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.



Since: Sep 28, 2006
Posted on: December 25, 2008 11:38 pm
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Since: Feb 4, 2008
Posted on: December 25, 2008 11:07 pm

Lakers did the Celtics a favor

;     &nbs
p;   The Celtics think they are the better team when it matters ey? That's the argument? I don't buy it. How could they overlook giving the Lakers make up two game in the battle for the homecourt standings if they both get to the finals. The Celtics didn't win last years championship by having that kind of attitude. Why would they have it now. Paul Pierce might say the game doesn't help them win anything....but that's arrogance. And I don't think Kevin Garnett would say the same. The Celtics got beat straight up. It wasn't because of their's because the Lakers are a better team now with all their key players playing in position...not out of position like in last year's Finals. The Celtics are going to have to make adjustments and hope it works.

Since: Oct 31, 2006
Posted on: December 25, 2008 9:06 pm

Lakers did the Celtics a favor

I'm not discrediting the Lakers victory at all. What I am saying is that I'm not heart broken they lost as now there is no more streak talk and they can just play basketball. Ask the Patriots about streaks on the line. The Lakers SHOULD win at home on Christmas Day. I had pretty much chalked this one up as a loss before it started. Had the game been in Boston then I would have expected the C's to win. The Lakers were the better team tonight, nice W for them. Nice for Jackson to get number 1000 at home.

Since: Nov 14, 2007
Posted on: December 25, 2008 8:56 pm

Lakers did the Celtics a favor

Celtics weren't playing to keep the streak going, they just simply got beat.  Had the streak ended earlier, Lakers would've still beaten them the same way.  Both teams had a good game.  But to say the streak had anything to do with it downplays the Lakers great performance, and also, Boston's ability to stay focused on making it to the Finals.  Sure, I bet the streak was somewhere in the back of their minds but they know what's important.

Since: Mar 3, 2007
Posted on: December 25, 2008 8:56 pm

Lakers did the Celtics a favor

I understand his point, however I do not know if he is correct.  I guess that is what makes sports so interesting.  I will tell you one thing though, if the Celtic's won tonight, what would we have to talk about?  Half the fun of sports is talking sh%t to other sports fans!  Everyone needs a sense of pride in something! And what else would we do when we are board?  Thank you Lakers for making the season more fun, and can't wait for the finals! MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE, STAY HEALTHY & HAVE FUN!!!!!

Since: Oct 31, 2006
Posted on: December 25, 2008 8:48 pm

Lakers did the Celtics a favor

Rematch??? I love how they call these games played several months later as "the rematch". The Lakers won, does that mean they get Boston's trophy from last year?? Lol, give me a break. The "rematch" will come if both teams make it to the NBA Finals again. This was simply a matchup of two fantastic teams in December. The Lakers did not exact any type of "revenge" on the Celtics. Good win for the Lakers and Jackson at home and an ok loss for the C's. When you start getting up there in streaks like they were on you start to play to NOT lose the streak as opposed to just playing basketball every night. Entertaining game, nice job by the NBA on this one.

Since: Dec 7, 2008
Posted on: December 25, 2008 8:46 pm

Lakers did the Celtics a favor

The Big Picture is that Boston played well, and came close, if these two teams meet in the Finals, Boston all the way!

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