It took until the Finals to get a really good series, but that's exactly what's happening. Better late than never, I guess. The Celtics tied things up 2-2 last night. What does the Internet have to say about it? This...
John Krolik, ProBasketballTalk: "Paul Pierce certainly isn't the fastest player in these finals. He's strong, but not overpowering. He's a good shooter, but he needs time and space to get a deep jumper off. More than any other "superstar" in these finals, Pierce is capable of being a relative non-factor for long stretches of time. Pierce likely knows all of that. He also knows that if he can get himself his second ring and the Celtics their 18th banner, it won't matter whether he averaged 30 points per game or 3 points per game in the finals. With two Hall-Of-Famers and one other all-star in the Boston starting lineup, Pierce's job isn't to be the best player on the floor. His job is to grab that one extra loose ball, draw that one extra foul, make that one extra step-back that the Celtics his team needs him to get. On Thursday night, Pierce was able to do just that. If he can do just enough two more times, he'll officially enter his name into Celtics lore."
Zach Harper, Hardwood Paroxysm: "When Big Baby grabbed his fourth offensive rebound of the game with 8:23 remaining in the fourth quarter and powered his way back up to the basket against Pau Gasol(notes) and Lamar Odom(notes), he absorbed the foul, scored the basket and unleashed an outburst of emotion and drool that makes Kevin Garnett(notes) look like Tim Duncan(notes) on horse tranquilizers. Effort, energy and heart were going to be needed to win the NBA Finals. The Game Four version of the Boston Celtics bench had it and the Lakers simply didn't. A lineup of Nate Robinson(notes), Ray Allen(notes), Tony Allen(notes), Glen Davis(notes) and Rasheed Wallace(notes) played the first 9:10 of the fourth quarter against LA and left the game with an eight-point lead for the starters to play with. They survived a quick run of technical fouls by Rasheed Wallace and Nate Robinson. They survived 12 fourth quarter points from Kobe Bryant(notes). They took control of a game in the NBA Finals, which was as close to a must-win as you can get without having a loss result in elimination."
Sean Keane, NBA Offseason: "6:18 left in the fourth quarter. Rasheed Wallace sets up three feet behind the three-point line and lets fly a perfect jump shot, nothing but net. It's his only field goal of the game, but thanks to his defense and the excellence of Boston's bench squad, he ends the game +9. The Celtics went up nine, and the Lakers never got closer than six the rest of the way. Rasheed's influence extended to psychological warfare on technical fouls. Both he and Nate Robinson were whistled for questionable technicals, but ball don't lie held true: the Lakers missed both bonus shots."
Darius, Forum Blue and Gold: "There were several subplots to this game, but I'll start with what I consider to be the biggest (literally and figuratively). Andrew Bynum(notes) tried to gut it out tonight, but he wasn't able to really play on his bad wheel. Bynum played only 12 minutes on the evening and only 2 in the second half after starting the third quarter in the Lakers' locker room rather than on the court with his other 4 starting mates. Bynum dragged his leg around like a sleepy toddler does his favorite blanket and while I give him a ton of credit for trying to help his team, he just didn't have enough mobility to move in the half court to cut off angles on penetration or run the floor in a manner that allowed him to change ends with any real pace. And without Bynum's size, this is a different Lakers team - especially against these Celtics. Boston was able to score well in the lane by getting 54 points in the paint while also winning the battle of boards 41-34, 16 of which were recoveries of their own misses. The other big story was the battle of the benches, one that the Celtics won handily. Boston's reserves outscored their Laker counterparts 36-18, doubling their point production and providing the difference in this game. Fueled by the darting Nate Robinson and the bruising Big Baby Davis , the C's bench made the impression on this game and played that hero role that was up for grabs when the game hung in the balance. And while Robinson's energy and relentless attacking of the basket was infectious, the player that really deserves credit for tilting this contest in the C's favor was Davis. Big Baby scored 18 points on 10 shots, grabbed 5 rebounds (4 offensive), and was just a monster on the interior against whoever stood in his way. When asked after the game what he felt like, Davis simply said "I felt like a beast. I felt like I couldn't be denied." and truer words could not have been spoken. He was a beast and he couldn't be denied. He used his quick feet, active hands, and wide frame to move bodies out of the way and get to the positions that he wanted to in order to finish inside. Really, he was the player of the game in my eyes."
Big Mck, Red's Army: "That was one helluva game. The Celtics struggled (to put it kindly) with their offense all night, until the second unit delivered a dynamic performance in the 4th quarter. Glen Davis (18 points, 7-10 FG, 5 rebounds, 2 steals) and Nate Robinson (12 points) were spectacular. Tony Allen and Rasheed Wallace played stellar defense. Credit Doc for leaving his second unit in until the 2 minute mark of the 4th. He really had no choice. The starters were anemic on offense, missing countless layups and open shots. The high-octane bench turned a two point deficit (62-60) into an 11 point lead (85-74). I was concerned that KG, Pierce and Rondo would be flat from the extended stay on the bench. That was not the case."
Sekou Smith, Hangtime: "Tony Allen said he wasn't interested in playing this game. He said two days ago, long before he had to hit the floor with the Celtics' season on the line Thursday night in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, that there is no such thing as a "stopper" for Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant. Allen sold himself short. Because he filled that role to perfection, smothering Bryant during a crucial fourth quarter stretch that saw the Celtics rebound from a seemingly eternal hole to take control of a game they absolutely could not afford to lose. Not only did he frustrate Bryant into a 2-for-6 shooting effort in the 10 minutes he spent on him from the end of the third quarter until late in the fourth, he provided a clear blueprint for the rest of this series on how to attack Bryant on defense, if there is such a thing."
Brendan Jackson, Celtics Hub: "The Lakers are good. The Lakers are really good. The Lakers won the first three quarters of this game on the offensive end handily. The Celtics merely got enough stops in the first three quarters to keep it close. Then, the unthinkable to most. The Celtics' bench starts the fourth quarter with Ray Allen the only starter to remain on the court. A surprising move by Doc Rivers, but it paid vast dividends as the Celtics proceed to 11-2 run to go up for good. Nate Robinson was huge. Glen Davis was huge. Tony Allen ... could have been better... I kid Tony only because I love him. He has the hardest job on the entire team and he plays it really well. All along we have been saying that the Celtics' bench is their biggest asset and advantage and we have finally been proven right. After three games showcasing some underwhelming performances from the bench, they finally stepped up to their billing. Enjoy this one Celtics' fans, because this series is a complete dog fight."
Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: "That trendline's moving in the wrong direction. Pau and Lamar, in particular, fell down on the job tonight. Yes, their tasks get more difficult without Drew out there to bang, but two offensive rebounds, combined, in 83 minutes of play? Unacceptably poor. The defense tonight was sound until the fourth quarter cave-in. That's when everyone started to look tired and a little bit confused. Energy and focus waned, and the Celtics took advantage by getting the ball inside, drawing fouls and making their free throws. (In the second half, the Celts made all 15 of their freebies.) Credit Boston for being the better team in this one. They worked harder and were more willing to battle for loose balls. There were a couple moments in the third period when they could have lost their composure as a team, when Sheed and Nate both picked up stupid and well-deserved techs, but they didn't. They pulled themselves together and scratched their way back into the series. The Lakers still hold the high ground in this fight. It's now a best-of-three, and if it goes the distance the last two games will be played at Staples Center. The most important development between now and Sunday's Game Five will be the status of Bynum's knee. We saw tonight how damaging it is when the Lakers have to play without him. Their overall situation is still good, but the pressure is building for everyone associated with the team, their training staff very much included."
Jimmy Toscano, Celtics Blog: "In the midst of the Celtics' 4th quarter energy burst, Rasheed Wallace and Nate Robinson picked up technical fouls. Doc Rivers has had a "no 4th quarter technical fouls" rule throughout the season, but they got away with it tonight based on the way they were playing out there. The problem is that now Rasheed Wallace and Kendrick Perkins(notes) both have six technical fouls. While Perkins has not run into any technical fouls this series, some think that his tough nose play has suffered a bit due to the fact that he doesn't want to pick up that seventh technical foul. Now, Rasheed Wallace may be faced with the same dilemma. Losing either one of these guys for Game 6 or 7 could ultimately prove to be the difference between winning and losing the championship."