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Celtics Looking to Take Series Lead as the Action Shifts to Boston


Los Angeles Lakers (1-1, 13-5) at Boston Celtics (1-1, 13-6)
Postseason Game #20 – Home Game #10
Tuesday, June 8
9:00 PM ET
TD Garden
Referees: Dan Crawford, Bill Kennedy, Bennett Salvatore (An evil triumvirate if I ever saw one!)

Game Thread l Chat

The series now shifts back to Boston. The Celtics got the split in LA that they needed to steal home court advantage. In the series against the Cavs, the Celtics got a split in Cleveland and then came home and got blown out on their home court by 29 points. That loss seemed to wake them up and they went on to win the last 3 games of that series and the first 3 games of the Orlando series before dropping game 4 at home and game 5 on the road to the Magic.

The Lakers are going to be energized by their loss in game 2, just as the Celtics were energized by their loss in game 1. The Celtics must be ready for the Lakers to come out strong and they have to match their intensity. Effort was the big difference between games 1 and 2 for the Celtics. This is the finals and they can't afford to let up and give the Lakers a game. They have to bring the same hustle, effort and intensity, especially on defense that they brought in game 2.

The Lakers have lost 4 games on the road so far in the playoffs. They lost games 3 and 4 in Oklahoma City and games 3 and 4 in Phoenix. The Celtics have lost just 2 games on their home court so far in the playoffs: Game 3 vs Cleveland and game 4 vs Orlando. The Celtics can't afford the lack of effort that gave Cleveland the win in the Garden. They must come out strong and stick to their game plan.

When the Celtics are motivated and play their game, especially on defense, they give themselves a chance to win any game. We still haven't seen the Celtics play a good game. In game 1 they never really got going. In game 2, they played much better but Pierce and Garnett weren't a factor. They are both due for a good game. As in Game 2, they have to play their game and not let the referees and Lakers get into their heads.
Probable Starting Matchups
Rajon Rondo 16.6 PPG 5.7 RPG 9.9 APG 2.0 SPG +21.84
Derek Fisher 10.7 PPG 2.6 RPG 3.2 APG 1.3 SPG +11.11

Ray Allen 17.3 PPG 3.4 RPG 2.8 APG +15.68
Kobe Bryant 29.0 PPG 5.2 RPG 6.2 APG +26.22

Paul Pierce 18.9 PPG 6.3 RPG 3.6 APG +18.74
Ron Artest 11.4 PPG 3.8 RPG 2.3 APG +11.28

Kevin Garnett 14.4 PPG 7.7 RPG 2.4 APG .7 BPG +18.00
Pau Gasol 20.4 PPG 10.9 RPG 3.4 APG 2.2 BPG +28.10

Kendrick Perkins 6.1 PPG 6.2 RPG 1.1 APG 1.7 BPG +10.32
Andrew Bynum 9.8 PPG 7.5 RPG .7 APG 1.9 BPG +15.33

Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs Derek Fisher
In the second half of game 2 when the Lakers switched their defensive emphasis to Ray Allen, Rondo took over the game. He was aggressive going to the hoop, hit big jumpers and found the open man on his way to the first triple double in the finals since Duncan did it in 2003. The Celtics need this Rondo to show up in game 3. They need him to be aggressive and look to impose his will on the game.

Kevin Garnett vs Pau Gasol
Gasol has been the Lakers best player so far in this series. He struggled against Amare in the Conference finals, but has come back in a big way in the first two games of the Finals. Gasol is averaging 24 points and 11 rebounds in the first two games. On the other hand, KG is yet to show up in this series. He has spend much of the first two games in foul trouble and is averaging just 11 points and 4 rebounds per game. The Celtics need him to especially do better on the boards. He needs to go after the rebounds with two hands instead of one handing them as he has been. KG has to find a way to get his game on track especially on defense to help neutralize Gasol's impact on the game.

Paul Pierce vs Ron Artest
Ron Artest had a very good game in game 1 and really struggled in game 2 to the point where LA fans were happy when he fouled out. Pierce didn't have a good offensive game in game 2, but he did contribute with his court leadership and his defense. Pierce told the fans at the end of game 2 that they would not be coming back to LA and so he needs to come out and play well to back up his words.

Keys to the Game
Defense - Just as it has been in every game this season and every game in the playoffs, defense will be the key to this game. The Celtics must defend the paint better along with keeping them off the 3 point line.

Rebounding - In game 1, the Celtics were out rebounded 42-31. In game 2, the Celtics won the battle of the boards 44-39. It is no coincidence that the team that won the rebounding battle also won the game. The Celtics must battle for every rebound to limit the Lakers 2nd chance points. The fact that Rondo, the smallest guy on the court (other than Nate Robinson) pulled down 12 rebounds shows that rebounding is effort and desire and the Celtics must out work the Lakers on the boards if they want to win this game.

Run the Offense - When the Celtics move the ball and make the extra pass and find the open many, they are very tough to beat. In game 1 they had just 19 assists. In game 2 they had 28. Again, it isn't a coincidence that they won the game where they racked up the assists. The Celtics can't lapse into hero ball and iso's. They have to keep moving the ball and trusting each other on offense.

Bench Play - The Celtics bench came up big for them in game 2. With the starting bigs in foul trouble much of the game, Big Baby and Rasheed came through with a combined 15 points and 14 rebounds. Nate Robinson was again a factor in just 6 minutes contributing 7 points. Tony's contribution has been mostly on the defensive end where he has helped to keep Kobe Bryant from taking over the game.

Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics must come out strong and bring intensity for the full 48 minutes. The Lakers are going to bring theirs and the Celtics will have to match it. If the Celtics want to win the championship they must come out focused and play with energy and hustle for every minute of the game. No let ups.

Quick Turnaround and Officiating
For some bizarre reason, they have scheduled games 2 and 3 with just 1 day between them with both teams having to travel across the country on that off day. Fatigue, jet lag, and the effects of the pressure in the airplane cabin on injuries could all come into effect in this game. The officiating is always a concern. They have called it very tight so far and key players on both teams have been in foul trouble for much of the first two games. The Celtics had to overcome a big free throw disparity in order to win game 2. Hopefully they will call it more evenly in this game and allow them to play a bit more.

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