A capacity crown of over 18,000 packed the impressive TD Garden arena for Game 3 of the 2010 NBA Finals, and local Boston crowd painted the stadium and the streets Celtics green. The crowd started to build up almost two hours before tip-off to take in the atmosphere, and it was nothing short of electric. Aided by audio-visuals on the jumbotron, the giant screen suspended from the roof of the arena, the Celtics dancers and mascot Lucky the Leprechaun drummed up a frenzy, and set the stage for a huge game for both teams.
With the series tied at 1-1 Tuesday was always going to be big. The two big men, Kendrick Perkins for Boston and Andrew Bynum for the Lakers, faced each other in the centre circle, and when Perkins tipped the ball to Kevin Garnett, the crowd roared.
The Celtics came off the blocks strong and went on a 6-0 run inside the first two minutes. Garnett nailed his first three field goals, and things looked ominous for the visitors. At 12-5 in the first quarter, Lakers coach Phil Jackson called a timeout that was to prove crucial in the larger scheme of things. At seven points up, the Celtics held the largest lead they would have through the game. and the last time they looked like they could even match a Lakers side that was playing with a lot more fire.
Perkins’ two turn-overs allowed the Lakers back into the game and with Kobe Bryant playing explosively, aided by Lamar Odom, who came off the bench to add 6 points and 3 rebounds, the Lakers clawed back the seven-point lead and ended the first period nine points up at 26-17. From there on, the away side held on to the lead for the rest of the game despite everything Doc Rivers threw at them.
The Lakers defence was tight; they clearly learned from Game 2, and barring Garnett, the Celtics offense was completely shut down. In the pre-game interview Phil Jackson said his boys ‘needed to check the early momentum, and make adjustments on the fly’. In the end he would go back to his hotel room a happy man. In the second half, the Lakers opened out a 17-point lead at one stage, before the Celtics fought back to within 8 points of the visitors. Ray Allen, who nailed an NBA record seven three-pointers in the first half of Game 2, ended the half without a single point to his name.
It was a bad time for Allen to put in a career-worst effort, and that, coupled with Paul Pierce and Kedrick Perkins being largely ineffective, meant the Celtics will have to travel back to LA if they want to win this Championship. The Celtics started the last period 6 points off, and Glen Davis came on all fired up to put them within one point. And then there was Derek Fisher. Four-time champion Fisher put in 11 points in the fourth quarter, including the nail in the Celtics’ coffin. Game 4 is in Boston on Thursday, and the home side need to win to have any chance of taking the Championship.