Celtics Will Have to Find Their Rhythm to Even Series in Game 4

Celtics Will Have to Find Their Rhythm to Even Series in Game 4 Here's the question that may well decide the Celtics' fate in these NBA Finals: Can they all get it going at once?

Every night, someone's in foul trouble. First Ray Allen, then Kevin Garnett, then Paul Pierce. The Celtics are never going to find a consistent rhythm in this series unless they all stay on the floor and they all keep playing their game.

They're now down 2-1 in the Finals to the defending champion Lakers. Will they put it all together in Game 4, or will the Lakers push the Celtics to the brink of elimination?

When and Where

Celtics vs. Lakers
Thursday, June 10, 9 p.m. (ABC)
TD Garden, Boston

Head to Head

Here's a trivia question for you, and don't overthink this: When was the last time the Lakers lost at the TD Garden? If you guessed June 17, 2008, when the Celtics blew the Lakers away in Game 6 of the Finals two years ago, you'd be right. Since then, though, the C's have come up completely empty. In the regular season last year, they made it to overtime but lost. This year in the regular season, they survived to the final possession but lost. In Game 3 on Tuesday night … well, you know what happened. They lost. If this trend keeps up, the Finals will be over in five.

Key Matchup

Paul Pierce vs. Ron Artest
What was it that slowed down Pierce in Game 3 at the TD Garden? Was it the airtight, physical, sometimes downright obnoxious defense of Artest? Or was it foul trouble, plain and simple? That debate will rage on, but regardless of the reason, Pierce will have to do better in Game 4. He should leave no doubt that nothing and no one — whether it's Artest's elbows or the refs' whistles — can stop him from getting his points and carrying the Celtics' offense.

Starting Lineups

Celtics
Point guard: Rajon Rondo
Shooting guard: Ray Allen
Small forward: Paul Pierce
Power forward: Kevin Garnett
Center: Kendrick Perkins

Lakers
Point guard: Derek Fisher
Shooting guard: Kobe Bryant
Small forward: Ron Artest
Power forward: Pau Gasol
Center: Andrew Bynum

Stat Sheet

Celtics

  • Ray Allen shot 0-for-13 from the field in Game 3 of the Finals. The record for most misses without a make in a Finals game is 14, shared by Dennis Johnson in the 1978 Finals and Chick Reiser in 1948.
  • The top three players in these NBA playoffs in minutes played are all Celtics: Rajon Rondo (827), Paul Pierce (771) and Allen (762).
  • Nate Robinson is shooting 4-for-6 from the field in his last two games combined. In this, his first postseason, he's 16-for-43 from the field overall.

Lakers

  • Kobe Bryant shot 10-of-29 from the field in Game 3. It was his sixth time in this postseason attempting 25 or more shots.
  • Pau Gasol leads the NBA this postseason in offensive rebounds (70), defensive rebounds (136) and total rebounds (206).
  • Lamar Odom is averaging 9.9 points and 8.7 rebounds per game in these playoffs.

Black and Blue

Celtics

  • Ray Allen experienced thigh soreness during Game 3 after being kneed by Derek Fisher, but he refused to use the ailment as an excuse for his poor shooting night.
  • Rasheed Wallace denies that his back spasms have limited him in these Finals.
  • Marquis Daniels has presumably recovered from his concussion suffered in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals in Orlando, but he has yet to take the floor against the Lakers.

Lakers

  • Andrew Bynum left in the fourth quarter of Game 3 with a knee injury, but he plans to return for Game 4.

Outlook

The NBA Finals are predictable, but they're unpredictable. You always know someone's going to come up with some late-game heroics and etch his name in the history books, but you never know who it's going to be. On Tuesday night, it was Derek Fisher. Who saw that coming? In Game 4, it could be a Celtic. If Paul Pierce or Ray Allen hits the big shot on Thursday, if Kevin Garnett or Kendrick Perkins makes the big play down low, or if Rajon Rondo does his thing and takes over, it's a whole new series. The C's need this one to even things up at 2-2. Who can step up and make it happen?

Yardbarker

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 190,925 other followers