|Three Things That Went Wrong And Right in Game 1||06.04.10 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.
|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.”
|Pierce: Doc is one ‘cool customer’||05.31.10 at 5:24 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Two of the most-respected coaches in the NBA also happen to have the most rings.
And Celtics captain Paul Pierce would love to give Doc Rivers the chance to join Lakers coach Phil Jackson and San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich as active coaches with multiple rings.
But whether the Celtics win another title or not in the next month, Paul Pierce believes he is playing for one of the best coaches of his generation. Pierce said Monday following practice that Rivers deserves credit for keeping the team focused on the task at hand and never showing panic through the course of a long season filled with many ups and downs.
“He’s definitely taken my career to the next level,” Pierce said. “You have to put him up there with the top-five coaches with Phil, Gregg Popovich.”
It wasn’t always that way as Pierce admitted earlier this season when he said his relationship with the Celtics and Rivers was sometimes like when a couple goes through growing pains early in their relationship.
Sometimes you come close to “breaking up” Pierce said but in the end, you work things out.
Such was the case, even this season, when the team went 27-27 to finish the season, losing at home to teams like Washington, New Jersey and Memphis. When the team was battling to find itself in January and February, Pierce said it was Rivers who kept things loose and easy.
“I think it’s everything to this ballclub,” Pierce said. “You can see at times when you play for coaches when things aren’t going right it just seems like the practices get harder and the yelling becomes louder and Doc is a cool customer.
“He didn’t panic, he didn’t get louder. He just stuck with the game plan. A lot of times, when you go through a stretch we went through like five games out of six, seven-out-of-10, you can tell from a coach’s body language that things are going downhill. You never really saw that with Doc. He came in and said, ‘Alight, we’re going to get back to work the next day.’ He always stayed positive and encouraged us and I think that was big for us throughout the year.”
Jackson has an NBA-record 10 titles as head coach while Gregg Popovich is second among active coaches with four. The Celtics are making their second trip to the NBA Finals in three years with Rivers as the coach and he is trying to join Red Auerbach, Bill Russell and K.C. Jones as Celtics coaches with two titles in three seasons.
|NBA rescinds Perkins technical||05.27.10 at 1:04 pm ET|
The Celtics and Kendrick Perkins received a reprieve from the NBA Thursday when the league rescinded one of the two technical fouls Perkins received in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, clearing Perkins to play in Game 6 on Friday.
Perkins and Marcin Gortat earned double-technicals early in the game and then Perkins was hit with a second one by official Eddie F. Rush with 36 seconds left in the half. Perkins was ejected after the second T, his seventh of the postseason, which triggered an automatic one-game suspension.
The league does review every technical foul that is called and they decided to rescind the second technical foul. Perkins still has six technicals against his name and would still be in danger of a suspension if he is hit with another one during the postseason.
In an eerie bit of foreshadowing, Doc Rivers spoke about the problems his team had with getting technicals, particularly Perkins, some two hours before it happened on the court.
“I actually don’t like the rule, the suspension,” Rivers said. “I just don’t like it. I think the longer you are in the playoffs the more likely it’s going to affect your team. I think the fans want to see the best players on the floor. I just don’t agree with the whole suspension thing.”
Part of the problem, Rivers believes, lies in the process of issuing double technical fouls to players, a tactic used by officials to try to calm things down.
“It’s the double tech thing that has to be resolved,” Rivers said. “Sometimes the officials are just trying to clean the game up and an easy way to do it is give both guys techs and calm the game down. To me, those are the ones that we have to figure out a better way.”
The league also upgraded a personal foul on Paul Pierce to a Flagrant 1 after Pierce shoved J.J. Redick in the back in the fourth quarter. The NBA announced before Game 5 that they had upgraded fouls from Game 4 on Orlando’s Dwight Howard and Matt Barnes to Flagrant 1 status as well.
Players are assessed points for flagrant fouls (one point for a Flagrant 1 and two points for a Flagrant 2). If they hit three points, they are also subject to an automatic one-game suspension. Howard has two Flagrant Foul points.
|Pierce: ‘We can still take care of business’||05.25.10 at 1:18 am ET|
Paul Pierce knew exactly what was at stake Monday night when he dribbled and then lost the ball at the end of regulation.
It was a chance, with the game tied at 86-86, to make one more shot and put away the Magic in four straight games and advance to the NBA Finals. But instead he lost the ball and the Magic were able to stay alive in overtime, outscoring Boston, 10-6 and win 96-92 to force Game 5 Wednesday night in Orlando.
The Magic still trail 3-1 but all of sudden, with two of the next potential three games on Orlando’s home court, the perspective of the series has changed, if only slightly.
“They’re a great team. We’re not going to take them for granted so Game 5 is going to be a tough one on their floor,” Pierce said. “We didn’t want to go back on their floor to play but it is what it is but we’ve got to get another win in their building. That’s the goal.
“We really don’t want to come back here for Game 6. The sense of urgency is going to be there when we get on the road so hopefully, we can take care of business.”
Pierce also took responsibility for the final play of regulation that resulted in no shot for the Celtics and allowed the Magic to survive to overtime.
Pierce had the ball in his hands and was supposed to run a play that called for a pick and roll with Ray Allen but Pierce never got the ball to Allen and Jameer Nelson knocked it away and as time expired.
“We didn’t want to call a time out,” Pierce said the Celtics’ decision to forego a timeout. “It was a pick and roll, me and Ray Allen and I pretty much screwed it up, turned the ball over. That’s all it is, couldn’t get the final shot. Sometimes it happens that way. That’s no excuse and we still had opportunities in overtime and we didn’t take advantage.”
Pierce still finished with a team-high 32 points in over 46 minutes of action.
“[It was] definitely a tough loss,” Pierce said. “You fight so hard to get back in the game and all the ties. I just think the little things hurt us. I thought we really pressed too much, each of us wanted to do it. We weren’t doing the things that got us the 3-0 lead. We kind of felt we was pressing to get the win. They’re a good team and they’re not going to lay down and we can expect them to so gotta move on to Game 5.
“At the end of the day, even though we struggled to get some momentum offensively it still doesn’t, we still didn’t play any defense down the stretch. We gave them a three, offensive rebounds and sent them to the line there in the 4th quarter and overtime. Those type of things hurt when you’re trying to come back. But we made our bed, we gotta lay in and move on.”
|For Celtics, there was much ado about Hedo||05.24.10 at 12:27 am ET|
WALTHAM — The sudden disappearance of Rashard Lewis is not the only thing missing from the Magic team that defeated the Celtics in last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals.
This time around they are playing without Hedo Turkoglu, who left Orlando last summer and signed a multi-year deal with the Raptors. Even though the Magic acquired Vince Carter in his place — a role Carter’s teammates say he has filled well — the Celtics have noticed a difference in matchups without Turkoglu on the court.
It is one they have benefited from in the conference finals.
“Definitely with Turkoglu, he adds a size matchup being at 6-10 he can play the 2, the 3, the 1. Obviously, a walking matchup problem,” Paul Pierce said following practice on Sunday. “I just think the things that he does playing with the ball and off the ball in the post, he’s one of the more versatile small forwards in the NBA and one of the toughest that I’ve seen to guard. Them not having him, I think it really works in our favor.”
Last season Turkoglu averaged over 16 points in the seven-game semifinals series. Not only did he score, he made it easier for his teammates to do so by spreading the floor. (In the deciding Game 7, Turkoglu scored 25 points while dishing 12 assists.)
Take Lewis as an example. This postseason series he is averaging just five points while shooting 25 percent from the field and going 1-for-13 from 3-point range. Even though he got more open looks last season because of Kevin Garnett’s absence, the Celtics guarded him differently when Turkoglu was on the floor.
“Turkoglu, one of the things I think he does so well is he’s a facilitator,” said Doc Rivers. “He’s a big shot maker, but he is such a great passer with length. It’s tough to get deflections off Turkoglu, where all their other guys, you can get your hands up and you can get deflections. Turkoglu and LeBron [James] probably make the best cross-court passes in the league. So that’s been a little bit different for us. And Rashard is now at the 4, where really we played Turkoglu more at that position even though he was at the 3.”
|Celtics take credit where credit is due||05.23.10 at 3:41 pm ET|
WALTHAM — The Celtics are one game away from eliminating the Magic and advancing to the NBA Finals, and they believe credit should be given where credit is due.
“I believe we deserve all the credit,” Ray Allen said following practice on Sunday. “It’s only two teams playing. We’re putting them in the situation that they’re in, and we’re adjusting and trying to find the ways that we can confuse them as much as we can, and make it tough defensively on them and offensively. They’re not going out there and doing it to themselves.”
Following their Game 3 loss, the Magic conceded they have been outhustled and outplayed the entire series. Players were baffled by their collapse, saying they have not seen the real Magic team yet. Others said they are beating themselves.
But the Celtics are not paying attention to the downtrodden morale of their opponent.
“None of my concern,” said Kevin Garnett. “That’s them. That’s how they think. Nothing more, nothing less than that. I can’t really be worried with what they’re thinking over there and how they’re playing or what’s going through their head.”
The Celtics have made it this far by staying honed in on each other the entire postseason. Some questioned whether or not they would even survive the first round, let alone make it to the NBA Finals. Now that they are just 48 minutes away from advancing, they are focused on the confidence they have in one another, not the uncertainty felt by the Magic.
“I didn’t have any doubts in this team,” said Paul Pierce. “I never doubted us because I felt once we got to the playoffs, guys would be able to settle in a little more, travel wouldn’t be as much, we could really focus in on the team, and really do our scouting report. And I think just looking at a seven-game series, I always thought it’d be tough to beat us four times.”
The Heat and Cavaliers have already found out just how tough it is. The Celtics hope to teach the Magic the same lesson on Monday night.
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