Sunday, June 13, 2010

Live blog Game 5

I'm watching by myself so I may as well talk to myself here. The Celtics came out energetic and crisp, their stars are shooting well. The Lakers not so obviously crisp, and Kobe Bryant doesn't have a point well into the first quarter. These are not good signs for the Lakers.

The quarter ends with Celtics shooting about 60%, ahead by two. It may be a case of the Lakers weathering the early storm, but Pierce looks way too comfortable and loose, Rondo too quick.

This is the fifth game, which in most 7 game series is decisive. In this one as well. Although the Lakers finish with two games at home, this is the game they want and need.

Early second quarter, Boston up by 8. This game could quickly get away from the Lakers, who are getting rebounds and second chance points but are shooting flat, look slow and bothered. Celtic defense is smothering Kobe, Artest can't make a shot, Gasol is a nonfactor so far. Only Bynum is conspicuously battling.

--Good sequence for the Lakers. Artest finally hits a 3. He's a streak shooter. Lakers down just one. Maybe this is the way they win this--by being tough, mentally tough.

--Halftime: Lakers down by six. Celtics shooting 65%, Lakers in the 30s. Logic says the Celtics can't continue at that pace, but they have several shooters that haven't been involved so far. Paul Pierce is doing a Kobe, although it's soft defense that's allowing it as well. Further bad news: Artest, guarding him, has 3 fouls. The Lakers need a strong third quarter--which is often when they make their move--and they need to win the fourth. Right now this feels like the Celtics game to lose. If it continues this way, they go to LA up 3 games to 2.

Third quarter: Despite a dazzling individual scoring quarter by Kobe, the Lakers had to close the gap in the last few minutes to be down only by eight. Their only hope is that the Celtics have run out of gas, and they can mount their best fourth quarter of the playoffs. It's not impossible, but Kobe had almost all of the Lakers' third quarter points and the rest of the team looks slow. Plus Pierce has not faltered, and Garnett is having a good game.

End: Lakers fought back and with a few breaks and calls the other way (especially the Celtics 24 second violation that the officials got wrong) might have pulled it out, but they didn't. One way to look at this is scary enough: that it's the Celtics, not the Lakers, who have figured the other team out. Another way to see it is that the Lakers as a team played horribly, the Celtics as a team played extraordinarily well, and the Lakers were within striking distance in the last two minutes.

The sixth game is Tuesday in LA. The Celtics haven't won the first game after travel, and have been flat both times. The Lakers couldn't get any flatter. But the Celtics just have to win one out of two, and the Lakers have to win them both. Without a healthy Bynum, able to play late in the game, the Lakers have to be considered the underdogs.

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