The Celtics starting backcourt has been garnering a lot of attention today. Something about a triple-double and setting an NBA Finals record for three pointers made will do that I guess. There is no doubt that the C’s would have gone nowhere last night without these two leading the ship.
Rajon Rondo was a maestro, the way he controlled game 2 throughout. Ray Allen would have spotted the Green a double digit 1st half lead if it weren’t for Boston giving the ball away 11 times in 24 minutes.
Quick sidebar: It’s actually comical now, after the fact to think about, but did anyone notice Ray’s face during that halftime interview with Doris Burke. That just shocked look, indicating, “Wait I just had the best shooting half of my career and we are only up 6? Really?”
In any case, Rondo and Ray were the keys to the win. You don’t need me to tell you that. There is a part of this roster though that deserves some credit, after their effort last night and those are the Celtic big men.
Now before you start screaming at your computer, please just hear me out. Andrew Bynum and Paul Gasol have had two terrific games, eating the C’s up at seemingly every turn. Some (ok, a lot) falls on our bigs.
However, last night when it mattered, the big guys collectively stood up in more ways than one, helping the C’s to get over the hump and put away the Lakers for good. With that in mind, let’s take a look at just how they got the job done.
The shooting numbers for the Lakers big men in the fourth quarter:
Gasol: 0/1 FG, 1 point.
Bynum: 1/1 FG, 2 points
Odom: 1/2 FG, 3 points
Four field goal attempts collectively from the 4 and 5 spots, easily the Lakers best sources of offense this series. Now, you can blame the LA offense for not getting the ball to those guys when it mattered down the stretch, but let’s be fair here.
The C’s frontcourt defense had a lot to do with that reality. Fronting those guys, denying the ball, and smart positioning by the C’s bigs were a factor in this equation. Then again, so was Ron Artest’s absurd shot selection. No matter how you slice it though, the C’s front line did their job on the defensive end when it counted.
In fact, I’m feeling so positive, let’s run through everyone in the frontcourt to give them their props.
He may take 3 seconds too long to get most of his shots up, but he still made the most of them in game 2. 12 points from Perk is nothing to sneeze at, it was his highest number of these playoffs since game 2 of the Miami series. The C’s record when Perk scores 10 or more points these playoffs? 5-0.
4 of 7 from the field, a even more impressive 4 of 6 from the free throw line, perhaps, most importantly 0 technicals during the evening. Thanks Ken Mauer for not calling a double T in the 2nd quarter when Perk got mixed with someone on an inbounds play. That was easily the best call you made during a very tough night for the whistleblowers.
The man is gutting it out right now. You have to admire that. 7 points and 7 rebounds in 18 very efficient minutes, to go along with a +15 to lead the team in plus/minus. He’s using his length and smarts, something this team desperately needs against the immense size the Lakers have up front. Here’s hoping the plane ride home today didn’t make the back act up too much.
Aggressive. Relentless. So many words can be used to describe this man’s effort. There’s one sequence though that sums up this man’s fight in game 2. With about 8 minutes left in the fourth quarter, he rebounded a Tony Allen missed layup and was blocked. He gathered himself, and got 2 more offensive rebounds right away. Both were swatted away. Celtics came up empty.
On the very NEXT possession, the C’s go down low to Davis on the block, and he hits a 3 foot hook shot over Lamar Odom. A lot of guys would be discouraged about being stuffed into oblivion a possession earlier. Not Big Baby. Despite an all around off shooting night, (4 of 13 from field) you have to give it up to a guy who keeps at it like that.
Who are we kidding here, I have nothing positive to say about Shelden’s performance last night, except for the fact it increases the odds of Brian Scalabrine dressing for game 3. Let’s move on…..
Game 1, it was an off night. Most of game 2 it was foul trouble. He had no rhythm last night, and whispers of him being “washed up” are getting louder and louder. No, he’s not the same player he was 2 years ago. He still helps his team win though when it matters. Again, I point to the fourth quarter.
12 minutes, 1 of 2 FG, 3 assists, 4 points, and one monster pick that freed up Rajon Rondo for a wide open layup to give the C’s a 95-90 lead. KG wasn’t on last night offensively, only taking 6 baskets, but make no mistake he helped The Green in many other ways.
On defense, distributing the ball, (6 assists on night), setting the picks. It may not have been pretty, and watching him rebound the ball this series has been painful. The Big Ticket continues to fight though and last night he helped his team win.
Now, Boston is heading home for three games, where the Celtic big men play best. Scoring for Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum won’t be as easy at the Garden, they will be out of their comfort zones. Which side steps up in game 3 will have a huge say in determining who grabs a stranglehold on this series.