Through five games thus far the NBA finals are finally starting to heat up, which is especially great after four dreadful sweeps in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
The Lakers head into LA down three games to two and are now in a do-or-die situation (if they weren't already).
Grading the 2010 NBA Finals: Los Angeles Lakers Vs Boston Celtics
PG: Rajon Rondo —14.2 PPG, 7.4 APG, 6.2 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 47.8 FG%
Rondo continues to produce for the Celtics even though he has certainly cooled down compared to his performances in the previous rounds of the playoffs. While Rondo has evaded getting to the free-throw line (4-for-15 in 5 games), he still attacks the basket at a high rate and plays effective all-around basketball.
It seems as though the Celtics' offense runs through Rondo, and if the Big Three can consistently hit their shots, the point-guard simply needs to continue to distribute the ball.
PG: Derek Fisher —9.2 PPG, 2.4 APG, 3.6 RPG, 37.2 FG%
Fisher has struggled mightily from the field during the five games played so far in the Finals. More so than anything, D-Fish has struggled from the three-point line, failing to make one three-pointer (0-for-8) in the finals after averaging nearly eight during every other round of the postseason.
But the veteran helped the Lakers win Game Three with a big bucket near the end of regulation, and solely for that reason he's getting a much better grade than he deserves.
SG: Ray Allen —14.0 PPG, 1.4 APG, 3.0 RPG, 37.1 FG%
Allen enjoyed a historial game in LA, nailing 32 points on 11-of-20 shooting from the field and 8-for-11 from beyond the three point arc.
But in the three games since then Allen has yet to drain a trey ball (0-for-16) or make a serious impact in Boston's winnings.
Shooting just 37.1 percent in the series so far, Allen must step up his game and production if the Celtics want to secure their final win.
SG: Kobe Bryant —30.2 PPG, 4.4 APG, 6.0 RPG, 2.0 SPG, 42.5 FG%
Kobe has played at an extremely elite level during each and every game of the Finals thus far. After scoring 19 points during Game Five's third quarter and ending the game with a total of 38 points, it's apparent that Kobe is not the reason for the Lakers' loss.
If Bryant can get his teammates to play with the same competitiveness and intensity that he possesses, the Lakers will have a good shot at forcing a Game Seven at the Staples Center.
SF: Paul Pierce —19.0 PPG, 3.4 APG, 4.6 RPG, 46.4 FG%
Aside from Game Two Pierce has played consistent basketball for the Boston Celtics. Even with defensive-minded Ron Artest constantly pressuring the forward, Pierce has managed to find a way to get the ball into the hoop.
Coming off a series-high 27 points during Game Five, the Truth will seek an even better performance in Game Six to finish off the Lakers.
SF: Ron Artest —7.8 PPG, 1.6 APG, 4.2 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 30.2 FG%
Artest has been a big liability for the Lakers during the NBA Finals so far. He has yet to show any type of offensive game (averaging at least two badly-bricked shots from three-point range per game), and defensively he let Pierce blow up for 27 points in Game Five.
It's clear that Artest is not relied upon to score, so he should stop shooting the ball. Having said that, he should focus on stepping up his defensive pressure on Pierce.
PF: Kevin Garnett —15.6 PPG, 3.2 APG, 6.0 RPG, 1.8 SPG, 1.0 BPG, 50.8 FG%
After soaking in Pau Gasol's criticism from Game Two's postgame press conference, Garnett has brought his game up another notch.
In the three games since KG has been shooting a very efficient 55 percent from the field while averaging 18.6 PPG and 7.3 RPG.
Garnett has somewhat resurrected after shooting 38.9 percent and averaging just 10.3 PPG in six games during the Eastern Conference Finals and will most definitely bring even more intensity in Game Six.
PF: Pau Gasol —18.8 PPG, 2.6 APG, 10.0 RPG, 2.6 BPG, 51.7 FG%
Gasol has played very well for the Lakers on both ends of the court. He is averaging around 12 shots per game and needs to get that number up to around 15 to 16 if the Lakers want an opportunity at winning the Finals.
The seven-footer also needs to be more assertive and aggressive in attacking the basket when the ball is in his hands, as his shooting percentage should be higher than it currently is in this series.
C: Kendrick Perkins —7.0 PPG, 1.2 APG, 6.8 RPG, 60.0 FG%
Perkins' defensive presence in the middle of the paint and hustling intensity are key ingredients to Boston's success in this series thus far.
Although he has yet to block a shot, he is grabbing boards and shooting the ball at a high percentage (and has prevented himself from getting his seventh technical foul).
C: Andrew Bynum- 9.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 1.6 BPG, 51.5 FG%
Bynum's injured knee has obviously impaired him from playing consistent basketball. Although the center continues to battle through the pain, his overall performance has been declining.
Unless the seven-footer can somehow produce offensively and defensively at a high level, he will remain on the bench during crunch time.
The Celtics' bench has outscored LA's bench by a total of 31 points (115 to 84). Glen Davis and Nate Robinson came up huge in Game Four, combining for 30 points and helping Boston secure a 96-89 victory.
In addition to Shrek and Donkey, Wallace and Allen have been serviceable options off the bench as well.
The Lakers' bench has been practically nonexistent during the five games played in the Finals so far. Sixth-man Lamar Odom is averaging just 7.6 PPG and 5.8 RPG and has really struggled to put up a big performance.
Other than Odom the Lakers bench has done close to nothing.
Grading the NBA Finals Ratings
According to ESPN the Finals are up six percent in viewer ratings from last year's Lakers vs Magic matchup.
The series has also drawn higher ratings than the previous Celtics-Lakers matchup in 2008 and has had the best overall ratings since the 2004 NBA Finals.
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