In my heart I know we've won this series. No team has come back from down 3 games to one. It would take an amazing team to do so, and the Lakers are not amazing. Not only that, but they are mentally broken. Snapped like a branch in a hurricane, just hanging by a thread. With that said, the Celtics still have to take one more game to win the title. Believe it or not, there are still some obstacles to overcome.
For one thing, mentally broken or not, the Lakers are in full desperation mode. If there was anything left in reserve before, there won't be now. What does that mean? Who knows? Maybe they'll feel almost relaxed because they have nothing left to lose. Maybe (ok probably) Kobe will finally ditch his teammates and try to take over the game all by himself. Like it or not, he could do it. He pretty much did it in game 3 with a little help from Sasha. I don't think he can win 4 games by himself, but he can make things a tiny bit more interesting.
Then there's the Celtics. Again, not to play amateur psychologist or anything, but it wouldn't be hard to picture the Celtics letting up in game 5. It wouldn't be the first time in this postseason where they had a team down only to let them get some new life. They are up 3-1 and if they lose Sunday they get to go home to Boston. That's about as comfy a cushion as you could ask for.
Compounding the issue is the injury situation. Perkins sounds more and more doubtful because of that shoulder (and he wasn't full strength before because of the ankle). It has been reported that Pierce tweaked his knee in game 4. Rondo was supposedly healthy, but he wasn't very effective when he was out there.
So, there are a lot of reasons why the Celtics might lose game 5 and head back to Boston, where they would certainly close it out. Does that mean it will happen that way? Not at all.
First of all, even though I believe Perkins is our best center and the rightful starter, there are times when he's not the best matchup on the court. Sometimes PJ Brown is a better option for his experience and unflappable calm. Sometimes it pays to let Leon loose in the paint to create havoc like he did in game 2. Sometimes it is more effective to sub Big Game James in to run smallball and spread the floor. It sure worked in game 4. We might even have a few Big Baby sightings. Nothing against Perkins, but in the 3 wins, he played 23, 14, and 13 minutes. We've proven that we can play well without him.
As for Rondo, he's had a couple of bad games in a row. How much the injury had to do with those games is anyone's guess, but don't forget how good he looked in games 1 and 2. If the extra rest can get him back to full speed, there's no reason to think he can't get back to that level. If he can't, no big deal. Eddie House has stepped up and spreads the floor for the rest of the offense to work. If Rondo is really hurt, I might even be ok with Sam Cassell in a limited role. Hey, if we win, all is forgiven.
Pierce? Seriously, do I even have to talk about this? If anyone has any doubts about Paul's toughness, please just find a tape of games 1 and 2 and watch them again.
So, will the Celtics win game 5 and take the title in Los Angeles or will it have to wait till they return home on Tuesday? I think there's a small chance the Lakers could steal one. I also think there's a much greater chance that the Celtics finally decide to step on their throats and finish the job they started. Remember, even though he's played strong defense and is averaging a double-double for the series, we still haven't seen the best game out of Kevin Garnett. A scary thought for the Lakers.