O.K. everybody who figured the dynamic duo of KryptoNate and the Pugilistic Papoose would ride in to save the Boston Celtics’ 2010 title hopes for the Fantastic Four, raise your hand now. Thought so. In a rollercoaster season full of violent twists, huge and sudden ups and downs, stomach-rending lurches, and wild careening that threatened to derail at any moment, it just keeps getting crazier. Last night, in a game that probably qualifies as must-win since no team has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the finals, the Green brought winning ugly to a new peak.
The Fantastic Four turned in a 41% shooting night and that was buoyed by a 3 for 5 in the last three minutes to close out the game. As a whole the team shot 41% the first half and came out in the third quarter to lay an egg shooting 35% for the frame. That left them down two entering the 4th . Enter the bench with Tony, Nate, Big Baby, and Sheed being chaperoned by Ray Allen—an interesting choice since only Paul Pierce was having an effective scoring night. Bodies flew around the floor, onto the floor, and into the stands, and the ball found its way into Celtics’ hands, and into the basket. In their nine minute stint to start the final quarter, the super-scrubs rang up 21 points (exceeding the 20 pt/qtr average of the team through three), seemingly pulled in every available rebound and loose ball, and held Kobe Bryant (who had been tossing in jumpers, mostly long-range, in clusters) without a basket—and all this against mostly the Lakers’ starters who seemed fatigued and a bit dazed by the onslaught.
As the quarter wore on Doc began sending his starters to the scorer’s table to check into the game; and then calling them back as the lack of a clock stoppage and the sub’s productivity obviated the need. Never was the lack of “I” in TEAM more evident than in this group of All-Stars repeatedly returning to the bench area where they picked up their pom-pom’s and resumed vociferously urging on their less-renowned teammates. If that didn’t warm the cockles of your green-tinted heart, nothing will.
That thrilling stint was not without flaws, and cause for concern, as well as pleasant surprises. Nate found himself compelled to get in the face of Odem and bark his way into a technical after bouncing up from Lamar de-treading him as he “showed” on a pick. Close score in the fourth quarter of an absolutely critical game—one would hope Nate would find shooting free throws to extend the lead an adequate compensation without counterproductive crowing. Then there was the prolonged primal scream of Big Baby which lasted so long you feared he would collapse from oxygen deprivation, especially since Nate was draped around his neck, hanging on his back and further restricting his air flow. Rasheed Wallace took a hard fall on his hip which had to aggravate his already sore back, although it did contradict the suspicion that Sheed never gets off the ground. Even Tony, whose adventurous offensive encounters with the ball throughout the night reminded one of why coaches make some players wide receivers and others defensive backs, was able to find the handle long enough to coax the ball into the basket.
Yes, life is good. The series is tied up. Momentum has swung back the Celtics’ way. While we still hope the Fantastic Four will get their game in sync, Doc has found a secret weapon—and you have to be amused at Phil’s response to a question on a plan to defend Nate and Big Baby, “I don’t want to address that question.” Now if the Green can prevail Sunday, I like their chances of keeping L.A. from running off two victories at home. It’s June, the Celtics and Lakers are locked in another titanic struggle and one could ask for no more (well except for a favorable outcome.) [Discuss on CG Forums!]