|06.11.10 at 1:07 pm ET|
There is still a notion that the Celtics want to force the Lakers into a slow, grind-it-out game that prevents them from running. The second part of that statement is true, but the Celtics would prefer to get out in transition when they can and push the tempo.
“Well, we want that for the Lakers, but we want to run, really,” Doc Rivers said Friday. “We want to get out on the break. I think we have to run. They’re too big. They’re long. So we would like to get out in transition more, but they know that, too, and the two things they’ve done better is even when we’re getting stops, they’re getting back now. And on the first two games we thought we could beat them down the floor, and we did. Now they’re getting back. So we just have to keep getting stops and see how many times we can get [Rajon] Rondo out into transition.”
Rivers also is concerned with what he calls “empty possessions,” when his team fails to execute a set and is forced into a tough shot.
“I don’t mind missed shots, but the last two games we’ve had a ton of empty possessions where we — and we call it random, where we came down and really didn’t establish any flow and never got into a set or an execution, and that’s unlike us,” Rivers said. “That’s the only troublesome thing for me right now with our team, and we have to get out of that because it will come down to a one-possession game. If you keep wasting these possessions it’s going to come back and hurt you. I thought it did in Game 3.”
|06.11.10 at 12:40 pm ET|
Doc Rivers noted Friday that the team’s uncertain future has not been a regular topic of concersation in the locker room. “No, we don’t talk about it at all,” Rivers said. “I’ve said that — I said it in the middle of the year. I think hopefully we sign Ray back — I think I can say that. If not, I just got fined.”
Rivers also said that he thinks Kevin Garnett will be better next season as he moves further away from his knee surgery. As for the notion that this is the last run for the Celtics, Rivers disagreed. “We don’t think that,” he said. “I think everyone outside of us, a lot of people do.”
|06.11.10 at 12:40 pm ET|
Sanders said Doc Rivers‘ use of his bench in Game 4 Thursday night reminded him of Red Auberbach’s strategy during the Celtics’ dynasty in the 1960s, of which Sanders was a key part.
“It was consistent with Auerbach to use that second unit when games were extremely tight or when we were losing,” said Sanders, who won eight NBA titles as a player and briefly coached the C’s in the late 1970s. “Basically, he’d change that whole group up, and we’d get back in many a game. … That’s a good role to play if you’ve got that kind of bench, and certainly Rivers has that kind of bench, and he’s clearly not afraid to use it.”
Sanders said that because the Celtics and Lakers starters match up so evenly, the bench should decide the series. “Boston has a much deeper bench,” he said. “That’s the only edge that they have.”
As for the referees, Sanders said complaining isn’t worth the players’ time and focus. “Forget about the referees,” he advised. “They have a job to do, but you’d better do yours.”
Sanders will be on hand Monday night at TD Garden for The Tradition, the New England Sports Museum’s annual event honoring area sports legends. He will be there to help present former teammate Jo Jo White with the basketball legacy award.
|06.11.10 at 12:21 pm ET|
Julius Erving, who won an NBA championship with the 76ers in 1983 and was involved in numerous battles against the Celtics, was in the stands at Thursday’s NBA finals Game 4 at TD Garden, sitting with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the winner of an online contest.
Erving said he is begrudgingly pulling for Boston to win, as he did when the Celtics and Lakers met three times in the 1980s.
“I am an Eastern Conference guy. I’m always pretty loyal, cheer for the conference,” Erving told The Associated Press, adding: “It’s hard to root for Boston. I root for the conference. Rooting for Boston, that’s asking a little much, especially in public.”
|06.11.10 at 11:34 am ET|
From the moment Tony Allen showed up at the Garden on Thursday he could sense the urgency. From captain Paul Pierce to Kevin Garnett to everyone on what turned out to be a great bench, the task was at hand was very, very clear.
Win or else.
Now, with the 96-89 win over the Lakers in Game 4 in the bank and the NBA finals tied, 2-2, Allen wants to see that urgency for the remainder of the series. And if he does, he thinks the Celtics could very well be hoisting he Larry O’Brien trophy when it’s awarded next week at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
“Earlier at shootaround it felt like a must-win game,” Allen said. “I was looking at everybody’s focus, guys were in there early, getting shots up, in getting treatment. Guys were pretty much focused. I like that side of those guys. We’re going to definitely need them to be focused for the rest of the series.”
Of course, leading the way in providing focus is captain Paul Pierce. He was the last remaining member of the ‘Big Three’ not to have a big game in the series so far. People were wondering if the Celtics stood a chance if he didn’t get his motor started in Game 4.
Pierce scored a team-high 19 points but it was the leadership he showed early in the game that impressed Allen. And Allen sensed Pierce was going to have something special in store well before tip-off.
“I think he had that vision in his mind,” Allen said. “He just came out and said, ‘I’m going to be Paul Pierce today no matter what the defense tries to do.’ He got the name ‘The Truth’ for being the truth. He definitely was big.
“He’s ‘The Truth.’ We’re definitely going to need him for the rest of the series. We’re going to need him to be The Truth for these three games. I’m glad he got it going and it showed why we won.”
|06.11.10 at 9:44 am ET|
ESPN NBA analyst Tim Legler joined the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about the NBA finals, following the Celtics‘ Game 4 win Thursday night. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
“Last night was the quintessential Celtics defense that we’ve come to know out of this team for the last three years.” Legler said, noting that the officials helped the C’s by letting them play.
Legler said Nate Robinson’s performance off the bench makes him wonder even more why the former Knick hasn’t seen more playing time. “I’ve kind of been scratching my head, going back about a month, as to why he wasn’t regularly in the rotation down the stretch of the season and in the postseason,” Legler said.
“One thing I love about Nate Robinson, he never thinks the stage is too big,” Legler added. “He believes every time he’s on the court he’s the best player on the floor. I have a lot of respect for guys that don’t care about the moment, that can come in ‘ sit there for a month, the way he did in the Orlando series and come in and give you 13 points in an important game the way he did in that series ‘ and then to come in last night on that stage. He just plays like, ‘I belong here. This is my game.’ … I just don’t think you can put a price tag on the energy that that guy provides.”
Legler, who stands by his prediction of Celtics in six, said if the C’s can finally put together a balanced offensive night, the Lakers will be in trouble. “I think offensively they’ve been so out of sync and so far from where they can be,” he said. “Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and [Rajon] Rondo ‘ they haven’t come close to playing well on the same night yet. And once they do, the Lakers I just don’t think can beat this team.”
|06.11.10 at 2:57 am ET|
The Celtics came into this series with the knowledge that Kendrick Perkins was sitting on six technical fouls and a seventh would mean an automatic one-game suspension. You can add Rasheed Wallace to the endangered Celtic list after he was whistled for his sixth in the fourth quarter of Game 4.
For good measure, Nate Robinson also got one after getting in Lamar Odom’s face. The Celtics have a rule against getting techs in the fourth quarter, but Doc Rivers was happy to waive it for one night.
“They were playing with great emotion,” Rivers said. “Even Nate, that was the one I didn’t like more than Rasheed’s. We don’t have to be tough, especially at whatever height you are. But that’s who he is. But they were playing well. They were happy. They were excited. So, it’s a fine line.”
Rivers said he hoped the league would rescind the technical on Wallace because, “he did a dance but he ran away. I didn’t think he said anything. The dance was funny, and so I could see it, but i don’t know.”
Rivers is concerned that the Lakers will use that against both Wallace and Perkins. He even pulled Perkins after he got physical with Pau Gasol late in the third quarter, fearing that a double-technical was on its way. We’ve got to get him out because you could see it,” Rivers said. “The double-technical was about to come But listen, we put ourselves in this situation and we’re going to have to play ourselves out of it.”
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