|Celtics are calm, confident before the storm||06.15.10 at 8:37 pm ET|
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.”
|Ray continues his target practice||at 7:25 pm ET|
All you have to do is watch him about 3 1/2 hours before tip-off.
Whether it’s a January game at the Garden against New Jersey or a potential championship-clinching Game 6 of the 2010 NBA finals, Allen shows up before everyone and has the floor to himself and start draining shot after shot from beyond the 3-point arc.
Tuesday here in Los Angeles was no different as he went through several series of solo H-O-R-S-E games on the floor before finishing with free throws. He is known for his work ethic before each game, getting on the court and warming up. It paid off in Game 2 as he hit his first seven 3-point attempts on his way to setting NBA Finals records for most 3s in a half  and a game  as the Celtics won, 103-94 to even the series.
This is hardly news but still, it’s a reminder of the small details Allen keeps attention to, and that’s no easy task considering his diabetic four-year old son Walker just recovered from another bout of hypoglycemia early Saturday morning.
|Legler on D&C: Kobe ‘trusts his teammates less and less’||at 11:20 am ET|
ESPN NBA analyst Tim Legler discussed the NBA finals Tuesday morning with the Dennis & Callahan show and among the topics of conversation was Kobe Bryant‘s lack of trust in his teammates late in games.
‘I think for Kobe Bryant, the problem right now is as the game goes on and the Celtics make a run in the second half, Kobe trusts his teammates less and less and less. And that’s a big problem for the Lakers,’ Legler said. ‘You can see the frustration in the body language and the gestures he made towards some of his teammates and he frustration he showed in a couple of those huddles late in that game. He doesn’t necessarily feel he’s got the guys to with the intestinal fortitude to withstand a team as tough mentally as the Boston Celtics.’
As for the Celtics, Legler noted that, ‘They trust each other completely. That to me is one of the biggest differences between these two teams.’
Below are some of the highlights from that interview. To hear the entire interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
There could be two things to worry about headed into Game 5. One is the refs changing the tone, and a lot of Celtics get in foul trouble early. The other is this whole mentality of, ‘We have two chances to win one game?’ If you were Doc Rivers, would those bother you?
I don’t think that they’re necessarily thinking that way. I just believe they’re trying to say the right things rather than, ‘We’re going to go back there. We’re going to close this out in six.’ I think they’re just trying to be PC on this one, but I think their mentality is absolutely they’re going to go back there tonight and win the series. And I think they’re very confident they can do that based on how they played against them the last couple games. I think Doc Rivers and that team feel like they now defensively have got this team figured out to the point where they’re not that the Lakers could go off and get into over 100 points. I think that that’s what Doc Rivers’ mindset with this team is right now. He’s very comfortable with the series. Read the rest of this entry »
|What to Watch For: Game 6||at 11:17 am ET|
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 »
|The thing about Gasol||06.14.10 at 11:27 pm ET|
But there’s more than just a long frame and outside shot that separates Gasol from other big men around the league.
‘He’s seven-foot with skills,’ Kendrick Perkins told WEEI.com.
The Barcelona, Spain native honed his skills playing international basketball, where assists are applauded just as loudly as dunks and the emphasis is placed on the team, not just the individual. His international accolades include winning a gold medal and MVP honors in the 2009 EuroBasket tournament and a silver medal in the 2008 Olympics.
‘The thing about international big men is they’re kind of like guards,’ Perkins said. ‘They’ve got a lot of crafty things in their game. Like they could maybe face you up and try to cross you over. They can handle the ball a little bit better, I think, and they’ve got a lot of guard things in their game. ‘¦ When you’ve got a big man from the United States or wherever it may be, growing up we learn more dunks and stuff like that. They learn everything.’
The versatility promoted in Gasol’s international experiences has made him a threat both inside and away from the basket. He is averaging nearly 19 points and 10 rebounds per game in the NBA finals. Even though he had an off-night in the Celtics Game 5 victory (5-12 FG, 12 points), the C’s know he is capable of being a game-changer, especially when the Lakers season is on the line.
‘He’s arguably one of the – he might be the best player on getting a bucket on the block,’ said Perkins. ‘He’s got a mixture. He’s got right, left-hand jump hook. He can take you off the dribble. He’s got a nice jumper, so in his game, he’s got a mixture of everybody [in the league].’
Added Glen Davis, ‘He’s more coordinated, he can do a little bit of everything. That’s the European ball, they kind of thrive on that, being big perimeter guys, guys that can shoot on the corner. He gives you a different match up.’
The Celtics recognize the differences in Gasol’s game that makes him stand out in the league. It’s their job to make sure he doesn’t stand out in Game 6.
|Mashburn on D&H: ‘No one man’ can beat Celtics||at 5:00 pm ET|
Former NBA player and current ESPN NBA analyst Jamal Mashburn appeared on the Dale & Holley show Monday afternoon to discuss the NBA finals, Kobe Bryant, and the coaching matchup and how it has thus far worked in the Celtics’ favor.
Following are some highlights. To hear the interview, click on the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Is there any way the Lakers lose three straight in the finals?
Well, you know what, it’s possible, if Kobe doesn’t get any help from some of his other supporting cast members, such as Lamar Odom and also Ron Artest on the offensive end. And we can discount Pau Gasol a little bit for his performance, he just had a bad game, but he’s been productive throughout the course of this series. But I think the real factor is the health of Andrew Bynum. ‘¦ They don’t have any defense, nobody is stopping anybody at the rim. Paul Pierce was having his way with Ron Artest, and it’s going to be awfully difficult, but if anybody can do it and pull it off, it’s the Boston Celtics. They’ve been very good on the road in the regular season as well as in the postseason.
What did you expect after Game 2?
Well, my basketball mind told me that the Los Angeles Lakers would possibly get two out of the three games in Boston. I was sold after Game 3, when Derek Fisher had his performance in the fourth quarter, but then the Celtics just took over, but I did not see this coming. It seemed like the whole series, each game has had a personality of its own. If Boston can put it together, as far as their stars showing up, as far as their bench players showing up, and their defense continues to be stingy, Game 6 looks like theirs for the taking. But I’m awfully nervous when Game 7 comes around and you have Kobe Bryant on your team. And I think the Celtics should look at Game 6 as being their Game 7. Read the rest of this entry »
|For Lakers: Looks can be deceiving||at 2:28 pm ET|
It was a fascinating study in the way a team handles pressure and accepts defeat on Sunday night at TD Garden.
Late in the fourth quarter, with the Celtics protecting their five-point lead in the final minute, Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce went for a missed shot in the lane. Bryant appeared to have the angle on the ball before Pierce came in like a hawk and grabbed right away.
Bryant then threw up both arms in frustration and then Pierce was fouled with the ball and the Lakers superstar began shaking his head in disgust and disbelief.
The sense of a chance getting away from the Lakers was written all over the ultra-competitive star’s face.
“They just got to every ball,” Bryant said. “Again, they played with more tenacity than we did in that stretch, and we have to do a much better job Game 6. we’re knocking at the door there a couple times and just couldn’t get through.
“Again tonight they got all the hustle points in terms of loose balls and offensive rebounds down the stretch. We didn’t convert.”
Then there’s Lamar Odom, the calm, cool, collected and still cocky Laker forward. After his team failed to take advantage of a legendary third-quarter performance by Kobe Bryant on Sunday night, Odom was asked why he seemed so confident heading back to Los Angeles for Game 6 on Tuesday.
“We love playing in the Staples,” Odom said of L.A.’s home court. “We know we can win on the road but it’s our turn to go back home.”
But with the Celtics just needing to repeat once what they did in Game 2 on the same court, don’t the Celtics have the advantage since L.A. needs two wins?
“That’s tough to say,” Odom said. “That’s a great question. That’s tough to say but I think the home team always has the advantage and the energy switches a little bit, helps you, laying in your own bed.
“We’ll respond. Our energy is still up as a team. Our confidence is still there. The series is not over.” Odom said.
Bryant summed up what’s in front of these Lakers if they want to avoid the same feeling they had two years ago against the Celtics.
“We have a challenge obviously down 3-2,” Bryant said. “We let a couple 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.”
Then Kobe was asked if he were still confident the Lakers can beat their arch-rival twice in three nights.
“I’m not very confident at all,” Bryant said with a sincere laugh.
Sarcasm might be the only trait Bryant, Odom and the Lakers share right now when it comes to playing the Celtics.
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