There are two psyche's I'm interested in today. One is the Celtics players and staff. I hope they don't feel complacent. Reminders of the 4th quarter should take care of that. The other is the Celtics fans. I hope we don't feel too worried. Reminders of the scoreboard should help that.
Predictably the media and Laker backers are already trying to chip away at our 2-0 lead. Phil Jackson is leading the charge to complain about the officiating. No surprise there. Phil will attempt any level of psychological warfare he can manage (including calling Pierce a faker). Of course complaining about the officials is for losers, so we'll let them have that.
As expected, people are pointing to the 4th quarter as reason to believe that Kobe and the Lakers can come back. Wonderful! I hope they remind the Celtics players and coaches every hour on the hour that the Lakers almost came back and won that game. If this team has a "biggest flaw" it is that they sometimes lose focus when they think they've got the game or the series in hand. It happened in Atlanta, it happened at times in Cleveland, and it happened last night. This team needs to be reminded sometimes of just what kind of effort it takes to win Finals games.
The Lakers didn't get here by accident. They aren't going to roll over and give up just because they are down 24 points. The Celtics lost the lead because they didn't step on the Lakers' throat. They took their lead for granted and so the Lakers took the lead (almost) away. It was a good lesson to learn and thankfully the lesson didn't cost us a game.
And if they need any reminders of why it is important to stay focused when up 2 games to none in the Finals, they need look no further than the Dallas Mavericks of 2006. The Heat obviously won the next 4 games in most part due to a dynamic scorer that got a lot of calls at home. Know anyone on the Lakers that could play that role?
The game 1 win was robbed a little of its luster because we were still worried about Paul. After game 2, we can all be excused for feeling more relief than excitement because of the way the game ended. We have to hope that the Celtics will keep telling themselves that this is far from over so a maximum effort is going to be needed for 48 minutes a game. With that said, we have to keep telling ourselves (as fans) that we're up 2 games to none.
Fans still have a ton to be happy about. Like the first 3 quarters and the last few seconds for starters. The good guys won. The bottom line in game 2 was that before the Lakers started knocking down desperation three pointers, the Celtics simply dominated the game.
Paul Pierce was nails all night. Rajon Rondo spread out 16 assists. KG had a relatively quiet (for him) double double (17, 14). Ray Allen seems to be back in form, hitting 3 pointers when we need them. But the story of the night had to be Leon Powe. Not to pat myself on the back, but back in April I singled out Powe as the Unsung Player on the Celtics.
Other teams may look past him, which is exactly what we want. He’ll be picking up a loose ball or putting back an offensive foul for a bucket, or setting his feet to pick up an offensive foul, and he’ll change the momentum of the game in our favor. He’s one of those guys that nobody thinks about until they have to play him in the playoffs and then they wonder how they let this guy be the difference in the game.
Well, the Lakers won't be looking past him anymore. Everyone knows his name now.
The Celtics are up 2 in the NBA Finals. They are 2 games away from Banner 17. Enjoy these moments Celtics fans. Just don't tell the Celtics.
(By the way, I don't think I could have summarized the game any better than the way Kelly Dwyer did in this column. Nicely done.)