Friday, June 13, 2008

Boston Celtics 97 - Los Angeles Lakers 91

I won't deny it - I did not see the whole game last night. I watched most of the first half, but I saw little of the third quarter. I was doing other things, and missed the comeback in the third. When I checked in at 75-75, I stayed, so I saw the end of the game.
  • There will be a lot of talk about the 18 point halftime lead, and the 57-33 second half. The comeback is even more impressive than those numbers make it sound. Over the first half of the 3rd quarter, the Lakers actually extended the lead. It was 70-50 with 6 minutes left in the third. When the quarter finally ended 6 minutes (of clock time - 35 minutes of real time) later, the Celtics trailed 73-71, as they put together a 21-3 run.

  • There were a lot of people concerned about the Lakers comeback in game 2, cutting a 24 point lead to 2 before losing by 6. I was less concerned, because the Celtics had the lead in the middle of the fourth quarter, clearly let it affect the way they played, and when it got tight, they finished the job. I thought that the Celtics were the better team, and the Lakers comeback to make it close didn't change my opinion. Last night, the Lakers let the big lead change their approach, but when the Celtics cut it close, they weren't able to respond and put it away. The Celtics are a better team than the Lakers.

  • Three related points:
    1. No team had ever trailed after the first quarter in an NBA Finals game by more than 20 points. It was an embarrassing moment for Celtics fans when the the first quarter ended, as they set a new record, trailing by 21.

    2. No team had ever won an NBA Finals game when trailing at halftime by more than 14 points. The embarrassment of point one was completely ameliorated (and then some) by the victory as they set an NBA Finals record for the largest halftime deficit (18) overcome for a win.

    3. No team has ever lost an NBA Finals after taking a three games to one lead in the series. People who are looking at that as evidence that the series is over should re-read points one and two (and meditate on the 2003 ALCS and the 2004 ALCS and the 2008 Super Bowl...)

  • That said, it seems to me that the Celtics are clearly the better team. They have played the Lakers six times this season and won five of them. They are 3-0 in Boston and 2-1 in Los Angeles. They need to win one more game, and have three more chances to do it, two of them in Boston if necessary.

  • I don't expect that it will be. At least some of the Lakers have, I suspect, subconciously or emotionally conceded at this point, and are going to have a hard time raising their game for the reward of two more cross-country flights and a loss in Boston. I fully expect Boston to win Sunday night.

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