Earlier this season Glen Davis was unhappy being called "Big Baby." He thought it was time to grow up and shed the moniker he'd had since...well, since pretty much forever. The guy looks like a Big Baby. He did himself no favors shedding that nickname last night as he spit up all over himself and the floor after scoring a big bucket in the fourth quarter. Could someone get him a bib? But I don't think Davis is too concerned with his nickname right now after powering the Celtics to a Game 4 victory to tie the series up at two a piece.
Throughout the first half I kept coming back to a thought I had throughout Game 3: THESE teams are in the Finals? The Celtics missed point-blank shots at the rim and easy open jumpers. Rondo alone blew five layups in the first half.
As for the Lakers, you remember the Suns seven-second offense? Phoenix would look to get a shot off in the first seven seconds of the shot clock. The Lakers are the exact opposite. They lazily pass the ball around until suddenly there's seven seconds left on the clock and they need to force up a contested jumper. Their ball movement is horrific. They have very skilled offensive players and that's usually how they score. It's not because ball movement gets players open looks. They have to generate some easier shots or they'll have more quarters like last night's first and third where they scored 16 and 17 points respectively.
Realizing the Importance of Andrew Bynum
Bynum has been bothered by a knee injury and he was questionable for Game 4. While he technically played, you could hardly tell. Bynum had been averaging over 30 minutes, 13 points, 7 rebounds and nearly 3 blocks a game in this series. Last night he played just 12 minutes and had 2 points and 3 rebounds.
Without Bynum on the court, the diminutive Celtics are much more comfortable taking it to the hoop. It's one thing to have one seven-footer back there, but when there are two it's much more intimidating. Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Glen Davis, and Tony Allen all heavily benefited from Bynum being out of the game. Granted, Rondo didn't convert on many of his layup attempts but that wasn't because of the Lakers' defense.
The numbers speak volumes as to how important Bynum is to the Lakers. In the first three games the Lakers had blocked over 9 shots per game. Last night they had just 3. They were outscored on second chance points 20-10 and outscored in the paint 54-34.
But the biggest difference was the play of Glen Davis. Instead of being covered by Bynum who is the same weight as Davis and three inches taller, he's guarded by Lamar Odom who is giving up 60 pounds to Davis. Davis was able to bang Odom on the block and put in easy buckets. He was able to box out Odom on the offensive and defensive end as well.
Basically, without Bynum the Lakers reverted back to the 2008 Lakers who weren't physical enough to beat the Celtics in the Finals.
Energy from the Bench
If you would've told me that Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett would be a combined 14 for 39 and Glen Davis would be the Celtics second-leading scorer I'd have assumed a Laker blowout. But instead it was the Celtics walking away with a victory after an unbelievable performance from their bench. They were led by Glen Davis who grabbed four offensive boards and hit 7 of his 10 shots for 18 points in just 17 minutes of play. Nate Robinson also provided a big spark scoring 12 points. These two energized the crowd and the rest of their teammates. They fought for every loose ball and were the biggest contributors of a 21-10 run that sealed the deal in the fourth.
The bench played so well that Doc Rivers continued pushing back the return of the starters. During that 21-10 run, the only starter to contribute was Ray Allen who had 2 points. Piece, Garnett and Rondo didn't re-enter the game until under three minutes remaining with the game already in hand.
After this game, momentum seems squarely in the hands of the
Celtics. They've yet to put together a game where more than two of
their starters play well and yet the series is tied. The Lakers now
have to wonder about the health of Andrew Bynum and if he's not
available (or is very limited) they will need to make some major
adjustments to cut down on the amount of layups and second chance
points they allowed last night.
But keep in mind that neither team has won two in a row. There has been a lot of complaining about the officiating and how neither team has been able to get into any sort of rhythm. But beyond that, neither team has had any sort of consistency from one game to the next. Each game has been wildly different and I have no idea what we'll see in Game 5.