|Doc: Defense was ‘horrible’||06.04.10 at 2:40 am ET|
LOS ANGELES -For a defensive-minded team, the Celtics didn’t look like one in their Game 1 loss to the Lakers.
“It was horrible,” Doc Rivers said of the C’s defense following the game. “I thought we hugged up on guys all night. That wasn’t our defense tonight, I can tell you that. Give them credit, they moved the ball, they spaced the floor very well. But we didn’t shrink the floor at all tonight.”
The Celtics were outrebounded 42-31, including 30-23 on the offensive glass. Pau Gasol finished the night with 14 rebounds, while it was Paul Pierce, not Kendrick Perkins or Kevin Garnett, who led the Celtics with nine.
“In the first half, it made the bigs look bad because they were getting offensive rebounds. But it wasn’t the bigs’ fault,” said Rivers. “It was the guards dribbling down the middle of the lane. Our bigs have to help. They miss a shot and their bigs get an offensive rebound. They didn’t control the dribble at all. Before the game we told them the key to the game was rebounding, dribble penetration. We stop those two things, we’ll be in good shape. But we didn’t do either one.”
There are few second chances in the NBA playoffs, and the Celtics didn’t give themselves any. They were outscored 16-0 on second chance points, which correlated into a 48-30 deficit in the paint.
While Rivers believes it was the play of the Lakers guards that hurt the Celtics on second chance points more than their effort, his players are not letting themselves off easy.
“Our intensity [was missing],” said Kendrick Perkins. “Our energy level on both ends has been high throughout the playoffs. I think we were missing just our intensity. Our energy wasn’t there. We hung our heads a lot, we didn’t attack, we fouled every time down tonight. So I just think we’ve got to, first thing, stick together and bounce back in Game 2. We’ve got to go back, watch film, and come back down to earth and do what we do that got us here. We’ve got to get back to our roots, come back down to earth, and get back to doing the little things.”
|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.
|Finals have a different feeling||06.03.10 at 8:58 pm ET|
LOS ANGELES - It has only been two years since the Celtics suited up for Game 1 of the 2008 NBA finals. The majority of the faces are the same, but what about the feeling?
“I wasn’t really nervous Game 1 of the Finals. I’m not really nervous right now,“ said Rajon Rondo. “It’s kind of hard to tell right now until the lights actually go on and there’s two minutes left ticking down. Right now it’s no big deal, it’s the same thing.”
The emotions are different this time around. In 2008, the Celtics were suddenly thrust from the lottery to the finals after acquiring Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. This season, they know what it takes to win it all and are trying to recreate the success they achieved two years earlier.
“I think we’re more poised than we were last time. I think that’s the biggest difference. I don’t think the stage is as big a deal as the game plan. We’re more focused on the game plan than the finals,” said Brian Scalabrine.
“It’s the second time around, we’ve been there. We’ve done it before and there’s nothing really that surprises you. We know it’s going to be crowded out there, we know media day is going to be crazy, we didn’t know any of that. The intensity of this team in ’08 was different. It was a more high-strung team, we’re much more laidback. That’s not a bad thing. We can compartmentalize better than we did in ’08.”
Doc Rivers is prepared either way.
“In some ways we have the same starters, but the bench is completely different,” he said. “For some of the guys, this is their first time around. So you have to kind of watch their emotions. And even some of the guys who were on the bench last year, the last time when they were not in the rotation as much. Then in a lot of ways, it’s their first time. … We’ve got a veteran group, so we know what we’re in store for.”
|Rondo’s new challenge||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.”
|What Big Papi Sees in Big Baby||06.01.10 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.
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