|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.”
|06.11.10 at 2:20 am ET|
After shooting 10-for-22 for the second time this series, Bryant admitted the Celtics are doing their job on defense.
“They’re a great scheming team,” he said following the Celtics’ 96-89 win. “They have a strategy in place and they execute extremely well. I feel pretty comfortable. Wasn’t pleased with the way I took care of the ball tonight. I thought I did a horrible job of that. But it’s a great defense.”
The Celtics forced seven turnovers on Bryant, the most he committed since May 4 against the Jazz. He entered the game averaging just over three per game.
After the Lakers loss, Bryant denied questions of a tweaked knee or any type of exhaustion. The Celtics defense was simply effective.
Said Bryant, “Oh, it’s right up there with the best of them.”
|06.11.10 at 1:23 am ET|
The Lakers had to play almost the entire second half of Game 4 without starting center Andrew Bynum, who was limited to just 12:10 overall as he continues to struggle with a right knee injury. Bynum was in the locker room to begin the second half, and played only 1:50 in the final two quarters. Without his presence in the middle (eight blocks in the first three games), the Celtics— particularly Glen Davis— were able to attack the basket throughout a key fourth quarter and even the series at two games apiece.
“We didn’t have that big presence in the middle, and Big Baby took full advantage of it,” said Kobe Bryant. “He played extremely, extremely well for them.”
Bynum, who had listed himself as “questionable” for Game 4 with the knee injury, clearly labored during his short time on the floor Thursday. He was far from the player that had averaged 13.3 points and 7.2 rebounds in Games 1-3. The Lakers were also not the same team with Bynum as a non-factor.
“It bothered us in the second half not having Andrew be able to come out and play the start of the second half,” said Phil Jackson. “He tried for a couple of minutes, but it just wasn’t there for him. We’re glad we have a couple of days off and we can kind of get him back hopefully in position where he can help us out again.”
Should Bynum miss Sunday’s Game 5, Lamar Odom (39 minutes in Game 4) will almost certainly take his spot in the starting lineup. Odom hopes the change does not need to take place.
“Andrew is a big part of what we do,” noted Odom. “When we have him going we are a different team.
[With Bynum out] we have to protect the paint. We have to rebound as a unit especially without him out of the game to make up for his size and shot-blocking ability and the way he protects the rim as a seven-footer.”
But the Lakers will be prepared if they must play Game 5 without their center. Bynum has been far from an iron man during his career, having missed a total of 96 regular-season games over the past three seasons.
“We’ve played without him obviously in the lineup before,” said Bryant. “We got a good rhythm going with him in the lineup. We’ll just figure it out.”
One of Bynum’s fellow starters isn’t worried, however.
“It was tougher with Andrew out, but he’ll be fine for the next game.” said Ron Artest.
He’s going to be fine?
“Yeah. He’ll be ready to go.”
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