|Aftermath of finals roundup||06.18.10 at 4:01 pm ET|
After the final buzzer sounded on Thursday night’s Game 7, the Celtics‘ improbable run at banner 18 ended as Kobe Bryant and the Lakers repeated to win their second consecutive title. Despite the NBA season coming to an end, storylines after the game flowed like the streamers and confetti in the Staples Center. Here’s a roundup of what national and local writers are saying after the finale of a classic series.
‘ Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports wrote a column on this being Kobe Bryant’s most difficult title out of his five championships. After struggling in Game 7 and nearly shooting the Lakers out of the game, Bryant began to trust his teammates, especially in the fourth quarter, which brought him another ring.
‘ With his fifth ring, Bryant surpasses Magic Johnson as the greatest Laker of all time, writes Chris Broussard of ESPN. Magic, who has also won five championships, always won with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, whereas Bryant has done it with and without Shaquille O’Neal, contends Broussard. Against other Lakers greats such as Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain, Bryant outranks them with his handful of rings.
‘ Though he coached a team to a championship for the 11th time in his career, Phil Jackson‘s future is uncertain. T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times writes that Jackson has no idea where or he’ll be next year and that his salary might be too rich for the Lakers.
‘ Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe feels that Pau Gasol and not Kobe Bryant is the true MVP of the finals. Ryan writes that Gasol was the real closer with his offensive rebound and basket in the final two minutes to cap off his 19-point, 18-rebound effort. While Bryant had some great performances in the series, it was Gasol who was the most consistent Laker.
‘ On the Boston side, Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports views a lot of changes on the way for the Celtics. The most uncertainty is with the decision coach Doc Rivers will have to make on whether or not to return. The 48-year-old could depart the Celtics to spend more time with his family in Orlando and watch his sons play basketball.
‘ Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston writes that despite being an unrestricted free agent this summer, Ray Allen still wants to return to the Celtics. The question will be how much is Boston willing to pay and will Allen take a discount to stick with a very close group? Forsberg feels that at 35, Allen is getting up in age and likely won’t see a contract more than two years.
‘ The most surprising piece of information that came out after Game 7 was the news that Rasheed Wallace could retire after only one year with the Celtics. Gary Dzen and Julian Benbow of the Boston Globe write that after the loss, Rivers revealed that Wallace might walk away from the game. Wallace struggled to get through Thursday night after experiencing cramps and strains as he filled in for the injured Kendrick Perkins at center. The 35-year-old has played in three finals and made four All-Star teams.
|Doc: Sheed thinking about retirement||at 1:22 am ET|
‘You know, I don’t know if Rasheed will ever play again,’ Rivers said. ‘You 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.
‘We 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. ‘We 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.
‘I 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.”
|Tony Allen wants to re-sign with Celtics||06.15.10 at 12:06 am ET|
Tony Allen made it clear where he wants to play basketball next season.
‘I am a Celtic,’ he told WEEI.com. ‘I love being a Celtic. It’d mean everything in the world [return next season].’
Allen will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. He has garnered attention during the playoffs with his gritty defense against some of the league’s best perimeter scorers, most recently containing Kobe Bryant in the NBA finals.
While Allen attested that he is focused on winning a championship, not free agency — ‘I haven’t really thought about summer right now,’ he said. ‘All I’m worried about is the finals.’ — he hopes he has played his way to another contract in Boston.
Allen has spent his entire career with the Celtics. He was selected by the team with the 25th pick in the 2004 NBA Draft and signed his current two-year deal (worth $2.5 million a year) following the 2008 championship season.
Even though basketball is a business and the look of a team can change in an instant, Allen can’t imagine himself wearing anything but green next season.
‘None whatsoever, none whatsoever,’ he said. ‘I mean, things happen but I feel like I’m going to be a Celtic for life.’
|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.
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