With the end of the decade nearing, Sportmeisters Derek and Ryan have decided to present their top 10 games of the past decade. Today’s discussion is on the 10th best game from 2000-2009. What follows is a transcript of their discussion.
Game No. 10: Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers—Game 4 2008 NBA Finals
Sportmeister Derek: Ryan, today we are here to discuss something that will be debated for the next few weeks. With 2010 on the horizon, we are naming our top 10 games of the decade.
Sportmeister Ryan: Absolutely Derek, these games will bring an enormous amount of discussion, as they did when we were coming up with our list. Nevertherless, we’ll start with Game No. 10, Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers in Game Four of the 2008 NBA Finals.
SD: Let’s go back to the 2007-2008 NBA Preseason. The Celtics had traded for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to join with Paul Pierce to make the Big Three and Kobe Bryant was trying as hard as he could to get out of LA.
SR: Kobe was trying to get out of Los Angeles, but his mindset changed when the Lakers brought in Pau Gasol for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, and Aaron McKie. Critics called that trade a huge favor for the Lakers, but it brought newfound aggressiveness to the Lakers.
SD: Los Angeles went 22-5 following the Gasol trade, giving them a 57-25 record and the number one seed in the West. Boston, who already was on the fast track to success, destroyed the East, finishing with the number one seed at 66-16.
SR: Derek, it reminded me of the Chicago Bulls from the second half of the '90s, with the dominance and flair Boston played with. The passion Garnett possessed from being on a perennial playoff team rubbed off on Allen and Pierce. The team also had solid contributors from guard Rajon Rondo and center Kendrick Perkins.
SD: Both teams had solid players; Boston with the players you mentioned, Los Angeles with Kobe, Gasol, forward Lamar Odom, guard Derek Fisher, and bench contributors in guard Jordan Famar and forward Trevor Ariza.
SR: In the playoffs, the Celtics were expected to breeze through to the finals. But they barely squeezed by the Atlanta Hawks in round one, goinng a full seven games. They went another seven games against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the semifinals, and finally beat the Detroit Pistons in six games in the Conference Finals. That’s 20 out of a maximum 21 games; a lot for a team that isn’t young to begin with.
SD: The Lakers had a much easier time. They breezed through round one, sweeping the Denver Nuggets; then beat the Utah Jazz in six games and the San Antonio Spurs in five. Clearly, heading into the NBA Finals, you could argue the Lakers were the more rested, and possibly better team.
SR: That setup the all-time great matchup of the Lakers and Celtics for the 11th time in the NBA Finals. Coming in, Boston had an 8-2 advantage over their western counterparts, but had lost the last two times they faced them, in 1985 and 1987.
SD: The Celtics were up two games to one going into Game 4; the Lakers appeared determined to tie it up and keep them in the series, as a 3-1 deficit would have been near insurmountable.
SR: LA came out on fire, taking an NBA Finals record 35-14 lead in the fourth quarter and an NBA finals record 58-40 lead at halftime. Los Angeles was playing like a team possessed.
SD: With 5:50 left in the third quarter, Los Angeles had a 20 point lead (70-50), but, as it has been said, good teams find a way to win. The Celtics proceeded to go on an amazing run to catch the Lakers. They had a 21-3 run in the final five minutes of the third quarter, decimating the Lakers hopes' and pretty much spelling out the end of that game.
SR: It wasn’t just the run, but they did the run on the road, which is amazing in itself. Los Angeles kept trying to fight, not relinquishing the lead until 4:07 left, but once they lost the lead, they had nothing left. Boston took the game and all but the series, winning 97-81.
SD: Ryan, let’s take a closer look at that run, which is the big reason why this game is No. 10 on our countdown. Within that 5:50 period, guard Eddie House contributed six of his 11 points on two key three pointers. Forward Paul Pierce had five of his team leading 20 points, and Ray Allen had six of his 19 points.
SR: Los Angeles went one of 10 in that period, and actually, didn’t score a basket until there was 9:32 left in the fourth, meaning the team went scoreless for a five minute period. You can’t do that in the NBA Finals and expect to win.
SD: Through adversity, Boston didn’t run and hide, saying, "wait until we get home". They continued to fight and claw back and effectively ended the series, even though they still had to win their fourth game. Los Angeles had nothing left.
SR: Derek, this game had it all and that is why we have named it our number 10 game of the decade. Stay tuned for the rest of our Top 10 coming up in the next few weeks.