In Game 5 the Lakers looked like they were fresh out of 2006. Bryant put up good offensive numbers, but still struggled in the first half. He had four turnovers and wasn’t playing team-oriented basketball. His third quarter explosion didn’t even dent the Celtics lead because of the lack of help he had offensively. That combined with atrocious defense gave Boston a comfortable lead until late in the game, and when the Lakers finally made a run the outcome was already decided.
Players generally thrive at home. Players almost always play better in front of their own crowd, especially bench players. The Lakers bench was a major liability during the past two games, and that is expected on the road. The Lakers bench should awaken from it’s slumber in time for Game 6, giving the Lakers a much needed boost on both ends of the floor. This can have a two-pronged effect as well if the Celtics bench also loses productivity as they play on the road.
Another thing to consider is this, in the last three years the Lakers have lost three games in a row only once. This would put their odds of winning Game 6 on Tuesday pretty high on the charts. If the Lakers do win Game 6 then all bets are off, as Game 7 is a complete crap-shoot. The Lakers can’t be caught looking ahead to Game 7, because if they do then they won’t get the chance to play a Game 7.
Tuesday night will be the key for the Lakers. A win on Tuesday and none of the series trends or stories will matter. If the Lakers can push this series to a Game 7, they will have the advantage purely because the game will be in Los Angeles. However, if they’re caught looking ahead prematurely we will all have the unfortunate pleasure of watching the Celtics become the first visiting team to celebrate an NBA Championship on the Staples Center floor.
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