The Boston Celtics did what they needed to do in Games One and Two of the NBA Finals. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen scored 127 of the 206 Celtic points in the first two games, accounting for 62% of the Boston offense.
If the Celtics want to win the championship, this needs to continue to happen. In Boston’s two wins over the Los Angeles Lakers in the regular season, we saw similar results, with the “Big Three” scoring 133 out of the 217 Celtic points, which turns out to be 61% of the Boston offense. So it seems thus far that Garnett, Pierce and Allen know how to score against this tough Laker defense.
Going into this series, we knew the supporting cast of Celtics would have to step it up, and the Big Three couldn’t do it all by themselves. In steps point guard Rajon Rondo and reserve forward Leon Powe.
In Game 1, Rondo had 15 points and seven assists, and in Game Two, although he only scored four points, he dished out 16 assists. Powe had a quite Game One, but then exploded in Game Two for 21 points off the bench.
Boston will need games like this from the role players to support the “Big Three”, and perhaps it can come from other players besides Rondo and Powe. Veteran guard Sam Cassell had a solid game off the bench in Game One, scoring eight points, and center Kendrick Perkins, who has had a quiet NBA Finals thus far, has the ability to have an offensive explosion at any given moment.
On the flip side, the Los Angeles Lakers haven’t played a bad series either. The Lakers probably should have won Game One, but didn’t take advantage of several opportunities. Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom (L.A.’s main three players) have done their part in this series. Bryant had 24 and 30 points in Games One and Two respectively, while Gasol had 17 points and 10 rebounds in Game Two. Point guard Derek Fisher has also done well in this series.
However, the Lakers were outplayed in Game Two, and except for a 41-point fourth quarter, they were not looking too good. The good thing is that the Lakers are undefeated in the playoffs at home, and the NBA Finals now swing to L.A. for the next three games of the series.
Thus far in this series, the Celtics seem to have all the momentum, and are playing with more energy. Is that because they are home? Perhaps. The Lakers now need to do the same, and thrive off the energetic home crowd to win the next three games.
Game Three tonight is now a must win for Kobe and the Lakers and to be honest, all three games at home are must-wins for the Lakers as well. If the Celtics win one of the games in L.A. (obviously if they win two they win the NBA Championship), then they will be able to close it out in Boston in Game Six or Seven.
Boston did what they needed to do, and retained their home-court advantage in the NBA Finals, making their 66-16 season worth all that trouble. Now the pressure is on the Lakers to take care of business at home, making the Boston Celtics a dangerous nothing-to-lose basketball team.