Basketball Goddess is a slut.
In Game 2, she loved Ray Allen, and he became a Basketball God. All night, she held his hand, and danced with him to the tune of 32 points, and an NBA Finals-record eight three-pointers.
The Celtics rejoiced in victory.
But,in Game 3, Basketball Goddess jilted Allen– left him for another man, Derek Fisher.
Fisher scored 11 fourth quarter points, helping the Lakers withstand a late Celtics surge, taking a 2-1 series lead with a 91-84 win.
And poor Ray Allen didn’t see a thing coming. None of us did.
As the misses piled up, Allen seemed confused, perturbed– as if he wanted to ask Basketball Goddess, ‘How could you do this to me? How could you desert me now, when I need you most?’
Ray Allen finished with just two points, and he missed every shot he took, including eight three-pointers.
Boston fought hard to overcome a 17-point first half deficit, but couldn’t quite get over the hump as Los Angeles made all the big shots, and Allen missed all of his.
Boston played well enough to win–their defense was top-notch, they took care of the ball (10 TO’s), Kevin Garnett regained his earlier playoff form–but both Pierce and Allen disappeared when Boston needed a big basket.
Meanwhile, for the regal group in purple and yellow, Fisher was using the pick-and-roll to get into the lane and score throughout the fourth quarter. Kobe made some shots that only Kobe can make. And the Celtics didn’t have any juice left in their orange to squeeze out another Finals win.
Kevin Garnett scored on the Celtics first three possession and Boston surged ahead 12-5 while playing with superb energy inspired by the boisterous TD Garden crowd. After the 12-5 start, however, Los Angeles went on a 32-8 run that spanned from the last half of the first quarter to the first minutes of the second quarter and gave the Lakers a 37-20 lead.
Other than Garnett and Rajon Rondo, none of the Celtics shot well and the value of a basket shot through the roof like the price of oil after a roadside bombing in Iraq.
Both teams played sensational, swarming defense, and neither team shot well from behind the arc. Boston shot 4-18 from three-point land, while Los Angeles was 2-15.
With the combination of pesky defense and poor shooting, the game bogged down in the trenches of half court offense. Rajon Rondo was the Celtics general, commanding his team with 8 assists and zero giveaways. However, Rondo was unable to control the pace of the game, and was a scoring liability in the half court. Whomever was guarding Rondo–usually Kobe Bryant– played WAY off him on the perimeter, daring Rondo to become a shooter. Rondo didn’t succumb to the pressure to shoot, but he wasn’t able to penetrate effectively either.
If Boston is going to win this series, Rondo must be willing to shoot the open 15-footer with no hesitation–and not just when the shot clock is clicking down to zero. Rondo must keep the Lakers defense honest in order to open up driving lanes for Allen, Pierce, and himself. In Game 2, Rondo practically rented the painted area from Lakers owner, Jerry Buss, and the Celtics won. In Games 1 and 3, Rondo has only sporadically knifed his way past the Lakers body-armor into the soft underbelly of the defense, and the Celtics have lost. I’m noticing a trend…
After playing like “horseshit” in Games 1 and 2 ( KG’s words, not mine), Garnett was as vintagely fresh as a Michael Jordan Bucs high school jersey. He continuously attacked Pau Gasol off the dribble, exploding past him regularly on his way to 26 points on 11-16 field goals.
Kendrick Perkins grabbed 11 rebounds and generally played well, but he was just 1-4 for 5 points–once again a non-factor offensively. Glen “Big Baby” Davis provided some much-needed interior offense, adding 12 points off the bench, while Tony Allen also played well for the second-unit, defending Bryant proficiently and adding 7 points.
Bryant scored 29 points for the Lakers, but took 29 shots to get there. Ron Artest scored just 2 points, Gasol only 13, and Andrew Bynum was limited to 9 points. Boston executed the game plan perfectly on defense, but didn’t shoot well enough to win. Credit to the Lakers defense, which forced Boston out of their sets and into tough, contested shots.
The Lakers defense is their biggest improvement from 2008 and is the main reason LA leads the series. In 2008, Los Angeles was a decent defensive unit, but Boston seemed to score on them when they REALLY needed to. Now, in 2010, Los Angeles has added that extra gear on defense that all great champions have: they can earn precious stops when the game hunkers down in the last five minutes and each basket is like a nugget of gold.
In the end, the game was all about that cheating whore, Basketball Goddess. She was fed up with Ray Allen, and traded him in when she saw the chance to reignite with her old Finals fling, Derek Fisher.
Game 4 is another day, though, and Basketball Goddess will choose another lucky player to ascend with her to Mt. Naismith for the night. Hopefully, the vicious vixen prefers her men in Green.