Don: Well…That was exactly what the doctor ordered. Boston, full of piss ‘n’ vinegar sent reeling on their heels from an absolute beat-down. Honestly? I’d like one more, just like that… call it revenge for ’08.
Ezra: The Celtics will come out better on Thursday, but it won’t really matter. All the pressure is on them now to beat the Lakers at Staples Center that’s only lost once the entire playoffs. That one loss happened on Ray Allen’s best night, and I don’t see Ray Ray doing any better than he’s been shooting since Game 2.
Their one and only chance to eliminate the Lakers was Game 6, and they blew it BIG time. 10 out of 13 teams that have homecourt winning Game 6 went on to win Game 7. If the Lakers come out with the same sense of urgency as a team and overwhelm Boston in the first quarter again, banner 16 is locked.
Don: It’s going to be interesting… but I think the momentum’s shifted yet again. I think LA need to be wary of the “win won for the gipper” phenomena – post Perk’s injury… but I’m pretty sure it’ll have a minimal impact for LA.
For Boston, it’s huge. Perkins is done with a tear to both his MCL and PCL. And there will be nay-sayers who’ll look at the boxscores, roll their eyes and mutter “what does he contribute anyway?”, but that’d be a mistake. Kendrick Perkins is the Celtics defensive anchor. He does so much. And it also means that either Big Baby or Sheed have to start… and that further limits the impact that their bench has.
Sure, LA are somewhat limited with Bynum, but that’s something they’re experienced with. This is uncharted territory for Boston.
Ezra: Very true regarding the Celtics playing without Perkins in the middle for the first time in a long time. Sheed may or may not start in his place, but he will have the assignment of guarding Bynum in the post. Andrew doesn’t have to score that much. He just has to rebound and alter shots in the paint. But he’ll be defending KG on the other end, which usually works in the favor of the Lakers.
I’m expecting a steady diet of P&Rs and double-screens to free-up both Pierce and Ray Allen on the perimeter. The Lakers did an excellent job of crowding Pierce and chasing Allen through screens in Game 6. They will have to do more of that in Game 7.
As long as they don’t give a lot of easy looks for either one, I think the Lakers will be alright. But Kobe has to guard Rondo closer without letting him get to the rim. Boston still runs smooth when he is getting his teammates the ball. Having Bryant far away from him opens up way too many passing lanes.
Don: I don’t think Sheed’ll guard Bynum too much… I think he does a pretty good job on Pau, so that’s where we’ll see him. Which will mean Bynum will see KG both ends of the floor. Bynum has the strength to be pretty effective, despite playing on 1.5 legs.
And yup: if Boston are to be in this, they’ll be leaning heavily on Pierce/Allen. But overall… I think Destiny’s spoken. Kobe gets #5. Phil gets #11. Ron gets #1. LA gets #16.