|Going from Gold to Green||05.31.10 at 2:51 pm ET|
WALTHAM – Tony Gaffney began his rookie season in purple and gold. This week he is headed back to the Staples Center, this time wearing green and white.
Gaffney, a Boston native, was signed to the Lakers training camp roster last summer after going undrafted out of the University of Massachusetts. He was the was the last player cut from training camp and went overseas to play in Israel before being signed by the Celtics in April.
It has been months since he returned to Los Angeles, and he’s thrilled to be arriving as a member of the Celtics.
‘I wouldn’t want to be going back any other way. I’m looking forward to it,’ he said before the team flew out to California on Monday. ‘It’s definitely unique, and having the two teams [that I've played for] be the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers makes it that much more special. Obviously they’re two top of the line, class A organizations, it’s no surprise as to why they are in the finals. Having gotten the chance to witness that and see it firsthand, to me this all makes sense.’
Even though Gaffney has been on the inactive list during the postseason, he still can help the Celtics without being on the court. He learned the Lakers offense ‘fairly well’ and was even praised by the organization for picking up the triangle offense so quickly. Gaffney would be happy to pass along his insight.
‘I got to know some of the guys pretty well and I was in the gym early morning when Kobe (Bryant) was the first one in there working on his left-handed shots for an hour before practice,’ he recalled. ‘But if any of the guys ask me anything or need anything, I’ll be more than happy to help them out.’
And while he has seen firsthand just how dangerous Bryant can be on the court, Gaffney believes it is another player who can do damage.
‘Obviously I believe Pau (Gasol) and Kobe make that team go, but I think as Lamar goes, they go,’ he said. ‘When he gets off and he’s doing what he’s capable of doing, they’re tough to beat. But we have a counter to that and we have probably the best defensive team in the league. And I think keeping Lamar Odom in check is going to be huge in this series and we’ll have to go from there.’
Gaffney is confident the Celtics have the pieces to win it all. Even though he still has his Lakers jersey, it is a reminder of his journey that has led him back to the team he hopes will win it all.
‘I’m blessed to have been able to be part of both organizations,’ he said, ‘And now have a chance to win it with the greatest organization in the NBA.”
|Nate’s new neck art||05.27.10 at 11:14 pm ET|
Nate Robinson has been relatively quiet for most of the postseason, but he drew attention during Game 5, and it wasn’t just because of his basketball.
Robinson scored five points, grabbed a rebound, a steal, and even blocked Dwight Howard in nine minutes, his most playing time since May 7.
During the game, Yahoo! Sports spotted a new tattoo on Robinson … on his neck. The tattoo resembles the Bentley logo, with the number “8” in the center in place of the letter “B.”
Yahoo! noted Robinson tweeted about getting a new tattoo prior to Game 4. Click here for further explanation of the design and a photo of the ink.
|Doc: Redick most consistent for Magic||at 9:30 pm ET|
It’s no coincidence that Ray Allen‘s scoring has been inconsistent against the Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals. It is part of J.J. Redick’s plan, one that has been in the works for years.
As Redick revealed to ESPN.com’s Bill Simmons at the start of the series, he has been studying Allen’s game since he was in college.
‘When I got to Duke, coach [Chris] Collins, who was kind of like our guard coach, he used to show me tapes of Reggie [Miller], Ray and Rip Hamilton. Those are the three guys I studied at Duke,’ Redick said. ‘And, obviously watched them shoot the ball, but those guys are really, really good at creating space and then coming off the picks.’
Redick’s comprehensive knowledge of Allen’s skills and tendencies has helped him defend Allen for the second postseason in a row. Redick has an edge on anticipating Allen’s next move because he has emulated them so many times himself. Take Allen’s ability to run off screens as an example.
“Well, I kind of think it’s because that’s what I used to do at Duke,’ he said. ‘I kind of understand the mentality of coming off picks, coming off baseline screens. And really, it’s all about having contact and making sure there’s not that much separation. Ray, as you know, he gets it off so quick, you really have to be on his body.”
Redick’s insight has helped him stay ready on defense. Allen’s scoring has ranged from 25 points to four, shooting as hot as 8-for-16 from the field to 1-for-6.
While Redick’s performance has been overshadowed by more prominent storylines in the series, it has not been lost on Doc Rivers. The coach is well aware of Redick’s contributions on both ends (he is averaging 12 ppg, 45.5 percent FG, 56.3 percent 3PG, 95.5 percent FT) and the impact he has made against the Celtics.
‘We can’t know he was going to be Pistol Pete [Maravich] coming into this series, but we did expect him to be a great player,’ Rivers told reporters in a conference call on Thursday. ‘J.J. Redick has hurt us all year in the regular season. It was one of the things we talked about going into the series. J.J. Redick has been very, very important. He was last year in the playoffs against us, he’s played very well against us in the regular season, and he’s played well again against us in the playoffs now.
‘He’s a guy that everyone’s talking about Dwight Howard and Jameer [Nelson]. I think J.J. Redick has been their most consistent player in this series.’
|Three things that went wrong and right in Game 5||05.26.10 at 11:34 pm ET|
The Celtics knew they had to overcome the Magic’s pick-and-roll in order to win the series. But after a disastrous Game 5 loss, they have added a possible suspension, two concussions, and failed perimeter defense to the list.
In a snapshot: Kendrick Perkins was ejected after being whistled for a pair of technical fouls and could be suspended, Glen Davis and Marquis Daniels suffered concussions, and the Magic drained nearly 15 3-pointers.
The Celtics, who were on the verge of sweeping just days ago, are headed back to Boston after dropping two straight to the Magic.
Three things what went wrong (and they went so, so wrong)
Possible suspension for Perk: Kendrick Perkins was whistled for two technical fouls in the first half, resulting in an automatic ejection. The bigger problem is he was called for his seventh T of the postseason, an automatic one-game suspension. However, since the league does review technical fouls, one or both could be rescinded and Perkins could play on Friday night in Game 6.
Magic struck first: The Celtics have maintained the entire postseason that the key to winning on the road is striking first. But by the end of the first quarter, their initial 5-0 lead was a distant memory. The Celtics were outscored 31-22 from that point on, giving up 15 points from behind the arc. All of the Magic starters scored at least three points, while Kevin Garnett did not attempt a single field goal. The Magic fought for their shots, outrebounding the Celtics 12-7, and was more efficient at finding the open man (7-4 assists). The C’s allowed the Magic — and their home crowd — into the game early and were never able to kick them out.
Perimeter D disappears: The C’s knew what they were up against at the start of the series. ‘Their shooting is what has always given us problems,’ said Ray Allen. ‘Their 3-pointer, we’ve got to take that away from them.’ Tony Allen echoed, ‘Considering they’re a team that shoots a gang of 3’s feeding off of Dwight Howard who’s very dominant in the post, we’re going to have to be ready. No if, ands and no buts.’ The Celtics were ready in the first four games, holding the Magic to just 31 percent from 3-point range. But their perimeter defense imploded in Game 5. The Magic scored 39 points from long-range off of 52 percent shooting.
Three things that went right (well, not so bad)
Rondo bounced back: Questions of injuries buzzed around Rajon Rondo following a poor performance in Game 4. But whether it was muscle spasms or just an off night, Rondo was more effective offensively in Game 5. He scored 19 points, 10 more than in the previous game in six less minutes. It wasn’t his finest showing of the playoffs, but it showed he is back on the right track.
Robinson was reliable: Doc Rivers has said Nate Robinson will win the Celtics a playoff game. Robinson didn’t pull off the feat, but he was effective. With Rondo in foul trouble and Tony Allen benched for most of the game with a twisted ankle, Rivers turned to Robinson in the second half. He defended the point well, scored five points in six minutes, and even blocked Dwight Howard’s shot.
Celtics are going home: The Celtics didn’t want to have to play a Game 6 in Boston (they didn’t want to play a Game 5 in Orlando in the first place), but they are returning to their homecourt as they look to finish things up. The C’s are 6-2 at TD Garden during the postseason. Records aside, they have to take advantage of the energy the Celtics home crowd is sure to provide on Friday night.
|A day for Celtics Game 5 success?||at 12:11 am ET|
On Wednesday, the Celtics will look to wrap up the Eastern Conference finals in Game 5 against the Magic in Orlando.
If they are able to do so, it would not be the first time a Celtics team has pulled off a significant Game 5 win on May 26.
On May 26, 1987, Larry Bird infamously stole an inbounds pass from Isiah Thomas and dished to Dennis Johnson for the game-winning basket against the Detroit Pistons in the Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals.
(Click here for extended footage.)
|Report: Hornets make formal offer to Thibodeau||05.25.10 at 10:53 pm ET|
ESPN.com’s Marc Stein has reported the New Orleans Hornets have made a formal offer to Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau for their head coaching position. But with the Celtics in the midst of the Eastern Conference Finals, a timetable for Thibodeau’s decision was unknown.
Thibodeau has been credited for the Celtics defensive success, which is holding opponents to just 90.4 points this postseason. The Hornets allowed nearly 103 points per game during the regular season, tied for 21st in the league. The C’s, on the other hand, were tied for fifth with 95.6 points allowed during the regular season.
|Rondo front and center on Sports Illustrated||at 10:06 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo is featured on the cover of this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated, which hit newsstands on Tuesday.
(For those worried about an SI cover jinx, yes the magazine came out a day after Rondo suffered muscle spasms during the Celtics Game 4 overtime loss to the Magic, but his stat line actually fared worse in Game 1.)
Cover superstitions aside, Rondo is ready to bounce back on Wednesday as the Celtics look to wrap up the series against the Magic in Orlando, where they have already won two games.
“We didn’t get to close out, but we gotta move on to Game 5,” he said following Game 4. “We gave them confidence, now we’ve got to try to take it back away. They’re pretty confident at home, so we’ve got to get off to a good start on the road.”
Rondo isn’t the only player in the Eastern Conference Finals to be featured by Sports Illustrated with “Celtics” across his chest. Click here to see which member of the Magic once wore green.