It Rained Purple & Gold in L.A.

The teams have met twelve times in the NBA finals

The Celtics led by as many as 13 points against the Lakers on Thursday but lost Game 7

Purple and gold confetti rained down in the Staples Center late Thursday night after the Los Angeles Lakers clenched their 16th NBA title, beating the Boston Celtics 83-79 in game 7. The Finals MVP Kobe Bryant then jumps up on the scorer’s table, shook his fists and extended five fingers… marking his fifth title with the Lakers.

There was no question from the beginning that these two teams weren’t going to let this be an easy Final for one other to win. The competition between the Lakers and Celtics was apparent from the first jump ball in game 1 to the final minutes in the 4th quarter of game 7. The teams have met twelve times in the NBA finals, but this win only marks the third win for the Lakers. And although Bryant had been downplaying the NBA’s best rivalry for the past couple weeks, even he acknowledged that banner no. 16 will be a little bigger in his mind compared to the others that hang in the rafters. “I was just lying to you guys,” Bryant said after the Lakers first game 7 win over the Celtics, “this one is by far the sweetest, because it’s them.”

In the series he averaged an impressive 28.6 points, but left the fate of game 7 up to his teammates. Bryant shot only 6 of 24, eventually earning eight free throws and ending up with 23 points. The Celtics defense forced L.A. to miss 21 of its first 27 shots and held them to only 21 successful shots in the first three quarters, with Bryant and Gasol having a combined 6 for 26 in the first half. “This was the hardest one by far. I wanted it so bad and sometimes when you want it so bad, it slips away from you. My guys picked me up.” Despite his disappointing and uncharacteristic stats, he still earned his fifth title and second MVP with the Lakers.

Team stats and game leaders in game 7 of the finals

Team stat comparison and game leaders between the Celtics and Lakers in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals

Another big question is Phil Jackson and his return to the Los Angeles Lakers. His contract is up and it is not guaranteed he will be back next season, although all indications are that Jackson will be back to sign with the Lakers. With this win in the finals, Jackson has earned his 5th NBA title with the Lakers, making it his 11th overall. “I’ve got to take a deep breath. I’ve got to take some time to think about this,” Jackson said, who would be entering the next season at 65 years old. “This was great. I’ll wait to make that decision in a week.”

Whichever Jackson decides, the Lakers will be grateful for the years he did give. They’ve closed out their playoff opponents on the first try 10 times while winning three straight Western Conference titles over the last three years with Jackson. And although the Celtics led by as many as 13 points against the Lakers on Thursday, the game 7 trophy is now in Los Angeles.

2010 NBA Finals: Boston Celtics vs. Lakers or Suns?

Paul Pierce, 4th career playoff game with 30+ pts.

Paul Pierce lead the Boston Celtics to victory in Game 6 against the Orlando Magic with 31 Pts and 13 Reb.

I’m not going to lie; after game five of the Eastern Conference Finals, thoughts of the Orlando Magic tying and possibly winning the series was no longer unbelievable, but possible. The team was down 0-3 in the series and not looking to make a comeback. Their first win against the Celtics in game 4 had people thinking they got lucky. Then by the end of game 5, it was starting to look like the Magic might accomplish something that no other team in the NBA ever has… a 0-3 comeback to win and advance to the 2010 NBA Finals against either the Lakers or Suns. Unfortunately for the Orlando Magic that was not the case and Boston was able to use a little of their own magic to make them disappear.

The Celtics managed to avoid the biggest playoff collapse in league history. Boston clinched the series 4-2, beating Orlando 96-84. The Celtics are the first team in NBA history to advance to the Finals after having a better road record than home record during the regular season. It will be the 21st trip to the NBA finals for the Celtics organization, only the Lakers have more with 30. Now the next question is who will the Celtics play in the finals? Will it be the Suns or are the Lakers going to make their 31st appearance? The Lakers are currently leading their Western Conference Finals 3-2 against the Suns.

Regardless who their opponent may be, if Boston (17-3 all-time in NBA Finals) keeps playing the way they did in game 6 of the East Finals, they will definitely have a good chance of taking home their 18th NBA title in franchise history (no organization has won more titles than the 17-time World Champion Boston Celtics). Each game they have a different player that rises up to lead the team to victory. The win over Orlando in game 6 was their 17th straight game with a different leading scorer. Seriously! They have not had the same player lead them in scoring in consecutive games this entire post season. Game 6 goes to Paul Pierce, ending this Eastern Conference Finals in game 6 with 31 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists. Pierce was aggressive and assertive and it worked perfectly in Boston’s favor. Celtic’s guard Ray Allen followed Pierce with 20pts.

Robinson stepped up big in the second quarter

Nate Robinson had 13 Pts off the bench in the second quarter after starting point guard Rajon Rondo suffered an injury

It was Nate Robinson though that seemed to get Boston fans on their feet. After Celtic’s starting point guard Rajon Rondo took a hard fall, it was time for the little guy to step up in a big way. After the incredible season Rondo has been having, especially in the Finals (Rondo had 14 points and six assists before leaving the game), Robinson had some pretty big shoes to fill in a very important game. Luckily for Boston, he was up to the challenge. With 13 points off the bench in the second quarter, Robinson was making passes and nailing three’s that had the players he was sharing the bench with only moments before on their feet. Robinson had more points in the second quarter than he had in the previous 8 games combined. “There will be a game where we’re flat and need somebody to make something happen and Nate [Robinson] will do that. He’s going to win us a playoff game”, stated Doc Rivers, Boston Celtics head coach, back in April.

They now have just shy of a week to rest and practice until they hit the court again. This will be the Celtics second NBA finals appearance in 3 years. The first game of the 2010 NBA Finals is Thursday, June 3rd.