The Boston Celtics came back and won game two 103-94. Ray Allen set the pace, scoring 32 points and making an NBA Finals record eight three pointers. Allen tied the Finals record in the first half when he made seven shots from behind the line. Unfortunately, the officials overshadowed what should have a great game.
First off, let me be clear that I do not think the officials are to blame for the Lakers' loss or the Celtics' win. Stars on both sides were plagued by foul trouble. Lakers' fans would say that Kobe Bryant's five fouls (the last three were terrible calls) severely hampered his ability to drive and defend in the second half. Boston fans would argue that foul trouble prevented Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins from getting into rhythm. Objective viewers should be able to agree that the whistle happy referees hurt both teams. My issue is not with the officials changing the outcome; but rather, with their decision to call the game tight.
Here's the thing: Game two had an early start time on a Sunday night. It was the game that casual fans would have the best chance to watch in its entirety. People tune in not just for Lakers-Celtics, but for Kobe, Garnett, Odom, and Perkins as well. The NBA needs its stars to perform. For its stars to perform they have to play.
In the playoffs, especially in the Finals, players should be allowed to play. Both teams are physical. Instead of creating a finesse game, calling the game tight caused the game to seem choppy. Instead of reflecting on Ray Allen's greatness, I am left wondering how much better this great rivalry could have been if the players were allowed to play.
I am baffled by the officiating. Maybe the NBA is afraid of Artest Melee: The Sequel. I honestly don't know. What I do know is that instead of seeing Kevin Garnett having a much needed bounce back game, I saw him on the bench for too long. Instead of seeing a signature Kobe Bryant third quarter, I saw Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown. The Lakers and Celtics hate each other. The players are giving 110%. The NBA can't expect the teams to change their obviously successful styles. When the series goes to Boston Tuesday night, I hope I see a game, not a free throw shooting contest.
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