If the Boston Celtics do indeed sport one of the strongest defenses of all time, then they will win their first NBA Finals victory since 1986. History hovers on their court. As the saying goes, defense wins championships…but offense supplies teams with the content to win games to get to the championship. Yes, the C’s were the best defensive team during the 2007-08 season and rank third all-time in the category (Hollinger). However, they also crafted 66 regular season wins with the input of mostly understanding role players (trigger-happy Sammy wasn’t picked up until later) and three All-Stars, players that are virtually invincible when they are on top of their games.
The Paul Pierce-Kevin Garnett 1-2 punch is one of the best tandems in the game. And the “truth” about this “big ticket” is their physical games are on the same level as their mental games. They stay focused and intense in their own ways, but each way is right for them. KG has taken much flack for being too intense all of the time (Sports Guy) and been tattered in the media as one who does not have enough game - or physical energy - to bring it when it matters most in the fourth. That’s ok, though, because he seems unflappable and, at least in Game 1 of the Finals, unstoppable…especially with Pierce nailing shots after a forced wheelchair knee scare and Ray Allen finding a consistent rhythm himself.
As long as Boston has those three clicking (they combined for 67 of the team’s 98 points), fans are well on their way to yet another sports parade in Beantown. Further, the crown defense challenged shots, managed Kobe for most of the game, and flustered the Lakers’ counterparts. Boston looked like a championship team with scoring opportunities developing from all angles – in transition off of makes and misses and in the half court. They applied just as much pressure on LA with their offense as their defense, and for the most part did not double the league MVP as much as one may have anticipated.
Why should Boston fans be fearful of the future? Pierce’s and Perkins’ physical conditions…more pressure to win on home court and the need to travel to the other coast with a 2-0 series lead…Kobe’s killer instinct (Sports Illustrated) and almost surefire ability to drop 40 in one or two of these contests (he was only 9 of 26 with some in-and-outs)…the Lakers only committed 8 turnovers while recording more team assists on a dismal perimeter shooting performance (3-14 from 3-point range) and they still shot 42% for the game…Kobe’s maturation and all-around abilities and, at this point in his career, so much separation from Lebron because of his mid-range game and understanding of the triangle offense.
By the way, reserved reserve Leon Powe, was the only player in the regular season top 50 to clock less than 15 minutes per game and still be included in Hollinger’s player ratings - #22 in fact! Efficiency is necessary for the title. If the Celtics can find a way to string together defensive stops and offensive runs as much as KG spurts “F-bombs”, they may have just enough to raise their 17th banner.