|Rondo’s new challenge||06.03.10 at 8:34 pm ET|
LOS ANGELES – Derek Fisher has been in the NBA for 14 years, but he still poses new challenges for Rajon Rondo.
In the previous two rounds of the playoffs, Rondo has been matched up with younger point guards in Jameer Nelson and Mo Williams. Even though 35-year-old Fisher may not be as quick, he can create problems for Rondo that he has yet to encounter this postseason.
“He’s smarter,” Rondo said prior to Game 1. “I think he’s been to seven finals so this is probably the same old story for him. He’s probably going to play like this is his last, but Derek’s a veteran. Like I said, he’s very smart and he’s a unique player, so I have to be aware of his tricks he may try to throw at me, some of his veteran moves he may have to draw fouls against me or whatever it may be.”
Fisher’s basketball IQ will keep Rondo on his toes throughout the series. The combination of his skill and intelligence has Rondo on the alert.
“You can’t underestimate Derek,” he said. “He definitely can shoot the 3, you can’t lose sight of Derek, and he draws fouls. He shoots 99 percent from the line so he’s not an easy match up. He’s a tough match up.”
|Big Papi breaks down the NBA finals||06.02.10 at 11:30 pm ET|
Big Papi is also a big Celtics fan. When he isn’t working in the batter’s box, David Ortiz enjoys watching the C’s work toward another championship.
“I’m all the way with the Celtics,” he said.
Ortiz believe the Celtics have what it takes to win it all against the Lakers. He offered up his NBA finals analysis, including why he thinks Paul Pierce is the key to the Celtics success, how Kevin Garnett pumps him up, and what makes the C’s a “team.”
Kevin Garnett: “KG is a monster down there. KG, he puts everybody in the mood. When he’s [trash talking] people out there and getting mad, that pumps me up. That even gets me ready to play baseball. I love it. I love it. I’m telling you, when I see KG doing that, I want to jump on the court and [kick butt] with him. It’s not a secret that his game is something else.”
Paul Pierce: “I believe that Pierce has got to keep his game up the way he’s been doing it [for the Celtics to win]. … I want Pierce to stay where he’s at, scoring those 25, 30 points.”
Rajon Rondo: “Rondo’s fine in his game. I’m not worried about Rondo.”
Kendrick Perkins: “My man the center, Perkins, keep on [kicking butt]. Clean it out down there (in the paint). Don’t let anybody get in there.”
Ray Allen: “I don’t worry about Allen. He’s shooting the [heck] out of the ball. That’s a game that you know is going to be there because he’s been hot as hell. I don’t know how he does it. He’s been shooting some balls with everybody on top of him.”
Glen Davis: “Big Boy, I’m watching his game all the time. … He’s just awesome. I love watching him down there hustling and doing his thing.”
The bench: “The bench is unbelievable, too. When those guys (the starters) take a break, it’s like they’re still in because those guys on the bench, they come out and get it done. That’s a team, that’s a team. That’s what I call a team. So I’m cheering for them big time.”
Key to victory: “They’ve got everything. First of all, everybody’s healthy to begin with. The games have been unbelievable. They just have to increase the defense just a little bit more, just a little tiny bit. Not anything crazy because their defense has been great too, just a little more and that’s about it, it’s an easy win.”
|Lakers get cash for drawing charges||at 2:28 pm ET|
Lakers coach Phil Jackson has tried every approach he can to get his players to take charges. The coach’s strategy includes insulting them — calling his big men “thin-chested” — as well as offering $50 cash for each charge.
“To motivate us in a way to take charges and getting away with it,” Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic told ESPN’s Shelley Smith.
Vujacic said the Lakers see an opportunity to get some spending money vs. the Celtics.
“Their whole team is kind of a charging possibility taking team,” he said. ” We’ve just got to be smart. They are a very smart team that can go from block to a charge, so we’ve been working a lot on charges and how to take them and stuff, so, we’ll see.”
The ESPN story indicated the money comes from players’ fines — for example, the team collects $25 from a player every time he gets called for illegal defense. Assistant coach Frank Hamblen said Lamar Odom has been keeping the pot full.
“I mean, I just pencil him in every night for illegal defense,” Hamblen said. “I ask him every night: ‘Lamar, you know the illegal defense rules, don’t you?’ ”
Hamblen said the Lakers haven’t had many takers in the charge-drawing sweepstakes. At least one player isn’t interested in that strategy.
“I don’t even know how to take a charge,” Ron Artest said. “To get the charge, you have to fall. I’d rather not fall. You call an offensive foul [on the New York playgrounds], possibly be a fight. That’s just how we grew up playing basketball.”
|Technical analysis: Breakdown of Perkins’ playoff T’s||06.01.10 at 1:42 pm ET|
Celtics center Kendrick Perkins has never been one to hold back emotions on the basketball court. His reactions to opposing players or calls by officials have often resulted in him receiving technical fouls. During the regular season, those technicals haven’t hurt Boston more than one point. In the playoffs, however, those technicals are threatening to force Perkins to sit out a game.
After the “Brawl at the Palace” between the Pistons and Pacers at Detroit in 2004, the NBA implemented a rule that limited the amount of technical fouls a player could receive in the playoffs before being suspended. The rule states that any player will receive a one-game suspension following a seventh technical and every other technical thereafter.
Entering the NBA finals, Perkins already has six technicals on his tab and could be going on his eighth if not for the league rescinding one in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals. He’s picked up at least one technical in each of the three series the Celtics have played in this postseason.
Here are the six technical fouls Perkins has received in the playoffs:
1. Game 5 vs. Miami
Perkins’ first technical came when he locked arms with Udonis Haslem in Game 5 against the Heat. Official Derrick Stafford blew the whistle with six minutes, 10 seconds remaining in the second quarter as Perkins and Haslem became tangled after a Dwayne Wade missed shot. Though it seemed as if Perkins was only trying to get free and into the offense, Stafford felt he was a little too wild with his elbow. (Skip to 6:40 mark) Read the rest of this entry »
|What Big Papi Sees in Big Baby||at 12:21 am ET|
The first time David Ortiz saw Glen Davis, he thought he was looking at a football player.
But the more Big Papi got to know Big Baby, the more he saw himself.
“When I’ve watched him playing for the past few years, he kind of gave me goosebumps because he’s just a guy that told me straight up who he wanted to be,” said Ortiz.
When Ortiz met Davis at Josh Beckett’s charity bowling event during Davis’ rookie year, he was surprised to learn the “humongous dude” was actually one of the newest members of the Celtics. The two shared a brief conversation, one that has stood out in Ortiz’s mind for years.
“He said, ‘I’m trying to work hard because I want to be one of them. I want people to remember me in this city as a great player, and I’m working hard to get to it,’” Ortiz recalled. “So I said, ‘Keep on doing what you’re doing and you’re going to be just fine.’”
Davis’ ambition reminded Ortiz of his own. As Ortiz listened to the young athlete, he was taken back to the time when he was an eager ballplayer who had just joined the Red Sox from the Minnesota Twins.
He remembered how anxious he was to put his stamp on Boston, the same sense of excitement Davis exuded.
“That’s the reason exactly why he caught my attention a lot,” Ortiz said. “I remember when I first got here with the Red Sox coming from Minnesota and there’s nothing but history and great players around. I remember my agent telling me, ‘If you go to this city and play well and help the team to win a World Series, they’re going to remember you forever.’ And I busted my tail off just to do that because it was my goal. Now watching him doing the same thing, it brings me highlights and memories back.”
Now Ortiz enjoys the highlights created by Davis on the court.
“Big Boy, I’m watching his game all the time,” he said. Ortiz applauds Davis’ energy, cheers for his intensity, and thinks he is simply “awesome.”
“Just watching him playing and watching him doing his thing out there hustling, he wanted to show the world that he was there, that he is the one guy they could count on,” said Ortiz.
Davis is hard at work making sure the Celtics, Ortiz, and the city of Boston can do just that.
|Doc says C’s ‘are just going to be us’||05.31.10 at 6:37 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Talk about walking a fine line.
Doc Rivers knows his team – and Kendrick Perkins in particular – needs to do just that to come away with its 18th NBA title when they match up against the Lakers in the next two weeks.
Rivers was told by more than one member of the recently-excused Phoenix Suns that if you plan on carrying through with the directive of Celtics fans everywhere, you better bring your hard hats and be prepared to rebound against the defending NBA champs.
That, of course, means being physical and not backing down. That also means that Kendrick Perkins needs to play with perfectly-controlled fury or risk his seventh technical foul, bringing with it an automatic one-game suspension.
“Our talks [with Perkins] haven’t worked yet, so maybe I should have another one,” Rivers said. “I’m concerned by it, honestly. What I’m concerned by with this is that it’s going to be a physical series. There’s going be guys that get tangled up under the basket, and there are going to be officials who are going to want to clean the game up. Perk may be in that. And the double technical — that’s why I’ve been on the double technical thing for a month now. This double technical thing should not be part of the seven techs, it really shouldn’t be. But it is and it’s a factor. And I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a factor in this series.”
Perkins, Glen Davis, Kevin Garnett, Shelden Williams and Rasheed Wallace – if healthy – will be called upon to contain Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom and Didier Ilunga-Mbenga.
“We’re just going to be us,” Rivers said following Monday’s practice. “I don’t know if that’s with any particular person. We’re going to be us and if that’s physical, that’s what we’re going to be.”
|Pierce: Doc is one ‘cool customer’||at 5:24 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Two of the most-respected coaches in the NBA also happen to have the most rings.
And Celtics captain Paul Pierce would love to give Doc Rivers the chance to join Lakers coach Phil Jackson and San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich as active coaches with multiple rings.
But whether the Celtics win another title or not in the next month, Paul Pierce believes he is playing for one of the best coaches of his generation. Pierce said Monday following practice that Rivers deserves credit for keeping the team focused on the task at hand and never showing panic through the course of a long season filled with many ups and downs.
“He’s definitely taken my career to the next level,” Pierce said. “You have to put him up there with the top-five coaches with Phil, Gregg Popovich.”
It wasn’t always that way as Pierce admitted earlier this season when he said his relationship with the Celtics and Rivers was sometimes like when a couple goes through growing pains early in their relationship.
Sometimes you come close to “breaking up” Pierce said but in the end, you work things out.
Such was the case, even this season, when the team went 27-27 to finish the season, losing at home to teams like Washington, New Jersey and Memphis. When the team was battling to find itself in January and February, Pierce said it was Rivers who kept things loose and easy.
“I think it’s everything to this ballclub,” Pierce said. “You can see at times when you play for coaches when things aren’t going right it just seems like the practices get harder and the yelling becomes louder and Doc is a cool customer.
“He didn’t panic, he didn’t get louder. He just stuck with the game plan. A lot of times, when you go through a stretch we went through like five games out of six, seven-out-of-10, you can tell from a coach’s body language that things are going downhill. You never really saw that with Doc. He came in and said, ‘Alight, we’re going to get back to work the next day.’ He always stayed positive and encouraged us and I think that was big for us throughout the year.”
Jackson has an NBA-record 10 titles as head coach while Gregg Popovich is second among active coaches with four. The Celtics are making their second trip to the NBA Finals in three years with Rivers as the coach and he is trying to join Red Auerbach, Bill Russell and K.C. Jones as Celtics coaches with two titles in three seasons.