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Ray: ‘One of the hardest feelings of my lifetime’ 06.18.10 at 2:40 am ET
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LOS ANGELES — Celtics sharpshooter Ray Allen called the Game 7 loss to the Lakers Thursday night “one of the hardest feelings” of his life after the Lakers rallied for an 83-79 win over the Celtics at Staples Center, the first time in five tries the Lakers have beaten Boston in a Game 7.

Allen, in what could be his final game as a Celtic, finished with 13 points on 3-for-14 shooting.

“It’s disappointing,” Allen began. “This is probably one of the hardest feelings I’ve felt in my lifetime. We’re scratching and clawing, trying to do everything we could to pull this one out. That’s probably what hurt the most – just having the opportunity to win down the stretch. It didn’t go our way.”

And the mood in the locker room after what could be the final game together for these particular group of Celtics?

“Tears, just a lot of tears,” Allen said.

And would he return?

“It’s hard to think about playing,” he said. “You’ve got guys that are veteran players that come in and do their job every night. You know, we’re here for a reason. It’s tough to see it end this way.

“I’m extremely proud,” Allen continued. “We’re a group of guys that stay within ourselves and do what we’re capable of. We fought the good fight all the time. When people didn’t believe in us, we stayed true to ourselves and made sure we came in and did our jobs every day. We don’t win this final game, but we still have a lot to hold our heads high for.”

Read More: Celtics, Game 7, Lakers, NBA Finals
Doc: Sheed thinking about retirement 06.18.10 at 1:22 am ET
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Rasheed Wallace may have played his last NBA game, Doc Rivers speculated following the Celtics Game 7 loss to the Lakers in the finals.

‘€œYou know, I don’t know if Rasheed will ever play again,’€ Rivers said. ‘€œYou know, he’s one of them. I think he took that out on the floor with him. I think he is thinking about retiring, and I thought you could see that in his play. He was dying out there. When he got the cramps and the strains, he was just trying to figure out a way of staying on the floor.’€

Wallace, 35, started in place of the injured Kendrick Perkins. He posted 11 points and 8 rebounds in 36 minutes before fouling out late in the fourth quarter. Wallace propelled the Celtics early in the game by providing a much-needed post presence and was effective at scoring down low. (In typical Wallace fashion, he also mixed in a critical 3-pointer.)

But eventually Wallace, who suffered back spasms during the postseason, became hampered by injuries. He could no longer serve as an option at the basket for the Celtics, a huge loss when they were already playing without Perkins.

‘€œWe had to keep subbing him for one minute and two minutes, and I thought the reason we got up early was because of Rasheed Wallace,’€ said Rivers. ‘€œWe got it low in the post, he started scoring, and I thought what happened was late in the game he got tired and had the injuries and we couldn’t go down anymore. And I think that had a huge impact on how we were playing. We had to go away from the post almost because of fatigue. You know, it’s the first time all year that you can actually say at the end of the day we were old at the end of the game because we didn’t have a enough bodies. I thought it hurt us.’€

Wallace is under contract next season and has a player option for 2011.

If Game 7 turns out to be Wallace’€™s last game, he lived up to the expectations set by his previous postseason success. After an inconsistent first regular season in Boston (9.0 points, 40.9% FG, 28.3% 3PG), Wallace made it clear why he had signed with the Celtics.

‘€œI didn’€™t come here for the regular season,’€ he said during the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

On Thursday, he proved he was there to win a championship. Even though the C’€™s fell short, Wallace left no question that he had come to the Celtics to help them achieve postseason success.

Said Rivers, “He was a warrior.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kendrick Perkins, NBA Finals
5 Things that Went Wrong in Game 7 06.18.10 at 12:07 am ET
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The Celtics lost Game 7 of the NBA Finals to the Lakers in Los Angeles on Thursday night, 83-79, falling short of their 18th championship. Here are five things that went wrong in the deciding game. (Click here for a recap of the Celtics’ loss.)

1. The Celtics gave it away – The Celtics were in control. They had the momentum and the confidence to get it done ‘€¦ before they let it all slip away. The Celtics led by 10 with seven minutes to go in the third quarter and had taken away the Lakers biggest weapon. But they began to miss shots and the Lakers were there to grab the rebounds. The C’€™s scored just three points in the final four minutes of the quarter and only led by four going into the final 12 minutes. The Lakers immediately got within two points seconds into the fourth, while the Celtics did not score for nearly three minutes. Bryant made three free throws to cut the Celtics advantage to one, and banked another two minutes later to give the Lakers the lead. Bryant scored four consecutive points to pull the Lakers ahead by four with 5:22 left, and they never looked back. The Celtics played catch up for the rest of the game as Bryant, Ron Artest, and Pau Gasol made critical baskets.

2. Kobe Bryant The Celtics have battled past superstars the entire postseason, each time prevailing with team basketball. But after defeating Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Dwight Howard, they could not overcome the individual performance of Kobe Bryant. The Celtics held Bryant to just eight points (3-14 FG) in 22 minutes in the first half. When Bryant began to find his rhythm, though, the C’€™s failed to find an answer. Bryant scored 15 points in the second half, including four straight to tie the game and give the Lakers the lead with less than six minutes left. He finished the night with 23 points. It wasn’€™t his best offensive performance, but he made the shots when it counted.

3. Rebounding – The Celtics have said the entire series that the team that wins the rebounding war wins the game. On Thursday, they won neither. The Lakers outrebounded the Celtics, 53-40, including 23 offensive boards. This can’€™t be pinned on the injury of Kendrick Perkins, either. He alone doesn’€™t account for a 13-rebound differential. The Celtics had players capable of rebounding, but in the end, Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant combined for 33 boards while only Paul Pierce rebounded in double-digits for the C’s. Kevin Garnett, who the Celtics desperately needed defensively, grabbed just three rebounds.

4. Ray Allen His monumental 3-point performance is all but forgotten after Ray Allen’€™s offensive struggles continued through Game 7. Allen shot just 3-for-14 from the field and scored 13 points. While he deserves credit for playing tough D on Bryant, his lack of production at the basket hurt the Celtics in a situation where they needed everyone scoring at full potential.

5. They Played Lakers Ball – The Celtics dominated the first half by feeding off their fundamentals of tough defense and team basketball. In the second half, however, it became showtime for Bryant and the Lakers. The Celtics failed to put together productive offensive possessions, rushed shots, and attempted forced baskets. In the end, they were forced to put the Lakers at the line, where they were outscored 25-15. They C’s began the season by beating the Cavaliers in Cleveland with Celtics basketball, and ended it by losing to the Lakers in Los Angeles by falling victim to their opponent’s game.

Read More: Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant
NBA finals: Sights and sounds from Game 7 06.17.10 at 8:40 pm ET
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C’s face uncertain future 06.17.10 at 8:34 pm ET
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LOS ANGELES — All around the silent Celtics locker prior to Game 7 lay uncertainty. Not about the game. That will take care of itself and while the players weren’t talking, they aren’t suddenly lacking for confidence tonight.

Rather, the unknown lies in what happens after the game. The Celtics have five players under contract for next season: Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins, Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis. A sixth, Paul Pierce, has a player option. Not counting Tony Gaffney and Oliver Lafayette, that leaves seven players who will become unrestricted free agents.

Perhaps the most uncertain future lies with the coach, Doc Rivers. He has another year left on his contract but he also has indicated that he won’t make a decision about his future until after the season. His kids are elite athletes in high school and college and he has expressed on several occasions a desire to spend more time with them.

Rivers acknowledged before Game 7 that the thought has crossed his mind that this could be for it for the core of his team.

“Yeah, you do think about that,” he said. “I always allow myself to think about that. I don’t want it to distract me, but it could be for some of the players on our team. That’s why you want them to do so well. It’s how they’re going to be remembered around here, and so I think that’s very important for them.”

Sheed gets the starting call 06.17.10 at 8:13 pm ET
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LOS ANGELES — Rasheed Wallace will start for the injured Kendrick Perkins in Game 7 of the NBA finals. Celtics coach Doc Rivers made the announcement about an hour before the game.

“He’s old. I figured I’d play the oldest guys,” Rivers joked of the 35-year-old Wallace before giving a serious explanation. “I just think it’s a good combination with Kevin [Garnett] because of the size, with Bynum’s size. I just think it’s a better fit for us.

“It also may give [Rajon] Rondo a chance to get loose early because of the spacing on the floor.”

The decision to go with a taller lineup against Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol also means that Glen Davis will come off the bench. Otherwise, Rivers doesn’t expect many other changes with the loss of Perkins to two torn ligaments in his right knee in Game 6.

“We’re not going to change a lot. We could, and if the game dictates that we need to do that, we’re ready to do it. But we’re not going to recreate the wheel tonight. We’re going to be basically who we’ve been. Not having Perk, we may have to do it a little different, but not much.”

[Click here to listen to Doc Rivers explaining his move to start Rasheed Wallace for the injured Kendrick Perkins.]

Read More: Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, Lakers, Rasheed Wallace
Game 7 predictions roundup 06.17.10 at 2:36 pm ET
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Before the opening tip of this year’€™s NBA finals between the Celtics and Lakers, many NBA analysts predicted that the series between the heated rivals would go the full seven games. Now, with Game 7 officially upon us Thursday night, many of those same so-called experts are back with their predictions for the deciding game of the championship. Here’€™s a roundup of some of those predictions.

— Philadelphia Inquirer columnist and radio host Stephen A. Smith told Dennis & Callahan that he’€™s going to stick with his original pick of the C’€™s in 7.

Several Sports Illustrated writers give their guesses at the outcome. Four of the six predict a Boston win, including frequent WEEI guest Ian Thomsen, who thinks the final tally will be 92-89 in favor of the Green.

ESPN asked several of its experts what they expect for Game 7. Kevin Arnovitz and Chris Sheridan both think it will be a last-possession game but differ on who will make the game-winner. Arnovitz picked Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant while Sheridan went with Boston closer Paul Pierce.

— Also, as a part of its rivalry page, ESPN had two writers write why they believe the C’€™s will win and why the Lakers will win, with ESPNBoston.com’€™s Chris Forsberg doing the former and Land O’€™Lakers blogger Andy Kamenetzky doing the latter.

ESPN analyst Jamal Mashburn, who also was a guest Thursday morning on the Dennis & Callahan show, says that ‘€œthere’€™s no doubt in my mind’€ that the Lakers will win. He also predicted that Glen Davis will start as the replacement for Kendrick Perkins.

– Glen Davis gave his own prediction of a Celtics win in this piece from The Los Angeles Times.

— Finally, SportingNews.com ran an AccuScore projection of Thursday night’€™s game, and the Lakers won 76 percent of the 10,000 simulations run by the program. The average score was 97.4-89.7.

Read More: Celtics, Lakers, NBA Finals,
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