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Celtics are calm, confident before the storm 06.15.10 at 8:37 pm ET
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LOS ANGELES — The mood inside the Celtics locker room prior to Game 6 wasn’t loose and it wasn’t grim. They were neither joking around nor were they tight. They know what they have in front of them in Game 6 and there is no sense of relief of foreboding.

They feel like they have zeroed in on the two most important big-picture areas: defensive rebounding and turnovers and it’s a testament to how off this series has been that they weren’t able to do either well in Game 5 and still get the win.

“The offensive rebounds is what allowed them to stay in the game,” Doc Rivers said. “We turned the ball over too much. And the first thing we talked about is we got away with that in a home game, we will not get away with that on a road game.”

The Celtics are also expecting Kobe Bryant to be at his best. “I mean, that’s all you can assume for is he’s going to give us his best game, very similar to last game and maybe more, maybe more assists, more rebounds,” Rivers said. “That’s why he’s Kobe. But that’s fine. I mean, we understand that. But we have to figure out a way of winning the game if that happens.”

Laker coach Phil Jackson emphasized the opposite tact, while allowing that Bryant is capable of taking the game over.

“We talked about that in our pregame today,” Jackson said. “Once he’s hot, he’s as hot as any player could be in the NBA, so you want to keep the ball on him. There’s no doubt with that. But there’s too much individual action. There’s got to be more team play on the offensive end.”

While the Lakers try to get back to what made them successful, the Celtics are simply focused on “doing what they do,” as it was written on the whiteboard in the locker room. While they have the advantage, the Celtics are aware that momentum can turn in an instant, especially if there is a Game 7.

“We just want to avoid another game,” Rivers said. “We’ve got a chance to win now, so that should be our urgency, is right now.
But you know, the Lakers have the same urgency, and their urgency is to play another night. I think you’re going to see both teams’ best tonight.”

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What to Watch For: Game 6 at 11:17 am ET
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LOS ANGELES — The Celtics are one game away from an unlikely championship but they understand that what they are going to try to do tonight in Game 6 of the NBA finals will be difficult. Elimination games always are, and even in this fantastic playoff run, the Celtics are only 3-2 when trying to close out the other team and 0-2 on the road.

“This will probably be the hardest game of the season, if not of the series, if not of everybody’s career,” said Kevin Garnett. “This game coming up.”

The Celtics don’t want a Game 7. They want to end it tonight. Here’s five things to watch as they try to do just that. Read the rest of this entry »

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Allen at a loss 05.15.09 at 1:33 am ET
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ORLANDO – The good news for Ray Allen is that, win or lose on Sunday night in Game 7, he has seen the last of Amway Arena until next season.

After his three games there this series, he’s probably hoping he never plays there again.

In the three road games, Allen went 11-for-37 from the field while missing ALL 17 of his three point attempts.

“I try to sit back and let the game develop and let it come to me,” Allen said in the wake of the Game 6 loss at Amway Arena. “And time after time, you just sit back and wait and it never really does. I just try to find a way to have an impact out there. Offensively, you keep fighting it, fighting it and try to get to the free throw line. For the most part, I do things to try and make other guys better like setting screens and occupy my guy.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Are the Magic unraveling? 05.14.09 at 10:32 am ET
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After the Orlando Magic lost Game 4, coach Stan Van Gundy walked into the post-game press conference and accepted any and all blame for his strategy in the final seconds.

Van Gundy had told his players to switch one-through-four and Dwight Howard did exactly that when Paul Pierce came off the pick and roll. That left Glen Davis open in the corner and after his shot went through it was all over but the apologies. After Van Gundy’s mea culpa Howard absolved the coach of blame saying that the Magic win as a team and lose as a team. “We can’t blame Stan,” Howard said.

Howard was singing a different tune after Game 5 when he questioned the coach’s strategy and substitution pattern. Stuff like this happens all the time in the NBA, but what makes this situation unique is that this is the first time Howard publicly second-guessed his coach as Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi pointed out.

Van Gundy’s attempted to play down the situation yesterday, saying that he and Howard had a long talk and everything was copacetic, but Howard wasn’t the only one who questioned Van Gundy’s decision to try to burn the clock.

“We kind of played stall ball and you can’t really do that with a 24-second shot clock,” J.J. Redick said.

“We just stopped,” said Hedo Turkoglu. “They’re an experienced team. They’ve been here before. They know how to make decisions, especially in that kind of a game.”

Orlando has all kinds of questions heading into Game 6 beyond whether or not the coach and players are still on the same page. Courtney Lee has been more effective than Redick; does he start in his place?

Rafer Alston finally had a decent game, but his production has been spotty at best. If he falters does Van Gundy go with Anthony Johnson who has played well–but who also had a blowup with the coach during Game 3–or use Turkoglu at the point?

Tony Battie gave the Magic good minutes in the fourth quarter and Howard seemed to indicate that he wanted him on the floor instead of Rashard Lewis, who has been Orlando’s most effective player.

If the Magic can get themselves straightened out they have a very good chance of sending this series back to Boston for Game 7 because they do have several matchup advantages, particularly with Lewis. But on the other hand, they haven’t been able to maximize those advantages.

The Celtics know they got away with one Tuesday night, but they also have complete confidence in what they are doing.

“They say a team that has the most luck is the one that works the hardest,” Ray Allen said. “We end up looking lucky because of that.”

On the floor these teams are evenly matched, but the last 48 hours have brought all of the Magic’s internal issues out into the forefront. Whether they can get their act together could have as big an impact as any strategic decisions Van Gundy makes tonight.

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CSN New England a big Celtics winner 05.01.09 at 8:43 pm ET
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While the Celtics may have lost Game 6 in Chicago, the epic triple-overtime contest was a huge winner for CSN New England.

CSN announced Friday its highest rating in network history during the Celtics-Bulls Game 6 triple overtime thriller with an 8.2 rating. Game 6 reached an estimated 360,800 homes in New England.

Despite sharing each telecast in New England with a national network, CSN said it is outperforming last year’s playoff run through five telecasts by nearly 10 percent. CSN has averaged a 6.8 hh rating (299,200), which is up 9.6 percent over CSN’s 6.2 playoff average through five Celtics-Hawks telecasts.

During the Celtics-Bulls series, CSN has outperformed the national network by 78 percent 6.8 to 3.8. In game 6, CSN averaged an 8.2 rating (with 360,800 homes) and TNT a 5.2.  In Game 5, CSN bested TNT in ratings nearly 2 to 1 with a 6.3 rating (277,200 homes) and TNT a 3.3.

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Game 6: First quarter update 04.30.09 at 7:51 pm ET
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After one, the Celtics quest to finish the Bulls got off to a rough start, with Chicago using a 10-0 run to take an early 21-11 advantage and ultimately building a 37-26 lead. The big drama came at the end of the quarter when Rajon Rondo and Kirk Hinrich squared off. Rondo was assessed a Flagrant 1 foul, while Hinrich received a technical. The difference is huge. A Flagrant 2 would have led to Rondo’s ejection.

The refs are calling this one tight. Joakim Noah picked up two quick fouls, but the Celtics couldn’t capitalize because Kendrick Perkins also got two fouls–two more than Perk got in 48 minutes+ of Game 5. Ben Gordon and Brad Miller also picked up two fouls. Without Perkins in the middle, the Bulls attacked the inside of the C’s defense, and when they kicked the ball out John Salmons was there to make six of seven shots and score 16 points.

Ray Allen and Paul Pierce combined for 19 points and Brian Scalabrine came off the bench to score seven. The rest of the team was 0-for-5. The Bulls, meanwhile, shot 68 percent in the first quarter.

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