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The thing about Gasol 06.14.10 at 11:27 pm ET
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From the start of the NBA finals, Pau Gasol has posed a challenge for the Celtics. The combination of his size and versatility spreads the floor and creates match up problems down low.

But there’€™s more than just a long frame and outside shot that separates Gasol from other big men around the league.

‘€œHe’€™s seven-foot with skills,’€ Kendrick Perkins told WEEI.com.

The Barcelona, Spain native honed his skills playing international basketball, where assists are applauded just as loudly as dunks and the emphasis is placed on the team, not just the individual. His international accolades include winning a gold medal and MVP honors in the 2009 EuroBasket tournament and a silver medal in the 2008 Olympics.

‘€œThe thing about international big men is they’€™re kind of like guards,’€ Perkins said. ‘€œThey’€™ve got a lot of crafty things in their game. Like they could maybe face you up and try to cross you over. They can handle the ball a little bit better, I think, and they’€™ve got a lot of guard things in their game. ‘€¦ When you’€™ve got a big man from the United States or wherever it may be, growing up we learn more dunks and stuff like that. They learn everything.’€

The versatility promoted in Gasol’€™s international experiences has made him a threat both inside and away from the basket. He is averaging nearly 19 points and 10 rebounds per game in the NBA finals. Even though he had an off-night in the Celtics Game 5 victory (5-12 FG, 12 points), the C’€™s know he is capable of being a game-changer, especially when the Lakers season is on the line.

‘€œHe’€™s arguably one of the – he might be the best player on getting a bucket on the block,’€ said Perkins. ‘€œHe’€™s got a mixture. He’€™s got right, left-hand jump hook. He can take you off the dribble. He’€™s got a nice jumper, so in his game, he’€™s got a mixture of everybody [in the league].’€

Added Glen Davis, ‘€œHe’€™s more coordinated, he can do a little bit of everything. That’€™s the European ball, they kind of thrive on that, being big perimeter guys, guys that can shoot on the corner. He gives you a different match up.’€

The Celtics recognize the differences in Gasol’€™s game that makes him stand out in the league. It’s their job to make sure he doesn’t stand out in Game 6.

Read More: Celtics, Glen Davis, Kendrick Perkins, Lakers
Mashburn on D&H: ‘No one man’ can beat Celtics at 5:00 pm ET
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Former NBA player and current ESPN NBA analyst Jamal Mashburn appeared on the Dale & Holley show Monday afternoon to discuss the NBA finals, Kobe Bryant, and the coaching matchup and how it has thus far worked in the Celtics’ favor.

Following are some highlights. To hear the interview, click on the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Is there any way the Lakers lose three straight in the finals?

Well, you know what, it’s possible, if Kobe doesn’t get any help from some of his other supporting cast members, such as Lamar Odom and also Ron Artest on the offensive end. And we can discount Pau Gasol a little bit for his performance, he just had a bad game, but he’s been productive throughout the course of this series. But I think the real factor is the health of Andrew Bynum. ‘€¦ They don’t have any defense, nobody is stopping anybody at the rim. Paul Pierce was having his way with Ron Artest, and it’s going to be awfully difficult, but if anybody can do it and pull it off, it’s the Boston Celtics. They’ve been very good on the road in the regular season as well as in the postseason.

What did you expect after Game 2?

Well, my basketball mind told me that the Los Angeles Lakers would possibly get two out of the three games in Boston. I was sold after Game 3, when Derek Fisher had his performance in the fourth quarter, but then the Celtics just took over, but I did not see this coming. It seemed like the whole series, each game has had a personality of its own. If Boston can put it together, as far as their stars showing up, as far as their bench players showing up, and their defense continues to be stingy, Game 6 looks like theirs for the taking. But I’m awfully nervous when Game 7 comes around and you have Kobe Bryant on your team. And I think the Celtics should look at Game 6 as being their Game 7. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Doc Rivers, Jamal Mashburn, Kobe Bryant
For Lakers: Looks can be deceiving at 2:28 pm ET
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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.

Read More: Celtics, Kobe Bryant, Lakers, Lamar Odom
What they’re saying about Celtics-Lakers at 2:19 pm ET
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Fueled by a raucous TD Garden crowd, a bench that wouldn’€™t quit and an apparent lack of serious competition, the Celtics took a 3-2 series lead over the Lakers Sunday night with their 92-86 win. The storylines have stayed the same throughout the series. The C’€™s have stepped up and played as a team with a new leader emerging every game, while the Lakers have been inconsistent and led by one strong player, usually Kobe Bryant. Game 5 was just more of the same, and the national headlines the day after have told the same tale.

Los Angeles:

  • Most of the criticism against Kobe and the Lakers originates from LA:
    —  T.J. Simers of the LA Times writes the harshest criticism by refusing to call him by name, opting for Our Ball Hog instead.
    — Mark Medina from the Times’€™ Lakers Blog places the blame on the rest of the Lakers for not supporting their leader.
    — The LA Daily News’€™ Vincent Bonsignore discusses how calm and quiet Kobe was during the postgame press conference. Alongside that, Bonsignore says that the captain ‘€œreally isn’t interested in prodding his teammates along with some fiery speech over the next few days.’€
  • Bill Plaschke believes that this 2010 series is starting to resemble the 2008 series and it seems as though the Lakers are throwing in the towel.
  • The Lakers’€™ big men ‘€“ Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum ‘€“ have been largely ineffective and just taking up space on the court, writes Mike Bresnahan.
  • Meanwhile, the Daily News’€™ Elliot Teaford reports that Lamar Odom hasn’€™t been acting like his normal, bubbly self in and around the Lakers’€™ clubhouse this series because of his poor play.

National:

  • Jeff Zilgitt of USA Today chalks up the C’€™s Game 5 victory to their big four starters: Pierce, Rondo, Allen and Garnett.
  • Also from USA Today, Michael Falgoust noticed that Bryant’€™s shooting percentage for the series is down to 42.5 percent, his lowest since the first round against Oklahoma City when he had swollen knee problems.
  • Pau Gasol has been nothing more than a ‘€œspectator to the Kobe Bryant show.‘€ According to The Associated Press, Gasol wouldn’€™t ‘€œget himself involved or the Lakers wouldn’t involve him’€ in Game 5.
  • Kevin Garnett is noncommittal about his immediate future, but he is definitely glad he decided to leave Minnesota and come to Boston, writes Bill Lee of the Providence Journal.
  • ESPN’€™s Daily Dime covers topics such as ‘€œthe better team won Game 5,’€ Kobe Bryant needing some serious help on the court and Boston’€™s bench keeping the energy up every game.
  • And finally, the ratings for Game 5 are slowly trickling in and it appears that it was the most watched game of the series so far and the most watched event of the night again. The 2010 finals have been the highest watched finals since the 2004 matchup between the Lakers and the Pistons.
Read More: Celtics, finals, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant
Former Celtic Walker ordered to trial at 1:39 pm ET
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Former Celtics forward Antoine Walker appeared in a Las Vegas court Monday and was ordered to face trial on felony bad check charges that he failed to repay almost $1 million in gambling debts to three Vegas casinos. The judge noted that Walker had yet to make any progress repaying some $770,000 he agreed to pay in restitution, court fees and penalties.

Walker filed for bankruptcy last month in Florida, and the Las Vegas prosecutor indicated that he is working with Walker’s lawyer on a deal that would avoid forcing Walker to serve jail time.

To read more, click here.

Read More: Antoine Walker, Celtics,
Title wave will be a Green energy transfer at 12:06 pm ET
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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.”

Read More: Celtics, going mental, Kendrick Perkins, Lakers
Why Game 6 is still just another game at 2:12 am ET
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One team is a game away from a championship, the other could be 48 minutes away from the end of its season.

The Celtics and Lakers know what’s at stake in Game 6 of the NBA finals, but neither team is getting distracted by the consequences of it.

Following the Celtics’ Game 5 victory, Kobe Bryant had a steady focus looking ahead to Tuesday’s matchup.

“We have a challenge, obviously, down 3-2,” he said. “We let a couple of 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.”

The Celtics also are staying even-keeled. They won’t let themselves look too far ahead and look past the keys to getting a clinching win.

“You have the tendency to look ahead,” Ray Allen said. “But for us it’s like you have to mentally block it out. All day tomorrow, you have to think about what you need to do, how you need to rest, the small things you need to do to start the game off. … To achieve that we want, it’s going to take everybody to do the things they do. We can’t leave any stone unturned, we can’t take any shortcuts.”

Read More: Celtics, Kobe Bryant, Lakers, Ray Allen
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