Congratulations Celtics, Now I Hate You, Too

If Game 4 was The Devastation Game, Game 6 was The Demolition Game. The Celtics demolished the Lakers in every way imaginable. The box score looks like it came from a video game where the Lakers’ were being operated by a gamer with a broken controller.

The Celtics won the battle of the boards 34-27 (14-2 offensive rebounds). They won the turnover battle 19-7, including a record 18 steals. They shot 50 percent from 3-point range, including a record-tying seven treys from Ray Allen. They held the Lakers to 42 percent shooting, while shooting 49 percent themselves. They were 32-of-37 at the line. They had 33 assists to their 43 field goals. The Lakers had just 16. And, most emphatically, they beat the Lakers 131-92 in an NBA Finals series-clinching game. If ever there was a game where one team wanted it more, this was it. And the Celtics were that team, demolishing the Lakers from the second quarter on.

The win was not shocking. Boston outplayed Los Angeles for most of this series with suffocating defense and timely offensive contributions from players up and down their roster. The blowout was a surprise, however. The Lakers went down without a fight as a four point game at the end of the first quarter quickly got out of hand.

The Celtics defense was unrelenting in Game 6, and it was the team’s calling card throughout the series and the season. In each game of the series, Boston held the Lakers to less than 20 points in at least one quarter. And the scoring droughts the Lakers suffered were never countered with defense of their own.

Defense wins champions may be a cliché, but it’s also a reality for the Boston Celtics in 2008. They made Kobe Bryant look pedestrian. They made the triangle offense stagnant. They made a flashy, fun-to-watch Lakers team look like a team playing a disjointed playground pick-up game rather than an NBA championship series.

As a Lakers fan, my mind is trained to focus on what the purple and gold did wrong, but after a demolition effort like the Celtics laid on them in Game 6, I have to be equally, albeit painfully, complimentary for the Celtics’ role in making the Lakers play out of character all series long. So congratulations to the Boston Celtics for winning the 2008 NBA Championship.

And on a personal note, I finally have a reason to justify my innate feelings toward the Celtics and Boston sports fans at large. Now I can connect with generations of Lakers fans. Congratulations, Celtics. You’re now up there on my mantel with the Yankees, Patriots, Buckeyes and Broncos. Yes, now I really hate the Celtics.

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