BOSTON (AP) -Coach Doc Rivers vowed he wouldn't change the way the Celtics did anything on defense in the NBA finals.
And why should he? Boston's defense was too good for Los Angeles in the regular season, and it still is so far now.
The Celtics shook off a poor defensive effort in the first half to contain Kobe Bryant and his sidekicks in the second half, pulling away for a 98-88 victory Thursday night in Game 1.
Bryant and the Lakers had been rolling offensively in the postseason, averaging 105.9 points while winning 12 of 15 games. Rivers had been asked what kinds of defensive adjustments the Celtics needed to make.
``We don't change as much as people think we do,'' Rivers said before the game. ``That's fine that everyone thinks we do. But we've been pretty much a solid defensive team all year. We're not going to recreate the wheel tonight. We're going to play Celtic defense the way we've played all year.''
That defense limited opponents to an NBA-low 41.9 percent, but it took the Celtics a while to warm up on that end after a long layoff since the Eastern Conference finals.
Los Angeles shot 50 percent while building a 51-46 halftime lead, but the Celtics limited the Lakers to 13-of-39 (33 percent) the rest of the way and held them to 41.6 percent (32-of-77) for the game.
Bryant needed to take 26 shots for his 24 points. Pau Gasol and Derek Fisher each scored 15 points, but they combined for only five in the second half after going for 25 in the first 24 minutes.
The Celtics won the two regular-season meetings by a combined 32 points, limiting Bryant to 32.6 percent shooting. But both meetings came in late 2007, long before the Lakers acquired Gasol from Memphis, so the Lakers felt those games were meaningless.
Turns out, they were a perfect preview for Game 1.
Advertisement

Top NBA Public Bets

NBA Top Stories

Thumbnail OKC aims to spring stunner on Golden State Oklahoma City’s six-game road trip isn’t off to a great start. So what are the Thunder’s chances of actually keeping pace with the Warriors this evening?
Thumbnail Bucks vs. Rockets Prediction Are the Rockets a good bet to cover tonight against the Bucks following their loss last night to the Heat?
Thumbnail Trail Blazers vs. Hornets Prediction Will the Hornets snap their current five-game losing streak when they host the Trail Blazers tonight at 7:00PM ET?
Thumbnail Raptors vs. 76ers Prediction The Raptors are road favorites tonight in Philadelphia at 7:00PM ET. Will they cover against the Sixers?
Thumbnail Hawks vs. Pistons Pick Can the Atlanta Hawks continue their winning ways when they take on the Detroit Pistons tonight at 8PM ET?

NBA Team Pages