The Boston Celtics clawed and scratched their way to a crucial Game 4 victory on Thursday night.
With the series tied now at 2-2, it is clear that Game 5 could well decide the series. Boston could return to the City of Angels by holding serve on their home floor in consecutive games, or they could very well limp into Los Angeles on Monday.
Here is what the home team must do tonight to earn a decisive 3-2 series lead...
Doc Rivers must get consistent 2-1 production from his team in this game, with two starters and one bench player putting together an all-around game.
The preferred combination for the Celtics is either Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo or Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce because Garnett is the team's only reliable post scorer and needs to outplay Pau Gasol in the paint.
The real necessity for the Celtics is to have multiple players contributing.
Either Rasheed Wallace, Tony Allen, Glen "Big Baby" Davis, or Nate Robinson will have to come off the bench and provide a spark. It was this spark that was so decisive in Game 4.
If the Celtics can find a combination of three players to contribute from start to finish, the Lakers will eventually wear down.
In all four games of this series, the team that has won the rebounding battle has gone on to win the game.
So, it is clear that the team that crashes the offensive glass and corrals loose balls will take a 3-2 series lead.
The key for the Celtics in Game 4 was gang rebounding. Six players in the rotation grabbed at least five rebounds, so it was quite visible that team box-outs and a collective effort on the boards were part of Doc Rivers' game-plan to counter the Lakers' length.
The Celtics' bigs effectively boxed out the Lakers' duo of Gasol and Andrew Bynum, who only combined for nine rebounds.
With Bynum very limited entering Game 5 due to injury, it will be crucial that Boston asserts itself in the paint against a thinner Los Angeles front line.
Quite simply, the Allen duo, Ray and Tony, must be at their defensive best in this upcoming game.
Bryant will be looking to assert himself on offense because of the importance of this game, so both guards have to be ready. He knows that he has to be more aggressive attacking the basket and will try to get to the line.
The key will be to bait the Laker guard into three-pointers and difficult fade-away jumpers, which Ray Allen and Tony Allen have done in the last three games of the series.
In Game 4, it was critical for the Celtics that Bryant shot more three-pointers than free throws (eleven to eight, respectively).
The Celtics should aim to keep that number in their favor.
Forget the offensive sets and defensive schemes. Forget the X's and O's.
The biggest reason why the Celtics won Game 4 was their intensity and motivation, which was sparked by Donkey and Shrek, as Nate Robinson described himself and his bench partner, Glen Davis, after the game.
In another must-win game, the Celtics must compete on every play in every quarter to win.
They cannot have prolonged offensive droughts or defensive lapses because Los Angeles will be looking to attack and seize the momentum.
Putting together a complete game in this regard, something Boston has not been able to do thus far in the Finals, could very well be the most important key to success.