Good basketball — it’s something I haven’t seen too much of the past few years, and it’s the main reason I’m liking the NBA Finals so much right now. The Celtics went and got Game 5 tonight at home, winning 92-86 to grab a 3-2 series lead with it heading back to Los Angeles for the next installment on Tuesday.
Before I get into tonight’s game, one note: Phil Jackson is an idiot. This guy is supposed to be the greatest coach in the history of the game? Give me a break. Down 87-82 in the final minute, ABC’s cameras caught the Zen Master giving this little nugget of motivation to his Lakers:
“Nobody is better at blowing games in the fourth quarter than this team. They’re showing it to us right now.”
That’s all you’ve got in the final minute with your team about to fall behind in the NBA Finals? What a douchebag. Sure, Jackson has coached in an incredible 14 championships, but it’s for one reason: Because he’s had the two greatest players of this generation, plus one big unstoppable hack in his prime. Put Jackson in charge of any other team in the league and he’s nothing. If Jackson isn’t back with the Lakers next year, he’ll go wherever LeBron James goes, because he’s too big of a pussy to coach ordinary teams.
Anyway, enough about Jackson. Tonight it was Paul Pierce doing the work, scoring a team-high 27 in a performance reminiscent of what he did in the ’08 Finals when he picked up MVP honours. Pierce was in control from start to finish, including in the third quarter, where he scored 11 and helped Boston maintain a comfy lead despite 19 straight Lakers points from Kobe Bryant. Bryant scored on seven straight possessions at one point, but cooled down late and finished with 38.
Kevin Garnett played it like was 2002, finishing with 18 points, 10 boards, five steals and two blocks, and Rajon Rondo had 18, five rebounds and eight assists. Rondo, who shot 9-of-12, put the finishing touches on the win with a fine little tip-back over Bryant and Lamar Odom and a flashy layup in front of a non-existent Ron Artest after a Pierce save off an in-bounds. Ray Allen added 12, but went without a long ball for the third straight game (0-for-16 combined) after nailing a Finals-record eight in Game 2.
As I was saying, the win puts Boston up 3-2 with Game 6 and a potential 7 set for Los Angeles on Tuesday and Thursday. Remember who had the Celtics winning in six when it started? Yeah, that was me. I kind of went back on that after the Lakers took Game 3 in Boston, but even then still picked the Celtics to take the next two at home before winning in seven. That’s what I’m sticking to now. Let’s see what happens!