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Article:Thoughts on Game Five of the 2008 NBA Finals

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Game Five thoughts

I know this is late, but here are some thoughts on Game Five along with a small preview of Game Six.

Well it was do-or-die night on Sunday night at the Staples Center. Either the Celtics claim their 17 th tile or as Kobe Bryant has put it, the Lakers win the NBA West Regional and advance to the Final Four at the Fleet Center.

The Lake Show come out smoking in the first quarter highlighted by four Kobe triples and lead 39-22. In the second period, the Celtics rip off a 15-0 run highlighted by--who else Paul Pierce--who drops 16 points on the Lake Show during the second twelve minute stanza and everyone definitely thinks we‘re set to see another historic comeback/collapse by the Celtics/Lakers.

I’ll also add when I heard that Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe said that P-Double was the most explosive Shamrock ever, I was shocked. What about Larry Bird was my response? But after having watched the pride of Inglewood High School during the Finals, I can now see where Ryan is coming from and the Lakers take a 55-52 lead back into the locker room.

In the opening minutes of the third quarter, the Celtics take the lead with a 6-2 run which features a Ray Allen layup (on an inbounds play which they had run in the second quarter for Tony Allen), then a three pointer from Allen and it seems like the Celtics could pop-open the champagne bottles at the Staples Center.

However the Lakers rally back. But surprise, surprise it’s not Kobe who leads the charge, it’s Senior Softie (a.k.a. Pau Gasol) by scoring 10 points in the period while Derek Fisher adds seven as the Purple and Gold finally outscores Boston for the first time during the series as the Lakers reclaim a 79-70 lead when the quarter ends.

In the final period, Phil Jackson’s squad keeps the flow going and take a 90-79 lead with 7:41 left in the contest. However the Celtics behind Sam Cassell, James Posey, Kevin Garnett --and who else, Paul Pierce--- throw their own counter punch and tie the game up at 90 with 4:35 remaining.

The final minutes of the ball game are hardly pretty, but the Lakers emerge victorious as they get the ball inside the paint, make their free throws, and Kobe comes up a steal and a fast break dunk while the Celtics miss some makable shots and KG clanks three of four crucial free throws and the series heads back to Boston.

I keep asking it after every game and I’ll ask it again but when are the Lakers going to try running that screen and roll that worked so well in Game Two?

Well in Game Five they ran the High Pick and Roll and it produced points so hopefully Phil and the coaching staff will realize the importance of setting up the offense with screens instead of simply running the Triangle.

Doc Rivers has done an outstanding job this series, but I don’t think I would have played Paul Pierce for all 48 minutes of Game Five. Yes I understand going in for the kill when you can clinch the chip but Pierce could’ve used some rest for a possible Game Six and Seven and the Shamrocks bench has been strong this series. But of course the C’s almost took Game Five so what do I know?

Tony Allen showed just how deep the Celtics bench is.

Missing Persons Report:

Name: Sasha Vujacic.

Height: 6-foot-7

Weight: 205 pounds

Race/Ethnicity: Serbian

Identifying Marks: Wears No. 18 jersey on his Los Angeles Lakers uniform, has long-floppy hair which hasn’t been cut in several years, Missing since: Game three of 2008 NBA Finals

Circumstances: Sasha was seen at Staples Center playing in game three of

2008 NBA Finals where he scored 20 points, hitting all seven of his field goal attempts. He has been not seen since. He is in badly need of a haircut and maybe hiding at a barber shop or hair salon.

Phil Jackson can sometimes make some really surprising/baffling substitutions at times. Game Five’s surprising/baffling coaching move came in that second quarter when Chris Mihm tore off the warm-ups after not having played one single minute during the post-season . During his brief stint in the second quarter, Mihm gave basketball fans an outstanding Yinka Dare impersonation as he played 3 minutes and hoisted up one airball. After turning the ball over while trying to complete the ultra- difficult task of making an inbounds pass which led to a Celtic bucket and was yanked from the game.

With Paul Pierce shredding up Vladamir Radmonovic this series and no other Laker really able to handle him besides Kobe and perhaps Ariza, one thing is for certain: Mitch Kupchak during the offseason needs to get a small forward who can play defense or hope Trevor Ariza really develops his offensive skills.

Anyone notice how Rony Turiaf was throwing towels to one of the Laker towel boys when the Celtics were shooting free throws in the fourth quarter? I really doubt that distracts the free-throw shooter and it looks downright childish and silly.

Maybe you were surprised when ABC played Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” going into one commercial break last night but it beats the “Black Eyed Pea’s “Let’s Get It Started” which they kept playing during the 2004 Finals and drove me up the wall.

So what happens in Boston? My guess for tonight’s game six is that it will be a tight one. The Lakers will jump out to a big early lead like they did in games four and five or have a big second half spurt but the Celtics will make a comeback and then it will come down to which team executes the best down the stretch. That of course means the Lakers still have to avoid making big mental mistakes they’ve committed through out the series and can’t count on the Celtics playing sloppy as they did in Games Three and Five.

Kendrick Perkins injury could also become a bigger problem as it means Doc Rivers has to use his small lineup unless Leon Powe or PJ Brown really step up which can really be to the Lakers advantage as it means KG is the only true Celtics big man going up against the two Laker bigs Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. But of course Gasol and Odom can’t pull their Harry Houdini acts and must remain consistent as they did in Game Five.

David Aldridge of NBA TV pointed out that Kobe still hasn’t had a big 40-to-50 point game yet this series (although he did have a strong finish to game three) and he thinks it could happen in Boston so we could see indeed the series go a seventh game where anything is possible.


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