If you like defensive battles, than you were in heaven watching Game 3 of the NBA Finals Tuesday night, June 8. The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics stripped, swatted and often pounded on each other with physical fouls for 48 minutes of regulation time at the TD Garden in Boston last night. But it was the Lakers who survived the brawl, escaping with a 91-84 road victory in what many pundits consider the most important game of the series.
History shows us that since the NBA Finals switched to a 2-3-2 format (two games at home, three on the road, and then two back at home) 25 years ago, there have been 10 previous series tied 1-1 after the first two games. In all 10 of those instances, the winner of Game 3 went on to win the title.
If history repeats its self, LA should soon reign as champions, but surely Boston will try to prevent that from happening. The Celtics will need better performances from their star players, though, especially Paul Pierce, who hasn’t produced much in the first three games of the series. Pierce finished with 15 points in Game 3, but his teammates needed more from him on a night that fellow Celtics star Ray Allen was struggling. Allen scored just two points and was 0-for-8 from the three-point line, a horrible performance compared to his record-breaking night in Game 2. Kevin Garnett was the only Celtics player to perform well offensively, scoring 25 points on 11-of-16 shooting from the field. Unfortunately for Boston, it wasn’t enough to keep LA from stealing a win on their home court.
“We didn’t doubt our ability to win here, even though we hadn’t done it in the playoffs,” said Lakers guard Derek Fisher, who finished with 16 points, second only to superstar Kobe Bryant, who scored 29. “We understand that in order to be the best, you have to win wherever, whenever.”
Game 4 of the Lakers vs. Celtics series will tip off Thursday night, June 10, on ABC.