Boston won back-to-back games for the first time this series and the teams are headed to Los Angeles for Game 6 of the 2010 NBA Finals. The Lakers have to win both, and they have shown in this postseason that they are capable of dominating at home. They are 9-1 in home games in the 2010 playoffs, and they are looking to add two more wins to this record.
The Lakers got Andrew Bynum back in action in Game 5, but he wasn’t able to make an impact – neither on offense nor on the boards. He played for 32 minutes and scored only six points on 3-for-6 shooting. The Lakers were hoping he would help with his rebounds, but he couldn’t deliver in that category either. He grabbed only one rebound in his 32 minutes on the court.
Kobe Bryant was the one-man-show for the Lakers Sunday, scoring 38 of the team’s 86 points. That means the eight other players who received playing time combined for only 12 more points than Kobe scored on his own.
The Lakers will need a much more balanced effort, if they want a shot at the comeback and win two straight games at home. They also need to contain Paul Pierce, who scored 27 points in 43 minutes Sunday. Kevin Garnett looks like he really wants this championship, as this might be his last shot at adding a second one to his record.
He won the championship with the Celtics in 2008, but the 34-year-old looks like he might be done soon. His knees are bothering him, and he can’t play as physical as he used to. He has battled through all of this and scored 18 points Sunday, 13 in Game 4 and 25 in Game 3. He was great on defense Sunday, adding ten rebounds and five steals to his 18 points.
Rajon Rondo found his rhythm Sunday, making nine of his 12 attempts from the floor, and the Celtics will need a similar performance from their point guard in the remainder of the series.
After playing extensive minutes and giving the Celtics a big boost in Game 4, Big Baby and Nate Robinson saw very limited playing time. Big Baby didn’t score a single point and Robinson only had four. The Celtics starters came through Sunday, and Boston didn’t need help from the bench.
Sunday’s game was another low-scoring affair, and the final score stayed under the total for the fourth time in five games this series. Expect the scoring to pick up a little bit in Los Angeles. The Lakers will come out eager to go up early and will push the pace of the game.
They seem much more energetic and confident when playing in front of their home crowd. I would expect this to translate into more points and a series-tying Game 6 win by the Lakers. One thing that might skew the total a little bit is the cross-country trip the two teams had to take.
I’ve said this in an earlier preview, but I don’t understand why the league gave the teams an additional day off between Games 4 and 5, with the action staying in Boston. Now they make them play on one day’s rest that includes a cross-country flight. Doesn’t make sense to me.
Depending on where you go the total sits between 188 (Bodog) and 189 (Bookmaker). I expect this to be a higher scoring game than the ones we saw in Boston, despite the travel. 5Dimes offers alternate totals, and if you think the scoring will pick up, they are worth a look. They have the over 189 for -103, the over 189 ½ for +104, and the over 190 for +111.
The Lakers go into the game as the 6 ½ point favorite, and I think they will force a Game 7.
If you believe the Celtics can close out the series Tuesday night, go to 5Dimes for a +250 moneyline.