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Lakers must make adjustments in Boston
However, since the Lakers are still the defending champs, the focus here is on what L.A. now has to do to win Game 3.
Pau Gasol needs many more touches in the low post.
But since the Celtics were laying for him to spin-dribble into the middle, Gasol has to make a critical individual adjustment: Either dribble first into the middle (or fake doing so) then spin baseline to move away from the defensive help; or make one space-eating power-dribble into the middle then pick up the ball and either pull or pass.
More consistent ball and player movement on offense is a must. This will create better spacing for Kobe to operate and reduce his penchant for forcing shots and also for forcing his dribble into too-tight spaces.
If Ron Artest played excellent defense on Paul Pierce, he was a total liability on offense. He should not be allowed to dribble the ball for more than two bounces, and he shouldn’t be allowed to uncork his jumpers unless he hears one of Phil Jackson’s shrill, two-fingered whistles from the sidelines.
Since Jordan Farmar is a mistake looking for a place to happen, his playing time should be severely limited.
The Lakers did a good job limiting Ray Allen’s touches in the second half, but they do not have to send three defenders at him when he penetrates.
Also, somebody has to be responsible for always tagging Allen in early-offense situations. When in the course of his perpetual running, cutting and curling, Allen dashes along the baseline on his way to another screen, a big has to move into his path and force him to run a banana route instead of a straight one. This will shorten the pursuit of Allen’s defender by at least a half-step.
Whoever’s guarding Rondo should be reminded to keep guarding him even after some other Celtic fires up a shot.
Since Rondo had great success in slapping shots and dribbles from behind, whomever he’s guarding must always know where he is -- even after Rondo has been faked off his feet or has apparently been rubbed off a high screen.
Given that Rondo is making more mid- to long-range jumpers than expected -- 5-for-10 for the two games, including a critical springer to clinch Game 2 -- he should be played tight enough for his jumpers to be challenged, and forced to either drive or pull-and-shoot while going left.
Defending screen/rolls continues to be problematic for the Lakers. Their primary help and rotations were adequate, but their secondary rotations were deficient. Somebody from the weak-side wing, or even from the top, has to quickly move to the shadow of the basket in order to intercept the drop passes from one of Boston’s bigs to the other -- and prevent the numerous unattended layups that resulted.
The Lakers must also be prepared to defend the brush screens that Boston sets in its early-offense opportunities. That means you too, Kobe.
The Lakers have to come out of the gate in Game 3 with the same kind of intensity they exhibited at the start of Game 1 and failed to exhibit after the first few minutes of play in Game 2.
A word about the officiating: It stunk. There were simply too many shaky calls on both sides of the equation. Sometimes it got to the point where it was impossible to anticipate what the forthcoming call would be after the whistle blew.
Whichever three blind mice work Game 3 should be reminded that this is the Finals, and should not be officiated as though it was preseason competition. In other words, let the players play.
It should also be noted that at this point in the season, the home court advantage means nothing. The Celtics winning in L.A., in Cleveland and in Orlando, and the Lakers winning in Phoenix constitute proof positive.
Finally, if the Celtics made the adjustments necessary to succeed in their first must-win of the series, the onus is now on the Lakers to do the same.