Lakers-Celtics Game 3

» June 11, 2008 8:02 PM | By Brandon Hoffman

The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Boston Celtics 87-81 last night.

After a 38-10 Celtics advantage at the free throw line in game 2, the Lakers shot 34 free throws to Boston’s 22 in game 3.

Coach Phil Jackson made a key adjustment by defending Rajon Rondo with Kobe Bryant to start the game. Not only did the adjustment eliminate Rondo’s penetration but it also created several “crossmatches” when the Celtics missed shots early. Rondo was forced to defend Bryant on the ensuing possessions and the tactic resulted in several easy baskets for Kobe.

Because Rajon’s jumpshot is suspect at best, Kobe was also free to roam the paint and create havoc with double-teams on Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.

KG was 6-of-21 for 13 points. Pierce was 2-of-14 for 6 points. Neither player found their rhythm offensively.

The Lakers held the Celtics to 35% from the field by limiting penetration and lulling the Celtics into shooting from outside.

With Kobe finding the gaps and attacking the defense, the Lakers shot more free throws in the first 4 minutes than they did in the entire first half of game 2. LA shot 44% from the field but received little production from any starter not named Kobe.

Vladimir Radmonovic, Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher, and Lamar Odom combined to shoot 7-of-28 in game 3. The box score shows that Bryant only notched one assist in last night’s game. Part of that is a product of Bryant isolating his defender and attacking the basket with the purpose to score or draw fouls and part of it is that his teammates didn’t convert when called upon.

With Bryant defending Rondo, Fisher was forced to cover Ray Allen. Allen responded by scoring 25 points on 8-of-13 from the field and 5-of-7 from the 3-point line.

But like Bryant, Allen received little help from his supporting cast. Rondo, Pierce, Garnett, and Perkins combined to shoot 16-of-48.

The rebounding (45-44 Celtics) and assist (19-17) totals were negligible.

Bryant drove to the basket with ’straight line’ penetration. Rather than fading away from the hoop and avoiding contact like he did in game’s 1 and 2. Unlike the first two games in Boston , he was rewarded with 18 free throw attempts but converted only 11 of those tries.

The x-factor was Sasha Vujacic. Vujacic scored 20 points on 7-of-10 from the field, 3-of-5 from the 3-point line, including a dagger 3-ball with

Although the NBA Finals have been exciting thus far, we haven’t seen these two teams at their best yet.

Lamar Odom — my pre-series x-factor — has been a non-factor.

Odom continues to attack the basket wildly. He’s seems oblivious to the fact that the Celtics led the league in charges taken this season. Instead of stopping on a dime and using his length to drop a floater over the defense, he’s initiating contact. It’s a sad sight.

Kevin Garnett is shooting less than 40% through the first 3 games.

The Celtics are now 2-8 on the road in the playoffs. Los Angeles is 9-0 at home.

Both teams know what will be at stake in game 4.

Every game from here on out is a must-win for LA.

The Lakers can’t afford to go back to Boston facing two straight elimination games.

Boston has to be leery about the NBA’s best offense gaining confidence.

Look for the Celtics to make a concerted effort to post-up KG in game 4. When motivated to score downlow, KG is every bit as unstoppable as Tim Duncan.

Look for the Lakers to continue their “crossmatch” strategy by having Bryant defend Rondo through the first 3 quarters and switching him onto Pierce during crunch time.

Phil Jackson had this to say about Bryant’s defensive effort on Pierce in game 3:

“Putting Kobe on Pierce,” Jackson said, “was the difference in tonight’s game. It was more difficult for him to work to get free. He still had, I thought, some instrumental plays down the stretch. But it made the difference for us tonight.”

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)


7 Responses to “Lakers-Celtics Game 3”

  1. Hoffman Says:

    I apologize for the timing of this post. I had planned on posting it this morning but my internet connection cut off. I spent almost 2 hours on the phone with my provider before it was restored this evening.

  2. xphoenix87 Says:

    1) “The Celtics are now 2-8 on the road in the playoffs. Los Angeles is 8-0.”

    You should at “at home” to the end of that sentence. It reads like the Lakers are 8-0 on the road, which is certainly not true.

    2) “When motivated to score download, KG is every bit as unstoppable as Tim Duncan.”

    First of all, “download”? LOL. Second, seriously?!? I mean, I’m as big a KG fan as anyone, but he’s just not as skilled a post scorer as Duncan is. He’s consistent from further out with his jumper, and he may have a slight edge in passing, but Duncan’s offensive prowess in the low post is second to none. He’s got up and unders, countermoves for his countermoves, lefty and righty baby hooks and his patented face-up bank shot. There’s a lot of things I love about KG, but his low post game isn’t even in the same stratosphere as Timmy.

    3) I’m glad Doc Rivers decided to reward Leon Powe’s 21 point performance by playing him for SIX MINUTES!! Seriously, when you’re struggling for buckets wouldn’t you want to put in the guy who was your most efficient bench scorer all year? It is beyond me how people think Doc Rivers is actually a good coach.

    4)Can you win a championship without a Small Forward? Combined numbers last night from the pu-pu platter that LA threw out at SF

    33 MP, 3-10 FG, 1-3 3FG, 0-0 FT, 5 REB, 3 AST, 0 STL, 1 BLK, 7 PFs, 7 Points.

    Yikes.

    5) Does any team out there have two more trigger-happy guards coming off the bench than Boston? Seriously, when Sam Cassell came into the game, he made his first pass and I turned to the guys I was watching with and said “next time he touches the ball, he’s shooting.” Sure enough, Boston rebounded an LA miss, Sam got the pass, brought the ball down the floor, and shot it. In 27 minutes, Sam and Eddie House took 12 shots, two more than the rest of Boston’s bench took in 48 minutes.

    6) I’m not sure what to make of this series right now. I think the Celtics still have a big advantage right now, but we haven’t yet seen one of Kobe’s “I’m going to go absolutely nuts and take you down single-handedly” games yet. Now, a lot of that is due to Boston’s defense, and if they can keep it up against him than they should walk away with the trophy. However, I can’t shake the feeling that Kobe has a “screw you” 45+ point performance in him that could come out in one of the next two games and completely turn things around.

  3. King_Kaun Says:

    that was an interesting game. I cannot wait until Thursday night’s game. One of two things will happen, either the Lakers will destroy the Celts, or it will be a close battle with the victor decided in the winding seconds of the game.

    I just hope Garnett comes with some more aggression this time. He looked a little spaced out in game 3…

  4. Hoffman Says:

    xphoenix87,

    Where did I say KG could score in as many ways as Duncan? I simply said he was just as unstoppable. That’s true.

    A lot of people talk about Cassell coaching once his playing days are through. I don’t see it. One of the jobs as coach is to preach good shot selection. To differentiate to your players the difference between a good shot and a bad shot. Sam has never seen a shot he didn’t like.

  5. Hoffman Says:

    King_Kaun,

    I’m glad we don’t have to wait two days in between this time.

  6. Basketballogy Says:

    @xphoenix87

    Loved your comments. The “pu-pu platter that LA threw out at SF”was especially brilliant.

    I don’t know what it is about gunning backup guards in this series, but while the 2 backup guards for the Celtics were launching up 12 shots in 27 minutes, on the Lakers side, Sasha Vujacic chucked up 10 in 28 minutes. Of course, Sasha made 70% of his shots, while the Celtics combo meal made only 25%, but the point is they aren’t shy about shooting.

    The Celtics have 3 all stars, Tom Thibideau’s brilliant defense, and are the best team money can buy.

    The Celtics had the best record in the regular season, hold the NBA record for biggest turn around, and swept the Lakers in the regular season. The Celtics have seen the friendliest whistles in the playoffs at home, and they have more home games than the Lakers. They’ll likely win the series.

    But then again, had Kobe Bryant just shot his free throw average, the game would not have seemed as close. You can’t credit Celtics defense for that happening.

    The Celtics SHOULD win, but their is still plenty of room for doubt.

    The thing that stood out most to me about game 3 is that the score was 20 to 20 after the first quarter. No, holding the Lakers to 20 is no headline for the Celtics, but early on, the Lakers showed they were going to play defense this time.

    In the end, the Lakers held the Celtics to 27 points less than what the Celtics scored in game 2. That is a HUGE difference!

    While many Lakers struggled offensively in game 3, including their #2 and #3 options Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, the truth is, the Lakers played well as a team defensively, and it is that team work that got them the win.

    Two other things stood out to me AFTER the game, when I saw the box score. Counting team rebounds, the Lakers actually outrebounded the Celtics in game 3, 56 to 57.

    The second is that the Celtics still outscored the Lakers in the paint (32 to 30).

    Watching the game, it seemed as if the Celtics were settling for jump shots and the Lakers were taking it inside, but if that is the case, then the MAKES weren’t supporting that impression.

    BTW, if Cassell coaches, it won’t be at the NBA level. He was talking trash as he was substituted into the game for the first time. He hadn’t even tightened the drawstring on his shorts yet! He doesn’t have the temperament to coach.

  7. xphoenix87 Says:

    One thing you’ve got to remember about points in the paint is that a lot of shooting fouls occur in the paint, and the free throws that result from them don’t show up as points in the paint. In game two, for instance, even though the Lakers outscored Boston in the paint, a lot of that is because layups that would have turned into points became free throws instead. LA might have had the edge in the paint, and it just doesn’t show because of the free throws. Over the course of a season you can kind of ignore that because it balances out, but looking at individual games you have to factor it in.

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