This game was not pretty. Whether it was the short travel turn-around (why there are two days off in between two games in Boston, but not when the series switches cities is beyond me) or whatnot, both teams did not have all their players on full tilt. I suspect the Lakers would have still won, but it speaks well of Kobe and Sasha Vujacic to be able to help pull out a must win at home in a low scoring contest. Kobe had 36, Vujacic 20, and the Laker defense only allowed Ray Allen to get off (he had 25, while KG had 13 after only one first half field goal and Paul Pierce was in foul trouble all night.)
With that in mind, it may be time to look at giving the Fisher-Vujacic-Bryant line-up from PG to small forward more time on the court — the Celtics admitted this formation can stretch the floor in the ways starting Vlad Radmanovic at PF doesn’t. It’s the Lakers’ small line-up, but it works, and Kobe is good enough to take on Paul Pierce directly. For the Celtics: Pierce has to get over the jitters and KG cannot score 2 points in a half, because it means he’s not getting down low and battling for offensive boards enough.
Crucial thing: how bad is Rajon Rondo’s ankle sprain? Boston is cooked if he can’t play up to snuff. Rondo may be a second-year player who handles it better in the Garden than on the road, but tell me with a straight face that after all this time, the Celtics want Sam Cassell or Eddie House playing hte majority of the minutes at PG for the rest of the series.
I think we’ll be talking 2-2 and a 3-game series after Thursday.
Photo: AP/Mark Avery