Game 4 was a game that by all accounts the Boston Celtics had no business winning. In fact heading into halftime, it was clear to the most casual basketball fan who the better and more talented team was, and that was hands down the Lakers. The Lakers had the best player on the floor in Kobe Bryant and the best post player in Pau Gasol, and to top it off, they were playing better defense, something that is supposed to be Boston’s bread and butter…And then it all changed and the Celtics rode their bench to victory.
The second half and particularly the fourth quarter of Game 4 was one of the first times throughout the playoffs that Boston’s bench, almost singlehandedly won them a playoff game. It’s perhaps more impressive that it was against the Lakers, but to me, the most impressive part was the energy that guys like Big Baby Davis and Nate Robinson played with. Those two in particular took the energy level in the game to a level where the Lakers were either unwilling or unable to match. Nate Robinson made some huge shots, Big Baby was a beast inside and Lamar Odom completely disappeared. Read more.
While the Celtics were crawling their way back into the series, Rondo, Pierce and Garnett were sitting on the bench, riding the pine and riding the energy wave that their bench provided. Doc Rivers didn’t put his starters back into the game until there was just 3 minutes left to play in the game. Bynum’s injury is changing the dynamics of this series, his knee has been questionable and it’s giving the Celtics the advantage back in the paint. It’s changing the matchups, and allowing those matchups to work in the Celtics favor, much like in 2008 when the Lakers were without Bynum. And for some reason, Kobe Bryant is again becoming a volume jump shooter which is playing right into the Celtics hands.
Boston shouldn’t be brimming with confidence by any stretch. Paul Pierce, though he had a better offensive output in Game 4, all but disappeared down the stretch. The Celtics as a team aren’t shooting the ball very well despite numerous open looks. But now that the series has become a best out of 3, it means the Celtics must find a way to win one, maybe two in LA. They won’t be able to ride their bench in LA, the crowd won’t be energizing Big Baby to turn into freakin Shaq, and how much trust can Doc Rivers really put in Nate Robinson in an elimination game for the NBA Finals? Isn’t he the same cat that shot on his own hoop in NY?
Both teams have serious issues to address and very little time. Bynum will benefit from the extra day of rest, which just might give the Lakers the edge in the pivotal Game 5.