The aggressive tone in Game 1 surprised no one within the confines of the Lakers' locker room. They'd been taking a bellicose stance for several days.
Their video coordinators inserted an inspirational speech from the war movie "Patton" into a team video session before Game 1 of the NBA Finals, joining the continual clips of "Inglourious Basterds" Lakers Coach Phil Jackson has insisted on including to foment an us-against-the-bad-guys mantra, a trend started by the team earlier in the playoffs with the Quentin Tarantino anti-Nazi movie.
Something's obviously working. The Lakers stood strong against the ominous front line of the Boston Celtics, an event that was still the talk of the NBA Finals a day after the Lakers' 102-89 victory.
"I thought one team was physical," Celtics Coach Doc Rivers said, and he wasn't talking about his own.
The Lakers dominated all the power categories, winning points in the paint, rebounds and second-chance opportunities with ease, though they didn't think it would be as simple in Game 2 of the best-of-seven series Sunday at Staples Center.
Their thinking: There's no chance Kevin Garnett again takes only one rebound through three quarters, no way Kendrick Perkins has three rebounds in 24 minutes, little chance Kobe Bryant drives in and out of the teeth of the Celtics' defense with such freedom.
"I think they'll make it much more difficult for us to get to the basket," Jackson said.
The Celtics will need to do something if they don't want to go back to Boston with a two-game deficit.
Pau Gasol was unstoppable Thursday, taking eight offensive rebounds and scoring on three put-backs against Garnett. Andrew Bynum played a surprising number of minutes (28) and was efficient enough with 10 points and six rebounds.
Some observers characterized the Celtics as being passive, even soft.
"They would be right," Rivers said. "We were."
The Lakers have vaguely been here before, on the opposite end, getting drubbed by the Celtics in Game 1 of the 1985 Finals, the infamous "Memorial Day Massacre."
There are even some parallels involving Garnett, the 15-year veteran, who looked like he was weighed down by a yacht anchor in Game 1, getting blocked on an open layup attempt by, indeed, the front of the rim.
After the Lakers' 148-114 loss 25 years ago, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was suddenly an old 38, his career seemingly on the decline if the great pundits at the time were to be believed. All he did in Game 2 was collect 30 points, 17 rebounds and eight assists. Ten days later, he was selected the Finals MVP after the Lakers came back to win in six games. He played another four seasons before retiring.
Garnett a nonfactor this series? The Lakers don't think it'll be true.
"I expect him and the whole team to be just more aggressive and with a sense of urgency, understanding the importance of Game 2," Gasol said.
Gasol complimented Garnett in other ways before saying, "He's also lost some explosiveness. He's more of a jump shooter now, you could say. Before he had a really, really quick first step and was getting to the lane and he was more aggressive . . . but he's still a terrific player, a terrific competitor and he's going to bring everything he's got. You can count on that."
To which Garnett said, "I have no comments for his comments," and Celtics guard Rajon Rondo said, "I just can't wait. . . . I didn't know [Gasol] said that, but I'll be excited to see how it goes in Game 2."
To be continued Sunday.
Bynum did not practice Friday but said his right knee didn't react too badly to Thursday's game.
"It didn't really swell up that much after the game," Bynum said. "I'm starting to feel some stuff in the back of my knee we'll have to watch."
Bynum, slowed by torn cartilage in his knee for five weeks, had the knee drained Monday.
Times staff writer Baxter Holmes contributed to this report.
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