History says Lakers have to beat Celtics in seven games


Anyone know where the Lakers can get 10,000 balloons?

Oh, not yet?

Quick studies that they are, the Lakers not only learned the lesson of their debacle in Game 7 of the 1969 NBA Finals but of Sunday’s Game 5 when they ran for cover in the storm in Boston.

Back home Tuesday, and not a second too soon, it was the Lakers who stormed back and the Celtics who ran for cover in an 89-67 blowout that tied the Finals, 3-3, forcing Thursday’s Game 7.

So 40 years, one month and 10 days after their lesson in hubris when the aged Celtics beat them in Jack Kent Cooke’s Fabulous Forum, under Cooke’s never-to-be-forgotten balloons, the Lakers get another chance to do it right.

Not that either team is into history that goes back any further than this series.

“Before the year, I’m sure if you had asked the Lakers would they take a Game 7 at home, they would say, ‘Yeah,’” said Boston Coach Doc Rivers, who was hoping to win the title Tuesday and forget about history.

“They would have taken a Game 7 anywhere for the championship.

“And we would have said, ‘Yeah,’ as well. We would have obviously loved it at home more but we’re not there.”

And they may not have Kendrick Perkins, who left the game with a sprained knee.

And the Lakers may not have Andrew Bynum, who left the game after tweaking his sore knee again.

Or, more likely, both will appear when the teams walk out there Thursday.

Historic or not, Game 7s are Game 7s.

As in the classic Lakers-Celtics wars in 1984 (which went seven games) and 1985 (which went six), this one is going back and forth to the end.

It was a worn and weary band of Lakers who flew home Monday like forlorn pilgrims from Oz, looking for courage or a brain.

Of course, getting killed and getting over it is what playoff basketball is about.

In 1984, the Lakers, who had settled for a split of Games 1-2 in Boston after leading both in the final minute, came home and bombed the Celtics, 137-104, in Game 3.

Larry Bird ripped the Celtics’ effort, saying they played like “sissies.”

Asked what they needed for Game 4, Bird answered, “Twelve heart transplants.”

Game 4 was the one in which Boston’s Kevin McHale clotheslined Kurt Rambis going in for a layup.

The Celtics then came from five points behind in the last minute of regulation to send it into overtime, won, 129-125, to tie the series, 2-2, and went on to take it in seven games.

Tuesday night it was the sissy Lakers who showed the Celtics they had hearts, too, transplanted or not.

With a Lakers effort level discernibly above that in Game 5 ... by say, 1,000% ... it looked like Boyz vs. Men again, just with the Lakers as the Men.

In Sunday’s third quarter, the Lakers got two rebounds in the first eight minutes — an offensive board by Kobe Bryant and a “team rebound,” given out to make the box score come out right when the other team misses the first of two free throws.

In Tuesday’s first half, they outrebounded the Celtics, 30-13.

In Boston, the Celtics got an unexpected boost from Nate Robinson and Glen Davis, who nicknamed themselves Donkey and Shrek.

Tuesday the Lakers got an unexpected boost from Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic, the Bruin/Slovenian version of Donkey and Shrek.

Imagine how shell-shocked the Celtics must be now.

Or not.

“We had enough time to get over it, you know, because [the Lakers led] all game,” said Rivers, laughing. “Probably the first quarter or by the middle of the third I thought we were pretty good. At least, I was. I was already thinking next game, honestly.”

In case Perkins can’t go, Rivers played Shelden Williams and Marquis Daniels to get them ready.

There’s no truth to the rumor the Celtics will re-sign McHale for Game 7.

I don’t think.

Buy NBA Finals Game 7 tickets here

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