The 2-1 series deficit against the Lakers was nothing new for this team. They faced the very same deficit against Lebron and overcame it. Not to mention the regular season was full of questions of whether this team is an actual contender. Issues with injuries, and managing the age of the Celtics roster did not yield the most promising results during the season. To the point everybody, save Doc Rivers, was ready to accept that the “Big Three” needed to be a memory by trading Ray Allen, and rebuild for the future.
Game 4 is a microcosm of how well this team handles adversity.
After a mutually shared sluggish first quarter by both teams that produced a 19-16 Celtics lead. The Celtics remained sluggish for the second, while Kobe began to get adjusted to the flow of the game and highlight the great shooter that he is with hands in his face. The Celtics maintained to remain within shouting distance not allowing the lead to reach double-digits and actually pulled to within three by the end of the half. That was after an alert play by Kevin Garnett to gather a loose ball after Ray Allen’s jump-shot was blocked, and hit a 10-foot turnaround buzzer-beater.
The third-quarter was much of the same, Kobe was still hitting remarkable three-point shots, and Mike Breen was jacking his dick to it. Celtics had a lot of missed opportunities, from Kevin Garnett’s patented 18-foot jump-shot not falling, and Rajon Rondo not getting the ball to Paul Pierce who began to come into his own in the first two quarters.
Things began to take a sharp turn towards the end of the third quarter where the Celtics looked to be clicking for the first time all night. They got big contributions from ‘Big Baby’, and very effective defense by Tony Allen on Kobe Bryant to remind us again why Kobe IS NOT MICHAEL JORDAN.
Ray Allen was the only starter on the floor at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Nate Robinson continues to add a dimension to this team of instant offense with the ability to run the team as a point guard to help the Celtics quickly regain the lead.
The performance by this lineup was one of legendary proportions. Tony Allen was the unsung hero by locking down Kobe, forcing him to make bad decisions and keep him from hitting big shots. Rasheed’s defense was also huge, eliminating the low-post presence the Lakers have relied on heavily during this series. It was made easier for him without Andrew Bynum on the floor who was sat down for the entire second half due to his knee injury.
But they were the ‘Gang’ to Glen Davis’s ‘Kool.’ He dominated Lamar Odom to the point it was evident he has a thing for Khloe and he’s trying nab that bitch. I bet the foreplay would involve a lot more cheesecake, and tootsie rolls with those two together.
I can’t help but think of the 2001 New England Patriots when describing the identity of this Celtics team. The improbability of a championship during all points of the season, the emergence of a superstar with Brady and Rondo, the confidence of the team and the coach, role players stepping up to provide significant help, and not backing down against the assumed heavy favorites are all striking comparisons between the two teams.
That Patriots team dealt with adversity all the way to a Super Bowl victory. From coping with the death of a respected coach Dick Rehbein, the injury of a beloved quarterback, the unpromising 5-5 start, and the injury of the new starting quarterback in the AFC Championship. Through it all they still managed to complete one of the most stunning upsets in football history by defeating the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.
Not often do you see a team deal with so much adversity in one year and win a championship. Celtics have put themselves in a good position of matching what the ’01 Patriots did by winning a championship amidst severe adversity.
Now it’s time to shed the adversity completely and turn it over to LA in Game 5.