The Lakers won game one at home, which is what the team with home court advantage should do. But that was just one game. The Celtics can (and I believe should) come out and win game 2. Here are five reasons why.
- Doc and Thibodeau have a chance to counter what worked for the Lakers in game 1. Thibs in particular is going to be frothy about how the defense broke down last night. And the players will be all ears looking for ways to work on getting back to Celtics defense. The Hornets, Bulls, and Nets can wait. Thibs has work to do (and every Finals win drives up the asking price - this is his final interview).
- Kevin Garnett is NOT going to have another game like that one last night. He's just not. If he has to rip what's left of his leg off and throw it at Kobe, that's what he'll do to get the win. I think he'll have a little extra crazy in his eyes on Sunday and Gasol is going to be the one in a daze.
- Paul Pierce got his groove going in the 4th quarter. The Lakers could have pushed the lead up to 30 points but Paul kept fighting and had the lead down to 9 at one point. Whatever the Lakers were doing to frustrate him wasn't working by the end of the game. I'm thinking that Pierce has more where that came from.
- Rondo loves a challenge. Consider it a compliment that the Lakers had to put Kobe on Rondo for stretches last night. Now Rondo's had a chance to see how that impacts the flow of our offense and he'll study tape and figure out a way to exploit the mismatches that result. My guess is that he'll find Ray Allen for more open looks (and hopefully Ray will not get into foul trouble again, so he should be on the court more). Also, Rondo has an opportunity to get Kobe and Gasol into early foul trouble if he times his drives correctly.
- In general, the Celtics can't play much worse on defense and they were actually in the game till the 3rd quarter. I expect a better energy and focus in game 2.
Of course, the counter to these arguments are pretty simple. The Lakers, for as good as they looked, can play better too (in particular Lamar Odom). The Lakers coaching staff will be making adjustments of their own as well. And Kobe is still gonna be Kobe.
Still, with that said, I'm feelin' a Celtics win on Sunday. Many will laugh at this because of how bad we looked last night, but we looked pretty bad in game 5 of the Orlando series (and game 3 of the Cleveland series) and the team figured things out and played great the next game. A lot can change from game to game and I think we'll still earn the split in L.A.