Some notes we jotted down before the game while walking around Staples Center watching Derek Fisher’s pregame ritual of shooting flat-footed jumpers:
* Rasheed Wallace will start for the Celtics.
* He said that Sheed creates some spacing problems for the Lakers, pulling the limping Bynum away from the basket and forcing him to move more. Bynum away from the basket could also allow Rajon Rondo to get going because the paint will be more open.
* He also made a dig at Sheed, when asked why he started Sheed over Big Baby”: “He’s old. I figured I’d go with the oldest guys.”
* Phil Jackson said he expects Bynum to go about 10 minutes a half, depending on how he feels and how the matchups work out. He concedes that Rasheed Wallace’s ability to shoot the three may be a tough matchup for Bynum.
* Paul Pierce was out unusually early taking warmup shots tonight.
* Brian Scalabrine took many, many more shots.
* Jackson said he was “keyed up” in the most deadpan way possible. And he was serious
* Rivers said it was important for his team to get out to a good start. Because the Lakers are at home and have the crowd behind them, he thought the Lakers could survive a bad start more easily.
* Quote of the pregame from
” There’s multiple moments of truth in a game. There’s usually one that really kind of spells what this game is going to be like, or a moment that changes the course. But there’s a moment of truth when the ball comes up that players recognize what they have to do, whether they’re going to initiate an action that we call automatics, so where they’re going to go into a rote memorization type of thing where they get into a comfort zone.
“What we’ve been trying to push them through this whole series is that you can’t do that with the Celtics. You can’t go to a comfort zone and just go play basketball as you would at a practice that’s the fourth day after you’ve played three consecutive games, three out of four nights.
“There has to be some activity that’s well thought out and there’s a moment of truth in which you have to do that.
“We had multiple situations in which we did that the other night. We had many situations we didn’t do that in Boston in Games 4 and 5.
Formal game plans have been drawn up. Film has been broken down and shown to the teams. Xs and Os will be on the greaseboards in the locker rooms. The coaches will go through the motions because they are creatures of routine and structure.
But by Game 7 of the NBA finals, it is no longer about the game plan, nothing has really changed there for about three games. It’s about execution. It’s about the ability to adjust and adapt when Plan A is taken away. It’s about getting the 50/50 balls.
The Lakers know what they have to do to win. The Celtics know what they have to do to win. And they are a lot of the same things.
Control the paint. The most overused statistic for this series has been “the team that wins the rebounding battle has won the game.” It’s true, but that is a result of other actions, a symptom of the real cause. The team that has been able to enforce its will defensively in the paint has won the games. The team that kept the other team shooting jump shots. The team that took away the easy baskets driving to the rim. Doing those things leads to missed shots, which will mean more rebounds for a defensive team working hard inside. That is how you win.
Get transition baskets. Both teams stymie each other fairly well in the half court, easy baskets are hard to come by. However each game one team has forced more missed shots and created more turnovers, then used those to get out and run. The team that can get easy buckets in transition will win the game. Look for Rajon Rondo, who did not get run a lot in Game 6, to really look to push the pace.
Make the other team’s stars work. Ray Allen has taken over a half this series. Kobe Bryant has taken over a quarter. Paul Pierce and Pau Gasol have had good games. Any one of those guys is capable of winning one game all by themselves on the right night. If teams can defend and force one of the other guys on the team to beat you, not the guys who do it every night.
Doing all those things comes down to the basics. Execution of the game plan. Boxing out. Not losing track of your man on defense. Being smart but aggressive. Wanting that loose ball more than the other guy.
This game — this championship — is going to turn on those things, what sometimes get called the little things. One little thing, maybe.
And it won’t have anything to do with what play was drawn on the greaseboard before the game.