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Celtics-Lakers Game Blog: First Quarter

We are high above courtside for tonight’s rematch of last year’s NBA Finals [1]. When last we saw the Lakers in these parts they were getting run out of the joint. How does that affect them? “It doesn’t,” Phil Jackson [2] said. OK.

But what about Andrew Bynum [3]? The big man and supposed difference-maker defensively is out with another knee injury. “He was a go-to guy,” Jackson said. “He was becoming the second guy to Kobe for a while. Andrew had played so well. There’s no replacing his length.” True that.

For the Celtics [4], Kevin Garnett [5] is back and after missing a few games with the flu. While Doc Rivers [6] is a little worried about KG’s conditioning, especially in the second half, Jackson thinks the days off were good for Garnett and thus will be at full strength. See kids? That’s what we call psychology

At any rate, the Garden is bumping and we’ll be here all night. So do stay with us…

FIRST QUARTER WRAP: Kind of a slow quarter after a frantic start. The Celtics are shooting just 35 percent, but they are getting good looks. Most of them are from the outside, however. For the Lakers, Kobe looks like he’s going to try to win this one himself, and he’s had quite a week already.

This is a big test for the bench coming up. Jess has you covered.

First Quarter Observations

— Gotta hand it to the Garden. They busted out all the stops in the pre-game intros and the place is alive.

— KG is a little hyped. He’s taking Gasol and leaving Perkins on Odom (although that time they got a caught in a switch). Not having Bynum takes another big man out of the middle, obviously, but Doc was mildly concerned about how Odom spreads them out because he plays on the perimete, which leaves things open for Kobe. It’s all in how you look at it.

— Lamar Odom wanted no part of the lane on that trip. It’s fair to say that the Lakers not named Kobe (and Derek Fisher) are still seen as suspect in the eyes of many NBA observers. It might not be fair, but it is fair to say. No one more so than the enigma that is Lamar.

— Over/under in the press room had Kobe going for 35 tonight. (Note to David Stern [7] no money was wagered. Just cookies in the press room). While the Lakers are still adjusting to life without Bynum this seems like a classic Kobe I’ll do everything game.

— Allen missed that 3, but if they’re going to double KG with Fisher it will be a long night for LA. The reason Fisher is on Allen, of course is because the Lakers have Kobe on Rondo.

— The Celtics are actively trying to get KG the ball on the post. They do this when they are confident in the matchup and that certainly holds true with Pau Gasol [8]. Over the summer when I was writing my KG story for Boston mag, Doc told me that they had to remind him that he could score on Gasol and that he should be more aggressive. You’re seeing some of that tonight

Also, by playing a more traditional post game it reduces the need for Rondo to have to drive to start the offense.

— The Lakers have already made three subs–Josh Powell, Trevor Ariza and Jordan Farmar. Same 5 for the C’s, although Baby is coming for KG right now.

— Not sure you want to be throwing the lob to Pierce. It did get him to the line though.

— Kind of quietly, Rondo has four points, four rebounds and three assists already.