I often wonder what opposing teams, their beat reporters and bloggers are saying about the Celtics after playing the Celtics. Here's a dose of 'enemy chatter' from Los Angeles.
Credit Ron Artest for defending Paul Pierce far, far better than he did on February 1st. In that first matchup between these teams, Ron allowed Pierce to get too-easy separation en route to 32 efficiently scored points. Tonight Ron held his small-forward counterpart to 15 on 16 shots. The Laker bigs also did work on D. Bynum, Gasol and Lamar Odom pretty much took away the entire paint from the Celtics, forcing them to become a midrange jumpshooting squad. The stat lines tell you how well that worked out for them: Garnett, 4 for 13…. Rondo, 5 for 14…. Glen Davis, 3 for 10…. you get the picture. And the picture is good.
I very much approve of how the Lakers worked the ball inside this evening. Not merely that they worked the ball inside, but how. Instead of the basic entry pass into the post, they often looked for and found backdoor lobs and baseline bounce passes, tactics that we haven't seen a lot this season and that kept the Celtics' D off balance. It was a clever, unexpected gameplan from Phil Jackson.
Silly me for thinking LA bloggers would qualify some of their claims after their team's victory.
A big reason why the Lakers dominated the paint was the fact the Celtics were missing 3 frontcourt players (Shaq, JO and Semih).
A big reason why Ron Artest "shut down" Paul Pierce is because Pierce spent Wednesday in the hospital getting IV fluids due to an illness.
And there's always the injuries to Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels – two KEY cogs in that second unit.
I hate playing the injury card, but it's clearly appropriate in this case. The Lakers got themselves a nice little road win last night… against a depleted Celtics team. That's a fact.