Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Energy. Between these two fairly evenly matched teams, that's been the difference in the last two games. The Lakers had it for game 6, leading by as many as 27 points in a resounding home court victory, forcing a deciding 7th game for the NBA championship.

Received wisdom is that a loud home court crowd--and LA was uncommonly loud--helps young bench players the most, and the Laker bench came through with solid and spectacular play--thunderous dunks by Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar plus solid offense and rebounding by Lamar Odum and timely shooting by Sasha Vujacic took all the suspense out of the game early. By the end of the third quarter, the Lakers bench had outscored the Celtics bench 24-0.

But it was the energy of the Lakers starters that was so impressive. In game 5 the Celtics came out loose, crisp and energetic. In game 6 the Lakers came out energetic, determined and efficient. Pau Gasol and Ron Artest had much better games, and Kobe Bryant was immediately on target with his shots and passes.

The only bad sign was that Andrew Bynum was ineffective and by the second half couldn't run at all, and took himself out of the game. This makes him questionable for the seventh game on Thursday. The Celtics also have a big man problem, with one of their centers in rotation, Kendrick Perkins, who left the game with a knee injury, and might not be able to play Thursday.

The Lakers dominance on their home floor bodes well for Thursday, but as I pointed out last time, the Celtics haven't played with energy the first game after travel. Including the first game of the series, those were the Lakers' three wins. So it's likely to be more of a fight on Thursday. Still, the Lakers defense was impressive, and it's hard to see what other surprises the Celtics can provide for them to counter. I expect a close game (unfortunately for my nerves) but I like the Lakers chances.

No comments: