With my first real post in more than five months, I figured the NBA Finals would be a perfect spot to begin. Last night’s Game 3 between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers was not won by the team that played better, but by the team that made fewer mistakes. The Lakers managed to squeak by with an 87-81 victory, but they cannot be happy with how they played. They had few good offensive possessions, but it was not because of the Celtics’ defense. The Celtics seemed lethargic, slow to play help defense, and just plain bad last night. Kevin Garnett, the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, was weak on the defensive glass, slow to react to Lamar Odom’s reckless spin moves, and never seemed to have the unbelievable energy that he had possessed all season.
Yet, Los Angeles could not take advantage of the sloppy defense. They shot 43.5% from the field (30-69) and a miserable 61.8% from the free throw line (21-34). With the exception of Kobe Bryant, the other four Laker starters scored a combined 22 points on 7 of 28 shooting. Starting point guard Derek Fisher had only one assist while Lamar Odom had five turnovers. Vladamir Radmonovic played only 13 minutes because of foul trouble while the rarely-used Ronny Turiaf played 19 minutes, the most he’s played throughout the entire playoffs.
If I just told you those stats, you probably would have guessed that the Lakers got killed, but the Celtics’s offense was even more pitiful. Garnett and Paul Pierce combined for 19 points on 8 for 35 shooting. The whole team only shot 34.9% (29-83) and their free throw shooting was only slightly better than LA at 68.2% (15-22). Kendrick Perkins played only 28 minutes and starting point guard Rajon Rondo played only 22 minutes, racking up four assists with two turnovers during that time. The only bright spot for the poor-shooting Celts was Ray Allen’s 25 points which kept the Celtics in the game for most of the first half.
The 51 total fouls in the game prevented the teams from getting into any kind of a rhythm and made the game extremely choppy. Neither team looked comfortable at any time during the night, specifically the Celtics who barely ran one competent offensive possession. Frankly, it just was not entertaining basketball. With the big game four looming tomorrow night, both teams better be ready to buckle down and start playing like they are capable of playing. A repeat of last night’s performance will lose the NBA viewers and David Stern will have to fix that by switching out the Lakers and the Celtics for the Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavaliers. It seems pretty clear now that the NBA is only concerned about making a buck and will alter the outcome of a game if it increases its revenue. More on that later, but right now, I sit in disgust at the lack of skillful basketball yesterday. (Photos: ESPN)