The Celtics could have used any one of many excuses to lose this game. Their flight out of LA was delayed 5 hours and they didn't get in until late. Ray Allen spent the night at the hospital with his son who was ill and didn't get to Boston until this morning. They were tired and they were banged up. They could have used any of those excuses but they didn't. They saved their best game of the season until this one and came away with a 131-92 win and the title of World Champions.
Perk started the game and played only 13 minutes, but he gave the team a big boost of energy on defense. He scored 2 points and pulled down 4 rebounds and blocked a shot. He set the tone early on defense and for the first time in the series, the Celtics played 4 quarters of in your face defense to completely take the Lakers out of the game. The Lakers started out 4-0 and that was the biggest lead they would have. They kept it close in the first quarter and the Celtics pulled ahead 24-20 at the end of the first quarter. Neither team shot well in the first quarter with the Celtics shooting 38% and the Lakers 36%. The Celtics were able to force 6 turnovers in the quarter as their defense started clicking early.
Doc started the second quarter with Pierce, PJ Brown, Posey, House, and Powe. They were able to stretch the lead out in the second quarter to finish the half up 58- 35 after a 26-6 run to close out the quarter. The Celtics' shots stared falling as they shot 47% and their defense was strangling the Lakers, holding them to 30%. The Celtics were also crashing the boards and had a 26-14 edge in rebounds. More importantly, Kobe Bryant got off to a fast start with 11 points in the first quarter and they held him to just 4 in the second.
The Celtics never let up and were aggressive through the third and fourth quarters. They stretched the lead to 43 points mid 4th quarter as they totally dominated on both ends of the court. The Celtics set a new Finals record with 18 steals. With 4 minutes left in the 4th quarter and the Celtics leading 116-81, Doc took Pierce, KG and Ray Allen all out at once so that the crowd could give them the recognition they deserved.
Kevin Garnett said after his last game that he could play much better and would. He was true to his word as he scored 26 points, pulled down 14 rebounds, dished out 4 assists, grabbed 3 steals and blocked a shot. Paul Pierce was named the Finals MVP and even though he didn't shoot the ball well and was just 4-13, he did everything else and finished with 17 points, 3 rebounds, 10 assists, and 2 steals. Ray Allen once again proved that he was an assassin as he tied the record for 3's in an NBA Finals game with 7 and set a new record for a finals series. He left the game in the first quarter after getting poked in the eye by Odom but later returned and showed no ill effects.
Rajon Rondo bounced back from his struggles in Los Angeles and was aggressive from the start, taking the ball to the hoop, pushing the ball on every possession and being an absolute pest on defense. He finished with 21 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists and 6 steals. Eddie House was the back up point guard and played very well with 9 points, 2 rebounds and 5 assists. Because Eddie and Rondo were so effective, Sam didn't play in this game.
PJ Brown played very well as Perk was limited by his shoulder and foul trouble and finished with 6 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists. James Posey continued his impressive play off the bench with 11 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 3 steals along with playing some very good defense. Big Baby got his first playing time of the series and was ready as he defended the paint and scored 3 points and pulled down 4 rebounds. Leon Powe as always made the most of his minutes with 8 points and 4 rebounds. Tony Allen scored 2 points and dished out 1 assist.
Kudos have to go to Doc who out coached Phil Jackson in this series and was doused with a cooler of Gatorade on the sidelines by Paul Pierce. The Celtics shot 49% from the field while holding the Lakers to 42%. They dominated the glass with a 48-29 rebounding edge. They moved the ball well with 33 assists on 43 field goals. They also proved that defense wins games as they totally dominated the team with the best offense in the league this season by playing tough defense throughout the season, but particularly in the finals and in this game.
Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen can now be called The Big Three as they have proved themselves as champions. Tim Legler must be feeling pretty good today as he was the only ESPN expert who picked the Celtics to win the title. For the first time in 22 years, we can say those very familiar words: The Boston Celtics are once again the NBA World Champions. Gino is dancing and somewhere, Red just lit up his victory cigar.
And thank you pecja and all the fans who hung with this team through the lean years. This championship is so much sweeter because of all that we had to go through over the past 22 years waiting for it!!!
I have been choked up since Doc took the big 3 out all at once with 4:01 to go. When Bill Russell and KG embraced and KG told him he didn't have to give up one of his rings because now he has one of his own, I burst out in tears. What a very special time this is. In fact, I am still kind of choked up!!!