If you were betting on the Lakers to win this series, right about now panic should be setting in. It’s not over, but it’s damn close. Game 5 of the NBA playoffs was arguably the most pivotal game of the series. With the series tied at 2-2, game 5 was the last home game for the Boston Celtics and their last chance to take a commanding edge in the series before heading back to LA. The significance of the game was not lost on viewers as the game set records for the highest NBA Finals ratings since 2004. Read more.
While a record number of households tuned in to watch what should have been a hotly contested and spirited game 5, instead what they saw was the Boston Celtics team defeat not the Los Angeles Lakers, but Kobe Bryant. It seems, the rest of the Lakers thought there was only two games to be played in Boston because Kobe Bryant had absolutely no supporting cast for game 5 at TD Garden. Bryant himself, was nothing short of spectacular, at one point rattling off 25 straight points, including 17 in the third quarter. Despite Kobe’s scoring outburst, the Lakers continued to fall further behind in the game. It looked as though Kobe could have scored 81 points and his team still would have lost the game.
If Pau Gasol was hoping to shake off the ‘soft’ moniker bestowed upon him from the 2008 Finals against the Celtics, he’s not doing a very good job of convincing his critics. Worse yet, it seems softness is contagious. The once feared and batshit crazy Ron Artest, the guy who a few years ago would have been voted ‘most likely to kill someone on the court’ looked like pussycat. The Lakers acquired Ron Artest for one reason, to stop guys like Paul Pierce in the NBA Finals, a role he didn’t come close to fulfilling in game 5. Paul Pierce had his best game of the series and seemed to be able to score at will against Artest’s defense. Artest lacked the physicality and the tenacity that the Queensbridge native is known for. I won’t say he looked soft, at the off chance I run into some of his peeps while I’m on the rough streets of Queensbridge… But the Celtics definitely noticed a chink in his armor. In fact, perhaps it was weakness that Rondo smelled when he stepped up and shoved Artest after a hard foul on Garnett. A few years ago, a guy like Rondo who is probably 170 lbs soaking wet would be watching his life flash before his eyes by squaring up to Ron Artest. Last night, Rondo didn’t even hesitate to step to Artest and what was the Queensbridge soldier’s response? A flop. It was indicative of the entire Lakers team, aside from Bryant.
Lamar Odom had another no show game, and the Lakers bench was, well, what it has been all season, non existent. The situation is getting critical for the Lakers. Up 3-2 in the series and a win away from the championship, the Celtics are brimming with confidence. Their bench is playing well, the strategy for guarding both Rondo and Pierce is starting to collapse and Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace have their offensive swagger back. If the Lakers should lose the series in game 6 in LA, they will have lost three games in a row to the Celtics after being favored by oddsmakers to win this series.
Losing this series could have serious repercussions on the franchise, considering the fact that Phil Jackson is already on the fence on whether he will be returning to coach next year. It’s probably a safe bet that if the Lakers don’t find a way to win this series in seven games this may be the last time we see Phil Jackson on an NBA bench. As for Bynum, the center who always seems to be hurt when the Lakers need him the most, it could be his last playoffs in a Laker uniform as well, although, I’m not certain how hot the market will be for a young 7 footer with chronic knee problems.
I’m sure Kobe Bryant is hoping that the friendly confines of the Staple center and some home cooked meals
catered dinners from Mrs. Kardashian-Odom will get his 6’10 swingman back into the mix, and that Ron Artest and Pau Gasol will wake up from their softness induced coma. Queensbridge stand up…
And make some shots.