NBA Finals: Game 4
Wow. Really Wow. If you haven’t heard about the Celtics extraordinary comeback last night, you’re living under a rock. Down 21 after the first quarter and 18 at half time, the Celtics held the Lakers to 33 points throughout the entire second half to pull off one of, if not, the greatest comebacks in the history of the NBA Finals. After looking like an old, slow group of washed up veterans in the first half, Boston came out with intense defense that stopped Los Angeles right in their tracks. As the Lakers missed shot after shot, the Celtics became aggressive on the offensive end of the floor, drawing fouls, and making free throws.
After the first two quarters were completed, a Lakers’ victory was a forgone conclusion, but the Celtics refused to give up and it eventually paid off. Point by point, they chipped away at the Lakers’ lead until they were within two points by the end of the third quarter. When the fourth quarter rolled around, LA looked out of gas as they weakly strolled up and down the court, playing lazy defense and running miserable offensive possessions. On the few plays that the Lakers were able to get a good shot from they field, they missed. Role players such as Luke Walton, Jordan Farmar, and Game 3 hero Sashs Vujacic shot a combined 3 of 18 from the field. Kobe continued to struggle on offense as Ray Allen and Paul Pierce shut him down the entire night. He ended up making only 6 of his 19 shots, scoring 17 points and dishing out 10 assists.
Lamar Odom’s struggles ended in the first half as he broke out for 16 points, 13 in the opening quarter. However, Odom disappeared again in the second half, scoring only 3 more points the rest of the way. Point guard Derek Fisher played only 25 minutes and dished out only three assists as Lakers’ coach Phil Jackson chose to rest Fisher at pivotal points in the fourth quarter. Laker fans can second guess the “zen master” (as Phil Jackson is known) all they want, but the fact is that the Lakers didn’t make shots when the pressure was on them. The Celtics stifling defense forced LA to throw up ill advised shots and not even Kobe Bryant could carrythe Lakers to victory.
In possibly the most revealing possession of the playoffs, Ray Allen dribbled down the shot clock until there were only five or six seconds remaining, drove past Vujacic, and scored a wide open layup, putting the Celtics up 5 with 3 minutes remaining. On Los Angele’s ensuing possession, Farmar and Vujacicmissed open jumpers and KG came back to drain a short jump shot and ice the game. When it was all said and done, the Celtics defeated the Lakers 97-91 and gained a commanding 3 games to 1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Ray Allen played every minute of the game while injured point guard Rajon Rondo played only 17 minutes and was replaced by the rarely used Eddie House down the stretch.
As much as Doc Rivers has been criticized for many of his moves throughout the postseason, there was nothing to complain about in game four. He played James Posey 25 minutes and Posey stepped up, shooting 5-10 from the field (4-8 from 3-pt range) and scoring 18 points. Eddie House played 25 minutes as well, only the second game he has played in throughout the entire postseason, and added 11 points on 4 of 9 shooting. The Celtics role players stepped up big time, opening up the game for the Big 3 to seize control down the stretch, and moving themselves one win away from an NBA Championship.