Mike Dunleavy, former coach and general manager of the Clippers, is The Times' guest analyst on the NBA Finals. Dunleavy has coached four NBA teams — the Clippers, Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks and Portland Trail Blazers. He was the NBA coach of the year in 1999 with Portland.
The Lakers have a big size advantage over the Celtics, and it showed in Game 1. Pau Gasol had a great all-around game at both ends of the court, and I was also really impressed by Andrew Bynum. The Lakers got the offensive boards at one end and blocked shots at the other.
What the Celtics couldn't do — but needed to — was get out in the open court. They weren't able to do that because the Lakers were scoring easy buckets: layups, shots around the basket, offensive rebounds, getting to the rim and getting to the free-throw line.
L.A. also took advantage of the areas where Boston is weak. The Celtics turn the ball over too much and they're not a great rebounding team. That showed up big time in Game 1. Boston has got to change that in order to have a chance in this series.
But this is where things could get interesting. Game 2 is always the one you've got a chance to steal. The Lakers have one under their belt. They're feeling pretty good about themselves. They could be fat cats right now and get upset.
Yes, it was important for the Lakers to come out and have a big game at home to open the series. But you know what? That's what they were supposed to do. Now, the pressure is on them to follow the same script in Game 2 so they can go to Boston up, 2-0, and then break serve there.
Defensively, the Celtics need to be better. Part of them being better on defense is they've got to be better on offense.
And, of course, there's containing Kobe Bryant. He's just got great focus. I think it means a lot to him to win a fifth ring. It's about his legacy and where potentially it puts him on the all-time charts, and versus Michael Jordan.
Kobe might not say that, but he's been very clear that he wants to be considered the best player of all time. He's got the tools, he's got the goods, but it comes down to rings.
So who's better? Jordan won six championships and he never lost in the Finals. He certainly has a lot going for him. But Kobe's got a lot more years and games left — starting with Game 2.
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