Even if the Laker lead in Game 1 never got completely out of hand, there’s no question that Los Angeles was in control. L.A. was in sync both offensively and defensively, and their offensive balance and defensive resistance offered the Celtics a challenge they’ve rarely faced in these playoffs.
It was a bit odd to see a Boston team that has fared so well throughout this postseason give way to L.A. in so many different regards, but that was the story of the finals’ opening game. Zach Lowe of CelticsHub broke down some of the Lakers’ triumphs in greater statistical detail:
It’s a recipe for disaster: giving up a good shooting percentage and allowing
a lot of offensive rebounds. In Game 1, the Lakers shot 48.7 percent from
the floor and rebounded 12 of their 39 misses–an offensive rebounding
rate of about 31 percent. To put that in perspective, only two teams
recorded offensive rebounding rates of better than 30 percent this season–Memphis (31.3) and Detroit (30.3).
So Boston, an elite defense, allowed Los Angeles to shoot well and
dominate the offensive glass. A good team can win when allowing one of
those things to happen, but not both.
How rarely do teams pull off this dubious double against Boston? [It’s only been done in] 24 games out of 304–or about 8 percent of all Celtics
games over the last three seasons. And as you can see, Boston is now
6-18 in those 24 games.
The Los Angeles Lakers accomplished something unusual last night in
decimating Boston’s defense with their shooting and their rebounding,
with much of the latter built on aggressive dribble penetration from
Kobe, Jordan Farmar and others.
As a result, the Lakers posted an offensive efficiency of 113.3 points per 100 possessions, the third highest that Boston has allowed all postseason. The only two lesser defensive performances? The Game 3 decimation at the hands of the Cavaliers in the second round (140.9 points allowed per 100 possessions), and the Magic’s blowout win in Game 5 of the conference finals (120.7 points allowed per 100 possessions).
That’s quite a high mark for the Lakers to set from the opening tip, with Boston’s biggest concern perhaps being that L.A.’s performance seems replicable. No one Laker really stepped outside themselves for Game 1, but their ball movement, penetration, rebounding efforts, and shooting were enough to dismiss the Celtics with relative ease. Boston is a good enough team that we shouldn’t expect it to be that way in every game of this series, but their defense will have to refocus and improve from this Game 1 slip.