It’s not all that difficult to figure out how the Lakers won the NBA title while shooting an impressively awful 32.5% from the field. With the Laker bigs as active as ever on the offensive glass, L.A. managed 12 more field goal attempts and 20 more free throw attempts than the Celtics. Those are free possessions conjured by effort and size alone, and even if the possessions gained were used somewhat haphazardly, that’s still an outrageous amount of extra opportunities. Even if most were misses (and that they were), the few hits were enough for volume to win out.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the impact of Kendrick Perkins’ absence. Perk trailed only Kevin Garnett among the Celtics in defensive rebounding percentage this season (and by a slim margin at that; KG grabbed the defensive board 24.8% of the time while on the floor, and Perk got the rebound 24.4% of the time), and his size and rebounding abilities are even more important against a team like L.A.
It’s not quite as simple as pointing to Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis, either. They combined for 17 rebounds in a low-possession game, which is frankly even better than should be expected. The problem big for the Celtics turned out to Kevin Garnett, who not only failed to grab more than three boards of his own, but was clearly incapable of preventing Pau Gasol from grabbing offensive rebounds at will. The Spaniard finished the nine offensive boards without Garnett boxing him out properly or Perkins to clean up the mess, which is a bit of a problem.
Maybe Gasol still would have been a prolific offensive rebounder with Perkins on the court. After all, it’s not like Perk’s mere presence would make Garnett a better rebounder. Still, it’s tough to shake the feeling that Boston having another big body on the floor would make some kind of difference. If not one less offensive rebound of Gasol, then maybe one less for Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, or Ron Artest.
I don’t know, but one of those offensive rebounds — and especially one of the put-backs that followed — might have had an impact on the game. Y’know, considering the final stages of the fourth quarter teetered between a one-possession game and a two-possession game. Or that Boston was forced to take desperation threes and intentionally foul down the stretch. This was a tight enough game that every little bit counted. Even if Perkins wasn’t going to put up 20 and 10, he could at least be expected to do that much.