Pivot Points: Lakers, Celtics Offer Contrasting Styles, Mixed Results

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Pivot Points:  Lakers, Celtics Offer Contrasting Styles, Mixed Results
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The Boston Celtics seemed as if they had been looking towards this point all summer, while The Los Angeles Lakers showed us what they could be, and reminded us of their agonizing tendencies.

There was a third NBA contender playing Tuesday night, but you will have to excuse the Cleveland Cavaliers from resembling the same squad from last year, which is basically what they are.

Boston erased an early 14 point deficit, drew even, and then proceeded to dominate the Cavs. It was eerily similar to what happened to Cleveland in last year's Eastern Conference Finals.

The Cavs had no answer for Rasheed Wallace on the perimeter, and Shaquille O'Neal still can't guard the pick and roll.

The lack of a versatile power forward that can slide on the perimeter was the biggest need for the Cavs in the offseason, and they glossed that over with the, much-hyped acquisition of Shaquille O'Neal.

Shaq chipped in with a less than stellar ten points, and led the rest of the Cavaliers in the cheering section when Lebron James had the ball.

He did contribute ten rebounds, but his subpar defense on the pick and roll is what allowed Boston to put the Cavaliers away.

The Celtics went to Paul Pierce almost exclusively in the fourth quarter, and O'Neal continuously found himself out of position on the perimeter.

James was his usual brilliant self with 38 points and a few incredible blocks, but he and O'Neal accounted for more than half of the Cavaliers' points.

You can chalk that up to Boston's punishing half court offense or the rest of the Cavaliers ineptitude, or more likely a combination of both.

For Boston, it was a return to health for Kevin Garnett, the first win in Cleveland since 2004, and a very successful premier for the re-tooled Celtics. For Cleveland, it was a replay of the end of last season.

In Los Angeles, the Lakers received their rings to a rousing ovation, and in the first quarter proceeded to beat the hapless Clippers into the ground.

Fans got a chance to see the suffocating potential of the Lakers defense, with a touch of Ron Artest, as the Lakers created nine first quarter turnovers.

The tantalizing thing about the Lakers is how quick they turned the Clippers mistakes into points. The Lakers said that they would run more, and that may have been an understatement.

The Lakers ran at every opportunity, and early on this had the feeling of an old fashioned beat-down, and then the ghosts of Lakers last year, reared their familiar faces.

Suddenly, the Lakers couldn't stay in front of anyone, they couldn't rebound, and the bench came in and blew a 14 point lead. The sometimes inconsistent team had entered stage left.

Luckily for the Lakers, these were the same Clippers who constantly shot themselves in the foot every time they had a chance to pull even or go ahead.

These guys are like the keystone kops revisited, as their bumbles and miscues were likely to leave you rolling in laughter and disbelief.

There were plenty of good things to take away for the Lakers. Kobe seemed like he was in mid-season form, and Andrew Bynum performed like an all-star, with 26 points and 13 rebounds.

Lamar Odom had a double-double, and Artest played an all round good game on both ends of the floor, although he did miss a few open threes.

The Lakers were lucky to escape with a win, and if they are going to live up to their lofty expectations, they will have to be more consistent on defense.

Game announcer Reggie Miller said that the Lakers should be 20-1 after a stretch in which they play 17 games at home. That may be a reach, but with the return of Pau Gasol, and a better effort on defense, they could approach that number.

The Lakers, and the Celtics gave the rest of the league a thorough preview as to why many observers feel they will be competing against each other in June.

 

 

 

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