Boston Takes Series Lead Over LA
The previously downplayed Big Four has finally emerged from hiatus to power the Boston Celtics past the Los Angeles Lakers in their Game Five square-off last Sunday, 92-86. The Men in Green are just a game away from clinching their second title in three years.
Celtics veteran Paul Pierce gave the much needed boost with 27 points to lead his team to a crucial win that puts the Lakers to the brink of elimination. Kevin Garnett added 18 points and controlled the boards with 18 rebounds. Rajon Rondo had 18 points as well, while Ray Allen chipped in 12, though none came from beyond the arc.
While Kobe Bryant kept his team within striking distance against Boston, it was the lackadaisical showing of Pau Gasol that hurt the team’s efforts in catching up with Boston. Kobe was 38 points strong in game five, but Gasol was only 12. The other starters were not as much as significant in their contributions on the floor that night as well. And while their bench gave off 14 compared to Boston’s reserves with 13, it was the combined force of Pierce, Garnett, Allen and Rondo that made it possible for Boston to close their final game of the season in Boston with a crucial victory.
Game Six will be played in LA, and so will Game Seven if Boston fails to close out in 6.
Here’s where conflicts in history come in. While Phil Jackson has never lost a series where he won Game One, Boston has never lost a Game Seven against LA in all of their 9 championship wins against them. Obviously, LA will come out strong and focused for Game Six. A win for them sends the series to the ultimate do-or-die situation–a Game Seven. As it turns out, Jackson’s history will have to face Boston’s.
LA’s chances of catching up Boston and pushing the series to the last game is big. They have the last two games happening in their floor. Winning Game Six, however, doesn’t mean more pressure is on Boston. LA will feel the pressure of a game seven as well, especially the prospect that Boston might spoil the fun for LA right in their own backyard. This was the very same thing that Bill Russell did against Wilt Chamberlain during their Finals Series way back, when Boston, the underrated, aging underdogs, snatched away from a Lakers team led by Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor and Jerry West, the championship, on a game seven right in LA’s home court.
If Boston wins, they get one more banner, at the expense of taking away from LA the championship crown. But a win for LA gets them one banner closer to tying Boston for the franchise with the most championships.
And as for Kobe, a win will make him one championship away from Michael Jordan, and hopefully silence his critics about the comparison between him and the man everyone hails as the greatest in the game ever.