Ray Allen's deft long-range shooting set the tone for the Celtics' 103-94 win in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday, sending the series east to Beantown knotted at a win apiece. Allen sank a Finals record eight three-pointers to lead all scorers with 32 while Rajon Rondo posted a triple-double for Boston with 19 points, 12 boards and 10 assists. Kobe Bryant and LA will try to regain home-court advantage Tuesday night on ABC.
Jesus Shuttlesworth, ladies and gentlemen.
Ray Allen went off for an NBA record eight three-pointers – including seven in the first half – in the Boston Celtics’ 103-94 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night.
Allen finished with 32 points for the Celtics, who covered easily as 6-point underdogs to even the Finals at one game apiece with Game 3 set for Tuesday night at TD Garden.
The early betting action is with Boston for Tuesday night’s contest following Allen’s virtuoso performance in Game 2. Oddsmakers opened the Celts as 2½-point chalk for Game 3, but action on the favorites is likely to move the line before tipoff.
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The total is also on the move after the teams played ‘over’ the 192½-point number on Sunday night at Staples Center. Sportsbooks opened with the same 192½-point total for Game 3, but the number had been bet up to 193 as of press time.
For the Lakers to cover the betting odds – let alone win outright – in Game 3, they’ll need to slow down Allen and backcourt mate Rajon Rondo. No easy task when Kobe Bryant can only guard one of them.
Bryant had 21 points, six assists, five rebounds, and four steals for Los Angeles on Sunday night, but he played only 34 minutes because of foul trouble. Kobe never got in rhythm on the offensive end, and his prolonged absences allowed Rondo to get going – especially in the fourth quarter.
Rondo posted a triple-double in Game 2 with 19 points, 12 boards, and 10 assists, scoring 10 points in the decisive fourth period when Boston outscored L.A. 31-22.
Put Bryant on Rondo, and Allen is free to shoot over the shorter Derek Fisher. Move Kobe over to slow down Allen, and Rondo blows by the slower Fisher.
Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown aren’t consistent enough to be trusted for any length of time on either Celts guard, and the Lakers need Ron Artest on Paul Pierce.
Best case scenario for Los Angeles is to bank on Allen not having another record game on Tuesday night. Keep Fisher on him, and hope Bryant can contain Rondo while staying on the court – much like he did in the Lakers’ 102-89 win as 6-point faves in Game 1 last Thursday.
Expect L.A. to run better offense on Tuesday night, and for that to help their defense. The Lakers dominated in the paint in Game 2, and they need to exploit that advantage to a greater degree in Game 3 if they’re to regain homecourt.
After going for 25 points (7-of-10 FGs, 11-13 FTs), eight rebounds, and six blocks on Sunday night, Pau Gasol can say pretty much whatever he wants about Kevin Garnett without fear of retribution.
Problem is, Los Angeles went away from Gasol and Andrew Bynum (21 points, six boards, seven blocks in 39 minutes in Game 2) down the stretch.
The Celtics clearly have no answer for the Lakers in the post; The Lakers are best served by playing inside-out, and using Bryant as a strong second option. Crazy idea, but L.A. is better served by setting the table inside.
Garnett was a non-factor on Sunday night, Gasol’s overblown comments following the opener notwithstanding. KG posted six points, six assists, and only four rebounds in Game 2, and was unable to defend Gasol without fouling.
As poorly as was Ron Artest (six points, 1-of-10 FGs) on offense on Sunday night, he did an excellent job on Paul Pierce for the second straight game. Pierce scored only 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting in Game 2, and while he led Boston with 24 points in Game 1, he did most of his damage in the fourth quarter after L.A. opened up a 20-point lead.
The win and cover in Game 2 lifted the Celts to 8-3 ATS (8-3 SU) in their last 11 games, but I’d still consider Game 3 a toss-up.
Boston has the momentum, but even a shooter like Allen isn’t likely to have one of the best games in Finals history in back-to-back contests. Expect Allen to regress to the mean, and for Bryant to stay on the floor on Tuesday night.
Kobe was on the wrong side of more than one questionable call in Game 2. If he gets the benefit of the doubt – as usual – Game 3 goes down to the wire.