Before the series started, I told Around The Spectrum that I thought the Celtics would win games 1,2, 4 and 6 (prediction at the 83:00 mark). But now that we're here, I want this win.
The Lakers want to open up their offense and run. They want easy buckets… transition 3's… opportunities to force the refs to make calls. They'll be able to do it two ways: Rebound and cause turnovers. The Celtics need to maintain their aggressive play and attack the basket. But they also need to protect the ball.
The Celtics are at their ugliest when they back off a bit… and that has always resulted in ill-advised passes. They have this bad habit of making entry passes from bad angles… and making cross court chest-passes that can easily be tipped (like the one Radmanovic stole at the end of Game 2) and stolen. If we see this early… then the Lakers are going to do what everyone expects… and storm out to a big lead in Game 3 from which the Celtics will not be able to recover.
But if the Celtics protect the ball and minimize turnovers, they'll force the Lakers to do all of their running off missed jumpers. The Lakers will take that if they have to… but the chances of the Celtics getting back to defend that kind of break are greater. If the C's miss good shots… then there's nothing you can do. But if the Lakers are constantly running 2 and 3-on-1's… then forget it.
Everyone needs to know one thing: If the Lakers are forced to execute in the half-court to beat the Celtics… they won't win. The Celtics defense is too good. Kobe is too selfish. Odom and Gasol disappear for too long. Maybe the perimeter guys will hit more shots at home… but the Celtics WILL win this game if this is half-court vs. half-court.
But if they get careless with the ball… the Lakers will run away with the game… and the Lakers will head into Game 4 with a ton more confidence that I don't want… or feel comfortable with… them having.