|Title wave will be a Green energy transfer||06.14.10 at 12:06 pm ET|
Now comes the hard part.
The Celtics, after dropping Game 3 on their home court, have crept to within one win of their 18th title by taking advantage of the incredible energy inside TD Garden. But if they are to raise yet another banner to the rafters in the fall, they’re going to have to get it done in the hostile environment of Staples Center.
Kendrick Perkins said the key to transferring the momentum and energy of the TD Garden crowd to Los Angeles will be mental toughness.
“It’s all mental,” Perkins said. “I think we have to go out there and take their crowd out of it early. We can’t let them get energy going in the building. I think it’s got to be all mental. There are going to be times where they make runs and their crowd may get involved in the game and it may get loud in there. But we have to make sure we have to keep our composure and just keep going, keep attacking.”
While their 24-17 regular season home record was tied with Miami and Chicago as worst among the 16 playoff teams, the playoffs have been a different story.
The Celtics won six of their first seven at the Garden in the opening three rounds, and went 7-2 at home to advance to the NBA finals. They dropped Game 3, 91-84 to the Lakers but came back to win Games 4 and 5 to finish 9-3 at home in the playoffs.
While it was not the 13-1 mark they had on the parquet in their 2008 title run, the energy in TD Garden the last two games clearly helped the Celtics. And they were quick to point that out after the game.
“The energy in the building really feeds our defensive intensity,” Tony Allen said. “We all feel it.”
Now, the Celtics need to find a way to replace that energy with focus.
“Mental toughness,” Allen added. “Guys staying together and knowing what our goal is and everybody knowing what their role is when we get down there. And I think that’ll get the win.”
Ray Allen remembered 2008 after Game 5 Sunday night. Those finals ended with a celebration on the parquet. But if the Celtics can win once more, this celebration will be just as sweet.
“That’s the beautiful thing about this whole situation,” Allen said. “The circumstances that have been before us all playoffs long. We never had home court advantage except for the first round. We had to win on the other team’s floor. We talked about what team we’re going to play in the first round. I remember sitting in the locker room and we’re watching Miami and Milwaukee play and we’re talking about where we want to go.
“It seemed like so long ago. At the same time, we had to beat Miami on their home floor, we had to beat everybody on their floor in order for us to advance. We’ve been in this position before. I think the guys mentally are ready for it. We’ll get prepared and get ready to get it done.”
|Why Game 6 is still just another game||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.
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: I like our focus||06.13.10 at 7:57 pm ET|
Every coach likes his team to be focused on the task at hand.
“Our guys haven’t talked about that a lot,” Rivers said. “I’ve heard it a lot. I think fans realize we don’t have Games 6 or 7 here so this is our final home game.
“Our guys really are just focused on THE game tonight and I like where our focus is, in this case, over the fans’ focus. I don’t know if players have the chance to look at big picture, or coaches in some ways, and that’s probably good.”
[Doc Rivers believes his team's focus is where it needs to be.]
|Doc: We won’t change game plan for Kobe, Bynum||at 7:42 pm ET|
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.”
|Lakers never considered sending Bynum home||at 7:24 pm ET|
“No change since this morning,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson announced before the game. “You know, he’s ready to play the game and ready to go out there and perform.”
Jackson was also asked if the Lakers considered sending Bynum home to Los Angeles after Thursday’s Game 4 when the knee was drained so he could rest up for Games 6 and 7, if necessary. “Not even considered,” Jackson responded.
|Odom: ‘We have quickness and size’ to cover C’s||06.12.10 at 11:16 pm ET|
The Celtics do have Kevin Garnett but the they don’t use him like the Suns used Amar’e Stoudamire on the pick and roll.
And the Celtics don’t score between 110 and 120 points in every playoff game like the Suns.
In other words, Odom, despite Thursday’s loss in Game 4 at TD Garden, still likes his team’s chances for being able to cover everything the Celtics could throw at them.
“We have the quickness and the size to defend this team,” Odom said. “If we communicate, we’ll be alright. It wasn’t like they scored 125 points or anything like that.”
Time will tell if those words are enough to bring out more masks or spark more chants directed at his wife Khloe Kardashian.
Odom can’t control that but he, like Bynum before him, said the Lakers need to control Glen Davis and Nate Robinson better. The pair, before their Shrek and Donkey routine after Game 4, combined to score 30 points off the bench.
“Even with Glen Davis getting going and a couple of their other guys getting going, it wasn’t a barn-burner for them offensively,” Odom said.
|Celtics, Lakers look ahead to Game 5||at 3:56 pm ET|
On Saturday the Celtics and Lakers prepared for Game 5 of the NBA finals. The players kept the same mentality that every game, not just the upcoming 2-2 tie-breaker, is a must-win. Here are a few soundbites from Saturday’s practice:
Big Baby knows his role: Glen Davis isn’t getting ahead of himself after scoring 18 points in Game 4. He understands his job on the team and is more focused on fulfilling his role than living up to any expectations set by his performance.
“It’s not my job to go out there and score points,” he said. “So [when people say] he’s not going to do that again, if I have to do it again, I will. But I’m not the primary scorer on the team. I’m not the go-to guy in the clutch. I’m just a guy that goes out there, don’t have no plays called for me, just goes out there and plays the game like it’s supposed to be played, and that’s all will and determination to get the game won. So if I don’t score at all next game, I know my effort and just the will to win will be there. And that feels even greater to me, especially if we get the win.”
Giving Kobe a break: Minutes have been a concern for the Celtics the entire season, and Phil Jackson is conscious of it too. Kobe Bryant is averaging 40 minutes through the first four contests, but Jackson wants to conserve his energy for the most critical minutes of the game.
“They like to get Tony Allen in there to make him really have to work, get a body on him,” said Jackson. “I’ve got to find a little space and time for him to give him some rest in that situation so he can come back with renewed energy. But after he’s played 30-plus minutes, to have that kind of energy to finish a game out is important to us, and we’ve got to get that back.”
Perkins gets technical with Sheed: Both Kendrick Perkins and Rasheed Wallace are a technical foul away from an automatic one-game suspension. Perkins has sought out advice from Kevin Garnett in the past, and now he has offered advice to Wallace on how to avoid being called for number seven. The Celtics were happy to hear of Perkins’ conversation.
“Whatever works because we need both those guys,” said Paul Pierce. “Those technicals, they can hurt you if we lose either one of those guys. Whatever Kendrick does for Sheed, whatever Sheed does for Kendrick, I hope they realize we need these guys in there for all of them. And whatever they can do, I’m all for it.”
Rivers addresses “flopping” comments: Following the Lakers Game 3 victory, Doc Rivers was asked about Derek Fisher’s ability to get through screens. Rivers began his response by saying, “Derek? What, besides flopping, he doesn’t do a lot extra.”
On Saturday, Rivers clarified his comments. “It’s funny, what I was saying about Fish the other day, I said he flops, he’s good at it,” he said. “I think guys, they understand that and there are certain guys who have perfected it. To be a great flopper, you have to be a great charge-taker too. … Fish and me and John Stockton, you can go through the list, they took charges and flopped on half of them too. It’s tough. It’s a tough call. He’s good.”