The fact that the Lakers are getting on a plane and flying nearly 3,000 miles to go back to Boston tells me they still want to be in this series.
That may seem obvious, but I’ve seen teams, especially on Father’s Day, be content to go home with their tails between their legs and stay home with their families. This Lakers team hasn’t had enough yet. The Boston Celtics, despite rallying from a 24-point deficit to win Game 4 and from a 19-point deficit Sunday night, still haven’t crushed the Lakers’ will.
Don’t discount the fact it was a close-out game for Boston, up 3-1 in the best-of-seven series coming in. I remember being in that situation with the Lakers against the Indiana Pacers in Game 5 of the 2000 NBA Finals. We lost by 33 points before winning Game 6. You buy a video recorder and a fancy camera to record the moment and make all sorts of plans for the celebration. And those plans become part of your mind-set on the court.
With this Lakers team, I saw some impressive growth from Game 4 to Game 5.
Once again Sunday, the Lakers proved they can start a game with the intensity and execution necessary to build a huge lead. In Game 4, the team’s third-quarter concentration, focus and execution killed them. Sunday, it was the second quarter, a quarter in which the Celtics outscored them 30-16.
But this time, the Lakers handled Boston’s defensive pressure down the stretch and counter-punched by attacking offensively.
Surprises on the scoring sheet: For the Celtics: The foul trouble in the paint. Kevin Garnett had five fouls, Paul Pierce had five fouls and P.J. Brown had five fouls. Those are their big guys. What that says to me is that the Lakers’ big guys attacked them. Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom showed up big.
For the Lakers: Chris Mihm played for the first time in the postseason. He was in there for nearly three minutes. Phil Jackson realizes his team’s weakness is size in the middle. What else can he do other than trying every big man on the bench?
Three things the Lakers must do in Game 6:
1.) Pau has to be the MVP as he was in Game 5.
2.) Pau has to get the ball in the paint and attack Garnett.
3.) Pau has to be a defensive presence and rebound the ball.