Lakers Run Over the Celtics

The Lakers dribbled into the heart of the Celtics defense for the win.

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Lakers fans would like three more just like that one, please.

The Lakers were the aggressors. The Lakers imposed their will. The Lakers were the bullies (as much as these referees let anyone be a bully).

Game 1 of the 2010 NBA Finals was cathartic for any Lakers fan with painful memories of the 2008 NBA finals. Los Angeles took it to Boston in a way they never did two years ago, built up a 20 point lead in the third quarter and cruised to a 102-89 win. Los Angeles is now up 1-0 in the best of seven.

Lakers fans may have enjoyed Game 1 but it was not beautiful basketball — you can thank the referees for that. Quick whistles and a tight game helps the Lakers against the Celtics, but the whistles destroyed any flow to the game. There were 67 free throws in this game. Free throw are not fun to watch.

But the Lakers adjusted. Boston could not.

For the Lakers, the key was dribble penetration. It’s something the Celtics usually shut off better than anybody in the league. They make it hard to get into the heart of their defense like that, and they dare you to shoot the outside jumper (which they contest). They wanted to bait the Lakers into threes.

Los Angeles would have none of it. They took just 10 threes all game (remember they had 60 combined in the two losses to Phoenix). The Lakers faked jumpers and drove in. Or Kobe Bryant would just blow by his man. That broke down the Celtics defense in a way no team had done in these playoffs. A Boston big man would have to come over to help the guard who was beat. That in turn led to offensive rebounds for the Lakers as nobody was there to box out Pau Gasol (who had eight offensive rebounds alone).

It also led to foul trouble. Foul trouble that threw Boston out of rhythm, and the Celtics could never get it back. Ray Allen spent time on the bench, the Lakers bottled up Rajon Rondo, and the Celtics looked lost.

Meanwhile the Lakers kept attacking. Relentlessly.

“I knew it was going to be physical, and that’s a given…” Gasol said. “I think the most positive this is that the whole team brought an intensity and activity, especially defensively, that sent it to them and was able to give us a really good pace out there.”

Gasol completely outplayed Kevin Garnett, beating him badly on the boards and making Garnett look old and with bad knees (which he has). Andrew Bynum gave the Lakers big minutes. Kobe was Kobe and led the team with 30 points.

One more like that on Sunday from the Lakers and they would be up 2-0. And you could start figuring out what lie you’re going to tell your boss so you can get the day off to go to the parade down Figueroa.

Kurt Helin lives in Long Beach and is the Blogger-in-Chief of NBC's NBA blog Pro Basketball Talk (which you can also follow in twitter).

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