The Lakers took the first blow in this best of seven heavyweight fight. Pierce gave his most dramatic Willis Reed impression, and KG posterized Pau Gasol in the waning minutes to put the nail in the proverbial coffin of game 1. For Celtics fans, were all excited back on the east coast and for Laker fans, the Viper Room is open for another three hours.
Several things, excluding Paul Pierce's "sprained knee", scared me about game one. For starters, Rajon Rondo did everything he could to pass up open looks, dribble into double teams, and give Sam Cassell more playing time. Those are three things Rondo CAN'T DO if the Celtics plan on raising banner 17 anytime soon. It will take Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant all of 48 hours to figure out how to defend the Celtics better and in that situation Rondo will HAVE to show up. For the first time in the playoffs I actually appreciated Cassell's ability on the offensive end, he hit a few shots but more importantly he didn't try and make THAT pass that Rondo attempts and turns over every time. Maybe it was just jitters in his first Finals appearance, but I've seen too much of Rondo this season to think he'll change overnight.
Secondly, Kevin Garnett cannot disappear at times during the middle of the game. I love KG and I love his intensity but at times during the playoffs I notice Garnett disappearing into the fold. Normally I would continue to just rip Rondo, Allen, and Cassell for not forcing the ball to him when he's got a smaller Odom guarding him but in the Finals you've gotta be calling for the ball on your own. Garnett had a great game, his numbers are terrific but in all honesty he could drop 30 points on Odom if he wanted to. Even ESPN's Mark Jackson points it out, put Garnett on the block, get the ball inside to him, allow him to turn and face the basket and just abuse Odom and Gasol. Even with Paul Pierce on the mend and Ray Allen having a streaky night the Celtics could have won by 25 had Garnett forced the issue of getting him the god damn ball, it's times like this when he needs to have a little Kobe in him.
Why keep looking at the negative though, Celts took over in the middle of the second half and cruised in the fourth. Ray Allen poured in 19 points, Pierce was automatic in the second half (and rode on a exercise bike during timeouts) and Kobe was pissed off after the game ended. If you don't sense the old Kobe coming out by game 3 down 2-0, your nuts. Old Kobe would have berated Radmanovic all the way to the locker room;
"Are you kidding me? You stoli drinking S.O.B., how many times are you going to let Pierce hit that shot in your face? Phil, teach this cat how to rotate on god damn defense. If you mothaf*ckers cost me my chance at another ring I'll make sure your next basketball game takes place in Siberia."
Celts take a 1-0 lead, CLUTCH!