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Three Things That Went Wrong And Right in Game 1

06.04.10 at 12:00 am ET
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The Lakers took a 1-0 lead in the 2010 NBA finals after a 102-89 win over the Celtics. Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 27 points, while Pau Gasol finished with 23. The Celtics were topped by Paul Pierce with 24 points. Game 2 — a must win for the Celtics? — is Sunday night.

Three Things That Went Wrong

Gasol dominates Garnett: Guess Gasol is tougher than he was in 2008. He attacked Kevin Garnett from the start on Thursday night, finishing Game 1 with 23 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks. Gasol did whatever he wanted in the post with Garnett defending (Rasheed Wallace was actually more effective on Gasol) and wasn’t afraid to get physical while guarding KG. Here’s all you need to know about Garnett’s performance in Game 1: 35 minutes, four rebounds and two FT attempts in a strangely passive performance. The defining moment of Game 1 will be Garnett unable to dunk at 91-78 with six minutes left. Again, Garnett doesn’t need to play Gasol to a push in this series but he can’t be embarrassed as he was in Game 1.

Destroyed on the Glass: Fear No. 1 for most Celtics fans heading into Game 1 was the size of the Lakers (maybe 1A, assuming that Kobe always tops the chart). And it was justified, as the Gasol/Andrew Bynum duo helped the Lakers control play underneath. At halftime LA had a 23-15 edge on the boards, a 28-18 lead in points in the paint and a 10-0 shutout in second-chance points. And the Celtics couldn’t adjust, grabbing just two rebounds in the the third quarter.

Foul Trouble Slows Down Ray: With Kobe Bryant guarding Rajon Rondo early on, it appeared that Ray Allen would be able to do some serious damage coming off screens with the soon-to-be-36-year-old Derek Fisher defending. But Allen could never get going, as he fell into early foul problems while trying to guard Bryant. A clearly frustrated Allen finished Game 1 with just 12 points on 3-of-8 shooting (and no 3-pointers).

Three Things That Went Right

Rasheed Came To Play: Wallace was terrific in the second quarter, scoring seven points while playing excellent defense vs. Gasol. You could make the case that no Celtics player matched the intensity brought by Wallace on Thursday. If Garnett struggles again in Game 2 early it’ll be interesting to see how quickly Doc Rivers goes to Wallace.

Rondo Looks Healthy: It wasn’t Rondo’s best game (13 points, six rebounds and eight assists) but he didn’t appear to be slowed down by the nagging injuries that hurt him at times vs. the Magic.

Tony Allen and Pierce Defending Kobe: Bryant was the game’s high scorer (30 points), but did most of his work against Ray Allen in Game 1. He didn’t make a shot with Pierce defending (0-for-6) and Tony Allen also had some nice moments guarding Kobe. Another Doc test for Game 2 is to see how much we’ll see Pierce on Bryant.

Read More: Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Lakers, NBA Finals

Finals have a different feeling

06.03.10 at 8:58 pm ET
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LOS ANGELES –  It has only been two years since the Celtics suited up for Game 1 of the 2008 NBA finals. The majority of the faces are the same, but what about the feeling?

‘€œI wasn’€™t really nervous Game 1 of the Finals. I’€™m not really nervous right now,’€œ said Rajon Rondo. ‘€œIt’€™s kind of hard to tell right now until the lights actually go on and there’€™s two minutes left ticking down. Right now it’€™s no big deal, it’€™s the same thing.’€

The emotions are different this time around. In 2008, the Celtics were suddenly thrust from the lottery to the finals after acquiring Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. This season, they know what it takes to win it all and are trying to recreate the success they achieved two years earlier.

‘€œI think we’€™re more poised than we were last time. I think that’€™s the biggest difference. I don’€™t think the stage is as big a deal as the game plan. We’€™re more focused on the game plan than the finals,’€ said Brian Scalabrine.

‘€œIt’€™s the second time around, we’€™ve been there. We’€™ve done it before and there’€™s nothing really that surprises you. We know it’€™s going to be crowded out there, we know media day is going to be crazy, we didn’€™t know any of that. The intensity of this team in ’08 was different. It was a more high-strung team, we’€™re much more laidback. That’€™s not a bad thing. We can compartmentalize better than we did in ’08.’€

Doc Rivers is prepared either way.

‘€œIn some ways we have the same starters, but the bench is completely different,’€ he said. ‘€œFor some of the guys, this is their first time around. So you have to kind of watch their emotions. And even some of the guys who were on the bench last year, the last time when they were not in the rotation as much. Then in a lot of ways, it’€™s their first time. ‘€¦ We’€™ve got a veteran group, so we know what we’€™re in store for.’€

Read More: Brian Scalabrine, Celtics, Doc Rivers, Lakers

Celtics say they are healthy

06.03.10 at 8:39 pm ET
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LOS ANGELES — Doc Rivers said just prior to Game 1 of the NBA finals that, “Everybody is good. Everybody is healthy, feels good, rested and ready to play. So, there’s no issues on our end.”

Rivers was talking about Rasheed Wallace (back) and Rajon Rondo (muscle spasms) who both missed practice time this week while they were healing their injuries. There is, however, one issue. Marquis Daniels (concussion) is not available for the start of the series, although he told WEEI.com when he arrived at the arena that he is “feeling much better.”

Brian Scalabrine will be active in his place, although Rivers did say that Daniels could be available by the end of the playoffs. “[Daniels] did drills, has feeling again,” Rivers said. “Before the series is over I think Marquis will be playing.”

As for Wallace, Rivers’ primary concern is not his back, but his conditioning. Wallace seemed to be in good spirits before the game, warning reporters to stay back of his locker, which is generally a good sign for him.

Read More: Marquis Daniels, Rajon Rondo, Rasheed Wallace,

Lakers Fans at the Staples Center

06.03.10 at 8:39 pm ET
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LOS ANGELES — Fans outside the Staples Center give their opinions on the Celtics, who they think will win the series and the city of Boston before Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

Read More: NBA Finals,

Rondo’s new challenge

06.03.10 at 8:34 pm ET
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LOS ANGELES – Derek Fisher has been in the NBA for 14 years, but he still poses new challenges for Rajon Rondo.

In the previous two rounds of the playoffs, Rondo has been matched up with younger point guards in Jameer Nelson and Mo Williams. Even though 35-year-old Fisher may not be as quick, he can create problems for Rondo that he has yet to encounter this postseason.

‘€œHe’€™s smarter,’€ Rondo said prior to Game 1. ‘€œI think he’€™s been to seven finals so this is probably the same old story for him. He’€™s probably going to play like this is his last, but Derek’€™s a veteran. Like I said, he’€™s very smart and he’€™s a unique player, so I have to be aware of his tricks he may try to throw at me, some of his veteran moves he may have to draw fouls against me or whatever it may be.’€

Fisher’s basketball IQ will keep Rondo on his toes throughout the series. The combination of his skill and intelligence has Rondo on the alert.

‘€œYou can’€™t underestimate Derek,” he said. “He definitely can shoot the 3, you can’€™t lose sight of Derek, and he draws fouls. He shoots 99 percent from the line so he’€™s not an easy match up. He’€™s a tough match up.”

Read More: Celtics, Derek Fisher, Lakers, Rajon Rondo

Ray Allen’s patience is rewarded

06.03.10 at 8:32 pm ET
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LOS ANGELES — Ray Allen is a creature of habit. For him, the only thing worse that not doing his pregame routine, which isn’t really an option anyway, is not being able to do his pregame routines because there are no games.

The extra rest may have been necessary to get his teammates healthy, but Allen has never liked having a long break in his rhythm. “It’s seem like it’s been forever, but it’s here,” Allen said. “You wait five, six, seven days, but it just happens just like that.”

However, this time is a little bit different because this is the NBA finals.

“You get a chance to soak up the sun and enjoy the success that you’ve had,” Allen said. “Once you get that you have to keep going and keep focus. There is definitely no comparison to the first few rounds. The conference finals are no comparison. As a team, as a player, it’s the Super Bowl. It’s just another level.”

Read More: Ray Allen,

Thibodeau reportedly turns down Hornets

06.03.10 at 6:57 am ET
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According to a report in the New York Post, Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau turned down the Hornets’ offer of their head coaching position. Thibodeau reportedly had been given until the start of Thursday night’s Game 1 of the NBA finals to accept the offer, with Charlotte planning to give the job to Trail Blazers assistant Monty Williams as a backup plan.

Thibodeau also is in the running for the Bulls vacancy, and reports indicated that Bulls executives Jon Paxson and Gar Forman flew to Los Angeles to interview Thibodeau, who also interviewed with the Nets before the Celtics departed for the West Coast.

Meanwhile, ESPN NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy removed himself for consideration from all vacancies, according to the The Star-Ledger in New Jersey. Van Gundy reportedly was considered a leading candidate with the Nets, who also interviewed former Mavericks coach Avery Johnson.

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