Lakers vs. Celtics: Who Should Be Worried Going into Game Six?

Alex McVeighSenior Analyst IJune 16, 2008

As the Finals march back to Boston, both teams come back with thoughts of a few things they could have done that would have changed the series.

Boston was in a very good position to win game five. Another gut-wrenching comeback would have really sent a message to the Lakers' fans, and I’m sure Garnett would finally be able to get some sleep.

If the Lakers had hit a few more shots in games two and four, they could easily be the team up 3-2.

So which team should be more worried about game six? Let’s take a look.

Celtics: Injuries Are Piling Up

Boston should be worried about their ever-disappearing bodies. From Pierce and Perk in game one, to Rondo later on, the Celts are slowly breaking down.

Maybe it’s the toll of two straight game sevens and a game six added to the age of players, but the Celtics are gradually slowing down against the much younger Lakers' club.

Even more worrisome, the injuries aren’t to their old guys, but to their two youngest starters. Not a good sign, especially when everyone rooting for the Celtics is holding their collective breath every time Ray Allen’s surgically repaired ankles drive to the rack.

Tony Allen, who wasn’t even supposed to play before the Finals began, is not getting regular minutes. If this series goes to seven, who knows who will be able to play in the final game.

Lakers: Show Me the Role Players

The Lakers’ bench, usually pretty consistent, has seemed fickle this series. Vujacic has had his game, but at times he has looked lost out there, and he’s missed his share of open looks.

Farmar showed flashes last night, but he has been far from the quick moving, devastating three point shooter that he was earlier in the season.

Odom has gotten to a hot start or two, but seems to alternate good moves on the inside with looking completely lost in the offense at a random basis. There is no way Odom should be shooting threes in an elimination game like he did in game five.

Chris Mihm? Why on earth would someone get his first minutes in a playoff game, in a Finals elimination game? Sure the Lakers won, but what kind of a decision was that?

Celtics: Kobe Hasn’t Gotten His

Before the Finals began, everyone realized that Kobe would probably swing one game to the Lakers by himself. He did that in 2004, despite the washed up stars and horrible chemistry.

I was thinking he would do it last night, especially after his hot start, and I was prepared for it. I didn’t expect him to disappear for most of the rest of the game, which means he still hasn’t gotten his.

If you’re the Celtics, assuming Kobe is still going to win a game, here are your options:

A)  He wins game six, and shows the world that it’s possible to both come back from a 3-1 deficit and win the last two on the road. Plus, you never want a superstar to be in sniffing distance of a title.

B)  The Lakers win game six with another mediocre (for Kobe, which means it's a dynamite for everyone else) Kobe game. Now Kobe realizes that his time is game seven, and he puts his stamp on it, making history.

Neither is appealing for Boston. They need to keep this in mind.

Lakers: Shipping up to Boston

The Lakers had two hopes coming into this series: that they could steal one in Boston, and then win all three at home. They didn’t do either, and are now in an unenviable position.

Now they’re heading back to the most fired up crowd that Boston has had in 20 years, and if there’s one team that can count on their crowd in a huge game, it’s the C’s. They’ve already won two game sevens there.

The crowd at TD Banknorth needs to know this: they are as close as any regular sports fan will ever get to affect the outcome of a championship.

The resurgence of the Celtics combined with the already passionate Celtics fan should create an atmosphere of absolute pandemonium for one, possibly two games.

The Celtics fans are going to be absolutely insane Tuesday night, and it’s going to be quite a spectacle. I’m glad I don’t have to play there. Good luck quieting that crowd down.

Celtics: Beantown Meltdown?

Ever since the Red Sox came back against the Yankees in 2004, Boston fans have looked at the world a little differently. Maybe they’ve suffered enough; maybe they can actually enjoy the concept of winning.

The loss in Super Bowl XLII showed the Boston fans that horrible losses can still come. And what better way to even the karmic playing field (or hardwood court) than to have an equally historic collapse against their archrival in another sport?

If the Lakers are able to pull out game six, it’s going to be hard for Boston fans to stifle the memories of 1986 and 2003 Red Sox for a game seven where it’s all on the line. If I were Boston, I would want no part of a game seven.

Lakers: Inexperience with Adversity

One could argue that this Lakers’ season has been a relatively easy one. After some initial drama started by Kobe, the team won consistently, and in spite of the circumstances that surrounded them.

Bynum started off hot, then he went down. Then almost immediately Gasol was sent their way. They got super lucky with their playoff draw, facing a dismal Nuggets' team instead of a dangerous Warriors' team.

Then they played the Jazz, a great home team, but a mediocre road team. By the time they got to the Spurs, they were drained after a long series with the Hornets.

This Lakers team hasn’t faced much in terms of adversity. Now all of a sudden they have to go to the most hostile environment imaginable for not one, but two wins if they hope to get a title.

Add that with a mostly young team on the biggest stage possible, and it’s a steep, steep uphill climb—although not quite as steep as it was 24 hours ago.

Both teams should be scared coming into game six. After all, this is for all the marbles. While both teams have their own set of issues, it will be interesting to watch the best players in the world lay it all out on the court.


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