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A closer look at Game 6 refs 05.28.10 at 12:47 pm ET
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Game 6 official Ken Mauer is the uncle of baseball standout Joe Mauer and part of a big refereeing family. (AP)

Game 6 official Ken Mauer is the uncle of baseball standout Joe Mauer and part of a big refereeing family. (AP)

There seems to be a consensus that the referees assigned to Friday’s Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals will benefit the Celtics. Dale & Holley guest Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated called them liberal officials who will allow the C’s more room to bang Dwight Howard and the Magic down low.

Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy, who served prison time for a gambling scandal, talked to Dennis & Callahan producer Steve Ciaccio Friday morning and, after being informed of the crew assigned to TD Garden, said: “Orlando should dust off their golf clubs.”

The Game 6 refs are Ken Mauer, Monty McCutchen and Mike Callahan.

Mauer is an interesting story. A former University of Minnesota All-Big Ten baseball player, he is the uncle of Twins standout catcher Joe Mauer. An NBA official since 1986, Mauer is the son of a longtime referee, and his four brothers all officiate at various levels as well. He refereed his first NBA finals in 2006.

A decade ago, Mauer was one of the referees accused of felony tax evasion for not reporting profit from downgraded airline tickets as income. Mauer was one of two refs — of the 45 charged — who did not accept a plea bargain, insisting he did not intentionally commit a crime. In April 2001, he was sentenced to five months in prison, five months home detention and three years of supervised released, along with 800 hours of community service.

Mike “Duke” Callahan is a graduate of Cardinal O’Hara High School outside of Philadelphia. That’s also the alma mater of the disgraced Donaghy, as well as veteran official Joey Crawford, who called the technical foul on Rajon Rondo in Game 5 that drew a lot of criticism. Callahan was one of the officials when the C’s played in Portland two years ago and the Blazers had six players on the floor. The Blazers scored and were allowed to keep the two points, although a technical foul was called.

Monty McCutchen is a Texas native who taught high school history and English in Los Angeles before becoming an NBA official.

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SI’s Mannix on D&H: Game 6 refs good for C’s 05.28.10 at 12:05 pm ET
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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.”

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Wilbon on D&C: Do C’s have enough physically? 05.28.10 at 9:12 am ET
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Michael Wilbon

Michael Wilbon

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?”

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Video: Jason Williams’ postgame rant 05.24.10 at 12:32 pm ET
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Magic guard Jason Williams let off a little steam in the locker room following the Celtics’ Game 3 rout Saturday night. Williams wasn’t happy that reporters were crowding his locker in an attempt to listen to an interview with Matt Barnes. Here’s the video of Williams’ rant.

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NBA to investigate ref’s run-in with Magic fan 05.19.10 at 3:10 pm ET
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The NBA said it will investigate a confrontation that occurred between a fan and veteran referee Joe DeRosa at halftime of the Celtics-Magic game Tuesday night in Orlando.

When DeRosa walked to the scorer’s table with fellow refs Marc Davis and Bill Kennedy, fans starting yelling at the officials. One fan, identified by the Orlando Sentinel a Wyndham Vacation Ownership CEO Franz Hanning, walked up to the table to yell at DeRosa. The ref responded by tossing the game ball to Hanning, who tossed it back. DeRosa then signaled for Amway Arena security, who relocated Hanning to another seat.

NBA spokesman Tim Frank told the Sentinel, “The situation will be reviewed after the game.”

The Sentinel reported that Hanning, 55, is an Orlando resident and an acquaintance of Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

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Legler on D&C: Sheed’s ‘D’ key for C’s 05.18.10 at 10:15 am ET
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legler_tim-head

Tim Legler

ESPN NBA analyst Tim Legler joined the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning to talk about the Celtics-Magic series. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Legler pointed to the much-maligned Rasheed Wallace as the pivotal figure in the C’s Game 1 victory. “You have to have guys that not only physically are capable of playing Dwight Howard in single coverage as much as you can, you have to have guys that are emotionally ready for it and want the challenge. Boston’s got a few guys like that,” Legler said. “I thought Rasheed Wallace was the key to their victory in Game 1. I thought he got in the head of Dwight Howard. I thought his nastiness, his edge was something Dwight Howard wasn’t prepared for, ready for. Rasheed, you think of him as a 7-foot 3-point shooter and a finesse player, but that’s not the case on the defensive end of the floor. He has been, in the 15 years he’s been in the league, he’s been one of the pre-eminent post defenders we’ve had. He loves the challenge.

“His versatility defensively I thought was the key to the first game, and it will be the key to the series moving forward. If [Kendrick] Perkins and Rasheed can play [Howard] that successfully one-on-one and you stay out on the 3-point shooters, Orlando’s in big trouble.”

Legler said the pressure is on Orlando’s big man to come up big. “Dwight Howard has to do more,” Legler said. “He has to be a guy who can knock down a face-up jump shot once in a while. I’ve never seen him even take one, much less make one. He doesn’t have enough ability to go to a sky hook or go to a turnaround jump shot in the post. He’s a guy that simply has to overpower you and he has to catch the ball in great position to be able to do that, and the Boston Celtics are determined not to let that happen. … What is his efficiency going to be when he catches the ball? It wasn’t there in Game 1. It’s going to have to get a lot better.”

Legler said the Celtics’ balance makes them difficult to defend, but he points to Ray Allen as the player the Magic should focus on stopping. Said Legler: “Ray Allen, to me, is the barometer for the Celtics. He always has been. He’s a guy, his activity offensively, when he’s running off those screens and he’s getting clean looks, or he’s getting looks in transition, that loosens up everything. … Ray Allen, to me, is a guy that you’ve got to get under control and make sure he’s not getting up in the mid-20s. Because when he’s there, the Celtics rarely lose.”

Asked for his prediction about where LeBron James will sign as a free agent, Legler said he would rank the favorites as Chicago, New York and Cleveland.

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Jeff Van Gundy on D&C: Magic’s Carter the key 05.17.10 at 9:32 am ET
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Jeff Van Gundy

Jeff Van Gundy

Jeff Van Gundy, who provides analysis for NBA games on ESPN and ABC, joined the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about the Celtics’ victory over the Magic on Sunday in the opening game of the Eastern Conference finals. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Van Gundy was asked how the Celtics are able to limit Dwight Howard and the Magic offense while other teams struggle against Orlando. “Different personnel, different intensity and different plan — I just think it’s that simple,” said Van Gundy, whose brother Stan coaches the Magic. “From a personnel standpoint, they’re big and they’re strong. They stay one-on-one, from a plan standpoint. And the Celtics’ intensity is just at a different level defensively than most teams in this league.”

Howard is the marquee player in this series, but his inability to score on post moves showed he still has a way to go. “He’s improved some offensively, but I just don’t think he’s ever going to be the guy that you can play through and win a championship,” Van Gundy said. “And that’s why Vince Carter, to me, is the most important player in this series. Because if he doesn’t have a big series for Orlando, I don’t think they can win not only the series, I don’t think it will be a competitive series.”

Van Gundy also talked about the Celtics’ win over Cavaliers. “The only thing that shocked me about the Cleveland series was the margin of defeat,” he said. “I was shocked in Cleveland that they were able to win by such big amounts.”

Added Van Gundy: ”What impressed me the most was they got absolutely hammered at home in Game 3 against Cleveland. To me, you don’t really know about a team’s chemistry until you withstand losing in a beatdown. And they got beaten down in that game. But instead of pointing the fingers at strategy of coaches or this or that, what you saw in Game 4 was Celtic intensity, Celtic defensive pride, and Rondo’s great game. And then from there, they’ve been off and running again. When you get your character and your chemistry tested like that and you respond, you have the opportunity to win it all.”

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