The Finals, Game 5: Celtics up 3-2 heading back to L.A.

Here’s where the 2-3-2 format in The Finals gets really interesting. With a 92-86 win in Game 5 behind a big 27-point effort from Paul Pierce, the Celtics are in position to close out the Lakers, but they’ll have to do it at the Staples Center.

Pierce was amazing offensively, hitting 12-of-21 shots from the field, which mostly offset Kobe Bryant’s 38 points. The Lakers only had one other player in double figures (Pau Gasol, 12-12), and Kobe grew visibly frustrated as the fourth quarter wore on.

Along with Pierce, Rajon Rondo (18-8-5) controlled this game for Boston. He made four huge plays late in the game, including two steals (though curiously, he was only credited for one in the game), a timely tip-in on an offensive rebound and a very nice catch and layup on a late pass from Pierce. Kevin Garnett (18-10-3) and Ray Allen (12-3-2) also played well for the Celtics.

Heading back to L.A. it will be interesting to see if the Lakers can turn things around. So much momentum swings with one game, and now that the Celtics have won three of the last four, the Lakers will be feeling the pressure. If they can rally together and win Game 6, they’ll regain control of the series.

A couple of other random thoughts from the game:

– Jeff Van Gundy had a great line about Derek Fisher’s propensity to flop. Mike Breen said that Fisher did a nice job of selling the call. Van Gundy responded, “If I never hear ‘selling’ and ‘basketball game’ together again, I’ll be happy.”

Breen: “Veterans know how to sell.”

Van Gundy: “How do you fool…these guys have all refereed this guy for 14 years. They know every time he goes up it looks like there’s sniper fire in the building.”


– There was a weird sequence between Pierce and Rondo at the end of the first half. The Celtics were running the clock down and Pierce felt that Rondo “looked him off.” As Rondo started to penetrate into the lane (and looked to pass the ball to Pierce again), Pierce was already walking towards the Celtics’ bench in frustration, wiping his hand away at Rondo in dismissal. When asked about it moments later by Doris Burke, Pierce said he wasn’t upset when it was very obvious that he was.

That play was the opposite of ubuntu. What if the Celtics had lost by one point and that play could have made the difference between Boston winning and losing? Why is Pierce pouting about not getting the ball on a play like that?

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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