Game 4 of the NBA Finals is tonight and the Celtics will look to bounce back after a tough home loss Tuesday night. The Lakers grabbed a 2-1 series lead and if they win tonight will guarantee a series lead when the series shifts back to Los Angeles Tuesday. Personally, I see Game 4 ending one of two ways. Either the Celtics will win and tie up the series, or the Lakers will blow the Celtics out of the water.
Why the Celtics Could Win:
1. This game means much more to Boston than L.A. The Celtics could easily come out with more energy and a greater sense of urgency. The Lakers have lost back to back road games against Oklahoma City and Phoenix this postseason. If Game 4 comes down to who wants it more, I think Boston will defeat a Laker team that could be short on intensity. After all, the Celtics cannot afford a loss because that would mean going back to Los Angeles trailing 3-2. Even worse, a Boston loss could lead to the series ending on their home court Sunday night.
2. In all likelihood, Ray Allen will make a shot from the floor. Actually, he will probably make a few. If Paul Pierce can snap out of his slump, this could be the first game in which every member of Boston's big three play well. If Rajon Rondo keeps up his stellar play, the Celtics should have more than enough offense to win.
3. Even though they lost Tuesday night, the Celtics played superb defense in the past two games. If they continue to make the Lakers work for every basket, the match up is in their favor. Doc Rivers has to emphasize the importance of making Kobe Bryant a jump shooter. It's unlikely that Derek Fisher can be the hero in two consecutive games; therefore, it is imperative that Rondo, Allen (both Ray and Tony), and Pierce make life difficult for Kobe.
Why the Celtics Could Get Blown Out
1. Game 3 felt more like a Game 5 in a tied series. Both teams played hard and left everything on the floor. There seems to be a trend in which the winner of a close Game 5 goes on to handily win Game 6. The same could be true for Game 3 and 4 in the Finals. A Laker win would all but clench the series (don't tell me Boston can sweep Los Angeles in the Staples Center). If the Lakers smell blood they could deal the knock out blow tonight.
2. In basketball, defense is all about effort. Yes, basketball IQ and athleticism are important, but ultimately, good defenders want to defend. Both teams will not be at 100% considering the one day break between games. There's a good chance both teams will take multiple defensive possessions off. If that is the case, the Lakers have a considerable advantage in games that come down to reaching 100 points first.
3. Kobe Bryant has not played to his potential in the past two games. If the Celtics aren't playing their best defense, expect a big game from Kobe. Derek Fisher was successful in Game 3 because of his desire and explosiveness. Kobe needs to say, "If Derek can get to the basket, there's no reason why I shouldn't." Bryant cannot rely on the jumper and expect to have an efficient scoring night.
The Boston Celtics need to win the next two games. If they can take the Finals lead over the course of their next two home games, they would have an excellent chance to steal a game in Los Angeles. On the other hand, a loss tonight could spell their first series loss with a healthy big three. Either way, tonight's game is must see television. I'd be lying if I told you I knew how it would end.
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