What Went Right:
• The Lakers played extremely well in spurts against the Celtics, storming back from 24 points in Game 2 to nearly steal a win in Boston and jumping out by the same margin in Game 4. However, the Lakers’ youthful roster was unable to sustain the momentum as evidenced by the Celtics’ historic Game 4 comeback.
• Aside from his outstanding 36 point Game 3 effort, Kobe struggled throughout parts of the Finals with Boston throwing two and sometimes, three defenders at the regular season MVP. Still, Bryant averaged a team-high 26 points on 41% from the floor.
• Sasha Vujacic came through with the biggest game of his young career in a must-win Game 3 at STAPLES Center, scoring 20 points and proving himself an X-factor in the Lakers’ first victory of the series. For the Finals, the guard averaged eight points per game–fifth best on the team.
• Jordan Farmar also came through during stretches of the Finals, compiling seven points per game on an impressive 48% shooting from the field, including 53% from beyond the arc. Moreover, Coach Jackson trusted the sophomore guard down the stretch of the final games of the series, utilizing a smaller lineup that featured Fisher at shooting guard and Bryant at small forward in place of the ineffective Radmanovic.
What Went Wrong:
• Paul Pierce officially made the jump from great player to one of the all-time great Celtics after carrying Boston throughout the Finals, with a gimpy knee no less. For the series, Pierce averaged a team-high 22 points, five rebounds and six assists, earning his first Finals MVP award.
• The vaunted Celtics defense won out of the Lakers prolific offense as Boston held the Lakers to just 94 points—well below their season average of 109 points. As a team, L.A. shot just 44% from the field.
• The Lakers’ lanky big man duo of Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom struggled with inconsistency and ineffectiveness throughout the series, with their strong Game 5 performance serving as the lone highlight of an otherwise lackluster first Finals experience for both players. Gasol tallied just 15 points while Odom put up only 14 with the pair seeming incapable of handling Boston’s more physical front line.
• While the final totals on the series dictate that Boston only outrebounded the Lakers by a slim 42-37 margin and 11-8 in offensive boards, the rebounding deficit was much larger as the Celtics repeatedly were the more aggressive team on the glass throughout the series.
• Even though the Celtics’ own star big man Kevin Garnett wasn’t always at his best in the Finals, appearing to tire as the series progressed, the Lakers had no answer when they needed to stop him the most, as KG came through with a dominating 26 point, 14 rebound effort in the series clincher.
• For as much star power as Boston’s lineup has, it was often the Celtic’s surprisingly potent role players that ignited the team, both at home and on the road. James Posey, Leon Power, Rajon Rondo and Eddie House in particular played some of the best basketball of their careers with Posey and Rondo stampeding through the Lakers’ defense in Game 6 and Powe coming through with the game of his life in Boston’s Game 2 win.