|06.05.10 at 8:11 pm ET|
EL SEGUNDO — The Celtics and Lakers held court with the media on Saturday as they looked ahead to Game 2. There have been common themes discussed following the C’s Game 1 loss — energy, rebounding, stopping Kobe Bryant, among others.
Over the past few days the players have heard the same questions posed in different ways. Many view it as part of being in the finals. Others have found a type of motivation in the repetition.
“I think it helps us a lot because you kind of get tired about hearing about the same things,” said Kendrick Perkins. “So you want to go out there and correct it so after Game 2 you won’t have to hear about it anymore.”
Here are a few soundbites from Saturday’s practice:
Helping Rondo be Rondo: As the point guard, it’s Rajon Rondo‘s job to get his teammate the ball. At the same time, the Celtics have to do a better job of setting him up for success as well. The Celtics lack of defensive stops in Game 1 prevented Rondo from getting into transition often, something they look to improve in Game 2.
‘When you don’t get stops, that means he’s taking the ball out every time and it doesn’t allow Rondo to get out there and use his speed in transition for fastbreaks,’ said Paul Pierce. ‘Every time they got stops, rebounds was another big Achilles heel for us. So it’s important to do a better job on rebounds after each shot, getting the ball in his hands so his speed and play-making ability can become a factor in game number two. So we’ve got to make a concentrated effort at doing a better job at that.’
Gasol reacts to Garnett comments: On Friday, Pau Gasol‘s comparison of Kevin Garnett from 2008 to 2010 became a media whirlwind when a small fraction of his comments were magnified. Gasol commented, ‘On Kevin’s part, he’s also lost some explosiveness. He’s more of a jump shooter now,’ before adding that he considers Garnett to be a ‘terrific player’ who brings everything he has to the court.
Gasol reacted to the buzz following Lakers practice. When asked if he was surprised that his comment had been portrayed as derogatory, he responded, ‘To an extent. To an extent. I understand media try to create situations for whatever reason, create attraction. But again, sometimes I extend my answers too long. Maybe I shouldn’t do that. I should be shorter with my answers and don’t give away just anything so it can’t be manipulated that way and used.’
The Celtics didn’t get worked up over Gasol’s comments, though. Rondo said losing Game 1 was motivation enough for the C’s in itself.
Said Kendrick Perkins, ‘I say speak your mind. Sometimes it livens up the series a little bit. So I say speak your mind. You never know who you might make mad when you say something crazy, so you never know. Everybody’s watching.’
Celtics know what they’re playing for: Kevin Garnett is no stranger to screaming, yelling, and getting in his teammates’ faces on the court to pump them up. But at this point in the season, Garnett says that isn’t necessary.
‘I think in this situation you don’t have to do any of that,’ he said. ‘I think we’re all kind of distasteful at this time, knowing what’s at stake and it being the finals. No one here has to come out and say a heroic speech or get in anyone’s face. It’s all self-explanatory to this point. Everyone is motivated. Everyone knows we’re motivated. Guys on the team are looking at themselves in the mirror and I’m no different from that.”
|06.05.10 at 6:02 pm ET|
Doc Rivers wouldn’t confirm the reports at practice Saturday.
“I hope it’s true,” Rivers said. “But we’re not going to comment on it, I can tell you that. We’re focused on the NBA finals. It’s the Lakers and the Celtics and that’s what we’re going to keep the focus on. But on Tom, he deserves the job. I think he’s the best candidate out there. Let’s hope it’s true, but we’re going to leave it at that.”
Rivers did say that Thibodeau’s future won’t have an impact on whether he returns next season to the Celtics.
“No, Thibs and I are very close, but that won’t have an impact,” Rivers said. “I want all of my coaches to get jobs. Kevin Eastman and Armond [Hill], those guys are gems. But that won’t have an impact. Honestly, I haven’t thought enough about it.”
|06.04.10 at 9:03 pm ET|
But it wasn’t to block out the jeers of the Lakers fans sitting behind the Celtics bench — ‘Fans are fans ‘¦ Everyone feels like they can joke on me,’ he said before practice on Friday. It was to block out loud noises, a cause of aggravation since suffering a concussion in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The earplugs worked. Well, after Davis made a minor adjustment.
‘You know what’s so funny?’ he said. ‘I didn’t think they worked well at first, but then Rasheed (Wallace) was like, ‘Turn them around,’ because I had them stuck in my ear the wrong way.’
Davis removed the ear plugs when he played, but said he gets into a zone on the court and doesn’t hear the noise anyways. But he never misses Doc Rivers calling for him to get in the game.
‘You can always hear him – ‘Baby! Baby!’’ Davis said, channeling an impression of his coach. ‘He’s loud, so I can hear him. I’m always looking at him anyways because he’s always standing up that way because the game’s that way.’
|06.04.10 at 7:16 pm ET|
LOS ANGELES — Celtics players speak to the media prior to their practice session Friday afternoon at Staples Center. The Celtics will have one more practice on Saturday afternoon before they try to even the series at one game apiece on Sunday night.
|06.04.10 at 6:10 pm ET|
LOS ANGELES – Throughout the postseason, players have studied Ray Allen’s game to learn how to defend the veteran sharpshooter.
Now Allen has his own assignment – finding a way to stop Kobe Bryant without getting into foul trouble.
Allen was whistled for five fouls in the Celtics Game 1 loss. He was limited to just 27 minutes and knows he has to stay on the court in Game 2.
“That’s a good lesson that I need to learn real quick,” he said prior to practice on Friday. “Because even on a couple of calls … I try to read the referees and how they call the games and they establish control early, so trying to figure that out without being a sieve on defense. Right now I’ve got to make that adjustment going into Game 2.”
Bryant scored a game-high 30 points on Thursday night. He shot 10-for-22 from the field and 9-for-10 from the line, a result of his aggressiveness at the basket.
“He just attacks,” said Allen. “He’s going to attack our defense, but I think primarily if he’s attacking that means he sees gaps.”
Whatever game plan Allen and the Celtics devise, Bryant is preparing for it.
“It’s not really a match up with me and Ray,” he said. “It’s really me trying to find gaps and holes in their defensive scheme and the help they provide.”
|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.
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