After watching Game 3 unfold before me last night I began to notice certain things, picking up some consistencies for the first time this series. First, and what I think most importantly, is that the Celtics are going to live and die by Ray Allen. There is no question that he is the straw to stir the drink, and in the only game he has showed up for so far this series the Celtics walked away with a win. In Game 1 and last night’s Game 3, Allen played horrid basketball and the Celtics dropped both games.
In a lot of ways I felt like the Lakers defense on Allen wasn’t much better last night than it was on Sunday, when Allen set an NBA record for three-point shots in the NBA Finals. Allen had open looks during Game 3, he just failed to knock them down. After the game excuses were made, mainly tired legs and bruised muscles, but the bottom line is that the shots weren’t falling. This cost Boston severely, and allowed Los Angeles to win a big game and reclaim home court advantage. Now, if you’re a Lakers fan you should also be encouraged with the way the team is playing despite poor efforts from some of their key players. Lamar Odom had a good game if you were to just focus on the box score, but in reality was a no-show for much of Game 3, continuing the trend from the first two games of the series. While Odom was 5-5 from the field with 12 points, he was not nearly as assertive as Phil and the Lakers would probably like him to be. Despite the perfect percentage from the floor, Odom was MIA for much of Game 3.
Another strong no-show, at least offensively, was Ron Artest. This is another continuing trend that we are witnessing more of as this series progresses. Unlike Odom, however, Artest is able to redeem his poor offensive performances by his tenacity and toughness on the opposite end of the floor. Artest had 2 points on 1-4 shooting in Game 3, but had a key steal in the fourth and harassed Paul Pierce to the tone of 15 points on 5-12 field goals. If he can continue to be a thorn in Pierce’s side for the rest of the series, any offensive production will have to be considered charity for Los Angeles. Next: Positives, Negatives, and the Ever-Important Adjustments