Sweet, sweet heartache. Game 4 of the NBA Finals was a game of bests and worsts. The first quarter saw the Lakers commit to their defensive schemes on every possession and run the floor with ease for an NBA Finals record first quarter onslaught of points. During the remaining three quarters, however, the Lakers set a different type of record as they allowed the Celtics to overcome the largest deficit in Finals history -- 24 points -- to steal a win in L.A.
The easy criticism is to say that the Lakers failed to play defense in the second half. Without the stops on one end, they were unable to push the ball as they did in the first twenty-four minutes and attack before the Celts could set up their defense, often freeing up open drives to the basket or uncontested three-pointers.
The Lakers revealed their youth and inexperience in losing Game 4 after they found themselves in a blowout situation within minutes of the opening tip-off and, most importantly, with most of the game yet to be played. The Lakers did have wide margins of victories in previous playoff games, including a thrashing of the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. But in none of those contests did the Lakers reach a twenty-four point lead during the first quarter. It was an outstanding display of ball movement and unselfishness and it completely threw the Celtics off their game plan. Unfortunately, it also threw the Lakers off theirs.
It's unlikely the Lakers will find themselves with such a generous lead in the remaining game(s) of this year's Finals. Chances are they'll trudge through the grind-it-out style seen in earlier games and we'll see how quickly these young Lakers learn their lessons. They'd better learn fast if they don't want to suffer more heartache.