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Kelly Dwyer

Game to pay attention to: Lakers get stern

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie



Los Angeles Lakers at Boston
; series tied 1-1

I'm well aware that I'm the dope that told you that the Los Angeles Lakers could play even better in Game 2 than they did in Game 1, right before the Celtics went out and stole home-court advantage from the defending champs.

It wasn't a call for anyone here to start putting money on the Lake Show, rather, it was more of a reminder of what we need to be thinking even in Laker victory. That this team has a chance at playing some pretty special basketball. And when it falls short, it's because it's not bringing the sort of effort and interest level that the team's talent and intelligence would demand.

This is why, even in defeat, we talk about the Lakers. Because the Celtics max out. Or, they max out as much as can be reasonably expected. It's why in the regular season, when the Celtics were losing games they shouldn't have been losing, 90 percent of the recap had to do with what the Celtics did wrong versus what the winning team did right. Because we have to tell you why the bad man bit the nice dog.

And when the Lakers play as they played on Sunday — impatient, out of sorts, slow on the uptick and needlessly aggressive all at once — they're going to lose. And I'm having a hard time seeing them pull that sort of night off, again.

Maybe that's the half-full guy, in me. Maybe I'm just assuming all this anger and surly countenance and all these furrowed brows (look at how even Lamar Odom(notes) — 3-9 shooting, in the series, eight points, 10 fouls — is taking to it above) are going to lead to something good, rather than something more destructive.

Here's what we do know: Boston will not win all three in Boston. It just doesn't happen in this league. Not just because the team playing three at home is usually the inferior team, rather, it's because of the level of competition in June. And something has to go really wrong for a team to take three of three at home. Either the opposition has to be injured beyond repair (the Lakers, in 2004), or the opposition's brain has to take a week off (the Mavericks, who refused to adjust to all those bogus hand-checking calls, in 2006).

Beyond that, as Marc Spears pointed out Tuesday, it's not happening. Even if the Lakers continue to play this poorly, it probably won't, just because a C-level Laker team can still beat the C's if the C's bring C-level. Because as badly as Los Angeles executed on Sunday, Boston still needed Ray Allen(notes) in that first half, the bench in that third quarter, and Rajon Rondo(notes) in the fourth quarter.

Far be it for me, or anyone else, to call the series at this point. We still have too much to learn about either team. But we do know that entering Game 2, the Lakers have a lot to work on offensively, and that this team is very angry. How either of those are related, well, I'm sure we'll find out by the time the clock strikes 12, Boston-time.

For the Celtics? So much has to go right for them to win. So much. And since the playoffs have started? So much has gone right. Because of this team's focus, talent, trust in each other, and effort levels. They've created this destiny, and it has them tied in the finals with five to play and three coming at home.

They're all pivotal games, these days, but ... yeah. Pivotal game Tuesday night. Pay attention.

Comment away down below, or in Tuesday night's BDL Live Blog, featuring the usual cast of characters but excluding Trey Kerby more than likely, as he's missed three of his court-appointed hang-gliding classes.

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