Boston’s Team Effort Overcomes Kobe, Lakers

No team in this year’s playoffs exudes team basketball more than the Boston Celtics. It’s their brand of team basketball that overcame superstar led teams in Miami, Cleveland and Orlando. Could it be possible that they too will overcome the best basketball player on the planet and his Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals?

Every series and every game it was different players that led the Celtics to victory. In the Miami Heat series, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce averaged 19 points a game to subdue Dwyane Wade’s explosiveness. In the Cleveland series, LeBron James was dethroned prematurely by the Celtics. Rajon Rondo was the series changer and outplayed regular season MVP James. Rondo averaged 20.6 points, 11.8 assists and 6.3 rebounds. Against Orlando, it was Pierce who struck for the Celtics. He was liberated from the improbable job of trying to control James in the previous series and preceded to average 24.3 points and 8.3 boards.

In these Finals, if the Celtics close out the Lakers in Los Angeles in Game 6 there is no clear cut Finals MVP. Everybody, from the starters to the bench, has done their job to contribute anything and everything they can to win. It was Allen in Game 2 hitting eight three-pointers, Glen “Big Baby” Davis and Nate Robinson came off the bench to boost the Celtics in Game 4, and in Game 5 Pierce shook off Ron Artest’s physical defense to score 27 points. With team play, the Celtics find themselves one game within their second championship in three years.

In the third quarter of Game 5, the Celtics weathered a Kobe Bryant storm with plain hustle and determination. The Lakers kept feeding Bryant the ball, which was the most logical thing to do – feed the hot hand and ride the cohorts of their superstar. Bryant responded by scoring 19 of his 38 points in the third quarter. He made shot after shot after shot, but with every difficult make the Lakers still found themselves down by double digits. With the Lakers relying heavily on Bryant in the third, they unconsciously took themselves out of the game. While Bryant took over on the offensive end, the other four Lakers on the floor struggled to play defense. They continuously let the Celtics grab offensive boards. The Celtics kept their lead intact in the third quarter because of second chance points and because they were played very loosely (if not lazily) by the Lakers.

Los Angeles was plain pathetic on the boards, despite what the box score says. They were pushed around in the paint. Rondo grabbed more rebounds than Artest and Andrew Bynum combined. Boston blocked seven shots compared to only one by the Lakers. All of a sudden, it was like watching a replay of the 2008 playoffs.

Bryant may have to will the Lakers to victory in Game 6. But even the best basketball player in the world can’t trump the one for all, all for one mentally of the Celtics. It would be an outrage if the Finals MVP was handed to a single Celtic.
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