“It’s a must-win,” said Andrew Bynum of tonight’s Game 5. “It’s just a really, really, really big game.”
Yup, that about sums it up. The Celtics need the win because, well, what are the chances of winning two straight in LA? And the Lakers need it because, well, could they stave off elimination for two straight games, even at the Staples Center?
Besides the must-win nature of the game, for both teams, there are a few other storylines. Here they are:
Andrew Bynum will play tonight, after playing only 12 minutes during Game 4 and getting his knee drained afterward. But how effective will he be?
Kevin Ding reports that Bynum should be good to go for Game 5, at least as much as he was in the first couple games this series. That should scare Celtics fans. But there is a quote in Ding’s piece that I would find troubling if I were a Lakers fan: “[Bynum] said it’s ‘guaranteed’ the knee will balloon with fluid trying to protect the torn cartilage in there after he plays the tie-breaking Game 5 Sunday night.”
Maybe it’s just me, but a knee guaranteed to balloon with fluid doesn’t really sound promising.
This ugly is beautiful
Jeff Miller of the Orange County Register wrote, “If a series could die of ugliness, this one at times would have been gasping.”
Ugliness? Man, I guess beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. When I watch these two teams participate in absolute war, I’m on the edge of my seat the whole time. I’m riveted to the screen. I’m fascinated by the courageous heart on both sides. There are certainly offensive droughts for both teams, but the defensive tenacity is incredible to watch even if both teams are shooting blanks all night. There’s nothing better than watching two teams scrapping and clawing against each other, neither squad willing to give an inch. So you can take the free-flowing Suns and Warriors; I’ll take the two teams leaving it all on the floor on both ends. Beauty isn’t all about made shots and dunks, folks.
Joey Crawford reffing
A little riddle: If you have six technical fouls and a seventh brings an automatic ejection from the NBA, who would be the last person on earth you’d want to have reffing your game? You guessed it, Joey Crawford, who — coincidentally? — is one of tonight’s referees. Let’s hope the refs let the two teams play tonight, just like they did in Game 4.
Make no mistake about it, the Game 4 officiating was great. Yeah, there were a couple bad calls (the refereeing crew called me for three seconds while I was writing this post), but overall, the crew let the big boys play and kept from being a major story in the game. The best referees know how to camouflage themselves. Unfortunately, Joey Crawford isn’t one of those guys. He’s the type of ref who thinks 20,000 people buy tickets just to see him blow a whistle.
Is Kobe really due for a breakout game?
CBS Sports’ Mike Freeman wrote, “The explosion is coming. It’s only a matter of time. Kobe Bryant is going to form a mushroom cloud, leaving the Celtics in shambles. You know it. The Celtics know it. Bryant knows it.”
NBA Fanhouse’s Tim Povtak wrote, “His center is hurt. One forward has disappeared. His sixth man doesn’t look all that capable anymore. People are starting to doubt him again, too. And the grandest stage – NBA Finals, pivotal Game 5 — awaits. Yes, it’s now Kobe Time.”
Is it really Kobe time? Is he really due for a big game? He’s now gone 11 NBA Finals games against Boston without having a signature, “Wow Kobe Motherf*cking Bryant’s the best player in basketball” game. Does that make him due for one, or simply out of luck against a Celtics team that defends him better than any other team?
I don’t think he’s due for a huge game, but — goddamnit! — I’m scared to death he might have one anyway.
Can the Celtics put together a complete game?
Can the Big Three Plus One all get on the same page for a game? Can they all show up tonight? Can they all be aggressive and on target?
If they are, expect a Celtics win. If they aren’t, it might take another epic battle for the Celtics to escape with victory.