With pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg set to make his much anticipated MLB debut for the Washington Nationals and Game 3 of the Celtics-Lakers finals getting underway shortly, sports fans have a lot on their plates tonight.
After dropping Game 1 the Boston Celtics captured an impressive bounce-back victory in Los Angeles on Sunday to even up the series. The Celtics came back with the grit and determination that they themselves felt was missing from their Game 1 loss. Ray Allen was simply spectacular, particularly in the first half when he sank seven straight 3-pointers. He went on to finish with 32 points and set a new NBA Finals record for 3-pointers in a game with his eighth of the night in the third quarter. Other key contributions came from Rajon Rondo, who took over in the fourth quarter and finished with a triple double – only the eighth in Finals history. And both Wallace and Robinson delivered off the bench.
But Doc Rivers could be the MVP of the game. He saw that Ray Allen had a red-hot hand and ran play after play for him. His defensive matchups were effective. And most significantly, he ran out on the court late in the fourth and demanded a decisive timeout when he realized his team was struggling to advance the ball past half-court. His timeout to avoid the eight-second backcourt violation was critical as the Celtics retained possession of the ball, thwarted an opportunity for the Lakers to make it a one-possession game, and extended their lead to seven on their next trip down the floor.
Matchups will be key tonight, as well as players stepping up who didn’t get the necessary productivity in Game 2. Although Pau Gasol and Bynum had huge games along with Kobe’s 21 points, the low productivity from Lamar Odom was a major factor in the Lakers not playing to the same level that they did in Game 1. I look for Odom to be much more active in Game 3. Defensively, I think that the Lakers will go back to playing Kobe on Ray Allen more consistently rather than having him chase Rondo around the floor. This may be one of the adjustments Phil Jackson makes tonight.
The Celtics accomplished what they had to do, which was to win one game on the visiting court. Now the series moves back to Boston for the next three games, and the Celtics have a chance to go back home and try to take a 2-1 advantage in Game 3.
Game 3 airs tonight on ABC at 9:00 PM ET.