|05.28.10 at 12:05 pm ET|
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated joined the Dale & Holley show Friday morning to talk about the Celtics-Magic series. To hear the interview, click on the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Mannix said the officiating crew assigned to Game 6 ‘ Mike Callahan, Monty McCutchen and Ken Mauer ‘ appears to be one that will help Boston’s cause. “It will be a liberally called game,” Mannix said. “Just based on the names and what you’re saying, I think that favors Boston. I think they’re going to be able to get away with a little bit more physically against Dwight Howard and some other guys. That’s a good trio, I think for the Celtics.”
Looking back at Ed F. Rush’s ejection of Kendrick Perkins in Game 5, Mannix said the blame needs to be passed around. “I believe Eddie made a bone-headed call, I believe he wouldn’t have made that call if he remembered that Perkins had one technical foul, but I’ve got to slap some responsibility on Kendrick Perkins, too,” Mannix said. “You need to be aware of your surroundings and aware of your situation. You know you have one technical. You know you had five technicals coming into this game. You know another technical will throw you out of this game and likely get you suspended for another game. You’re not a rookie center. This is a fourth- or fifth-year guy who has won a championship. You need to understand the situation and not be so demonstrative. Did he deserve the tech? Probably not. But it’s possible. I didn’t rule it out in my mind.”
Mannix was more bothered by the technical foul Joey Crawford gave to Rajon Rondo for arguing with another official. “What Joey Crawford did was embarrassing,” Mannix said. “Rajon Rondo was not talking to Joey Crawford, and he just injected him into the story.” Added Mannix: “Joey I hope never touches another Celtics game ever again after his performance in Orlando.”
Asked if Dwight Howard is a dirty player, Mannix said there’s an element of that to the big man’s game. “Everybody’s saying no. I think there’s a twinge of dirt in Dwight Howard,” Mannix said. “He swings that elbow. And the NBA has noticed it, believe me, I’ve talked to people over there about this. They know he wields that elbow as a weapon sometimes. … Once you start swinging [the elbow], that’s a punch. You’re swinging it like it’s a weapon. … There’s definitely a bit of dirtiness to his game.”
Looking at the game strategy, Mannix said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy “has done a terrific coaching job and might have actually saved his own job.” He said now the Celtics need to make an adjustment on defense. “To me the adjustment is not Dwight Howard, it’s not defensively [overall], it’s that double pick and roll they keep running with Jameer Nelson. Boston has no answer for that. Either they get caught on it and Nelson has a clear path to the basket, or they wind up switched and Dwight Howard or Rashard Lewis get a massive mismatch underneath the rim. There’s got to be ways that Boston can tinker with that defense and make sure they don’t get caught with their pants down when Jameer comes around that corner. I think part of that responsibility is on Rajon Rondo. It looks to me a couple of times he fights through the first pick but he doesn’t quite give the same amount of effort through that second pick.”
Asked for his prediction, Mannix leaned toward the Celtics. “I think Boston wins,” he said. “I think they gut it out. I think the home crowd is going to be important, the energy behind them. I think they win a very close game. I think the important thing to look at it how they play in the first quarter. The games they’ve won so far in this series, they’ve jumped out to leads. The games they’ve lost, they’ve kind of had to fight from behind. I don’t think Boston’s very good at fighting from behind, at least not against Orlando, which has a tendency to six or nine points up on you so quickly. … So I think it’s very important for Boston to get out to one of those 7-0, 12-6 advantages. Take some of the pressure off them and put Orlando behind the 8-ball. Make them feel the pressure of making jump shots late in the game, in the third and the fourth quarter, so they have to get back in the game. I think the pressure at some point, if they’re trailing will get to the Orlando shooters. I don’t think you’re going to see Rashard Lewis or Vince Carter step up and make big jump shots if the Magic are coming from behind.”
However, cautioned Mannix, “If they can’t defend Dwight, and they’re also not able to defend Jameer Nelson, this could be a blowout. … This Orlando team is fully capable of routing Boston on their home court.”
|05.28.10 at 10:59 am ET|
The Celtics find themselves in a dubious situation after opening up a dominating 3-0 series lead over the Magic, and with the Bruins’ crushing loss to the Flyers fresh on everyone’s minds, the Green hope to avoid making similar history.
It seemed unthinkable heading into Game 4, but now there are rumblings that the Celtics could give this series away. George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel has no doubt the Magic will be the first team in the history of the NBA to come back from a 3-0 deficit and win a best-of-seven series.
Over-the-top proclamations like that may not be the norm, but as Jonathan Abrams of The New York Times points out, there may still be some bad karma lingering at the TD Garden.
The injury bug bit the C’s fast and hard Wednesday night, leaving Glen Davis and Marquis Daniels with concussions, and Rasheed Wallace with back spasms. But no one in the Celtics locker room is panicking, according to ESPN.com’s Chris Forsberg, who says the Celtics looked cool and confident in the locker room after their tough loss in Game 5.
Although excuses will not be made by anyone in a green uniform, the officiating has been anything but consistent all series, and that worked against the Celtics significantly in game 5. Although Kendrick Perkins‘ second technical of Game 5 was rescinded Thursday, calls have been leaning heavily in Orlando’s favor the last two games. According to embattled former referee Tim Donaghy, who appeared on Dennis & Callahan Thursday, the NBA was pushing for a Game 6.
As Charley Rosen at FoxSports.com points out, the referees should allow both teams to play hard in this important Game 6.
Ultimately, the Celtics will need to regain that early series form if they hope to defeat a rejuvenated Magic team that has found it’s shooting groove from outside, and has begun to wear down the C’s big men. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo!Sports says the Celtics cannot afford to go back to Orlando, and that winning Friday night is their only option.
|05.28.10 at 9:12 am ET|
Michael Wilbon of ESPN and The Washington Post joined the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about the Celtics-Magic series. To listen to the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Asked for his prediction for Friday night’s Game 6, Wilbon said: “[My opinion] is tainted, completely colored by history. … What’s in my gut is the Boston Celtics don’t lose this game at home.”
Wilbon agreed with the assertion that the Celtics’ experience in big games will be a factor. “Boston has so many more guys that are tested in that way than Orlando,” he said. “You’d think that would count for something tonight.”
However, Wilbon noted the effect of the Celtics’ injuries, real or imagined. “There’s no way that Rondo is not hurting. He’s not exploding past his man like he did in the first three games. He’s not even attempting it,” Wilbon said, wondering: “Do they have enough physically to get through tonight’s game?”
|05.27.10 at 11:14 pm ET|
Nate Robinson has been relatively quiet for most of the postseason, but he drew attention during Game 5, and it wasn’t just because of his basketball.
Robinson scored five points, grabbed a rebound, a steal, and even blocked Dwight Howard in nine minutes, his most playing time since May 7.
During the game, Yahoo! Sports spotted a new tattoo on Robinson … on his neck. The tattoo resembles the Bentley logo, with the number “8” in the center in place of the letter “B.”
Yahoo! noted Robinson tweeted about getting a new tattoo prior to Game 4. Click here for further explanation of the design and a photo of the ink.
|05.27.10 at 9:30 pm ET|
It’s no coincidence that Ray Allen‘s scoring has been inconsistent against the Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals. It is part of J.J. Redick’s plan, one that has been in the works for years.
As Redick revealed to ESPN.com’s Bill Simmons at the start of the series, he has been studying Allen’s game since he was in college.
‘When I got to Duke, coach [Chris] Collins, who was kind of like our guard coach, he used to show me tapes of Reggie [Miller], Ray and Rip Hamilton. Those are the three guys I studied at Duke,’ Redick said. ‘And, obviously watched them shoot the ball, but those guys are really, really good at creating space and then coming off the picks.’
Redick’s comprehensive knowledge of Allen’s skills and tendencies has helped him defend Allen for the second postseason in a row. Redick has an edge on anticipating Allen’s next move because he has emulated them so many times himself. Take Allen’s ability to run off screens as an example.
“Well, I kind of think it’s because that’s what I used to do at Duke,’ he said. ‘I kind of understand the mentality of coming off picks, coming off baseline screens. And really, it’s all about having contact and making sure there’s not that much separation. Ray, as you know, he gets it off so quick, you really have to be on his body.”
Redick’s insight has helped him stay ready on defense. Allen’s scoring has ranged from 25 points to four, shooting as hot as 8-for-16 from the field to 1-for-6.
While Redick’s performance has been overshadowed by more prominent storylines in the series, it has not been lost on Doc Rivers. The coach is well aware of Redick’s contributions on both ends (he is averaging 12 ppg, 45.5 percent FG, 56.3 percent 3PG, 95.5 percent FT) and the impact he has made against the Celtics.
‘We can’t know he was going to be Pistol Pete [Maravich] coming into this series, but we did expect him to be a great player,’ Rivers told reporters in a conference call on Thursday. ‘J.J. Redick has hurt us all year in the regular season. It was one of the things we talked about going into the series. J.J. Redick has been very, very important. He was last year in the playoffs against us, he’s played very well against us in the regular season, and he’s played well again against us in the playoffs now.
‘He’s a guy that everyone’s talking about Dwight Howard and Jameer [Nelson]. I think J.J. Redick has been their most consistent player in this series.’
|05.27.10 at 6:22 pm ET|
The good news for the Celtics is that Glen Davis has shown improvement after suffering a concussion in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals. The news is not so promising on Marquis Daniels, who also had a concussion. Rasheed Wallace, meanwhile is still struggling with back spasms.
First, the positive news for the Celtics. Doc Rivers said on a conference call with reporters that Davis was looking better and that he was undergoing tests this evening with the team doctors.
“He didn’t have any headaches today,” Rivers said. “He had some last night, he didn’t have any today, which is a big step. All of it will be a game-time decision, so we’ll have to wait and see.”
Daniels, meanwhile, is not so fortunate and it’s looking doubtful that he will be ready for Game 6 Friday.
“Marquis is not doing as well as Baby,” Rivers said. “I would actually say right now that he won’t be ready.
Then there’s Wallace who had his back tighten up during the game. Rivers sounded cautiously optimistic about Wallace’s availability, although he did have a rough morning.
“Rasheed is doing better,” Rivers said. “It was not going well at all today. We watched some film before we got on the plane and he couldn’t sit down, but he’s doing better [now].”
All three are said to be game-time decisions. Brian Scalabrine is the one player on the roster with NBA experience who has been mostly inactive during the playoffs. Scalabrine was activated for Game 2 of the series with the Magic after Shelden Williams had a back spasm.
Oliver Lafayette and Tony Gaffney, who were signed at the very end of the season, are the other two options in a worst-case scenario.
|05.27.10 at 6:08 pm ET|
Doc Rivers said on a conference call Thursday that the New Orleans Hornets have not made assistant coach Tom Thibodeau an offer to become their next head coach. “No, not yet,” Rivers said. “I’m hoping they do soon. He deserves it. I haven’t heard much. Thibs and I do talk about it. So we’re just hoping.”
As a follow-up, Rivers was asked if this was a distraction. “I’m not worried about it,” Rivers said. “There’s nobody that’s going to work harder than Tom Thibodeau. Ever. He will never be a distraction. That’s the one guy I have no concern with. I’m not worried about it all.”
Thibodeau has been one of the hottest names in coaching with several teams, including Charlotte, New Jersey and Chicago all said to be interested in him for a head coaching job. The Hornets had seemed to jump to the head of the line with several outlets reporting that they had made him an offer, although Hornets general manager Jeff Bower denied it.
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