|Why Game 6 is still just another game||06.14.10 at 2:12 am ET|
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.”
|Doc: We won’t change game plan for Kobe, Bynum||06.13.10 at 7:42 pm ET|
Doc Rivers knows Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum can be game-changers for the Lakers, but that doesn’t mean he is going to change the Celtics game plan because of them.
Bynum, who had his right knee drained after Game 4, will play in Game 5. He played just 12 minutes on Thursday, and while there is the possibility that his minutes could be limited, Rivers is not going to bank on the big man being on the bench.
“We’re going to play the game,” he said. “Andrew is not going to change how we play. Again, usually the last six or seven minutes of the game Andrew is not on the floor. It’s usually Gasol and Odom for the most part. That’s what they’ve done all year and they’ve done it in the series. But he is a factor, his size is a factor, and offensively we do change things when he’s on the floor to try to get the size out of the paint. But other than that, there’s not two game plans.”
Bryant remains a constant concern for the Celtics on defense. Even though Bryant has credited the Celtics D for limiting him offensively, the C’s know he is capable of scoring at will on any night. But they can’t plan their whole strategy around that threat.
“You don’t worry about it. I mean, hell, he’s Kobe Bryant,” said Rivers. “We’ve talked about it before. We are going to have to win a game eventually in this series where he goes off for a big number. But that number, whatever it is, it’s still not the final number. Other people still have to score for them. So as far as we’re concerned, we’re just going to do our best.
“What we can’t do is overreact to it, and I think that’s where the great players get you, the LeBrons and the Wades and who we’ve already faced. They have that big game and everybody overreacts and wants to change the defense and wants to change things. No, we’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing.”
|Thompson on Big Show: Celts ‘aren’t as talented’||06.11.10 at 8:19 pm ET|
Lakers radio color commentator and Los Angeles radio show co-host Mychal Thompson, a former Laker, appeared on The Big Show Friday afternoon to discuss the Celtics-Lakers matchup and who he sees winning the series.
Following are some highlights. To hear the interview, click on The Big Show audio on demand page.
How do you see this thing playing out?
I’m very amused by [Cedric Maxwell] over there enjoying his last moment of glory here, last moment of happiness celebrating the victory last night, led by “Donk and Shrek” or whatever his name is. Let him enjoy the moment right now because that’s the last piece of enjoyment he’ll have around here until the Yankees come in here and knock you guys out of the playoffs.
If Andrew Bynum doesn’t play, the Lakers are in trouble.
That’s OK, we have another 7-footer to act, don’t forget about my boy D.J. Mbenga sitting there. One thing D.J. can do is guard the basketball. We don’t care about scoring. The problem with the Lakers [in Game 4] was they couldn’t make stops, and D.J. can make stops. … We’re not panicking, because the Lakers have the best player in the world in Kobe Bryant. The only thing missing in the fourth quarter — I give the Celtics credit, they definitely came out and put it on the Lakers. They wanted it. They understood the sense of urgency to win that game. otherwise the series was over. I’ll give them credit for that. Now the Lakers must match their energy on Sunday [Game 5]. If the Lakers match the Celtics’ energy, the Celtics can’t beat them.
Isn’t that the same story from 2008?
Well, we had some softer guys on that team. But now with Ron Artest able to shut down Paul Pierce …
Some people say we haven’t seen the best of the Celtics yet.
Seeing the best of the Celtics won’t matter, because you guys just aren’t as talented. Kendrick Perkins is not as good a player in the post as Pau Gasol. [Kevin Garnett] is not the KG of two years ago.
The Celtics haven’t played their best yet. Would that concern you?
No, because I know Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are going to bust out and have a good shooting game eventually. … I’m not worried about offensively. It’s the energy level, it’s the aggression. If the Lakers come out like they did in Games 1, 2 and 3, if they play with that kind of energy, they’ll beat the Celtics.
Have the fans in LA been complaining about the officiating?
Yeah, but you’ve got to play through that. You’ve got to be like Maxwell and [Larry] Bird and those guys were: tough mentally, don’t worry about the officials. When you start looking over your shoulder, you’re going to lose, you’ve got to forget about the officials and adjust to how they call the game.
Do we go seven games?
No, six. The Lakers win Sunday [in Game 5] and close them out Tuesday [in Game 6].
|McHale on Big Show: Celts must win ‘old-style’ game||at 8:12 pm ET|
TNT NBA analyst Kevin McHale appeared on The Big Show Friday afternoon to discuss Celtics-Lakers, the controversial officiating throughout the playoffs, and whether or not he might coach again in the NBA.
Following are some highlights. To hear the interview, click on The Big Show audio on demand page.
Did [Game 4] shock you?
No. I was actually more shocked by Game 3. … Kobe [Bryant] goes 10-for-29, it’s kind of a muddy, muffed-up game, there was not a lot of flow to it. I thought they were going to win that game, I really did. [Derek] Fisher made some big shots and held them off. … I was telling somebody, they were saying, “Well, when the Lakers play free flow and they get their triangle” — they were talking like it was going to be 115, 114 points a night, that doesn’t happen in the playoffs. Everything tightens up, defense gets better, everybody’s after each other. So, no, I was more surprised that the Celtics lost one of those grind-it-out games, and now they’re going to have to find a way to win two more of those kind of ugly, grind-it-out, just classic, old-style games.
With Pau Gasol you have to keep him out of his sweet spot.
No question. I think that’s where Rasheed [Wallace] has done a nice job of running him, coming around, tipping some balls away from him, getting him out of the sweet spot. And what Gasol’s tendency is when he feels pressure, he doesn’t push back and get closer, he starts drifting out to the ball. So I think [Kendrick Perkins] and Rasheed have both pushed him off. … When you’re that much bigger and longer than the guy, you can get a one-dribble jump hook left, one-dribble jump hook right, pump fake, you’re just too close, just right under the basket. Read the rest of this entry »
|Kobe credits Celtics defense||at 2:20 am ET|
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.”
|Three things that went right and wrong in Game 4||06.10.10 at 11:56 pm ET|
The NBA finals are once again tied after the Celtics defeated the Lakers, 96-89, in Game 4 on Thursday night. (Recap.) The Celtics had six scorers in double figures, led by 18 from Glen “Big Baby” Davis, who was dominant down the stretch, and 19 from captain Paul Pierce. Game 5 is Sunday night back at TD Garden.
THREE THINGS THAT WENT RIGHT
Sparkplugs off the bench: One’s called Big Baby and the other looks like, well, a baby on the floor, but supersubs Glen Davis and Nate Robinson certainly didn’t play like their labels Thursday night. The duo combined for 30 points, but it was the pure energy each provided for the C’s off the bench in the fourth quarter that helped the team to victory. One of the greatest video clips from Game 4 was Davis slobbering with Robinson on his back after Davis made a layup on which he was fouled. That one play electrified the TD Garden crowd and pushed the C’s towards an incredible run in the final quarter, in which Boston outscored the Lakers, 36-27.
Rebounds, rebounds, rebounds: Boston found a way to win again because they were able to keep the Lakers big men off the boards. After being outrebounded 43-35 in Game 3, the Celtics won the battle down low 41-33 in their win in Game 4. All five starters had more than five boards, and Davis added five of his own with four of those coming on the offensive end. By winning the rebounding battle, the C’s were able to take away the size advantage that the Lakers utilized perfectly in their wins in Games 1 and 3.
Paul Pierce’s play in the first quarter: Pierce was the only member of the Big Four without a truly dominating performance in any of the first three games, and several of his critics had said that he needed to step it up if the team was going to succeed. Pierce held up his end of the bargain by going off for 10 points in the first frame while the offense undeniably went through him. The rest of the team managed only nine during that time.
THREE THINGS THAT WENT WRONG
Poor first-half shooting: The C’s had more than their fair share of quality shots in the first half but shot just 41 percent from the field. The C’s missed several open jumpers and even some layups. Those misses translated into just 42 first-half points and a three-point deficit that could have been much larger had the Lakers not had their own offensive struggles.
Allowing Kobe to hit some big 3′s in the third quarter: There was a time in the third that it seemed like Kobe Bryant just couldn’t miss from behind the arc. The C’s were giving him just enough room to pull the trigger, and that’s something you simply cannot do against Bryant. He was 5-for-6 at one point from deep and seemed to be in place to endanger Ray Allen’s finals record for 3-pointers in a game. He eventually cooled, but the three-straight 3′s he made to close out the quarter allowed the Lakers to stay ahead going into the fourth.
Timing could have been everything: Although they certainly didn’t affect the outcome, Rasheed Wallace and Nate Robinson both had ill-timed technical fouls in the fourth quarter. Wallace’s technical came after the team had garnered an eight-point lead in the fourth. It very well could have sucked away all the momentum the team had gathered over the previous two minutes and change. Robinson’s T two minutes later threatened to do the same thing. If the C’s want to continue to thrive in the final stanza, they cannot pick up potential game-changing T’s in close games.
|Simmons on D&C: Officiating is the headline of finals||at 10:39 am ET|
ESPN columnist Bill Simmons joined the Dennis & Callahan show on Thursday morning and talked about the quick turnaround from Game 2 in Los Angeles to Game 3 in Boston, the inconsistencies of the officials, and the sloppiness of both teams in the series.
Following are some highlights. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
On Game 3:
I was worried about Game 3 because it was 48 hours after Game 2, cross country trip, and it just seemed like, “Uh oh, this is going to be bad.” If you look at what happened in the game, Kobe [Bryant] had a bad game, [Paul] Pierce and [Ray] Allen both had bad games, the only old guy who had a good game was [Kevin Garnett] and KG didn’t play a lot in Game 2 because he was in foul trouble. My biggest fear about this whole series is that they just wasted an epic KG game and I’m not sure how many he has.
On the inconsistency of the officials:
I think for the most part in the finals, the right team is going to win each game. That’s what bothered me about Game 3 was basically both teams didn’t play well and it came down to officiating. If we’ve learned anything from the Celtics team this year, for whatever reason, the officiating determines how they’re going to do. … It just seems like so many things are predicated on how the officials decide beforehand, “This is what we’re going to do tonight.”
That’s my biggest problem with NBA officiating. Why can’t they just call it the same way every game? … Should we go to a system where there’s just three refs for the entire finals, the same three every game. There just has to be a better solution. Read the rest of this entry »