|06.04.10 at 5:48 pm ET|
LOS ANGELES — With a new series upon us, we have yet another defensive gameplan geared to stopping Rajon Rondo.
The obvious opening gambit for the Lakers is assigning Kobe Bryant the task of guarding Rondo. Bryant is bigger than Rondo and will play off him to try to prevent him from getting to the paint. That is nothing new, of course. The Heat did it with Dwyane Wade. The Cavs did it with Anthony Parker and LeBron James.
But Rondo has said that he never concerns himself with the first defender. He always has his eye on the second wave and the Laker big men have a plan, as well.
“What happens is, he’s the kind of guy who waits for the bigs to cut and then he drops passes off to them,” Andrew Bynum said. “We’re trying to make him finish, and wait until he goes to shoot the ball instead of committing to him earlier. It gets their team going when KG gets dunks, when [Kendrick] Perkins gets dunks and screams and all that. We just want to eliminate all of that.”
The Lakers have faced a gauntlet of elite point guards in the playoffs, including Utah’s Deron Williams and Phoenix’s Steve Nash, but it was their first round opponent who provided the best test case.
“Russell Westbrook really got us prepared because he’s going to take it right to you,” Bynum said. “He’s athletic enough that he’ll jump over you.”
Rondo may not have quite the straight-forward athleticism that Westbrook has, but he has mastered the art of angles and has proven adept at getting off shots and using the glass. He noted that Pau Gasol was able to block two of his shot attempts and that he’ll have to come up with a counter move, but he insisted that it’s really all on him to make the right decisions.
“I think I drew their bigs a couple of times and got Perk to the free throw line,” Rondo said. “But other than that, it’s my read really. It’s nothing that [an opposing] big can do or sense. It’s all on me, my judgment, knowing how to play the game.”
The other obvious adjustment for Rondo and the Celtics is getting out in transition. They had only five fast-break points in six chances and that has to do with defensive rebounding and coming up with loose-ball rebounds.
“We had a film clip with all the 50-50 plays, and I don’t think we got any of them,” Rondo said. “They got all the loose balls. They dove on the floor first. They were the more aggressive team.”
That has to change in Game 2 or Rondo will be once again stuck in low gear with an entire defense geared to stop him.
|06.04.10 at 5:27 pm ET|
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has made the challenge and is waiting to hear from Boston Mayor Tom Menino as to whether he will accept or decline Villaraigosa’s wager.
“Once again, we find ourselves replaying the rivalry that defined a decade. The Lakers, having triumphed over the Phoenix Suns, and the Celtics, having defeated the Orlando Magic, will face off for the NBA championship for the 12th time in history,” Villaraigosa wrote in a letter to Menino.
“This time ‘ unlike two years ago ‘ it’s our turn to win and finally tie the Celtics for the most championships of any franchise.”
This time, there is much more on the line than just Boston Baked Beans. This wager involves some famous actors from each city. Villaraigosa is putting Lakers fan Jack Nicholson on the line to film a commercial praising the city of Boston. On the other side of the bet, Boston would have its hometown boys Matt Damon and Ben Affleck film a public service announcement touting LA.
Villaraigosa wrote: “Should the Celtics prove victorious, we will generously permit Hollywood legend and Lakers fan extraordinaire Jack Nicholson to don green and film a commercial touting Old North Church, the Common and all there is to see in Boston. Should the Lakers prevail, we will gladly accept your hometown boys, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, as spokespersons for a public service announcement extolling the virtues of the City of Los Angeles, where the climate, the beaches and the food are far superior.”
Officials in Menino’s office indicated that they are working on response.
|06.04.10 at 5:16 pm ET|
LOS ANGELES — Pau Gasol was asked a lot of questions about Kevin Garnett on the day after he scored 23 points and had 14 rebounds in the Lakers Game 1 victory in the NBA finals. Gasol talked about how he has grown over the years and how playing Garnett was a big challenge when he was in Memphis and Garnett was in Minnesota.
Then he said this: “On Kevin’s part, he’s also lost some explosiveness. He’s more of a jump shooter now.” Gasol went on to say how Garnett is still a “terrific player, a terrific competitor, and he’s going to bring everything he’s got. You can count on that.”
Only the first part of the quote was relayed to Garnett who responded, “I have no comment for his comments.”
Pressed further, Garnett said, “I’m not getting caught up in what Pau’s talking about. I’m not going to play these games. I’m going to stick to my guns, continue to make the proper adjustments and move on. I’m not into this bull [expletive] that’s going on, you know what I mean? That’s it.”
So, we have our first media-driven controversy of the finals. Fair or unfair, and the set-up was more than a little bit dishonest, Garnett will have to bring more to the table defensively against Gasol in Game 2. He knows that, as does everyone else, but count on this being a major plot point over the next 48 hours.
For example, Rajon Rondo was asked about the Gasol’s comments, again without context, and he just grinned. “Every man is entitled to this opinion,” Rondo said. “You know, Kevin is fine. It’s just one game. We’ll see in Game 2.”
Asked how this would affect Garnett, Rondo said, “I just can’t wait. I didn’t know [Gasol] said that, but I’ll be excited to see how it goes in Game 2.”
|06.04.10 at 1:09 pm ET|
Actor Mark Wahlberg, a Boston native, is a big Celtics fan (although probably not as big as his brother Donnie, who was a guest of The Big Show Thursday at the Staples Center). Mark accepted a bet from legendary rapper (and Los Angeles-area native) Snoop Dogg on the NBA finals. The loser will donate $20,000 to the winner’s favorite charity. Here’s Snoop Dogg talking about the bet.
|06.04.10 at 12:58 pm ET|
A New Hampshire man is making news for accepting a challenge to walk from Boston to New York City for second-row seats to Games 3, 4 and 5 of the NBA finals. Tyler McGill of Rye, N.H., was given a week to finish the walk.
“Basically, two of my buddies got three seats to all of the Celtics home games in the finals,” McGill told Seacoastonline.com. “All I had to do was ask, ‘What would it take to get me all of those tickets?’ They said, ‘Walk from the Garden to New York City and we’ll get you to all the games.’ ”
After one false start Tuesday night that was curtailed after eight miles due to rain, the 27-year-old regrouped and began on his 200-plus-mile journey Wednesday morning. He reported that he was allowed to nap at Town Hall in Sherborn and was given a reflective vest by police, who made him promise to wear the vest to Game 3 at TD Garden.
“I can’t believe I’m doing this,” he said. “I hate walking. I’m basically walking a marathon and a 10K every day.”
McGill sends pictures from his cell phone to keep his friends updated on his trek.
|06.04.10 at 7:20 am ET|
According to an ESPN report, the New Orleans Hornets decided to give Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau at least one more day to accept their offer to be their head coach. The report says the Hornets offered Thibodeau the position last week, but Thibodeau did not accept by Thursday’s deadline, one day after he interviewed with the Chicago Bulls. Thibodeau also reportedly interviewed with the New Jersey Nets earlier in the week. New Orleans is said to be ready to offer its job to Trail Blazers assistant Monty Williams if Thibodeau does not commit soon.
|06.04.10 at 2:48 am ET|
LOS ANGELES — Phil Jackson coached teams, as you may have heard, have never lost a series when his team won the first game. The number is 47-0 and it’s been getting a lot of play around here.
Ray Allen was unimpressed.
“Nothing,” was his answer to a question about what it meant to him. “Stats are made after the fact. Most of us don’t live in the past.”
It really doesn’t mean anything, other than Jackson has coached some pretty good teams. The Celtics have been bucking the odds the entire postseason.
They beat the hottest team in the league in the first round. They beat Cleveland after being down 1-0 and 2-1 and they took two games in Orlando after the Magic had not lost a game at all since early April.
Their entire playoff run has been something of an anomaly anyway, so no, they are not intimidated by this piece of historical data.
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