Ever since Kendrick Perkins went down underneath a Kobe Bryant-Andrew Bynum sledgehammer in Game 6 of the 2010 NBA Finals, the Celtics have been unable to match the Lakers’ inside game. Both teams have changed personnel since then, but the Celtics are still struggling mightily to contend with the Bynum-Pau Gasol duo. Not only did Bynum provide the deciding points and Gasol block Ray Allen’s follow just before the final buzzer last night, they helped their team to a 55-45 rebounding advantage in the Lakers’ 88-87 overtime win last night.
For years the Laker fans have been railing about how much they missed Andrew Bynum in 2008 and things would have been different had he played (similar to how we lament KG in 2009 and Shaq last year). They claim that he would have been the difference in the Finals. He certainly helped in 2010 and once again last night.
"They're really long and they're really good," offered Rivers after the game. That was about as much praise as Doc could muster because he was too upset with the overall play of his own team, be it the rebounding (55-45 Lakers edge), second-chance points (24-13 for L.A.) or the shocking lack of free throws (five in 53 minutes, all in the first half; Matt Barnes had more all by himself). What also bothered Rivers was that the Lakers got the loose balls above the rim and on the floor. When Gasol and Bynum weren't getting tip-ins, they were keeping things alive. "Longer teams, you have to hit them," the Celtics coach said. "You've got to put a body on them. If you think you can just turn and rebound when a guy is five inches taller than you, it's not going to happen. I bet they got four or five rebounds when we were actually in position. They just reached over. If you drive them back, they can't get those."
The Celtics are lucky that not many teams can boast a single talented center, never mind two. With that said, it sure would help if the Celtics could find some help down low. Boxing out and proper positioning would help some, but as the old saying goes, "you can't teach height."