The Boston Celtics Amp Up the Defense and Embarrass The Philadelphia 76ers At Home
The Celtics trailed the 76ers by 5 points going into the 2nd quarter of this game but upon regaining the lead never trailed again. In fact, wether or not the Sixers would ever see the lead again was never in doubt as the Celtics rolled on to a 107-91 victory. There are two main differences between this game 3 and game 2.
The first difference is, that Paul Pierce was more aggressive and more productive. In game 2 Pierce scored 7 points while shooting an anemic 2 of 9 in that game. In game 3 Pierce started the game with two dunks. He would go on to score 24 points on 6 of 17 shooting. That’s the Paul Pierce the Celtics are going to need if they plan on winning this series or any future ones.
The second difference, is defense. Boston murdered Philadelphia on the defensive glass gathering 37 defensive boards. Also none of the Sixers starters scored over 20 points. In fact, none of them scored greater than 15 points. Philadelphia shooting guard Evan Turner was held in check as he scored just 4 points and made 1 of his 10 shot attempts.
The Sixers are not out of this series but will need to make some offensive adjustments to match the re-emergence of the Celtics defense.
The Oklahoma City Thunder Erase A 7 Point Deficit In the Final Two Minutes to “Steal” A Game At Home.
In the first quarter of game 1 of this series it became apparent that the Lakers had a distinct size advantage inside over the Thunder. When the Lakers wandered away from what many perceive to be their game plan, pounding the ball down low, they spiraled out of control allowing the Thunder to run and hit shoot often uncontested jump shots. In game 2 the Lakers stick to the game plan and control much of the game thanks to the dominating play of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. So L.A. wins right?
Not so fast amigo. A series of gaffes nearing the end of the game caused Los Angeles to surrender a 7 point lead in the final two minutes of the game. First Kevin Durant stole an inbound pass from Kobe Bryant and slammed home an easy 2 points. Then James Harden was allowed to go coast to coast for an easy lay up that brought the Thunder within 1 point. Kevin Durant hit the floater on the baseline that would give the Thunder a 1 point lead. The Lakers last possession was a flare for Kobe Bryant but Metta World Peace caught Russell Westbrook sleeping on the inbound pass and hit a wide open Steve Blake. Blake however would not hit the wide open 3 point shot and the Lakers lose by 1 point.
Steve Blake had a few options. He could have made the shot, he could have used the fact that Westbrook had to jump to recover to defend him and pump faked and then drove to the basket for a better look, or he could have passed it to Bynum who had emerged on the low block. He had 5 seconds. That’s more than enough time. Despite all of this to blame the loss on Steve Blake would be asinine. The Lakers attempted 77 shots before that last one and if they had made more than 30 of those this game may not even have been close. If anyone is to blame it should be Kobe. He shot a an inefficient 9 of 25 from the field and hit none of the 6 3-pointers he attempted. None. Steve Blake played a hand in the loss but Kobe’s impact was certainly bigger.
New Jersey Devils Even The Series Against the New York Rangers
When the Devils took the ice in game 1 of the NHL Eastern Conference Finals they got run over. Plain and simple. They didn’t look ready and the Rangers looked very ready. New Jersey did a great job of bouncing back in game 2. They were able to do something few teams this season have. Fool Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, arguably the league’s best at his position. This did so with a number of redirected shots including David Clarkson’s go ahead shot in the 3rd period. Clarkson has proved once again in the playoffs that he can be relied upon for clutch plays.
Speaking of clutch plays, Devils goalie Martin Brodeur made an amazing save. As Rangers right wing Marian Gaborik attacked the goal he tried to flip a shot over Brodeur who had fallen over. Brodeur raised his right leg up, as he was on his stomach, and kicked the puck away saving a goal. I gush about Henrik Lundqvist being the best in the league but it’s plays like those that remind us why the 40 year old Brodeur is a legend and one of the best to play the game. Ever.