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Simmons on D&C: Officiating is the headline of finals 06.10.10 at 10:39 am ET
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ESPN columnist Bill Simmons joined the Dennis & Callahan show on Thursday morning and talked about the quick turnaround from Game 2 in Los Angeles to Game 3 in Boston, the inconsistencies of the officials, and the sloppiness of both teams in the series.

Following are some highlights. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

On Game 3:

I was worried about Game 3 because it was 48 hours after Game 2, cross country trip, and it just seemed like, ‘€œUh oh, this is going to be bad.’€ If you look at what happened in the game, Kobe [Bryant] had a bad game, [Paul] Pierce and [Ray] Allen both had bad games, the only old guy who had a good game was [Kevin Garnett] and KG didn’€™t play a lot in Game 2 because he was in foul trouble. My biggest fear about this whole series is that they just wasted an epic KG game and I’€™m not sure how many he has.

On the inconsistency of the officials:

I think for the most part in the finals, the right team is going to win each game. That’€™s what bothered me about Game 3 was basically both teams didn’€™t play well and it came down to officiating. If we’€™ve learned anything from the Celtics team this year, for whatever reason, the officiating determines how they’€™re going to do. ‘€¦ It just seems like so many things are predicated on how the officials decide beforehand, ‘€œThis is what we’€™re going to do tonight.’€

That’€™s my biggest problem with NBA officiating. Why can’€™t they just call it the same way every game? ‘€¦ Should we go to a system where there’€™s just three refs for the entire finals, the same three every game. There just has to be a better solution. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bill Simmons, Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett
Pierce to LA fans: ‘We ain’t coming back’ 06.07.10 at 6:35 am ET
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Lakers center Pau Gasol made some comments about Kevin Garnett over the weekend that some people tried to turn into inspiration for the Celtics. Now it’s Paul Pierce‘s turn for some locker room bulletin board material. During the closing seconds of the C’s Game 2 win Sunday night, as Pierce helped up teammate Kendrick Perkins, he appeared to say, “We ain’t coming back [to LA].” If the Celtics were to win (or, for that matter, lose) the next three games in Boston, the series would be over without the Lakers hosting another game.

It should be noted that after Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals in Orlando, Pierce made a similar proclamation, saying “See y’all next year,” as he walked to the locker room, after an interview with ESPN sideline reporter Doris Burke in which he said, “We’re coming home to close it out.” That proved to be inaccurate, as the Magic pushed the series to six games.

Here’s the clip of the Sunday night comment, which became a hot topic overnight on message boards across the country.

Read More: Celtics, Lakers, Paul Pierce,
Pierce not concerned with offensive struggles at 1:38 am ET
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LOS ANGELES — Paul Pierce isn’€™t worried.

In spite of shooting 2-for-11  in Game 2 of the NBA finals, the Celtics captain was not concerned.

He knows he can perform better, but he doesn’€™t have to force his shot when his teammates are getting it done on the offensive end.

‘€œI think I struggled offensively, I think I rushed a lot,’€ Pierce said following the Celtics Game 2 win over the Lakers. ‘€œI don’€™t think it was too much about what Ron (Artest) did (defensively). I had about three or four open shots off the pick-and-roll that guys got me open that I missed. I loved the looks I got tonight. I’€™m happy with that, but at the same time I’€™m not going to force the issue on my offense.’€

Pierce finished the game with 10 points, 14 less than in Game 1. But it’€™s how he made up for it that matters. He grabbed four rebounds and held Artest to just six points off of 1-for-10 shooting. Pierce considers himself to be a versatile player, not just a scorer, and he utilized those skills to help the Celtics get the win.

‘€œI don’€™t have a big burden for me offensively on my team as Kobe (Bryant) does,’€ he said. ‘€œSo when I’€™m not out here making buckets I’€™m out there trying to rebound, defend, make plays for other guys. Obviously Ray was the catalyst tonight along with Rajon (Rondo), so I tried to do other things.’€

Read More: Celtics, Lakers, NBA Finals, Paul Pierce
Jackson: It’s going to be highly charged 06.06.10 at 7:42 pm ET
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LOS ANGELES — The Lakers took Game 1 of the NBA finals in such a decisive manner that it would be tempting for them to think that they have things figured out against the Celtics. However, they have no illusions that Game 2 is going to resemble Game 1.

“It may have been first-game jitters,” Ron Artest said Friday. “We’re not expecting another game like that at all. They had a tough road in the East and faced a lot of adversity. That team, the Celtics, is special. We all respect that.”

Phil Jackson reiterated that point Sunday before Game 2.

“The response is usually, not always but usually, the team that has taken a loss,” Jackson said. “The adjustments and the response and we anticipate that’s going to happen tonight. It’s going to be a much more tight game, I think, going down the stretch. We anticipate the game is going to be highly-charged, there’s no doubt about that.”

For their part, the atmosphere in the Celtics locker room was business-like. Assistant coach Tom Thibodeau was spotted poring over film, while players mostly brushed off media inquiries.

In terms of adjustments, the Celtics aren’t tipping their hand although it seems likely that Paul Pierce may see more time on Kobe Bryant, particularly if Ray Allen gets in foul trouble again. Marquis Daniels is also on the active list and if nothing else he’s another body to throw at Bryant.

“We do what we do,” Doc Rivers said. “We didn’t do it. You can’t start changing because that’s not who you are and that would affect your team more than anything.”

Read More: Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, Ron Artest,
Celtics, Lakers look ahead to Game 2 06.05.10 at 8:11 pm ET
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EL SEGUNDO — The Celtics and Lakers held court with the media on Saturday as they looked ahead to Game 2.  There have been common themes discussed following the C’s Game 1 loss — energy, rebounding, stopping Kobe Bryant, among others.

Over the past few days the players have heard the same questions posed in different ways. Many view it as part of being in the finals. Others have found a type of motivation in the repetition.

“I think it helps us a lot because you kind of get tired about hearing about the same things,” said Kendrick Perkins. “So you want to go out there and correct it so after Game 2 you won’€™t have to hear about it anymore.”

Here are a few soundbites from Saturday’s practice:

Helping Rondo be Rondo: As the point guard, it’€™s Rajon Rondo‘€™s job to get his teammate the ball. At the same time, the Celtics have to do a better job of setting him up for success as well. The Celtics lack of defensive stops in Game 1 prevented Rondo from getting into transition often, something they look to improve in Game 2.

‘€œWhen you don’t get stops, that means he’s taking the ball out every time and it doesn’t allow Rondo to get out there and use his speed in transition for fastbreaks,’€ said Paul Pierce. ‘€œEvery time they got stops, rebounds was another big Achilles heel for us. So it’s important to do a better job on rebounds after each shot, getting the ball in his hands so his speed and play-making ability can become a factor in game number two. So we’ve got to make a concentrated effort at doing a better job at that.’€

Gasol reacts to Garnett comments: On Friday, Pau Gasol‘€™s comparison of Kevin Garnett from 2008 to 2010 became a media whirlwind when a small fraction of his comments were magnified. Gasol commented, ‘€œOn Kevin’€™s part, he’€™s also lost some explosiveness. He’€™s more of a jump shooter now,’€ before adding that he considers Garnett to be a ‘€œterrific player’€ who brings everything he has to the court.

Gasol reacted to the buzz following Lakers practice. When asked if he was surprised that his comment had been portrayed as derogatory, he responded, ‘€œTo an extent. To an extent. I understand media try to create situations for whatever reason, create attraction. But again, sometimes I extend my answers too long. Maybe I shouldn’t do that. I should be shorter with my answers and don’t give away just anything so it can’t be manipulated that way and used.’€

The Celtics didn’€™t get worked up over Gasol’€™s comments, though. Rondo said losing Game 1 was motivation enough for the C’€™s in itself.

Said Kendrick Perkins, ‘€œI say speak your mind. Sometimes it livens up the series a little bit. So I say speak your mind. You never know who you might make mad when you say something crazy, so you never know. Everybody’€™s watching.’€

Celtics know what they’€™re playing for: Kevin Garnett is no stranger to screaming, yelling, and getting in his teammates’€™ faces on the court to pump them up. But at this point in the season, Garnett says that isn’€™t necessary.

‘€œI think in this situation you don’t have to do any of that,’€ he said. ‘€œI think we’re all kind of distasteful at this time, knowing what’s at stake and it being the finals. No one here has to come out and say a heroic speech or get in anyone’s face. It’s all self-explanatory to this point. Everyone is motivated. Everyone knows we’re motivated. Guys on the team are looking at themselves in the mirror and I’m no different from that.”

Read More: Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant
Three Things That Went Wrong And Right in Game 1 06.04.10 at 12:00 am ET
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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.

Read More: Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Lakers, NBA Finals
Big Papi breaks down the NBA finals 06.02.10 at 11:30 pm ET
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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.

‘€œI’€™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 ‘€œteam.’€

Ortiz on’€¦

Kevin Garnett: ‘€œKG 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: ‘€œI 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: ‘€œRondo’€™s fine in his game. I’€™m not worried about Rondo.’€

Kendrick Perkins: ‘€œMy 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: ‘€œI 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: ‘€œBig 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: ‘€œThe 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: ‘€œThey’€™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.’€

Read More: Celtics, David Ortiz, Glen Davis, Kendrick Perkins
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