|Lakers key to defending Rondo||06.04.10 at 5:48 pm ET|
LOS ANGELES — With a new series upon us, we have yet another defensive gameplan geared to stopping Rajon Rondo.
The obvious opening gambit for the Lakers is assigning Kobe Bryant the task of guarding Rondo. Bryant is bigger than Rondo and will play off him to try to prevent him from getting to the paint. That is nothing new, of course. The Heat did it with Dwyane Wade. The Cavs did it with Anthony Parker and LeBron James.
But Rondo has said that he never concerns himself with the first defender. He always has his eye on the second wave and the Laker big men have a plan, as well.
“What happens is, he’s the kind of guy who waits for the bigs to cut and then he drops passes off to them,” Andrew Bynum said. “We’re trying to make him finish, and wait until he goes to shoot the ball instead of committing to him earlier. It gets their team going when KG gets dunks, when [Kendrick] Perkins gets dunks and screams and all that. We just want to eliminate all of that.”
The Lakers have faced a gauntlet of elite point guards in the playoffs, including Utah’s Deron Williams and Phoenix’s Steve Nash, but it was their first round opponent who provided the best test case.
“Russell Westbrook really got us prepared because he’s going to take it right to you,” Bynum said. “He’s athletic enough that he’ll jump over you.”
Rondo may not have quite the straight-forward athleticism that Westbrook has, but he has mastered the art of angles and has proven adept at getting off shots and using the glass. He noted that Pau Gasol was able to block two of his shot attempts and that he’ll have to come up with a counter move, but he insisted that it’s really all on him to make the right decisions.
“I think I drew their bigs a couple of times and got Perk to the free throw line,” Rondo said. “But other than that, it’s my read really. It’s nothing that [an opposing] big can do or sense. It’s all on me, my judgment, knowing how to play the game.”
The other obvious adjustment for Rondo and the Celtics is getting out in transition. They had only five fast-break points in six chances and that has to do with defensive rebounding and coming up with loose-ball rebounds.
“We had a film clip with all the 50-50 plays, and I don’t think we got any of them,” Rondo said. “They got all the loose balls. They dove on the floor first. They were the more aggressive team.”
That has to change in Game 2 or Rondo will be once again stuck in low gear with an entire defense geared to stop him.
|Three Things That Went Wrong And Right in Game 1||at 12:00 am ET|
The Lakers took a 1-0 lead in the 2010 NBA finals after a 102-89 win over the Celtics. Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 27 points, while Pau Gasol finished with 23. The Celtics were topped by Paul Pierce with 24 points. Game 2 — a must win for the Celtics? — is Sunday night.
Three Things That Went Wrong
Gasol dominates Garnett: Guess Gasol is tougher than he was in 2008. He attacked Kevin Garnett from the start on Thursday night, finishing Game 1 with 23 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks. Gasol did whatever he wanted in the post with Garnett defending (Rasheed Wallace was actually more effective on Gasol) and wasn’t afraid to get physical while guarding KG. Here’s all you need to know about Garnett’s performance in Game 1: 35 minutes, four rebounds and two FT attempts in a strangely passive performance. The defining moment of Game 1 will be Garnett unable to dunk at 91-78 with six minutes left. Again, Garnett doesn’t need to play Gasol to a push in this series but he can’t be embarrassed as he was in Game 1.
Destroyed on the Glass: Fear No. 1 for most Celtics fans heading into Game 1 was the size of the Lakers (maybe 1A, assuming that Kobe always tops the chart). And it was justified, as the Gasol/Andrew Bynum duo helped the Lakers control play underneath. At halftime LA had a 23-15 edge on the boards, a 28-18 lead in points in the paint and a 10-0 shutout in second-chance points. And the Celtics couldn’t adjust, grabbing just two rebounds in the the third quarter.
Foul Trouble Slows Down Ray: With Kobe Bryant guarding Rajon Rondo early on, it appeared that Ray Allen would be able to do some serious damage coming off screens with the soon-to-be-36-year-old Derek Fisher defending. But Allen could never get going, as he fell into early foul problems while trying to guard Bryant. A clearly frustrated Allen finished Game 1 with just 12 points on 3-of-8 shooting (and no 3-pointers).
Three Things That Went Right
Rasheed Came To Play: Wallace was terrific in the second quarter, scoring seven points while playing excellent defense vs. Gasol. You could make the case that no Celtics player matched the intensity brought by Wallace on Thursday. If Garnett struggles again in Game 2 early it’ll be interesting to see how quickly Doc Rivers goes to Wallace.
Rondo Looks Healthy: It wasn’t Rondo’s best game (13 points, six rebounds and eight assists) but he didn’t appear to be slowed down by the nagging injuries that hurt him at times vs. the Magic.
Tony Allen and Pierce Defending Kobe: Bryant was the game’s high scorer (30 points), but did most of his work against Ray Allen in Game 1. He didn’t make a shot with Pierce defending (0-for-6) and Tony Allen also had some nice moments guarding Kobe. Another Doc test for Game 2 is to see how much we’ll see Pierce on Bryant.
|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.”
|Rivers on D&C: ‘You feel a responsibility’ to beat LA||at 11:02 am ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about the NBA finals against the Lakers. Rivers said his players do not view themselves as underdogs. “We don’t think that way,” he said. “We don’t care what others think. We believed going into the playoff rounds that we could get here and win it. We thought we needed to be healthy, and we did get healthy. I don’t know how healthy we are now, but we’re getting closer again. That was key for us. We just believe that the 23-5 team was the real team, at the beginning of the season. The 27-27 the rest of the way was due to different circumstances that had nothing to do with basketball. And we believe that as a group.”
Rivers talked about the respect he has for the Celtics-Lakers rivalry. “It means a lot,” he said. “I know the history. I love the history of the game. To be part of it is huge for me, personally. But you feel a responsibility. You don’t want them to beat you. And that’s just the bottom line. Let’s say you were playing Phoenix. You still would want to win the world championship, obviously. But you’re playing the Lakers, and it’s like you’re thinking more about you want to beat them and less about wanting to win the title. And that’s probably good.”
Following is a transcript. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
What is your schedule?
The schedule is we’re practicing at 11 o’clock. And then right after practice we’re jumping on a plane and flying out a day early — just with the time change and stuff. Then we’ll practice at UCLA tomorrow. Then we’ll have that league-mandated practice on Wednesday that I love so much.
Was that Nate Robinson’s 15 minutes of fame, or are we going to see more of Nate Robinson?
I think you’ll see more of him. It’s funny what you learn in losses. Nate Robinson didn’t play because we needed him in Game 6. Nate Robinson played because he played so well in Game 5, the game that Orlando beat us. It wasn’t the offensive end, it was the defensive end. He was doing all the things that we needed him to do, that we worked with him on. You could see that he had bought in. I remember turning to our bench early on and saying, “Hey, Nate’s going to help us.” I didn’t know he was going to do that, obviously, offensively or anything like that. If he can continue to do that, then yeah, he has a chance to help us. Read the rest of this entry »
|Kobe plays Keyshawn: ‘Give me the damn ball’||01.31.10 at 8:26 pm ET|
“I didn’t say, ‘Give me one more chance.’ I said, ‘Give me the damn ball.’ I didn’t really give [my team] much of a choice,” Bryant said of the moments in the huddle before his game-winner with 7.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
“All we talked about was the execution of [the play], where I was going to catch the ball. That was the only difference. Throughout the course of the game, I was pretty much a decoy because of all the traps they run, but if I catch it at the top of the floor, it’s a different story.”
Then there are Celtics fans, who had a slightly different perspective ‘ one that had Bryant clearly pushing off of Ray Allen to create space for the game-winner.
“I just tried to create space and get to a spot where I could elevate and knock it down,” Bryant explained.
Speaking of pushing off, Bryant said his left ankle was so sore he couldn’t elevate, leading to this tidy little jab at Allen.
“Oh yeah, I couldn’t push off,” Bryant said. “Ray’s athletic, but my elevator goes to the 12th floor, his stays at the seventh. But I couldn’t get to the 12th floor today, so it was hurting.
“Special for me, personally, because I had opportunity to win the game last year and I didn’t do it. I didn’t get the shot I wanted, so I wanted to make sure I redeemed myself today.”
“He had a couple of looks before that that were good looks in that area and we were mystified he couldn’t put it in. He told me the next one he got out there he would drop it in and so we went with it,” Jackson said.
|Doc on Lakers: ‘Better than last year’||at 3:51 pm ET|
Last year, the Celtics won 62 but lost in seven games to the Magic in the Eastern Conference semifinals when being without Kevin Garnett proved to be just too much to overcome.
Instead of a repeat, the Lakers won the title. And before Sunday’s game, Rivers sounded just a tad envious because instead of losing two key players like Boston lost in James Posey and P.J. Brown, the Lakers added Ron Artest, Shannon Brown and a healthy Andrew Bynum.
‘I think having won the title, having the same title back , adding Artest, that continuity and health I think those have been three pretty good things for them,” Rivers said. “Gasol has been in and out for them, which hurt them early in the year, too. It’s rare when you get a championship team that adds to their team and they did. You don’t see that very often. People are taking away from championship teams. It’s rare that they come back better and they’re better than last year.
‘I thought we took away from it. Losing Posey hurt us, losing P.J. Brown hurt us. But I think we’ve addressed that. Bringing in Marquis this year, bringing in Rasheed this year.”
[Click here to listen to Rivers compare his 2009 Celtics to the 2010 Lakers, teams attempting to defend a title.]
|Red Claws name assistant coaches||09.07.09 at 9:20 pm ET|
On Monday the Maine Red Claws named Randy Livingston and Mike Procopio assistant coaches for the upcoming inaugural season. Procopio, 34, has deep ties to the Boston Celtics organization. He spent four years as a scout for the Cs before working as an assistant at Boston Amateur Basketball Club under Leo Papile, the Celtics Assistant Executive Director of Basketball Operations. He developed a reputation as one of the top development coaches nationwide as Director of Basketball Operations for Attack Athletics in Chicago and has trained players including Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant, and Dwyane Wade.
‘Along with having four years of NBA front office experience, Mike Procopio regularly works out some of the best players in the NBA,’ Red Claws head coach Austin Ainge said in a team statement. ‘His experience and ability to develop players should make our team a desirable place for every player looking to make a jump to the next level. As soon as I got this job, Mike was one of the first calls I made because of his experience teaching the game.’
Livingston, a 12-year NBA veteran, led the Idaho Stampede to the 2008 NBDL Championship. He retired from playing after his title-winning season to become the Stampede’s associate head coach. Livingston, 34, helped coach the team to a second place finish in the West Division (31-19) in his first season on the sidelines.
‘I feel extremely fortunate to have a coach of Randy Livingston’s caliber to help me,” Ainge said. ‘Randy knows the game, knows our league, and has experience at every level of basketball. I trust Randy’s instincts and basketball IQ implicitly and will rely heavily on his opinion.’
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