Fri Jun 18 01:15pm EDT
The Lakers winning, means the Celtics didn't because of the way sports work. That means sadness for Boston fans. Cheer 'em up, Internet!
Zach Lowe, Celtics Hub: Maybe you can take heart in this: The Celtics played like themselves in the most important game of their season, or at least like a hyper-exaggerated version of themselves. They did not lose because they broke character. All season, the Celtics teetered on the edge of being a one-dimensional team-a team with an all-world defense that could be undone by an average offense prone to turnovers and droughts in the half court. And the one flaw in that defense was a tendency to allow too many offensive rebounds. Boston appeared to have solved that problem in the playoffs, but in retrospect, that probably had more to do with the fact that Miami, Cleveland and Orlando all ranked in the bottom 12 in the league in offensive rebounding. The Celtics almost won Game 7 because of their defense and lost it in part because of all of the same things that have cost them games this season.
Jeff Clark, Celtics Blog: As if we needed any more reasons to hate the Lakers. I'm still bleary-eyed from last night, but I woke up with a pit in my stomach that derives itself from the realization that our window might just be closed and 2 out of the 3 years the Lakers were the ones that got to hoist the trophy. That stings. Don't get me wrong, I'm not forgetting about 2008. Nobody can take that glorious year away from us. And I'm not even slamming the door on next year (yet). I am not optimistic about this currently constructed team's chances of making it through another regular season like the one we just played and getting back to the Finals, but this year's team taught us never to say never. With that said, change is coming. Maybe the starting five will remain in tact (not sure what Perk's recovery schedule is looking like), but there will be roster moves this offseason. I'm not sure what else Doc has to prove in Boston and I'm not sure he would want to go through another year like this one (all reports are that it has been very hard on him). You have to imagine that Danny Ainge is going into the offseason with a mind toward building around Rajon Rondo(notes), and that means getting younger, more athletic guys that can run with him on the break.
Lang Whitaker, SLAM: Doc Rivers did a heckuva job all season managing the Celtics, keeping them healthy and making the most of a bench that included a couple of guys (Nate Robinson(notes), Shelden Williams(notes)) who couldn't even get playing time on bad teams. And he also has managed to get all his best players to buy into whatever it was he was selling. But why didn't Boston make more of an effort, particularly in the fourth quarter, to get Paul Pierce(notes) going. He went 1-5 in the fourth quarter and finished 5-15 for the game, so Pierce — like everyone else on the floor, actually — wasn't his best. But it seemed like Boston was spending a lot of time running an ice-cold Ray Allen(notes) off screens instead of posting Pierce on the free throw line extended where he goes to work a lot.
Austin Burton, Dime Mag: By all rights, Boston should have won this game. For the first three and a half quarters they outplayed L.A. convincingly on both ends of the floor, but were still vulnerable because they simply didn't make shots. Ray Allen and Nate Robinson had some rattle in and out; Kevin Garnett(notes) and Rasheed Wallace(notes) straight air-balled a few; and Paul Pierce threw up some that were just bad decisions. When the Lakers finally found their rhythm late in the fourth quarter and started getting to the line, Boston couldn't respond offensively as it seemed there was a lid on the rim.
Big McK, Red's Army: Credit to the Lakers for winning a hard-fought, hideously played Game 7, 83-79. Crazy Ron Artest(notes) (who thanked his psychiatrist in the post game interview) was the hero for Los Angeles. Ron had 20 points and 5 steals while playing lock down defense on Paul Pierce (18 points, 5-15 FG). His three-pointer with one minute left gave the Lakers a 6-point cushion. Ray Allen played stellar defense all night long, but he struggled mightily on offense — 13 points on 3-14 FG. With Pierce bottled up, the Celtics needed Ray to make some shots and he couldn't deliver. The only silver lining — Kobe Bryant(notes) (series MVP) shot a very unJordan-like 6-24. The Celtics deserve some praise. They followed up an injury plagued, mediocre regular season with one helluva run in the playoffs. I didn't expect them to beat Cleveland, nevermind play the Lakers to a nail-biting Game 7.
Matt McHale, Basketbawful: KG actually had a pretty good offensive series. I haven't checked the final numbers yet, but he averaged around 15-16 points while shooting about 50 percent from the field. Not bad considering his minutes (only around 30 a game), his number of shot attempts and the defense he was facing. But Garnett couldn't rebound. Kobe had more offensive rebounds (4) than KG had total rebounds (3). And it's not like he wasn't blocking out and going up for boards. He just couldn't quite get there. Jeff Van Gundy kept ragging on unnamed Celtics for getting their hands on balls but not coming down with them. Well, those unnamed Celtics were KG, KG, and KG. I don't know how many offensive boards the Lakers had in this series, but I'm willing to bet Garnett's finger tips touched about 80 percent of them. KG hops are gone. No shame in that. His knees have been through hell over his career and especially over the last few years. But I can't help but think that, if Garnett could have rebounded the way he did in his Minnesota days, the Celtics would have won championship number 18 last night.
Eric Freeman, The Baseline: It's unclear where the Celtics go from here. Ray Allen is a free agent; defensive mastermind Tom Thibodeau is heading to Chicago; and Doc Rivers might not return to coaching. Yet they can take great pride in their performance in this postseason. They entered as the fourth seed in the East, with many people predicting that they'd lose to the Heat in the first round. But they turned it on, defeated supposedly superior teams in the Cavs and Magic, and took the Lakers to the brink. This team deserves praise even if they didn't get to hold the Larry O'Brien Trophy.
Jay King, Celtics Town: I'm sick to my stomach right now. The Celtics had this game in hand. They were pulling away in the third quarter, and then ... The Celtics spent 23 games trying to tell us the regular season doesn't matter, but don't tell me that [expletive] anymore. If the Celtics had homecourt in this Game 7, the Lakers fold when the C's make that third-quarter run. But we're in LA, and the Lakers didn't fold. And now they're NBA [bleep]-ing champions. Excuse me while I go light myself on fire and cry my burning ass to sleep for the next four months.
Brett Pollakoff, NBA FanHouse: Not that Doc Rivers had much of a choice, but he started Rasheed Wallace in place of the injured Kendrick Perkins(notes), and it set the tone for the Celtics early. Sheed defended well and helped limit Andrew Bynum(notes) and Pau Gasol(notes) offensively early, and scored on his first couple of touches to make Gasol work on the defensive end. Glen Davis(notes) stayed in his traditional role off the bench, and was able to score six points and grab two rebounds in five minutes during the opening period, contributing to Boston's strong start and helping the team get out to a nine-point lead after one.