Five Biggest Takeaways From Game One
1) The Celtics have nobody to guard Kobe. Of all the new faces this year, the biggest change is who's missing: James Posey. Kobe is destroying the Celtics guards, who are piling on the fouls. Between having to chase Kobe around and sitting on the bench, Ray Allen was taken completely out of the game (Also, I think Michael Finley just played his first and last two minutes of the Finals).
2) Paul Pierce no longer has a free for all with Ron Artest in the game, and that point was made 27 seconds into the game. You never would have seen Vladimir Radmanovic get into that kind of tussle; he wouldn't want to mess up his hair.
3) Pau Gasol is a tougher and better player for his 2008 experience. That time he seemed overmatched, but this time he is clearly the better power forward. And by the way, I think I have a higher vertical than Kevin Garnett.
4) Look at the Lakers points in the paint. Look at their attempts at the basket. Back in 2008, nobody got to the basket against the Celtics. A lot has changed.
But above all, the single biggest thing that stood out is that:
5) from the opening tip of the 2008 Finals, for virtually all 48 minutes of all six games, the Celtics were simply the better team in every regard. You didn't have to be a genius to clearly recognize that the green team was pushing around an overmatched yellow team. This time, the Lakers distinctly appear to be the better team.
I will say, the three funniest moments of the night (in ascending order) were:
3) The 5'9" Nate Robinson vs. 7'0" Pau Gasol jump ball. Just a comical image. Best of all, you can tell Pau was determined to not lose the tip. He did win it, but think about it, a guy that appears two feet shorter (I don't believe Nate is 5'9 for one second) winning a jump ball could really inject some life into a team. That play could have been big.
2) Pierce taking down Artest with a half nelson, then Artest tackling Pierce...20 seconds into the game. It was entertaining and set the stage for an epic slugfest over the next six games. Unfortunately, the rest of the game didn't live up to that bar.
1) Phil Jackson shutting down Chris Rock during a fourth quarter interview. Only a guy with 10 rings that owns the Staples Center has the clout to tell a courtside celebrity to shut up. Doris Burke looked petrified.
The Celtics will make adjustments.
No reason to believe that the Celtics won't have a good bounce back game. They lost Game One in Cleveland, then won Game Four after getting destroyed in Game Three on their home floor. This is the third straight year of Celtic grit and resolve. They never give up, and that should not be forgotten.
Also, last year the Lakers opened the Finals with a 20 point win over the Magic, then eeked out a win in Game Two in overtime.
The Celtics will make adjustments. Unfortunately for them, there are a few things they don't have answers for (like no one to guard Kobe and the fact that Kevin Garnett's leg isn't going to magically get better).
One crazy idea. It may be prudent for Paul Pierce to sacrifice himself to guard Kobe. Pierce was impressive against Kobe in limited stretches in 2008, and was so again last night. I don't believe Kobe scored against Pierce. Let's look for this, although with the energy he'd have to expend on Kobe plus Artest guarding him on the other end, his offense would take a serious hit.