|At home with the bench||06.15.10 at 9:51 pm ET|
LOS ANGELES — The role of the bench may be the single biggest factor in home court advantage in this NBA finals series.
For the Celtics, everyone knows about the production of Davis, especially in wins in Games 4 and 5. Robinson was huge in Game 4 as well. Rasheed Wallace’s role took on a whole new meaning with an apparent right knee injury to starter Kendrick Perkins with 5:30 left in the first quarter Tuesday night.
For the Lakers, they have Lamar Odom, Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar.
Now with the series finishing in Los Angeles, the advantage has shifted by to the purple and gold.
At first glance, the Lakers domination in the first half of Game 6 seemed to render the bench moot. But upon a much closer look, the stat sheet revealed the Lakers got 15 points from their bench. The Celtics, a big goose egg. That 15-0 margin led to a 51-31 halftime Lakers cushion.
And with the Lakers building a 22-point lead, Jackson was afforded the luxury of not having to tax his starters, saving them for a Game 7.
“I think that the bench performance has to prove itself,” Jackson said prior to Game 6. “[They’ve] got to go out there. But in the same breath, benches play better on our home court than they do on the road. It’s like, okay, they certainly have to have a chance to play, and if they’re playing well, they’ll stay.”
Rivers admitted he has to be a little more careful with his bench at Staples Center.
“Well, you hope not, but you’re prepared to,” Rivers said of shortening the exposure of the bench on the road. “I think [Jackson] is right. I think role players tend to play better at home. I don’t think that’s anything new. We knew that.
“We do have a different cast of players with Rasheed being a veteran and Nate and Baby are so emotional they could possibly play well on the road. You just never know what you’re going to get from them. But that is true, you do prepare yourself to extend your starters’ minutes on the road. You always do.”
|Perkins injures right leg||06.15.10 at 9:28 pm ET|
LOS ANGELES — Celtics starting center Kendrick Perkins had to be helped off the court after his right knee appeared to buckle in a collision with Andrew Bynum under the Lakers basket midway through the first quarter. League officials reported during the game that Perkins had sustained a sprained right knee.
The center had X-rays on the leg and his return for Game 6 was ruled out by the team during halftime. Perkins will be re-evaluated on Wednesday. His status for possible Game 7 on Thursday is uncertain.
Perkins and Bynum collided going for the rebound with 5:30 left in the first and Perkins landed awkwardly and remained on the floor several minutes while pointing at his right knee. He was helped off the court by Brian Scalabrine and Shelden Williams and could not put any weight on the leg as he made his way back to the dressing room.
|Ray continues his target practice||06.15.10 at 7:25 pm ET|
All you have to do is watch him about 3 1/2 hours before tip-off.
Whether it’s a January game at the Garden against New Jersey or a potential championship-clinching Game 6 of the 2010 NBA finals, Allen shows up before everyone and has the floor to himself and start draining shot after shot from beyond the 3-point arc.
Tuesday here in Los Angeles was no different as he went through several series of solo H-O-R-S-E games on the floor before finishing with free throws. He is known for his work ethic before each game, getting on the court and warming up. It paid off in Game 2 as he hit his first seven 3-point attempts on his way to setting NBA Finals records for most 3s in a half  and a game  as the Celtics won, 103-94 to even the series.
This is hardly news but still, it’s a reminder of the small details Allen keeps attention to, and that’s no easy task considering his diabetic four-year old son Walker just recovered from another bout of hypoglycemia early Saturday morning.
|C’s road show affects Fenway traffic||06.15.10 at 6:41 pm ET|
LOS ANGELES — Over 2,600 miles from where they hope to clinch their record 18th banner, the Celtics are already impacting traffic back in Boston.
The Red Sox announced Tuesday the Boston Transportation Department will close various streets in the Fenway neighborhood and surrounding areas during tonight’s Celtics playoff game here at the Staples Center.
Brookline Avenue will be closed to vehicular traffic from the Landmark Center to Kenmore Square beginning at the end of the third quarter of tonight’s Celtics game. The area around Fenway Park has been posted with no parking/tow zone signs.
Starting at 7:30 p.m., the Boston Transportation Department will begin towing vehicles parked on Ipswich Street, from Boylston Street to Charlesgate, and on Brookline Avenue, from Park Drive to Kenmore Square.
This will also be the case on Thursday if there is a Game 7 between the Celtics and Lakers that evening in Los Angeles. The Red Sox urge fans to use public transportation if at all possible.
|For Lakers: Looks can be deceiving||06.14.10 at 2:28 pm ET|
It was a fascinating study in the way a team handles pressure and accepts defeat on Sunday night at TD Garden.
Late in the fourth quarter, with the Celtics protecting their five-point lead in the final minute, Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce went for a missed shot in the lane. Bryant appeared to have the angle on the ball before Pierce came in like a hawk and grabbed right away.
Bryant then threw up both arms in frustration and then Pierce was fouled with the ball and the Lakers superstar began shaking his head in disgust and disbelief.
The sense of a chance getting away from the Lakers was written all over the ultra-competitive star’s face.
“They just got to every ball,” Bryant said. “Again, they played with more tenacity than we did in that stretch, and we have to do a much better job Game 6. we’re knocking at the door there a couple times and just couldn’t get through.
“Again tonight they got all the hustle points in terms of loose balls and offensive rebounds down the stretch. We didn’t convert.”
Then there’s Lamar Odom, the calm, cool, collected and still cocky Laker forward. After his team failed to take advantage of a legendary third-quarter performance by Kobe Bryant on Sunday night, Odom was asked why he seemed so confident heading back to Los Angeles for Game 6 on Tuesday.
“We love playing in the Staples,” Odom said of L.A.’s home court. “We know we can win on the road but it’s our turn to go back home.”
But with the Celtics just needing to repeat once what they did in Game 2 on the same court, don’t the Celtics have the advantage since L.A. needs two wins?
“That’s tough to say,” Odom said. “That’s a great question. That’s tough to say but I think the home team always has the advantage and the energy switches a little bit, helps you, laying in your own bed.
“We’ll respond. Our energy is still up as a team. Our confidence is still there. The series is not over.” Odom said.
Bryant summed up what’s in front of these Lakers if they want to avoid the same feeling they had two years ago against the Celtics.
“We have a challenge obviously down 3-2,” Bryant said. “We let a couple opportunities slip away. But it is what it is. Now you go home, you’ve got two games at home that you need to win, and you pull your boots up and get to work.”
Then Kobe was asked if he were still confident the Lakers can beat their arch-rival twice in three nights.
“I’m not very confident at all,” Bryant said with a sincere laugh.
Sarcasm might be the only trait Bryant, Odom and the Lakers share right now when it comes to playing the Celtics.
|Title wave will be a Green energy transfer||06.14.10 at 12:06 pm ET|
Now comes the hard part.
The Celtics, after dropping Game 3 on their home court, have crept to within one win of their 18th title by taking advantage of the incredible energy inside TD Garden. But if they are to raise yet another banner to the rafters in the fall, they’re going to have to get it done in the hostile environment of Staples Center.
Kendrick Perkins said the key to transferring the momentum and energy of the TD Garden crowd to Los Angeles will be mental toughness.
“It’s all mental,” Perkins said. “I think we have to go out there and take their crowd out of it early. We can’t let them get energy going in the building. I think it’s got to be all mental. There are going to be times where they make runs and their crowd may get involved in the game and it may get loud in there. But we have to make sure we have to keep our composure and just keep going, keep attacking.”
While their 24-17 regular season home record was tied with Miami and Chicago as worst among the 16 playoff teams, the playoffs have been a different story.
The Celtics won six of their first seven at the Garden in the opening three rounds, and went 7-2 at home to advance to the NBA finals. They dropped Game 3, 91-84 to the Lakers but came back to win Games 4 and 5 to finish 9-3 at home in the playoffs.
While it was not the 13-1 mark they had on the parquet in their 2008 title run, the energy in TD Garden the last two games clearly helped the Celtics. And they were quick to point that out after the game.
“The energy in the building really feeds our defensive intensity,” Tony Allen said. “We all feel it.”
Now, the Celtics need to find a way to replace that energy with focus.
“Mental toughness,” Allen added. “Guys staying together and knowing what our goal is and everybody knowing what their role is when we get down there. And I think that’ll get the win.”
Ray Allen remembered 2008 after Game 5 Sunday night. Those finals ended with a celebration on the parquet. But if the Celtics can win once more, this celebration will be just as sweet.
“That’s the beautiful thing about this whole situation,” Allen said. “The circumstances that have been before us all playoffs long. We never had home court advantage except for the first round. We had to win on the other team’s floor. We talked about what team we’re going to play in the first round. I remember sitting in the locker room and we’re watching Miami and Milwaukee play and we’re talking about where we want to go.
“It seemed like so long ago. At the same time, we had to beat Miami on their home floor, we had to beat everybody on their floor in order for us to advance. We’ve been in this position before. I think the guys mentally are ready for it. We’ll get prepared and get ready to get it done.”
|Doc: I like our focus||06.13.10 at 7:57 pm ET|
Every coach likes his team to be focused on the task at hand.
“Our guys haven’t talked about that a lot,” Rivers said. “I’ve heard it a lot. I think fans realize we don’t have Games 6 or 7 here so this is our final home game.
“Our guys really are just focused on THE game tonight and I like where our focus is, in this case, over the fans’ focus. I don’t know if players have the chance to look at big picture, or coaches in some ways, and that’s probably good.”
[Doc Rivers believes his team’s focus is where it needs to be.]
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