Lakers vs. Celtics Game 5: Why Lamar Odom Isn't the Key To a Lakers Game Six Win

Pat Mixon@patmixonSenior Analyst IJune 14, 2010

BOSTON - JUNE 10:  (L-R) Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol #16 and Lamar Odom #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers stand on the court dejected late in the fourth quarter against the Boston Celltics during Game Four of the 2010 NBA Finals on June 10, 2010 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics won 96-89. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Can we please give all the Lamar Odom being the key to a Lakers’ victory a rest? I mean, really, Lamar is a great player but come on. We’re talking about a guy coming off the bench, even if he basically gets starter minutes over the course of a game.

It really is amazing to me that everyone links Lamar to a repeat, like this one player, on a team of great players, is the only reason why or why not the Lakers will win the 2010 NBA Finals.

That is way too much importance for any player, let alone Lamar Odom. Sure, we can tout all the stats on the Lakers’ winning percentage when Lamar scores and rebounds, but really, that is only a by-product of other factors, not the least of which are matchups and offensive flow.

I won’t deny it, Lamar is a great player. He is one of the best versatile big-men in the league. His skills run the gamut and if he wasn’t on the Lakers, he’d be the first or second best player on a number of other teams. 

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But, he’s a Laker, by his own choice and the team’s. That’s why the Lakers made him their number one objective last summer to re-sign. And, we’re all glad they did. But, come on, he is not the reason for the team beating Boston and winning another title. Nor will he be the only reason if they fall to the Celtics.

So, can we please stop putting all this pressure on Lamar? Really, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. When it comes to Lamar, then if we follow this logic, we’re all insane. I wish he was a different player. I wish he’d do some other things I think he is capable. But he doesn’t or won’t.  

The big tease is that he shows glimmers at times. But, really, what were those matchups? At least in the case of these Boston Celtics, unless Lamar really changes his game, goes to different ways of attacking, we’re not going to get the outcome we all wish.

Sure, Lamar is vital to the Lakers. If they repeat this year, he will be a major reason for it. He is perfect for the triangle, perfect for Gasol, perfect in so many other ways. He’s a serious contributor and deserves respect.

However, Lamar is arguably the third or fourth best player on the Lakers. At times, especially given the right matchups, he can create a nightmare for opposing coaches.


But not against Boston. Both Perkins and Garnett tear up Lamar. These aren’t good matchups for him.  

Now, we all thought that Boston had at least one favorable player that Lamar would have the advantage over and that was Big Baby Glen Davis. But, we saw what happened in Game Four. Davis overpowered the much taller Lamar and threw his weight around against the Lakers’ player.  

But, I don’t see that happening again too much, as was the case in Game Five. Davis didn’t go off nor manhandle Lamar as in the previous game. That is because Lamar is a smart player and figured out how to play Davis.  

And, even down low, where Davis did some damage in Game Four, Lamar held his own in Game Five. That's because Lamar can bash and pound with the best of them, just not Perkins and Garnett.  

Lamar will get back on track. Count on it. But, the Celtics aren’t a favorable matchup overall for him and that is why he struggles.  Remember the 2008 Finals?  But to say Lamar is the reason for the Lakers playing poorly is to miss the point entirely.  

It is clearly evident, as was the case two years ago, that the front line of Gasol and Odom simply can’t match the Celtics. So, other players have to be factors if this year will be any different from 2008.


Right now, with the Game Five loss, the Lakers have their back’s against the wall. But there is still hope. The formula for success is pound and flow.  

And, that responsibility falls on Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. They are the reasons for victory or failure. They are better than any Celtic. Period. I would even go so far to say that Ron Artest is more important than Lamar in this series.  

Artest has been called on to provide solid one on one defense on Paul Pierce and, for the most part excluding Game Five, he has delivered. 

However, Artest has to produce more on offense. Right now, he is hurting the Lakers.  Spacing is critical against a team that plays great defense like the Celtics.  

And, Artest has been shooting poorly. That needs to change. More offensive production from Ron Ron will be a serious lift for the Lakers. Remember how well he helped in Game One?  

Artest must hit his shots and even take some in the paint. He has to put more pressure on Paul Pierce, be a threat offensively to keep the court spread, and allow the Lakers’ triangle offense to flow and work effectively and efficiently.

But, the number one key for the Lakers to win Game Six is the paint. While everyone complained in the first few games that the refs had a quick whistle and too many fouls were called, it was indicative of one key fact: the Lakers pounded the ball in the paint.

To even talk about a final Game Seven, the Lakers will have to pound the ball and get key Boston players in foul trouble. This starts with Gasol but the other key player is Andrew Bynum.  

As much as I’m begging people to stop beating up Lamar and realize these are not favorable matchups for him in this series, I offer the same reason why Bynum needs to log solid minutes for the Lakers to take this series.

Bynum wins all the matchups the Celtics throw at him. When he is rolling, Coach Doc Rivers even has to consider sending a double team at him. Yes, seriously. Imagine that, Boston doubling off of Kobe or Gasol to stop Bynum in the post. That is a reality.

The key, however, is the health of Bynum. I won’t go into that as it has been beaten to death in all places in the media. Face it to say it is important and Bynum having his knee drained the other day and his activity at times in Game Five offers some hope for the battle back in LA.

For Game Six, the Lakers have to re-establish the flow to their offense, pound the ball inside, and get Boston in foul trouble. And, they must get back to tenacious defense. The Celtics shot far too high of a shooting percentage and got really easy shots in Game Five. 

If the Lakers do those things, they win. Then, we can have talk about a climatic Game Seven. But right now, this series comes down to much more simple things than Lamar Odom. The Lakers need to bring heart and strength back to the game Tuesday in LA.

A solid performance from Lamar is all that is required. The Lakers should get that from his since he’ll be back home. But to say a Lakers Championships rests on his shoulders and his shoulders alone, is ludicrous. Give it a break.

The real key in Game Six will be flow, spacing, pounding the ball, and players like Artest and Bynum who have to step up and provide the excellence and lift that we know will come from Gasol and Bryant. A Lakers' Championship hangs in the balance.

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