Ladies and Gentleman, we have a Game 7. And here is the kicker: this will be the first for Phil Jackson to coach a Game 7 in an NBA Finals series. That’s right. The guy, who has won 10 NBA titles as a coach, never had to go to a Game 7 to win the Championship. In fact, he has never been part of a Finals Game 7 in his coaching or playing career.
In his playing days, his Knicks won the 1970 championship in seven games, but Jackson missed the season due to spinal fusion surgery. He was one of the top bench players when the Knicks won another title in 1973, but that series didn’t go to Game 7.
The Lakers dominated the Celtics Tuesday night, and Boston needs to bounce back big if they want a shot at the title. Both teams came out firing and the score was 12-12 after five minutes of play. Then, Kendrick Perkins got hurt and the blow sent the Celtics into shock. Perkins hurt his knee and will miss Game 7.
The Lakers ran away with the game, and Boston really struggled from the court. Rajon Rondo looked lost out there. He wasn’t aggressive and failed to take the ball to the basket. This is most likely a result of his poor free throw shooting in the series. He is 4-for-17 from the charity stripe. He missed both of his attempts Tuesday, didn’t even shoot a free throw Sunday and missed the two free throws he shot in Game 4.
Rondo went 5-for-15 from the court, going 1-for-8 with two points in the firs half. He was in the discussion for series MVP after a couple of strong games, but his inconsistency in the series could cost him the title. He needs to have a great Game 7 and lead the Celtics to the championship if he wants to be considered for the MVP.
The Celtics will miss Perkins’ big body and his rebounding in Game 7 and Big Baby and Ra-sheed Wallace will have to get the job done. The Lakers outrebounded the Celtics 52-39. The Cetics also could have used Perkins in the paint Tuesday. The team missed 12 shots within five feet of the basket. They literally missed 12 layups/dunks.
Sheed went 0-for-7 from the field including 0-for-6 from beyond the arc. And most of those threes were wide open. With Perkins out, Wallace really needs to step up his game Thursday.
The Lakers’ bench got the boost it needed from an energetic home crowd. They outscored the Celtics bench 25-13, and all 13 of the Celtics reserves’ points came when the game was already in the books. The first bench points for Boston came with ten minutes left in the game and the score 78-53 in favor of the Lakers.
Kobe Bryant had a great game, mixing his scoring with pinpoint passing. He ended up with 26 and kept attacking the rim. He grabbed 11 rebounds and had three assists. Lamar Odom was big on the boards as Andrew Bynum again got limited minutes. Odom got ten rebounds and added eight points.
The teams started the game at a frantic pace and it looked like they were going to go over the total easily. The Lakers did their part, but the Celtics’ breakdown lead to a measly 156 points for the game. The Lakers took the foot off the pedal when the game was decided, and the total score ended up a lot lower than it could have.
The Celtics need their bench to show up in Game 7, if they want to win the title. They need Rondo to be aggressive and at least challenge the Los Angeles defenders. Even if he misses the resulting free throws, at least he will get the Lakers in foul trouble.
Los Angeles needs another balanced effort like they got Tuesday. They can’t rely on Kobe alone, and Bryant needs to keep getting his teammates involved. They are in the better position going into the deciding game, with home-court advantage and the momentum on their side after a big Game 6 victory.
Expect a higher-scoring Game 7 as the teams will fight to the end. The total is set at 187 and I could see the teams going over in this one. This will be a dogfight with a possible overtime finish, and I don’t see another low-scoring game.
The Lakers come in as the even bigger favorite than in Game 6. I was expecting an energetic performance and a big win by the Lakers in their first game back at home, so the -6.5 point spread for Game 6 made sense to me. They are favored by 7 going into Thursday’s deciding game and that just seems too high to me.
If you like the Celtics outright, go to Bookmaker for a +285 moneyline. If you expect a closer game than the 7 point spread, look at the alternate lines at 5Dimes. They offer the Celtics at +5 (+129), +5.5 (+117), and +6 (+106) for good value. If you like the Lakers to win big again, look at the -8.5 (+117) and -9 (+130) at 5Dimes.