Celtics’ Big Three scored 65 points and Kobe shoots 9 for 26
When the Celtics’ Big three is scoring as a group it will be difficult for the Lakers to win one game. The Lakers had Paul Pierce under control until he caught fire. When all three are playing well, it puts tremendous pressure on the Lakers’ defense to scramble – which will allow players like Rajon Rondo, Sam Cassell and James Posey to have wide open looks.
The Celtics’ bench outscored the Lakers’ bench 17 to 15
The Lakers’ bench has been touted as a big advantage, but the Celtics’ bench won the first battle. The factor I noted in my series’ preview article was the Lakers bench was good but young – and it showed big time Thursday. Luke Walton looked lost and struggled all night. And he has Finals experience!
Boston dominated the glass 46 to 33
The Lakers are not a physical team and the Celtics abused them on the glass. Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom will have to average close to 10 rebounds per game in order to negate the Celtics on the glass.
The Celtics held the Lakers to 41 percent from the field
The Celtics did a great job of packing in their defense and scrambling to the shooters. Derek Fisher got loose early, but he was the only consistent threat. Kobe will definitely shoot better than 9 for 26, but he needs help from Fisher, Sasha Vujacic and Vladimir Radmanovic to open the paint so he can attack the basket.
Boston shot 35 free throws and Kobe got to the line only six times
The Celtics’ plan is to keep Kobe off the free-throw line and it worked in Game 1. That allowed the Celtics to have a +7 advantage.
Star of game: Rajon Rondo. His 15 point, 7 assist and 5 rebound night was huge. He also put pressure on the Lakers in that big third quarter, when he found Pierce for two three-point shots.
Turning point: Paul Pierce finding his rhythm early in the third and then continuing it when he returned to the court after suffering a sprained knee.
Unsung hero: PJ Brown was huge with his defense and rebounding. He had a big block on Odom late in the game and seemed to grab every big rebound down the stretch.
Who needs to step up? Lamar Odom has to look to score more, especially when Kendrick Perkins and Brown are guarding him. Phil Jackson benched him late because he needed shooters on the floor or was that a message to get aggressive? Perkins looked lost and nervous. He cannot put the pressure on PJ Brown to continue to have big games. The Celtics need more production in Game 2.
Game 2 strategy
– Continue to keep the ball in the hands of the Big Three early, especially Garnett.
– Get Pierce to move the ball quicker out of the double teams.
– Encourage Garnett to attack the rim more, especially against Gasol.
– Encourage Rondo, Perkins and Brown to be ready and shoot open shots.
– Continue to squeeze Kobe and keep him out of the paint. Kobe only scored one bucket in the paint.
– Run the Lakers shooters off the three-point line.
Los Angeles Lakers:
– Find a way to get inside that Celtic defense for easy scores.
– Get Lamar Odom involved early offensively.
– Negate one of the Big Three on the offensive end.
– Look for Kobe to start the game extremely aggressive offensively.
– Try to get Fisher, Vujacic and Radmanovic some jump shots to force the Celtics to extend that defense.
– Be extremely physical with Garnett and a sore Paul Pierce.
The Lakers have shown a great ability to rebound from tough losses all year, but the Celtics are great at home and I see this series going 2-0 headed back to Los Angeles.