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Five thoughts from Game 1 of Celtics-Lakers

Posted by Bill Koch on June 4, 2010

Pau Gasol

That’s what it looks like when an NBA team takes out two years of frustration on somebody.

The Los Angeles Lakers turned Game 1 of the 2010 NBA Finals into their own personal revenge tour on Thursday night, hammering the Boston Celtics, 102-89, at Staples Center to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.

Los Angeles was all over Boston from the opening tip, playing with a sense of urgency that was absent throughout most of the 2008 Finals while the Celtics humbled the Lakers, 4-2, and capped off Banner 17 with a 39-point thrashing in Game 6. Boston regressed to its midseason form, a disinterested group who will need to get its act together before Sunday’s Game 2. Let’s go to our five thoughts to check out where it all went wrong for the Celtics on Thursday.

— Pau Gasol and Kevin Garnett aren’t the same players they were in 2008. That’s good news for the Lakers and bad news for the Celtics, as Gasol turned in a terrific performance with 23 points, 14 rebounds and three blocked shots. He had seven rebounds in each half, made all three blocks in the first half while Los Angeles was setting the tone at the defensive end and couldn’t be stopped in the post or on the run by Garnett. KG looked old and slow while grabbing just four rebounds in 35 minutes and didn’t flash the trademark fury that fueled Boston in 2008. Gasol’s breakaway dunk with 6:20 left in the game made it 91-76, forced Doc Rivers to burn a timeout and turned the rest of the night into garbage time.

— So much of the talk leading into this series centered on how soft the Lakers were in 2008, and Ron Artest needed less than a minute in the first quarter to inject some bad blood into the rematch. He hooked both of Paul Pierce’s arms and dragged The Truth to the floor, resulting in technical fouls for each player and forcing the officials to call everything tight for the rest of the evening. Artest’s thuggery took away Boston’s ability to be aggressive on the defensive end and landed Ray Allen in serious foul trouble that took him completely out of the game. Allen picked up his fifth personal with 1:39 left in the third quarter and was never a factor.

— With that said, Boston didn’t exactly give maximum effort when it didn’t have the ball. Kobe Bryant drove to the rim at will from the opening quarter on, helping the Lakers to 28 points in the paint in the first half and 52.8 percent shooting. Los Angeles built a 50-41 halftime lead and opened it up to a 20-point gap in the second half, enjoying an easy time of it on the offensive end while the Celtics failed to match the intensity that they showed while upsetting Cleveland and Orlando during their run to the Eastern Conference title.

— The Cavaliers had a deeper bench than Boston and failed to use it to their advantage thanks to the idiocy of the since-fired Mike Brown. Phil Jackson isn’t similarly naïve, and he turned his reserves loose on the Celtics’ backups in the second quarter to permanently swing the momentum in the Lakers’ favor. Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown made Michael Finley look like a 37-year-old corpse with their energy and athleticism and Lamar Odom continued to excel in his role as Los Angeles’ sixth man. Boston responded with…nothing.

— Boston Sucks? I knew already that just about everything on the West Coast was fake – the dyed hair, the tucked tummies, the ridiculous fake tits everywhere – but come on, Los Angeles. Chanting ‘Beat L.A.’ in a game where the Lakers weren’t even playing in 1983 was as original as it was brilliant (and the Philadelphia 76ers went on the sweep the Lakers in The Finals). That’s the kind of heat that Celtics’ fans are bringing. Your performance Thursday night was embarrassing. Step it up quick or STFU and leave early to go sit in 16 hours of traffic like you do at Dodgers’ games.

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