TRUE CELTIC GRIT
By Homer D. Sayson
07 Jun 2008
CHICAGO -- As anticipated, Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals was breathtakingly exciting, filled with more action and peril than the latest Indiana Jones movie.
There are so many adjectives that can be attached to yesterday's spine-tingling basketball drama at the TD Banknorth Garden, but one verb keeps coming back to me like a bad dream --- lift.
Yep, that's exactly what Game 1 was largely about: Paul Pierce being lifted out of the parquet floor due to an injury, only to come back and lift his Celtics barely over the stubborn Lakers.
And as the whole sports world watched, it cannot help but feel uplifted by energy and inspiration that 6-foot-7, 235-pound Pierce injected into a dogfight that saw 13 lead changes and 12 ties.
And when the smoke dissipated, it was Celtics 98, Lakers 88. With a 1-0 series lead, Boston crawls to within three games of it's 17th NBA title and the first since 1986, when Larry Bird and Co. grounded the Houston Rockets, 4-2.
Pierce, the 32-year old Celtics captain, provided more than just the intangible emotional spark. He also had 22 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists. He made 7-of-10 field goals, 3-of-4 triples and 5-of-7 free throws.
Compounding the Lakers' woes was the brilliance of Kevin Garnett's all-around game.
KG, aka The Big Ticket, punched one of his more memorable playoffs performances.
The 7-foot Garnett finished with 24 points and 13 rebounds, and when Game 1 tilted in the balance, Garnett molested the rim for a backboard-breaking dunk that gave Boston a 94-86 cushion with 1:32 left to play.
Not to be overshadowed by his peers, Rey Allen joined the assault and chipped in 19 points, 8.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists. And with the Big Three on high gear, they proved to be too good, too much for the visiting Lakers.
Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant and his vaunted MVP wings failed to launch. The Lakers superstar looked very human with 24 points, 3.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 4.0 turnovers. He missed 17 of 26 shots and was 0-for-3 beyond the 3-point arc.
I picked the Lakers to win this best-of-7 championship series in six games. Ouch.
CELEBRITY WATCH. The NBA Finals attracts celebrities the way light attracts moths. And yesterday's Game 1 wasn't an exception.
Among those seen courtside was bigtime movie star Bruce Willis, who came arm and arm with a drop-dead gorgeous Victoria Secret model.
In way, the Lakers were like Bruce Willis yesterday. They died hard.
Also in attendance was Ellen Pompeo, star of the ABC TV hit Grey's Anatomy. Mmusic legend James Taylor the American National Anthem.
ROCK LOBSTER. One of the perks of being a credentialed writer in the NBA Finals is the free pre-game meal provided for the members of the working press.
Yesterday at the TD Banknorth Garden, my sportswriting brethen were treated to a feast that included lobster. That would have been culinary nirvana for me.
You see, I'm a crustacean-loving guy. I love clams, oysters, shells and the like. And I only have one word for lobsters -- yummy. I hope the NBA and the Celtics will serve the same seafood delight when I travel to Boston for Games 6 and 7, if necessary.
Top photo: Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant is guarded by Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce (L) and Kevin Garnett (R) during the second half in Game 1 of the NBA Finals basketball championship in Boston June 5, 2008. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Mike Segar.
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