Aren’t Around was pure sweet triple double goodness. Time after time he came up with the ball in situations where he really had no business too and even when he wasn’t scoring or assisting he was making plays as he has done all post season.
One of the back breakers in Game 2 was Rondo’s block from behind of Fisher’s 3 point ahead. It sparked a fast break and two easy points exactly when the Lakers could not afford them.
The fact that Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were relatively ineffective highlights the importance and luxury of having four Do It players. Rondo, Garnett, Pierce and Allen. All the Celtics need is two of them a game to show up and play anywhere near there best and they have a great chance to win.
How many Do It guys have the Lakers got? For my money, just two. Pau Gasol and Kobe. Which means that neither of them can have a night off if LA wants to win The Finals.
The officiating also played its part as it did in Game 1 but the shoe was on the other foot, with Kobe being forced to play the entire fourth with 5 fouls (many of which were more than questionable just like Ray Allen’s in Game 1) limiting his drives and turning him into a jump shooter only.
It was a massive wake up call for the Lakers that’s for sure. The Celtics looked dead and buried after Game 1 but like Sayeed in season 6 of Lost they came back inexplicably in Game 2.
And Rasheed Wallace ran the floor in Game 2. Madness. If that sets the tone for this series then I’m not ruling anything out. Maybe even Michael Finley will have his moment a la Robert Horry against Detroit. Or not.
No more brash (and stupid) reactionary predictions from me that’s for sure. Lakers in 5 was a bad shout. But I may as well go down fighting so that’s how it must be.
It should be one hell of a series.