NBA Finals Lakers Celtics Game 5: You Have Run Out Of Extra Lives, Laker Cat

The most bizarre thing about Game 5? In a game filled with more Ron Artest aimless dribbling, with every conceivable sequence alive, including this one?

The most bizarre thing is that it took this long for this result to occur. It took us until Game 5 to have the Celtics Big 3 vs. the Kobe show.  And the result is something we should have seen coming, because if Bryant’s going that route, with this team, it means something’s gone wrong. This team should not have to rely on Bryant scoring 35+. They should rely on Bryant scoring 25+, adding 7+ assists, getting rebounds, and working in the flow of the offense. Hell, go ahead and take 25+ attempts, but do it in the flow of the offense with everyone running and working, not with you getting the ball at the key, making a move and then pulling up.  The offense needs rhythm.

As Dwyer said in an especially good Behind the Boxscore:

After a Gasol fumble started the third quarter off on the wrong foot, Bryant more or less started going one-on-one, and the result was an astonishing 19-point display in the quarter. Nailing tough jumper after tough jumper, Bryant clearly had the touch going, but at what price?

Because the Lakers, before long, had absolutely no rhythm. The team’s entire offense had dwindled down to watching one man toss in impossible 19-footers, and little else. No Celtic was bothering to trap the screen and roll too hard, because Bryant wasn’t even looking for his screener for a pass. And when Bryant eventually tailed off (he shot 2-6 in the fourth quarter), the Lakers’ offense was dead in the water, because he and his team had built no rhythm.

Bear in mind that the Laker offense, more than any offense in the NBA, relies on rhythm and quick decision and fluid ball movement to survive. And when one player goes away from that movement, it’s usually in the fourth quarter, and not the third. And if Bryant is going to make this all about himself on the second possession of the third quarter? He better be ready to drop 55, because that’s going to be what it takes to win, because he’ll have to answer every Celtic bucket with one of his own.

And the Celtics got buckets. Boy did they get buckets. A 109 efficiency clip. They had it from everywhere. So much so that I’d actually warn a bit of temperance for how much this win means. Bear in mind that Boston simply isn’t going to shoot like that again. Yes, the Lakers’ horrific defense played a significant part (we’ll get to that in a bit in a later post), but that Laker defense melted down the stretch because of those little demons that rest on their shoulders. What got the Celtics to the pushing point was their ability to nail mid-range jump shots, the invincibility star of NBA basketball. When those shots are falling, the defense gets frustrated, confused, and generally out of whack. After all, what do you do when you force your opponent to do exactly what you want him to do and he keeps hitting them like it’s freaking SkeeBall? That mid-range jumper game is nothing but pixie dust when it’s going. And ask Paul Pierce how it’s going, courtesy of the NBA Playbook:

Mmmm. That’s good midrange.

At the same time, those are the shots a defense wants you to take for a reason. And they’re much less likely to fall in Staples than they were to fall in the garden. This thing isn’t over, not by a long shot. The Celtics have gotten two wins from 1. a huge outburst from Glen Davis and Nate Robinson and 2. an insanely hot shooting night where the entire Laker offens collapsed in on itself like a flan in a cupboard with Kobe the only toothpick holding it up.

Of course, this wouldn’t have been possible without Ron Artest. You know, Crazy Pills, Snake Eggs, redeemed, reborn Ron Artest (though perhaps Rob’s discussion of him as “necessary” is even more apt now). People are confused by my Twitter pleadings with Ron to keep shooting, thinking I just want the Laker offense to fail. Not so. I am simply overjoyed with watching Artest and joining everyone in the world who is watching the game wondering “What the hell is he thinking?!” and not just in an outraged way, but a true sense of bewilderment. There’s simply no accounting for what Artest will do in a possession, and it’s downright gleeful from a pure mirth approach. After months of a responsible, dedicated Artest, it’s so nice to see him back to his true self. He doesn’t deserve to be locked up within the confines of reason. FREE YOURSELF, RON! YOU ARE CRAZY PILLS! BE PROUD OF THAT!

Garnett deserves some run, here.

EL TIGRE MONSTRUOSO HAS RETURNED TO EAT YOUR CHILDREN!

No player accurately describes the turnaround in momentum for the Celtics than Garnett. After such a horrific start to the series, being owned outright by Gasol, he’s improved every game. First it was just the defense, then it was a few mid-range jumpers, and then last night, a detonation. 18 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 5 steals, 2 blocks SWEET BEJESUS WHAT A LINE.

You want an excellent example of how KG’s improving mobility has helped in this series? Check out where he leaped from the in the 1st quarter for an up an under between two players on the pick and roll last night:

That’s quite a bit further away from the bunny hops he was clearing in Games 1 and 2.  After that at the 5:41 mark, Garnett takes Gasol to the middle, drifts a step back to create space and nails a jump hook, with Bynum coming over to try and swat it. KG gets it just up over, but doesn’t float it, sinking it straight down after the intial release, which is high. The rest of the game was a flurry of jumpers after a third quarter layup once the Lakers started playing Super Smash Brothers in their head.

Garnett was fierce, and wasn’t running his mouth to a degree where it was distracting (I’m sure he was still running his mouth). He executed, consistently and without hesitation. He was slapping the ball every time he received it in the post, and then immediately making his move. He decided not to be afraid of Gasol’s length and then used it against him. The one-handed falling thing with 5:06 in the 3rd was something beyond belief, a little bit of luck, but also a lot of what made Garnett so good throughout his career.

There’s so much that has to go right for the Celtics to win this series, but they’re making them happen. Bit by bit. The Lakers’ series seems to be eroding. Then again, isn’t this the perfect scenario to get comfy at home and push to a seventh game?

Matt Moore

Matt Moore is a Senior NBA Blogger for CBSSports.com's Eye on Basketball blog, weekend editor of Pro Basketball Talk on NBCSports.com, and co-editor of Voice on the Floor. He lives in Kansas City due to an unbelievably complex set of circumstances and enjoys mid-90's pop rock, long walks on the beach and the novels of Tim Sandlin.