Why the Lakers won Game 5? Here's why...
Lakers showed off their Big Three
Finally the Lakers got production from Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol in unison. They were outscored 67 to 64, but it was close enough to make a role players' game and the Lakers won the battle 39 to 31. Boston's top two role players, Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo, are banged up and L.A. took advantage.
Backs against the wall
The Lakers are the mouse in the corner and they have no choice but to fight. And they did. They were extremely physical against a beat up Boston team and they took advantage early and late in a game they had to win. Their energy was huge again and this time despite another Boston comeback they held on in Game 5.
Garnett foul trouble
Kevin Garnett picked up quick fouls because the Lakers attacked the rim. Gasol and Odom were extremely physical with Perkins out of the lineup. That put a lot of pressure on Garnett and he picked up two quick fouls and was a non-factor the whole game because of the fear of fouling out. The Lakers got big hoops at the rim because of it.
Kobe aggressive at the start
I think this is imperative that Kobe gets going first. The Lakers cannot afford to allow Kobe to coast into any more games. The Celtics' defense gets better as the game goes along. Hence coming back from two large deficits in Games 4 and 5 and Kobe being held to 10 points after scoring 15 in the first quarter. Those 15 points got the Lakers in a better groove than they had when they did it without him in Game 4.
Picking up 94 feet
The key to beating Boston is to make them use a lot of the shot clock getting into their offense and the Lakers have done a great job in the last two games. This takes away options offensively for the Celtics and has forced Paul Pierce to run the offense, which will tire him eventually if this series goes to a seventh game.
Star of the game: Pau Gasol took advantage of not having to battle Perkins and Garnett because of injury and foul trouble. He had his best stat line of the series: 19 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 blocks. This will have to continue if the Lakers want to win in Boston.
Turning point: Kobe Bryant's gamble defensively on Paul Pierce was huge. If he does not execute that defensive move, Boston probably ties the game and we could be talking about the Celtics winning another banner today.
Unsung heroes: Derek Fisher and Jordan Farmar share the honors in Game 5. Fisher's 15 points helped the Lakers role players have a plus 8 in scoring and Farmar's pressure defense on Sam Cassell and Eddie House forced Doc Rivers to use Pierce and Allen to bring the ball up the court.
Who needs to step up in Game 6?
Leon Powe and PJ Brown have to play huge in Game 6. Kendrick Perkins takes up space and allows Garnett to guard Odom. The Celtics signed Brown for this sole purpose and he has to play big and consistent. Powe teased everyone with a huge game early in the series and has disappeared since.
Rajon Rondo has given into injury and confidence issues. The Celtics need his energy at home. That’s the difference between a Paul Pierce on a bad knee and a young player with a tender ankle. Experience means everything.
Los Angeles Lakers:
Sasha Vujacic has struggled after a great Game 3. He needs to find his rhythm and bring productivity off the bench in Game 6.
Vladimir Radmanovic is due to have a huge game. He does not get many looks, but look for him to get some shots in Game 6 if he can stay out of foul trouble.
Game 6 strategy
- Get off to a good start in the first quarter.
- Get Rondo to attack the rim early against Kobe Bryant's scrambling defense.
- Post Garnett early. They seem to get great looks when they do.
- Continue to squeeze Bryant and make things difficult.
Los Angeles Lakers:
- They will look to speed the game up with Boston looking like the tired team.
- They must get some production from Radmanovic and will look to maybe work.
- Paul Pierce early on the defensive end.
- Kobe coming out ultra aggressive to settle the young Lakers.
- Attack Garnett especially if Perkins is out for Game 6.
It's hard to fathom the Lakers pulling off two wins in Boston, but they can definitely get Game 6 if they get off to the kind of start they have in the last two games. Bryant still has not had the type of game megastars
have to secure a huge win and he is definitely due. The Celtics know that they need to finish this off now or they face the challenge of having to win a Game 7 with a tired, beat up team.
I expect the energy to be ferocious with the hyped crowd and if the Celtics keep it close in the first quarter, they will win by double digits.
The Celtics will celebrate in Game 6 and make me look as if I knew what I was talking about in my preview article.