Zig-zagging along. The Lakers and Celtics keep trading wins, and Boston’s latest victory came courtesy of “Big Baby”. Davis scored nine of his 18 points in the fourth quarter as the Celtics tied the series with a 96-89 win Thursday night in Boston.
Both teams struggled from the floor shooting right around 45 percent. The refs did a great job of letting the teams play, and the Lakers and Celtics combined for only 45 free throws. The Lakers had 41 attempts from the charity stripe in Game 2 by themselves.
Tony Allen played great defense on Kobe Bryant late, and Kobe’s 43 minutes of playing time after two tough games and a cross country flight this week caught up on him down the stretch. Bryant scored 33 points, but went 10-for-33 from the floor including 2-for-6 in the final 12 minutes.
Big Baby kept attacking the basket and was rewarded with a 7-for-10 shooting night. He added five rebounds, and brought the energy to the Celtics team that carried them to a much-needed victory.
Six Celtics scored in double figures and Boston got 36 points from the bench, as Ray Allen kept struggling with his shot. Allen, who went 0-13 in Game 3, had another bad shooting night going 4-11. While the bench bailed him out this time, he will have to step it up in the remainder of the series, or Boston will be in trouble.
One of the most interesting developments for the outcome of this series was Andrew Bynum’s playing time. The Lakers center only got 12 minutes and looked clearly banged up. If he can’t recover, this could be a huge difference for the rest of the series.
Rajon Rondo struggled again, connecting on only five of his 15 shots. Celtics coach Doc Rivers sat him for the majority of the fourth quarter and played Nate Robinson instead. Robinson played great early in the fourth and backed his coach’s decision up. Rondo needs to step it up and attack Kobe like he did in Game 2, when he recorded a triple-double.
Phil Jackson will have to start spreading out the minutes a little more, or he will end up with an exhausted team once the series goes back to Los Angeles. His starters got 44 (Gasol), 43 (Bryant), 42 (Artest), 31 (Fisher), and 12 (Bynum) minutes. And we already talked about the reason for Bynum’s low minutes. His replacement, Lamar Odom, played 39 minutes.
The Celtics hope for better production from Allen and Rondo in Game 5, as they’re trying to break the zig-zag pattern. Sunday’s matchup is as much a must-win game for Boston as Game 4 was. If the Celtics lose their final home game, Los Angeles will have two chances at Staples Center to close out the series.
While home-court advantage doesn’t really seem to matter in this series, I can’t see the Lakers losing two straight at home. They have been too good of a home-team all season.
Boston goes into Sunday’s game as the three point favorite. They have kept the Lakers at 94 or less points in the last three games and I expect them to do the same in Game 5. They have been dictating the pace at the TD Garden. They are looking to do the same Sunday, and they go in with a good chance of beating this Lakers team.
The two-day break comes at a great time for the Lakers, as they are hoping to get Bynum back in the action. However, putting the break here makes no sense to me. The 2-3-2 format is supposed to cut down on the strains of cross-country traveling, but the league puts the longer break between two games at Boston.
The teams will fly back to LA after Sunday’s game and play again Tuesday. Somebody please explain that to me.
If you think the Celtics can beat the pattern of the series and win two in a row, go to Pinnacle for a -149 line. The sportsbooks agree on the +135 moneyline for the Lakers. Bookmaker has the total at 188, while 5Dimes has it at 187 ½. I could see another low-scoring defensive battle, and bookmaker seems to be the safer pick here, if you are planning on betting the under.