|Aftermath of finals roundup||06.18.10 at 4:01 pm ET|
After the final buzzer sounded on Thursday night’s Game 7, the Celtics‘ improbable run at banner 18 ended as Kobe Bryant and the Lakers repeated to win their second consecutive title. Despite the NBA season coming to an end, storylines after the game flowed like the streamers and confetti in the Staples Center. Here’s a roundup of what national and local writers are saying after the finale of a classic series.
‘ Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports wrote a column on this being Kobe Bryant’s most difficult title out of his five championships. After struggling in Game 7 and nearly shooting the Lakers out of the game, Bryant began to trust his teammates, especially in the fourth quarter, which brought him another ring.
‘ With his fifth ring, Bryant surpasses Magic Johnson as the greatest Laker of all time, writes Chris Broussard of ESPN. Magic, who has also won five championships, always won with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, whereas Bryant has done it with and without Shaquille O’Neal, contends Broussard. Against other Lakers greats such as Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain, Bryant outranks them with his handful of rings.
‘ Though he coached a team to a championship for the 11th time in his career, Phil Jackson‘s future is uncertain. T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times writes that Jackson has no idea where or he’ll be next year and that his salary might be too rich for the Lakers.
‘ Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe feels that Pau Gasol and not Kobe Bryant is the true MVP of the finals. Ryan writes that Gasol was the real closer with his offensive rebound and basket in the final two minutes to cap off his 19-point, 18-rebound effort. While Bryant had some great performances in the series, it was Gasol who was the most consistent Laker.
‘ On the Boston side, Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports views a lot of changes on the way for the Celtics. The most uncertainty is with the decision coach Doc Rivers will have to make on whether or not to return. The 48-year-old could depart the Celtics to spend more time with his family in Orlando and watch his sons play basketball.
‘ Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston writes that despite being an unrestricted free agent this summer, Ray Allen still wants to return to the Celtics. The question will be how much is Boston willing to pay and will Allen take a discount to stick with a very close group? Forsberg feels that at 35, Allen is getting up in age and likely won’t see a contract more than two years.
‘ The most surprising piece of information that came out after Game 7 was the news that Rasheed Wallace could retire after only one year with the Celtics. Gary Dzen and Julian Benbow of the Boston Globe write that after the loss, Rivers revealed that Wallace might walk away from the game. Wallace struggled to get through Thursday night after experiencing cramps and strains as he filled in for the injured Kendrick Perkins at center. The 35-year-old has played in three finals and made four All-Star teams.
|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.”
|Celtics draft pick Erden helps Turkey in EuroBasket||09.12.09 at 9:36 pm ET|
The Boston Celtics 2008 second round draft pick Semih Erden has yet to play in an NBA game, but he has already defeated one of the Los Angeles Lakers. On Saturday he helped Turkey defeat Pau Gasol and the Spanish team in the EuroBasket 2009 Group F qualifying round.
The 6-11 center led the team with six rebounds and scored 11 points, including two free throws that secured Turkey’s 63-60 victory over Spain. He also contributed two rebounds, an alley-oop from Hedo Turkoglu, a block, and a steal in the final five minutes of the back-and-forth match up. Turkey remains undefeated (3-0) and plays Serbia on Monday.
Erden was selected by the Celtics with the 60th pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. He averaged 6.6 points and 4.1 rebounds with Fenerbahce Ulker last season.
|Bird’s favorite player is a Laker?||06.04.09 at 10:33 pm ET|
During halftime of Game 1 of the NBA Finals, ABC aired an interview between Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant in which Johnson revealed Larry Bird considers Bryant his favorite player. Turns out Bryant has a one-sided love-hate relationship with Bird.
Johnson: Larry Bird told me that Kobe Bryant is his favorite player. How do you respond to that?
Bryant: You know what? That makes me feel, that makes me feel great. You know, I hated Larry growing up. I did, I hated his guts. But I loved him as a player and his work ethic and his intensity, his tenacity and I wanted to be that way. And the funny thing is, I’ve never actually met Larry Bird.
|Nuggets try to follow Celtics lead||05.25.09 at 6:32 pm ET|
“Boston was so much more physical than they were,” Billups said. “They didn’t give up a lot of layups and they didn’t give up a lot in transition. We’re capable of doing those kinds of things. I can’t say that our team is as good defensively as Boston was last year, but we do have a pretty good defensive basketball team.”
The Celtics held Kobe Bryant to 25.7 points per game (40.5% FG, 32.1% 3PG) during the Finals. He is averaging 37.7 points (48.6% FG, 50.0% 3PG) in the first three games against the Nuggets. The Cs also handled Pau Gasol (14.7 ppg, 10.2 rpg), who is averaging 16.7 points and 14.0 rebounds in the Western Conference Finals.
One of the biggest difference in this year’s playoffs is the Lakers edge on offense. Last season the Celtics outshot them 43.0% to 34.7% from long range. They are outshooting the Nuggets 39.9% to 29.9% from behind the arc. The Celtics also outrebounded the Lakers by nearly five boards per game whereas the Lakers are grabbing nearly four more boards than the Nuggets.
|Anniversary of ‘Beat L.A.’||05.23.09 at 7:32 pm ET|
The chant that carried the Boston Celtics through last season’s NBA Finals originated 27 years ago today. On May 23, 1982 the Philadelphia 76ers were on the verge of eliminating the Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Rather than cheer against the victors, the Garden crowd bellowed ‘Beat L.A.’ as encouragement for the Sixers to defeat the Lakers in the championship round. The Lakers won the title in six games.
|Twelve minutes to make it count||02.08.09 at 5:40 pm ET|
‘It comes down to a fourth-quarter battle,’ he said on Friday. ‘They’re not going to come in and make small mistakes. They’re going to operate their offense. Defensively they’re going to know what they’ve got to do.’
Allen was exactly right. On Sunday, the Celtics entered the fourth quarter with a two-point lead and were outscored 31-23 by the Spurs. They lost 105-99 (RECAP HERE). It was the second time in two games the defending champs fell in the final 12 minutes. Last week they started the fourth quarter up by four on the Los Angeles Lakers before losing 110-109 in overtime.
‘When you play the top teams in the league it comes down to the little things,’ said Paul Pierce. ‘And I just thought last couple of games at home it was one or two-point games. It’s the little things — defensive transition late in the game, covering for one another, one possession. It’s like the playoffs, one play can kill you. Every possession counts and we got to understand that when we play against the top tier teams like the San Antonio Spurs and the Lakers.’
The Celtics have hit cold streaks in their last two losses. Up six with eight minutes to go against the Lakers, the C’s failed to build on their lead. The Lakers went on an 11-5 run during a five minute stretch to tie it up, eventually winning in OT.
On Sunday the Celtics allowed an 11-4 Spurs run in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter. Later in the game they watched a 93-90 lead slip away to a 101-93 deficit.
‘You’ve got to get stops, everybody’s got to be on the same page,’ said Kendrick Perkins. ‘Besides getting stops, on the offense you’ve got to execute, you’ve got to throw the extra pass when guys are open. Usually a team like San Antonio, you can’t beat them with the dribble. You’ve got to beat them with the pass. You can’t turn the ball over at all against San Antonio. So I just thought in stretches we played together and stretches we didn’t move the ball and that was the key.’
The Celtics have allowed a total of 215 points in their last two games at home. It is an overwhelming difference for a team who has held their opponents to just 92 points per game over the season. Nonetheless, head coach Doc Rivers was able to see a silver lining in the losses.
‘Well it tells me that we’re really good, because we’ve not played with our A-game, as Tiger Woods would say, I guess,’ he said. ‘And we still had a chance to win both. Both games we had the lead and gave it up. Gave up points, which is not like us. In a sick way I guess I’d rather be down and not be able to score than up and give up baskets, because we’re a defensive team. But we clearly have to improve. Our bench has to be more consistent. They gave up an 8-1 run to start the fourth. You know, that hurts you. It’s tough to recover from that.’
The Celtics will have two days to regroup before facing the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday. They are aware of their mistakes; now it is a matter of fixing them.
‘In general, you can’t turn the ball over,’ Allen said. ‘You have to execute on both ends down the floor in the fourth quarter.’
The Celtics know what to expect down the stretch. Lucky for them, there’s another 12 minutes to prove they can take care of business.
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