Welcome to TD Garden, where the Boston Celtics will take on the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 of the 2010 NBA Finals at 8 p.m. (ABC) The best-of-seven series is tied, 2-2.
It's a three-game series now. The Celtics seemingly must take care of business at home tonight to give themselves two chances to win a game and close out the series in Los Angeles. But as Derek Fisher said yesterday, there is no home court anymore. And if any team can win the last two games of a playoff series on the road, it's this Celtics team, a team that has embraced the hostility of road games all season. So characterizing Game 5 as a must-win for either side is just a tad too definitive.
Tonight's game is all about the effectiveness of Lakers center Andrew Bynum. Bynum played just 12 minutes in Game 4 because of his injured knee. If he gets similar time in Game 5, the Celtics will have a huge advantage. Kendrick Perkins said yesterday that he actually prefers matching up with the quicker Pau Gasol because Gasol "doesn't bang him as much." The Celtics have a distinct edge in the paint without an effective Bynum.
The Celtics have yet to put together a game this series where each of their Big Three goes off, but the Lakers have yet to see a breakout game from Kobe Bryant. Maybe we have to resign ourselves to the fact that this isn't going to be an offensive series. The Celtics aren't going to give Bryant enough room to hurt them. They have no problem helping off of Ron Artest, who is shooting just 28 percent from the three-point line in this series. And the Lakers are too good defensively to allow all of Boston's stars to shine at the same time.
Maybe this is just what it is.
If the Celtics win tonight, it'll be the first time this series a team has won two games in a row. And it will make that flight to the west coast a little more relaxing, which is crucial because the series gets much harder after today. The teams will have just one day of rest between games the rest of the way. The Celtics didn't have this kind of pressure against the Lakers in 2008. After stealing Game 4 on the road, the Celtics led the series 3-1. They took a 3-2 lead back to Boston with two chances to close it out. They only needed one.
There are three games to play. Whoever wins two wins the series. Kind of fun, isn't it?
Not a ton of pregame excitement here at the moment. Marquis Daniels (pictured) is warming up right now for the Celtics. Daniels is interesting at this point only because he was seen as a big component of a revamped Celtics lineup before the start of the season, and it just hasn't panned out for Daniels. Contrast to the story of Nate Robinson, who was a disgruntled New York Knick earlier this season and is now contributing major minutes to a possible NBA champion.
Back with much more from the Celtics's last home game at the Garden this season in a bit.