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Dr. J rooting for ‘Eastern Conference,’ not Celtics 06.11.10 at 12:21 pm ET
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Julius Erving, who won an NBA championship with the 76ers in 1983 and was involved in numerous battles against the Celtics, was in the stands at Thursday’s NBA finals Game 4 at TD Garden, sitting with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the winner of an online contest.

Erving said he is begrudgingly pulling for Boston to win, as he did when the Celtics and Lakers met three times in the 1980s.

“I am an Eastern Conference guy. I’m always pretty loyal, cheer for the conference,” Erving told The Associated Press, adding: “It’s hard to root for Boston. I root for the conference. Rooting for Boston, that’s asking a little much, especially in public.”

Read More: Celtics, Julius Erving, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Lakers
TA: We need that focus for rest of series at 11:34 am ET
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From the moment Tony Allen showed up at the Garden on Thursday he could sense the urgency. From captain Paul Pierce to Kevin Garnett to everyone on what turned out to be a great bench, the task was at hand was very, very clear.

Win or else.

Now, with the 96-89 win over the Lakers in Game 4 in the bank and the NBA finals tied, 2-2, Allen wants to see that urgency for the remainder of the series. And if he does, he thinks the Celtics could very well be hoisting he Larry O’Brien trophy when it’s awarded next week at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

“Earlier at shootaround it felt like a must-win game,” Allen said. “I was looking at everybody’s focus, guys were in there early, getting shots up, in getting treatment. Guys were pretty much focused. I like that side of those guys. We’re going to definitely need them to be focused for the rest of the series.”

Of course, leading the way in providing focus is captain Paul Pierce. He was the last remaining member of the ‘Big Three’ not to have a big game in the series so far. People were wondering if the Celtics stood a chance if he didn’t get his motor started in Game 4.

Pierce scored a team-high 19 points but it was the leadership he showed early in the game that impressed Allen. And Allen sensed Pierce was going to have something special in store well before tip-off.

“I think he had that vision in his mind,” Allen said. “He just came out and said, ‘I’m going to be Paul Pierce today no matter what the defense tries to do.’ He got the name ‘The Truth’ for being the truth. He definitely was big.

“He’s ‘The Truth.’ We’re definitely going to need him for the rest of the series. We’re going to need him to be The Truth for these three games. I’m glad he got it going and it showed why we won.”

Read More: Celtics, Lakers, NBA Finals, Paul Pierce
Legler on D&C: Nate’s energy priceless at 9:44 am ET
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ESPN NBA analyst Tim Legler joined the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about the NBA finals, following the Celtics‘ Game 4 win Thursday night. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

“Last night was the quintessential Celtics defense that we’ve come to know out of this team for the last three years.” Legler said, noting that the officials helped the C’s by letting them play.

Legler said Nate Robinson’s performance off the bench makes him wonder even more why the former Knick hasn’t seen more playing time. “I’ve kind of been scratching my head, going back about a month, as to why he wasn’t regularly in the rotation down the stretch of the season and in the postseason,” Legler said.

“One thing I love about Nate Robinson, he never thinks the stage is too big,” Legler added. “He believes every time he’s on the court he’s the best player on the floor. I have a lot of respect for guys that don’t care about the moment, that can come in ‘€” sit there for a month, the way he did in the Orlando series and come in and give you 13 points in an important game the way he did in that series ‘€” and then to come in last night on that stage. He just plays like, ‘I belong here. This is my game.’ … I just don’t think you can put a price tag on the energy that that guy provides.”

Legler, who stands by his prediction of Celtics in six, said if the C’s can finally put together a balanced offensive night, the Lakers will be in trouble. “I think offensively they’ve been so out of sync and so far from where they can be,” he said. “Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and [Rajon] Rondo ‘€” they haven’t come close to playing well on the same night yet. And once they do, the Lakers I just don’t think can beat this team.”

Read More: Celtics, Dennis & Callahan, Lakers, Nate Robinson
Kobe credits Celtics defense at 2:20 am ET
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Paul Pierce wouldn’t budge on the effectiveness of Ron Artest‘s defense. Kobe Bryant, though, was more generous with his praise after the Celtics Game 4 victory.

After shooting 10-for-22 for the second time this series, Bryant admitted the Celtics are doing their job on defense.

“They’re a great scheming team,” he said following the Celtics’ 96-89 win. “They have a strategy in place and they execute extremely well. I feel pretty comfortable. Wasn’t pleased with the way I took care of the ball tonight. I thought I did a horrible job of that. But it’s a great defense.”

The Celtics forced seven turnovers on Bryant, the most he committed since May 4 against the Jazz. He entered the game averaging just over three per game.

After the Lakers loss, Bryant denied questions of a tweaked knee or any type of exhaustion. The Celtics defense was simply effective.

Said Bryant, “Oh, it’s right up there with the best of them.”

Read More: Celtics, Kobe Bryant, Lakers, Paul Pierce
Jackson: Bynum playing with pain 06.10.10 at 8:49 pm ET
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Lakers head coach Phil Jackson said that his starting center will try to play through right knee pain in Game 4 of the NBA finals against the Celtics.

“I think he’ll give it a shot and see how he goes from there.” Jackson said. “The big factor is he knows he’s going to be in some kind of discomfort during course of a game. It comes. It goes. He feels sharp pain when he makes a certain move. He understands what it is so it’s not something he gets concerned about doing again.”

[Click here to hear Phil Jackson talk about the pain Bynum is playing through.]

Bynum had the knee drained just before the Finals began and was told by Lakers doctors and trainers to expect discomfort and limited mobility if he chose to play in the series. Bynum has started all three games and played at least 28 minutes in each of the first contests.

Read More: Andrew Bynum, Celtics, Lakers, NBA Finals
Phil to his Lakers: Play above referees at 8:47 pm ET
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With all the talk of Eddie F. Rush officiating Game 4 and Kendrick Perkins one technical away from a one-game suspension, there’s been plenty of talk about the quality of officiating of the 2010 NAB Finals. Lakers coach Phil Jackson said the officiating this Finals series is no more controversial than in other championship series he’s been in.

“I don’t think it’s any hotter than any other Finals I’ve been a part of,” Jackson said. “It’s always contentious. There’s been a little more focus, perhaps, this time. Perhaps, some of it has been undercurrent in the past. What we like to say to the players is you play beyond the refereeing, you play above the refereeing.”

Jackson is coaching in his 13th NBA Finals series and has a 10-2 mark in previous championship series.

[Click here to listen to Jackson explain how his team needs to deal with the officiating.]

Read More: 2010 Finals, Celtics, Lakers, NBA Finals
Rebounding key to rebounding from loss at 8:40 pm ET
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If the Celtics want to rebound from their Game 3 loss, they know they have to rebound in Game 4.

“I think whoever wins the rebounding war wins the game,” said Kendrick Perkins. “That’s how it’s been in the last three games for some reason.”

The Celtics have been outrebounded 124-110 in the first three games of the series, an average of 41 to 37.

They had a five-board edge in their Game 2 victory, but were outrebounded by a total of 19 boards in their Games 1 and 3 losses.

Perkins said the length of the Lakers big men, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, make them tough to defend. Gasol’s versatility to play the power forward also spreads the floor and creates additional defensive challenges for the Celtics.

But the Celtics can win the battle of the boards. They have already proved it in this series. There’s nothing complicated about it, just a matter of going out and doing it.

“I just feel like it’s got to be a team effort,” said Perkins. “Guys have got to come in, make them take contested jumpshots, grab a lot of long rebounds. Our guards come in and they can start the break.

“But I just think when we put our minds together and go out there and do it, I just think with Paul (Pierce) and (Rajon) Rondo and Ray (Allen), they can grab a few rebounds. Then Kevin (Garnett) and myself, we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do. Then when the bench comes in, they’ve got to make sure that they rebound also.”

The Celtics know the gameplan. Now they have to execute it.

“It’s just us,” said Glen Davis. “We’ve got to show up tonight. We’ve got to make sure that we do what we have to do.”

Read More: Celtics, Glen Davis, Kendrick Perkins, Lakers
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