The Boston Celtics held off a second-half run by Los Angeles, going on to defeat the Lakers 92-86 in Game 5 of the 2010 NBA finals in Boston Sunday night. The Celtics now lead the best-of-seven series 3-2, with the final two games being played in Los Angeles. Are the Celtics destined to win the 2010 NBA championship?
Boston: Team of Destiny?
Boston looked like the team that won the NBA title in 2008, relying on suffocating team defense and a balanced offense to force the favored Lakers into 14 turnovers and just 12 assists. The key statistic of the game was the fact that only two Lakers, Bryant (38 points) and forward Pau Gasol (12 points), scored in double digits for Los Angeles. The defending NBA champions looked disoriented, uninvolved and flat for most of the game.
Lakers Rely on Bryant
If the Lakers hope to tie the series on Tuesday night, they will have to find other scoring options besides Bryant. Boston harassed Kobe throughout the game, refusing to overreact to Bryant’s scoring outburst by playing him with one defender and forcing him to work for every shot. This strategy has been effective for Boston before. The Celtics have shown throughout their 2010 playoff victories over the Miami Heat (Dwayne Wade) and Cleveland Cavaliers (Lebron James) that they are able to defeat teams that rely too heavily on one player. The Celtics are a balanced team that seems to find a new way to win with every series.
Paul Pierce Steps Up
Becoming the only team in this series to win two consecutive games, Boston was led forward Paul Pierce, who played with a sense of purpose in scoring 27 points and providing inspired play on several key plays. Late in the fourth with the Lakers closing in, Pierce received an inbounds pass at half court from Garnett and quickly pivoted, finding a streaking Rajon Rondo breaking to the basket for a game-sealing lay-up. In spite of Lakers star Kobe Bryant scoring 38 points, the Celtics were able to counter by relying on their balanced attack as Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo each contributed 18 points, while Ray Allen chipped in 12 points.
The Boston Celtics have been overcoming the odds throughout the 2010 playoffs by beating the teams who held the two best records during the regular season and bringing the team with the third best record to the brink of elimination in the finals. If they win the title, they will become only the third team in NBA history to defeat the three teams with the best regular season record on their way to a championship.
If the Celtics are able to win one of the final two games, it will establish Boston as a true team of destiny, marking the 18th NBA title secured by this historic franchise. No other NBA team has won as many championships.