LOS ANGELES - The aggressive tone in Game 1 surprised no one within the confines of the Los Angeles Lakers' locker room. They'd been taking a bellicose stance for several days.
Their video coordinators inserted an inspirational speech from the war movie Patton into a team video session before Game 1 of the NBA Finals, joining the continual clips of Inglourious Basterds that Lakers Coach Phil Jackson has insisted on including to foment an us-against-the-bad-guys mantra, a trend started by the team earlier in the playoffs with the Quentin Tarantino World War II movie.
Something's obviously working. The Lakers stood strong against the ominous front line of the Boston Celtics, an event that was still the talk of the NBA Finals a day after the Lakers' 102-89 victory.
"I thought one team was physical," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said - and he wasn't talking about his own.
The Lakers dominated all the power categories, winning points in the paint, rebounds and second-chance opportunities with ease, though they didn't think it would be as simple in Game 2 of the best-of-seven series Sunday at Staples Center.
Their thinking: There's no chance Kevin Garnett again takes only one rebound through three quarters, no way Kendrick Perkins has three rebounds in 24 minutes, little chance Kobe Bryant drives in and out of the teeth of the Celtics' defense with such freedom.
"I think they'll make it much more difficult for us to get to the basket," Jackson said.
The Celtics will need to do something if they don't want to go back to Boston with a two-game deficit.
Pau Gasol was unstoppable Thursday, taking eight offensive rebounds and scoring on three put-backs against Garnett. Andrew Bynum played a surprising number of minutes (28) and was efficient enough with 10 points and six rebounds.
Thibodeau to Bulls? The Boston Celtics apparently will need a new assistant coach after the NBA Finals. Tom Thibodeau accepted the Chicago Bulls' head coaching job Saturday, according to multiple media reports in Chicago.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers would not confirm the reports before Boston practiced the day before Game 2 of the series, but both he and his players agreed that Thibodeau would be a good choice.
The longtime assistant was the architect of the defense that contained Kobe Bryant when the Celtics beat the Lakers for the title two years ago, and the one that helped them knock off LeBron James and Cleveland during a surprising run to these Finals.