The Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers last night, 92-86 to take a 3-2 series lead in the NBA Finals. So now it's back to L.A. to see if the C's can take 1 of 2 games needed to clinch the championship or if the home crowd will awaken Kobe Bryant's supporting cast in time for the Lakers to claim a comeback championship of their own.
The C's have won three games so far in three different ways. First they rode Rajon Rondo to a Game 2 win, then the C's bench carried the C's to a Game 4 win. Last night, a familiar formula worked as Paul Pierce provided the offensive punch to lead the C's to a win in Game 5.
Pierce's production also seemed to throw Ron Artest completely off-kilter which has to be alarming for Laker fans. As much as he wants to contribute offensively, Ronnie will stay in the game as long as his defense is making an impact as it has for most of the series. But last night, Pierce knocked down shots and flopped his way to frazzling Ronnie to the point where I was on high alert in the fourth quarter for something nutty out of Artest. Fortunately, he kept it together although his late-game clanks from the free throw line won't help Ronnie's mindset heading into Game 6.
With Andrew Bynum still hurting, the Lakers give up their front-court advantage his presence offers. Artest, Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol haven't been able to make up the difference. And they need to for the Lakers to win because Kobe Bryant can't do much more than he did last night making ridiculous shots that have become the norm as he desperately tries to keep his team in these games.
Meanwhile, Kevin Garnett hasn't played like KG, but he has come up with enough mature, savvy vet play in the post to make an impact. The C's defense was fabulous and KG did a nice job anchoring that D around the rim.
Rondo, again had some spectacular plays including a late-game, one-handed catch and finish on the run after a desperation pass from Pierce that appeared to ice things for the Celts. All of the analysts keep clamoring for the Lakers to foul Rondo to put his sorry free throw percentage at the line, but Hack-A-Rondo doesn't work since you can't foul what you can't catch.
Desperation often makes for great theater, so Game 6 at the Staples Center should be spectacular.
After the jump, a few more links of interest on the Finals and changes for teams outside of the Finals along with Mark Jackson still trying to talk his way into a coaching job, Toronto considering moving Jarrett Jack after just one season and Pacers' scouting director Ryan Carr talking draft prep.
Celtics take the pivotal Game 5, despite Bryant's heroics
KD offers his initial analysis of the C's Game 5 win over, well, Kobe.
- Celtics Blog has the Boston perspective covered.
Lakers 86, Celtics 92: Kobe Stands Alone
SS&R has the Lakers' perspective on Game 5 as they prepare for a huge Game 6 as Staples hoping Kobe has some help.
Mark Jackson Says Clippers Know Where to Find Him -- NBA FanHouse
Mark Jackson still hasn't talked his way into a head coaching job with an NBA team. He mentions dancing alone, but isn't he actually off the dance floor, just talking about dancing. Maybe if he actually cut a rug in some coaching capacity, he'd be more attractive.
- Ryan Carr talks with JMVabout the Pacers' preparations for the NBA Draft and offseason roster changes.
Raptors Cleaning House?
Chad Ford reports on the Raptors looking into wholesale changes including moving Jarrett Jack after just one season.
2010 NBA Finals: Ray Allen's son OK after scare over the weekend
Ray Allen handles some additional pressure to go along with the NBA Finals.
Report: LeBron James would '100 percent' endorse Tom Izzo hiring
The Cleveland Cavaliers' wait for Tom Izzo continues after a weekend of mostly silence from the Michigan State coach. Of course, LeBron James is a factor.