The Celtics suffered two losses in Game Six of The NBA Finals on Tuesday.
Most importantly, the Celtics lost the game. But fortunately for Boston, they can bounce back in Game Seven tonight.
One thing Boston will not recover from, the loss of their six foot ten, 278 pound starting forward. Kendrick Perkins.
And for that reason alone, the Lakers will be crowned NBA Champions tonight.
Perkins tore two ligaments in his right knee during the first quarter on Tuesday. And when he left the court, Perkins took Boston’s championship hopes with him.
Depth at the forward and center positions was the biggest advantage the Celtics had over the Lakers. But that was nullified the instant Perkins went down.
The Celtics were a tough, physical team with Perkins in the lineup. But without him, they reverted to a jump shooting squad, with no post presence down low.
Boston still has bodies to put in the paint, but Kevin Garnett will have to turn back the clock and deliver a historic performance tonight if the Celtics are going to win.
Glen Davis must play productive minutes. Rasheed Wallace must keep his temper in check and avoid getting into foul trouble.
I am not as worried about Rasheed showing up as I am for “Big Baby” Davis.
Davis has yet to prove that he can play effectively on the road. He had a monster night in Game Four at home (we all saw the drool). But without the energy from his home crowd, I think his contribution off the bench will be minimal.
Bench production will be the biggest factor for Boston, but their starters will also have to make plays.
The Celtics are not going to give the Lakers the game. LA must make sure they close out, and play with the same urgency they brought on Tuesday.
Game Six was a tale of two teams. Boston and LA were polar opposites.
While the Celtics never got anything going, the Lakers played a seemingly flawless game. LA won by taking advantage of their home court luxuries. And they played tougher than the Celtics.
Everything still stems back to Perkins' injury. Once Perkins left in the early minutes of Game Six, Pau Gasol provided his best game of the series, finishing one assist shy of a triple-double (17 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists).
Without one of the NBA's top defensive centers to beat, Gasol outworked and out-rebounded the Celtics big men.
Game Seven'ss outcome teeters on Gasol being able to duplicate his Tuesday night performance.
The Lakers’ bench must also make significant contributions for LA to take the title.
The Lakers do not fare well when they stand around and watch Kobe carry the team. They've been guilty of doing that multiple times in this series.
LA needs every player to do his job.
From Lamar Odom to Sasha Vujacic, each bench player must make the most out of his minutes and the starters will need to take some of the pressure off Kobe.
Ron Artest made a game-high three 3-pointers in Game Six. And if the Lakers want a win tonight, Artest will have to make a few baskets at some point.
There have been too many instances where Artest has hesitated on shots and passed on scoring opportunities. The Lakers signed Artest mainly for his defensive skills, but Phil Jackson will need some offensive production out of him tonight.
Now that we have determined all the elements for Game Seven, here is my forecast.
Game Seven will come down to match-ups, and which team can capitalize on its advantages. Boston is banged up in the front court, so LA will win the battle down low.
The Lakers will feed of their fans' energy in key moments, even though the Celtics have already proved that they can win in the Staples Center.
The Perkins injury will prove costly as The Lakers bench will provide crucial points.
And the last and most important key factor.
The Lakers have him. The Celtics do not.
The Lakers will win.