Game 2 Win Holds Answers to Championship

The Answers aren’t on the Pine or in the Whistles

Though both those things matter. While many people will focus on the performance of Leon Powe tonight, or his tough road to get to the NBA, those stories, as compelling as they are don’t hold the key to the ultimate victory for the the Celtics.

Powe played aggressively and had the FTs to show it. He scored 21 points for the Celtics in 6-7 shooting in 15 minutes. His performance didn’t surprise the rest of the Celtics, just us. They’ll tell you he plays like that in practice every day.

We might be forgiven for overlooking him, since he’s played something like 68 seconds in the season so far. Though the calls were lopsided (10-10 for the Lakers and 27-38 for the Celtics), that will be corrected or at least balanced out by the calls at the Staples Center. Officiating will be kind(er) to the Lakers at home, no one doubts it.

The Celtics bench was underrated before tonight, they’re earning the respect they deserve, largely on the performances like Powe’s tonight. It takes nothing away from Powe’s contribution or his uplifting and awe-inspiring story, to say that other pieces of the game hold more important data for the C’s to focus on.

Other important factors:

Skalij; LA Times

1. Rondo’s continued maturation – His 16 assists tonight put him in the same discussions as Magic Johnson for first time playoff assists (Magic had 20 in his first playoff game). The assists show maturation. Development of this young guard, who is playing much larger than his 6’1″ 180 size, is impressive. He’s learning fast what his contribution can mean to the team performance. Earlier in the season he was turning the ball over and trying to make too many plays himself. You see Allen’s points off Rondo’s assists going up. Rondo understands better the flow and speed in transition that suit Allen’s superhuman shooting. And more importantly, Rondo has made the adjustment.

He’s also fearless with his body, going into the paint, drawing fouls, even if he’s not the lights out FT shooter, he is demanding that he be accounted for where ever he is on the floor. Let’s hope he’s durable the way he throws his body around. He’s matured quickly and impressively. He was all over the floor tonight with two steals and a block. He was quick enough to throw the veteran Fisher, off.

2. With the quick transition and faster flow, Ray Allen is in his groove. He is also playing great defense. We need to keep him on Kobe. He, like PJ Brown and a couple others on the floor, seems to know how the play is unfolding, where the pass will go, where the ball will bounce.

3. Kendrick Perkins is big and tough, especially in the low post, but he’s got to learn to keep his head. He effectively neutralized what could have been an advantage (his being able to come back from the high ankle sprain and play effectively) by getting into stupid foul trouble. We might need his advantage, especially since the Lakers don’t seem to have an answer for him (except to get under his skin and in his head.) That should be within his control.

4. Paul Pierce cannot be stopped. I thought he looked a little slow defending Kobe, but he certainly doesn’t seem too hampered by the knee. He will have to continue to play at this pace for the team to succeed (28 points, 8 assists in 41 minutes of play.)

5. KG still not driving into the paint the way I’d like to see it, especially when Gasol and Odom were picking up fouls. Assuming he’s reading things I’m not seeing, and he ended with a double-double so it’s not like he disappeared. He was also double-teamed a lot of the game. (Lakers points in the paint 40; C’s 34)

Gauthier, LATimes

6. The most worrisome factor for me was the Celtics loss of focus, lack of pressure applied when they had a 24 point lead, they didn’t go for the kill. They got loose. The Lakers made three pointers they never had a chance at in the first three quarters of the game. Uncontested. What happened to the defense? The lead at 24 was not enough for me to relax. Sure enough, the Lakers cut it down to a two point lead. I hope we learned our lesson. There should be nothing in the mental aspect of our game that allowed us to let up.

Game 3 at the Staples Center

One thing is certain, the whistles won’t be blowing in our favor. Let’s hope they’re not so lopsided.

Our veterans (starters and bench) have either Western conference experience, or just experience, to help offset if not override the intimidation factor of being in that arena, on that stage. Will the Lakers defense show up? There were glimpses of some of it in this game tonight, but that’s not really what we expect from them. Don’t expect them to let us roll up by 24.

Will we apply pressure for a full 48 minutes? Will our guys be sharp and smart? Will our baskets fall?

Will Phil Jackson call a timeout just to tell his team that he didn’t think he’d seen them play worse? Don’t count on that.

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~ by jacqueline1230 on June 10, 2008.

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