Blog Entry

Lakers did the Celtics a favor

Posted on: December 25, 2008 8:32 pm
 

The best thing that could've happened to the Celtics on Christmas Day, in front of a raucous Staples Center crowd and curious national TV audience, was to lose to the Lakers.

Trust me, this game meant a lot more to the Lakers than it did to the Celtics.

Just as Boston received nothing of value for winning 19 consecutive games and embarking on the best 29-game start in NBA history, neither do the Lakers receive any trophies or other meaningful accolades for stopping it with a 92-83 victory Thursday.

Sure, the Lakers can build off a game in which they (finally) defended for 48 minutes and got key contributions from Andrew Bynum (who missed last year's Finals loss to Boston with an injury) and Pau Gasol (who was too often missing in key moments against the Celtics last June). But while they may not realize it now, the Lakers' stirring performance against the defending champs Thursday -- by far the most anticipated game of the NBA season to date -- will refocus the Celtics and alleviate the unnecessary pressure of the streak.

It was tied for the fourth-longest winning streak in NBA history -- a noteworthy accomplishment, and one that will mean diddly squat come June. Had the Celtics won Thursday, their efforts to repeat as champions would've been unnecessarily sidetracked by ever more sweltering national attention on something that ultimately means nothing. As Kevin Garnett said Tuesday night after the Celtics beat the Sixers for their 19th straight win, all of these records and milestones are nothing but steam that will simply evaporate if Boston doesn't win the title.

Imagine the distraction of going to Portland on Tuesday with the possibility of passing the 2007-08 Rockets for the second-longest winning streak in NBA history (23). Then, with victories over Washington, New York, and Charlotte, the streak would've been at 26 when Boston hosted the Rockets on Jan. 7. If they won, they would've been at 27 when they visited Cleveland on Jan. 9 -- inching ever closer to the longest winning streak in NBA history, 33, by the 1971-72 Lakers.

And so on, and so on. The Celtics should be glad it's over. Now they can just continue doing what they've been doing. Now they can take an unbiased look at their team and start thinking about what, if anything, needs to be added before the Feb. 19 trade deadline.

They're still on pace with the 1995-96 Bulls, whose 72-10 record was the best in NBA history. They still have a shot at surpassing the Celtics' franchise record of 68 victories, set in 1972-73. But that record, too, means little; the '72-'73 Celtics lost to the Knicks in the Eastern Conference Finals.

If anything, this loss exploited the Celtics' bench, which got outplayed by the Lakers' reserves. It showed that Doc Rivers will have to come up with an answer if the Lakers choose to close games in June with Bynum and Gasol on the floor at the same time. If Gasol makes big shots -- and he made a couple down the stretch Thursday, and also blocked a 3-point attempt by Ray Allen as the Celtics were trying to cut it to 88-86 with 1:21 left -- it's a formidable matchup problem for Boston. Gasol's block resulted in a five-point swing as Trevor Ariza got free for a dunk that made it 90-83 with 1:10 left.

But this game, beamed to our TV sets on Christmas Day, also proved something else. It proved something else to me, anyway. It proved that Lakers-Celtics in the Finals again wouldn't be as repetitious and boring as I thought it would be. If it's anything like Thursday, then we've all been reminded how much we have to look forward to in June.

 

 

Comments

Since: Jun 6, 2008
Posted on: December 29, 2008 11:46 am
 

Lakers did the Celtics a favor

You are out of your mind!!

I admit that Gasol is not the greatest player in the game and a guy like Garnett is a better player but you cant say he is overrated...he is a very good player.  And the does being european have to do with it anyway?

How in the world can you call Phil Jackson overrated?  The guy has won 1000 games faster then any other coach and has one the second most championships in NBA history!!  And dont give me that shit about the players he has had on his team.....Jordan never won a title until Phil came to town and Kobe and Shaq didnt win any titles until Phil showed up.

Why do you need to bring race into it?  Why cant we just watch two great basketball teams and enjoy a good game. I am not sure if you noticed but there are only 3 non-black players on the Lakers entire roster that actually get any real minutes.  Plus, who in the media bash the celts?  Kevin Garnett is one of the most loved players in the entire NBA.

You basically have no idea what you are talking about.




Since: Aug 13, 2006
Posted on: December 27, 2008 3:02 pm
 

Lakers did the Celtics a favor

If anything, this loss exploited the Celtics' bench, which got outplayed by the Lakers' reserves. It showed that Doc Rivers will have to come up with an answer if the Lakers choose to close games in June with Bynum and Gasol on the floor at the same timetrue. they alos had Odom out there and the height advantage and coordination that he has showed... one instance where he was left alone for a 3 pointer that put the game in limbo for the Celts... Celts will pony up for the man off the bench but at the same time Tony Allen has to improve .. way to many unthinkable , goofy passes and low % shoots he took



Since: May 2, 2007
Posted on: December 27, 2008 8:04 am
 

Lakers did the Celtics a favor

So if the Lakers did the Celtics a favor, then what did the Warriors do?



Since: Dec 7, 2008
Posted on: December 27, 2008 1:05 am
 

Lakers did the Celtics a favor

Some favor! Back to Back losses...



Since: Dec 10, 2008
Posted on: December 26, 2008 9:09 pm
 

Lakers did the Celtics a favor

OK everyone.  Take one step back and take a deep breath.

It was a regular season game with playoff intensity.  Lakers played a fantastic game and won on their home court.  Boston's starters played fairly well, but I agree that the bench didn't show up in the first half and Rondo didn't play well.  Rondo and the bench played batter in the second half and kept the score close.  The Lakers pulled it out when it counted.  Once again, nice job Lakers!! 

We'll see you back in Boston!!

 




Since: Dec 24, 2008
Posted on: December 26, 2008 8:17 pm
 

Lakers did the Celtics a favor

The Celtics losing to the Lakers at this point in the season is probably the best thing that could've happened to them. Riding a 19 game winning streak going into this game the Celts knew this was going to be their toughest game and they had to bring it being in L.A The game was very close until the closing minutes, I cant say the same would've happened had this game been in Boston, but we can't run on what-if's. Losing to the Lakers has refocused this team and shown some weaknesses and what they need to work on to beat this great L.A team, most likely in a 7 game series come June. The Celtics are primed to take the East assuming they don't give up a large amount of games and the Cavs and Magic don't go on an amazing run themselves. Now that the Celts can refocus and are no longer under amazing pressure of a record they can "just go out and play the game." Lakers fans, see you in the finals and it's going to be a great one. For your sake, you had better get home court advantage.

Give up your back and I'm getting your neck.




Since: Jul 24, 2007
Posted on: December 26, 2008 4:57 pm
 

Lakers did the Celtics a favor

It's one game so you can't determine anything. These aren't the same teams that played in June, but the main difference between the Finals and this game was the Lakers played 48 minutes of good basketball. That didn't happen in June.



Since: Jan 3, 2007
Posted on: December 26, 2008 4:51 pm
 

Lakers did the Celtics a favor

kdrobins,

That was somewhat of a good point. Except when Pierce went down he was in pain, there was no foul called, and it was someone bigger than him that fell on him.

Gasol was running, there was no pain, he got the call, and it was someone half his size. Give me a break the only time he was aggresive was on cheap shots at Garnett. But in the eyes of Lakers fans, Gasol's a hero for getting the calls down the stretch.




Since: Sep 27, 2006
Posted on: December 26, 2008 1:43 pm
 

Lakers did the Celtics a favor

 They are skilled in pretend agony....rolling around on the ground, near death, only to pop up when they can't get any more attention, with a miracle cure. 

Wow, that was said about European players. But to me it sounds a lot like Pierce in the finals last year.

Lakers won a good game. It proves they can play with Boston and win. So now everyone can stop crowning the Celtics as repeat champions and see how the rest of the season plays out. Good win, even bigger mental boost for the Lakers. Puts some doubt into the Celtics heads as well.

Go Lakers!!!!!




Since: Sep 28, 2008
Posted on: December 26, 2008 1:28 pm
 

Lakers did the Celtics a favor

Are you kidding me!!! The Lakers did not do them a favor.  Please, if this was a Celtic win the talk would have been how dominate the Celtics still are over the Lakers as well as how they were still able to beat them with Bynum in the lineup, etc, etc.  The FACT of the matter is this win if anything worked in the Lakers favor.  Thats right in the Lakers favor.  They got destroyed in the finals last year, and this win from a mental point of view has allowed them to "believe"  They know they can win now.  Thats Huge! In addition, the Celtics mentally could be thinking a lot of things.....How to readjust to the line up with Gasol at forward as oppossed to Center.  They could be thinking, wow the Lakers are better than we thought, actually had some defense.  Putting any doubt in the Celtics minds mentally is HUUUUGGGGEEEE!  This was a key game from a mental perspective and everyone knows it.  They just do not want to say it.  Celtic peeps thought the Lakers were going to lose and they can spin it however they want.  But in the end this is a huge boost for the Lakers especially due to their recent loses and recent criticism that they need to figure out defense.  This loss only hurt the Celtics dont fool yourselves.  Mental Toughness means a lot in this game and Lakers won it. 


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com