Lakers Draw First Blood in Finals Opener
They have the home court advantage. They have the current championship crown. They have the best record in the league coming into the finals. Obviously, there should be no more reason why they shouldn’t win game one.
The Los Angeles Lakers led all the way from tip off to final buzzer as they defeated the Boston Celtics in Game One of their NBA Finals Series, 102-89. Kobe Bryant was clicking on all cylinders as he led the defending champs with 30 points. Pau Gasol added another 23 to solidify their grip on the series, which can also be their best chance of avenging their humiliating loss to the Celtics two seasons ago when Boston won as champions of the basketball world.
Winning Game One of Series doesn’t really matter much–unless Phil Jackson was your coach. If history had her way, Boston should just think about how it can smoothly exit the series: Phil Jackson is a flawless 47-0 in every series that his team took the opening game.That fact seems invincible.
But Boston has its own share of invincibilities as well.
Despite losing the first game, Boston can still rob LA of their precious home court advantage, defend their own edge at TD Bankworth three straight times, and once again be the champs. The Celtics are the number two team when it comes to winning games on the road. And they will have to bring out the best of that advantage if ever they would want to blemish Jackson’s immaculate record. Otherwise, there won’t be much talk about them being in the Finals after all.
The Lakers relied on solid offense, and was able to disorient Boston’s stifling defense. They were also quicker in transition offense, with Pau Gasol doing much of the sprinting. And what about Jordan Farmar slicing through the paint and attacking a Kevin Garnett-guarded basket? That tells you enough about how the fabled Boston defense has remained no more than a fable tonight.
Looking further into their stat sheets, LA out-rebounded Boston. That might be acceptable in other nights, except that tonight, the leading rebounder for Boston was Paul Pierce, who should have been better getting the points, rather than getting the boards. And his efforts were nowhere near those of Gasol’s and Bynum’s. That the Lakers have two big men catching the leather gives the guards like Kobe, Farmar, and Fish a lot of breathing space, and offensive juices, to pull their lead away from Boston.
Boston’s ball rotation wasn’t exquisite either. They were just one assist better than LA. This meant two things for LA: they were either doing just as good in their ball movement, or they have adjusted to Boston’s plays well enough to check their swingmen, Rondo, Pierce and Robinson. This meant also two things for Boston: either Doc Rivers wasn’t prepared to mesh up some of his tricks, or LA was just playing them with their own game.
For this reason, LA is leading the series, 1-0.
But just like any other gritty series, we can all go ahead now and forget game one.
Once Boston hits the floor on their next meeting, they will have to prove that being the number two road-winning team can get them one game to tie the series. Otherwise, Los Angeles will have more reasons to trample them this time, get their vengeance, and get back to back championships when this is all over.