By: Alex Reimer
In what was possibly the last home game of the “big 3” era, the Celtics put forth a vintage performance. In the 92-86 win over the Lakers in a pivotal game 5, four Celtics (Rondo, Ray Allen, Pierce, and Garnett) were in double figures. The starting lineup needed to come up big, and they sure did.
It got close at the end, but the Celtics pulled away. Phil Jackson exclaimed on the Los Angeles sideline that the Celtics “know how to lose games in the 4th quarter.” That may have been true from October-March. But doesn’t Phil know that the “switch has been flipped?” From the start of the postseason onward, this Celtics’ team has been as resilient a bunch as any. They simply know how to win.
Here the Celtics are, 1 win away from the franchise’s 18th championship banner and 2nd title in 3 years. This most recent resurgence of Celtics basketball has had everything to do with team and a little something called “ubuntu.” It was on full display in game 5.
From the spectacular help defense, which shut down everybody not named Kobe Bryant, to the offensive end, the Celtics once again won with a full team effort.
It was time for Paul Pierce to perform like a captain, and he did with 27 points. Kevin Garnett chipped in with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Rajon Rondo had 18 points and 8 assists, and Ray Allen contributed with 12 points. There wasn’t a historic shooting performance on this night, nor 30 combined points from Glen Davis and Nate Robinson. This win was anything but “fool’s gold.”
Kobe scored 19 points in the 3rd quarter, and finished with 38. However, the Celtics still outscored the Lakers 28-26 in the 3rd.
That was because the Lakers reverted back to the team we saw in 2008. Pau Gasol shrunk at the feet of Garnett, and the bench did not contribute. Ron Artest continues to struggle mightily offensively (2-9 from the field), and Andrew Bynum played 31 minutes without grabbing a defensive rebound.
It takes a village to win. Whether it’s the bench stealing game 4, or Paul Pierce and the starting lineup leading the way, the Celtics can win in various ways. They are far from a on- man show, and haven’t been the past 3 years.
This might have been it for this crew. It could be the last home game for Ray Allen, who is a free agent at the end of the season. It will be the last home game for assistant coach Tom Thibodeau, who will coach the Bulls next year. Doc Rivers may not be back.
But this isn’t the time for that. The Celtics know it too. They have a flight at 9:45 AM tomorrow, heading straight for LA.
The focus shifts to Tuesday’s game 6, where the Celtics head into the Staples Center with the 3-2 series advantage. The Lakers’ backs are against the wall, and it is unsure how they will respond. Especially because we know that the Celtics will not give them any breathing room.
Come playoff time, complacency is not in this team’s vocabulary.
Alex Reimer is the host of the Red Sox podcast, “Without a Curse.” “Without a Curse” is available on both www.thesportsstuff.com and in the iTunes store. Alex is also the host of “The Alex Reimer Show,” which airs every Saturday from 4-6 PM EST on 1120 AM WBNW Boston and www.moneymattersradio.net. Alex can be reached at, Alexredsox076@aol.com.