At the beginning of this series, I talked about 2 things — and 2 things only — the heart of the Lakers front line and the health of Andrew Bynum. Without making too much a single win (like Lakers Nation after Game 1), I will say that the trends are beginning to favor the Celtics.
Boston’s mix of experience, passion and physical strength is beginning to pay huge dividends. Without Bynum, I do not expect the Lakers to reverse the points in the paint statistic — and that means they’ll need Ray Allen to shoot 0-13 again. The question of heart seems, to me, to be an open question for the Lakers. Throughout this entire series, Derek Fisher (the only Laker who is consistently a + (statistically) in every game) is the only one who has distinguished himiself by stepping in front of charging Celtics players….the only one. Not Odom, not Kobe (sliding to get into the way or out of the way at the last instant), not Gasol, not Brown or Walton or Farmar…just Fisher. That’s a problem.
Paul Pierce is a walking turnover. Ron Artest needs to get in his hip pocket and take the ball away without fouling him. Kobe needs to stop turning the ball over. Phil needs to play Farmer and Brown for longer stretches early so that Fisher can play longer stretches late. With that said, I picked Boston because I knew THIS game was going to happen…that gritty, nasty, want-to game…and I knew who would win that game. LA won the pretty game. That was for the media and the hoes. Nice job. They won Ray’s abysmal game. Nice job. If Rasheed closed out Game 3 instead of Allen, the Celtics probably win that game, too.
LA still has superior talent, but without Bynum, I know they don’t have superior confidence. The only two Lakers who are unbreakable in that regard are Kobe and Fisher…the rest are Plastic Men whose confidence wobbles and bends from basket to basket. How much can Lamar Odom and Gasol call on their recollections of beating Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu last year? It can’t be much comfort with “Big Baby” banging on your head. Not so in Boston — and that may define this series more than the great and unquestioned talent of the men in purple and gold.