The Los Angeles Lakers literally wasted a golden opportunity to place a stranglehold on the series in Game 4. There are four games of the Finals in the books and without some mistakes and a lack of execution down the stretch the Lakers would be up 3-1 in this series. They have played better, but haven’t closed out games well and have allowed the Celtics to hang around. I’ve never been a fan of the NBA Finals 2-3-2 format, but the good thing is tonight’s game will be the last of three in Boston.
The Lakers lost Game 4 by being outrebounded, allowing too many points in the paint, giving up 16 fast break points, and allowing the Celtics’ bench to become too much of a factor.
Both teams know each other very well and know each player’s tendencies. Several times Playoff games come down to adjustments and execution. The Lakers need the presence of Andrew Bynum. His shown me a lot playing with an injury by being effective and giving his all. It shows that Andrew Bynum has matured. I applaud his effort and desire to be a factor in this championship run.
If Andrew can’t go tonight, D.J. Mbenga or Josh Powell will have to step in limited minutes. Both guys can provide solid defense and rebounding. This also means that Lamar Odom will more than likely be matched up with Glen Davis again.
Odom has to step up and become a factor in this series. Offensively, he has to start on the perimeter, avoid relying on jump shots, be aggressive, attack off the dribble, and get to the basket. Being aggressive will also allow him to move the defense to find an opening for him or a teammate. Defensively, he has to play defense without fouling, hold his ground, and force Davis to shoot over him. It should be a known fact to him by now that Davis is going to play the bull in a China shop and act accordingly. Odom needs to get in front of him, plant his feet, and be willing to take a charge if necessary, the Lakers need stops.
The key to victory for the Lakers starts and ends with their defense. They have to outrebound, outhustle and outwork the Celtics. They also have to stop the dribble penetration, get back in transition, play solid on screen and roll action plays, use their size to limit the points in the paint, extend their defense out to the three point line, and control the tempo.
The Celtics are going to continue to make Kobe Bryant work and double team him constantly. When they load-up on Kobe, he is going to have to pass the ball which will move the defense. Once this occurs there will be cracks in the defense that can be exploited. Kobe is a willing passer, but the recipient has to make an aggressive move. The Lakers ball movement and player movement is a huge key and the Purple and Gold have to execute their offense.
The Lakers front line has to be aggressive and the bigs need more touches to be effective. They need to run their offense through Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. Both have been highly effective, but down the stretch haven’t had enough touches to continue the onslaught. They need to have someone else step up so it isn’t just Kobe and Pau against the Celtics.
Boston is going to do everything they can to make sure that Kobe doesn’t beat them. He needs everyone wearing a Lakers jersey to help out and pick him up. The Lakers have to match the intensity of the Celtics and play with a sense or urgency game five. It will take a total team effort, but by night’s end the Lakers will return to Los Angeles up 3-2.
Tip-off: 5:00 PM PST
- Los Angeles: ABC
- Boston: ABC
- Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Boston: 850 WEEI (Sean Grande & Cedric Maxwell)
- Shannon Brown (Sprained Right Thumb)
- Kobe Bryant (Avulsion Fracture, Right Index Finger)
- Andrew Bynum (Small Tear in the Meniscus of his Right Knee)
- Luke Walton (Pinched Nerve, Back)
- Marquis Daniels (Concussion) Listed as Day-to-Day