|Mashburn on D&C: ‘This is Rondo’s team’||06.17.10 at 9:55 am ET|
ESPN NBA analyst Jamal Mashburn joined the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to discuss Game 7 of the NBA finals. Below are some highlights. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
On what Rasheed Wallace will give the Celtics:
Rasheed has experience and he comes to play, it seems like when he wants to play, when the moment shines the brightest. Obviously, what they need from him is rebounding and defense and for him to knock down a couple of those long 3-point shots to stake the defense. And also to stay out of foul trouble. I think that’s the critical part. with Kendrick Perkins being out of the lineup. Rasheed has to stay out of foul trouble, and he’s done a pretty good job of keeping his cool even though does continue to do his antics ‘ it looks like he never gets whistled for a foul in his life. Rasheed Wallace is a capable player, but, as you mentioned, you talked about the consistency of Rasheed Wallace, that’s something the Boston Celtics wish they had; that’s what they had in Kendrick Perkins. Doc Rivers knew what he was going to get out of Kendrick Perkins, and that’s going to be awfully difficult to replace.
On if Game 7 brings out the best in most players:
It just depends on who you are. I’ve seen some guys, when I’ve played, you’ve had Game 5 situations, as well as Game 7 situations. But it depends on who you are. Some guys are great at staying in the moment and not thinking beyond that. And I think that’s how you have to approach it. I mean it is just another basketball game with “Game 7″ attached to it, as far as when you’re going out there and playing and executing. And when guys tend to over-think it and buy into the hype before the game, if you’re a role player, it can usually affect how you play.
Some guys don’t get sleep the night before a Game 7 situation because they’re so nervous and anxious to get the game tipped off. It’s a process you have to go through, your routine. You have to remember, you played 82 games in the regular season, eight preseason games and a bunch of playoff games, so they’re all the same. You just have to stay in the moment and go out there and execute. Don’t try and do anything you’re not capable of doing; if you’re a rebounder, don’t attempt to shoot 3’s. Stay inside your role and play the game.
On if the Celtics will bring Nate Robinson off the bench early if the Celtics are struggling:
In Game 7 situations Doc [Rivers] is going to go with who he trusts. And right now I would have to say, depending upon what happens, I think Doc Rivers will pull out all the stops to win the game. But I think at the end of the day, Rajon Rondo will be the guy who finishes the game. Whatever happens in between there with him trying to find a spark, or him trying to get something out of Nate Robinson, I think Rondo will finish the game. Rondo has gotten them this far; this is Rondo’s team, and I think we all know that.
|Celtics video: Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo||at 7:57 am ET|
|What they’re saying about Celtics-Lakers||06.14.10 at 2:19 pm ET|
Fueled by a raucous TD Garden crowd, a bench that wouldn’t quit and an apparent lack of serious competition, the Celtics took a 3-2 series lead over the Lakers Sunday night with their 92-86 win. The storylines have stayed the same throughout the series. The C’s have stepped up and played as a team with a new leader emerging every game, while the Lakers have been inconsistent and led by one strong player, usually Kobe Bryant. Game 5 was just more of the same, and the national headlines the day after have told the same tale.
- Most of the criticism against Kobe and the Lakers originates from LA:
— T.J. Simers of the LA Times writes the harshest criticism by refusing to call him by name, opting for Our Ball Hog instead.
— Mark Medina from the Times’ Lakers Blog places the blame on the rest of the Lakers for not supporting their leader.
— The LA Daily News’ Vincent Bonsignore discusses how calm and quiet Kobe was during the postgame press conference. Alongside that, Bonsignore says that the captain ‘really isn’t interested in prodding his teammates along with some fiery speech over the next few days.’
- Bill Plaschke believes that this 2010 series is starting to resemble the 2008 series and it seems as though the Lakers are throwing in the towel.
- The Lakers’ big men ‘ Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum ‘ have been largely ineffective and just taking up space on the court, writes Mike Bresnahan.
- Meanwhile, the Daily News’ Elliot Teaford reports that Lamar Odom hasn’t been acting like his normal, bubbly self in and around the Lakers’ clubhouse this series because of his poor play.
- Jeff Zilgitt of USA Today chalks up the C’s Game 5 victory to their big four starters: Pierce, Rondo, Allen and Garnett.
- Also from USA Today, Michael Falgoust noticed that Bryant’s shooting percentage for the series is down to 42.5 percent, his lowest since the first round against Oklahoma City when he had swollen knee problems.
- Pau Gasol has been nothing more than a ‘spectator to the Kobe Bryant show.‘ According to The Associated Press, Gasol wouldn’t ‘get himself involved or the Lakers wouldn’t involve him’ in Game 5.
- Kevin Garnett is noncommittal about his immediate future, but he is definitely glad he decided to leave Minnesota and come to Boston, writes Bill Lee of the Providence Journal.
- ESPN’s Daily Dime covers topics such as ‘the better team won Game 5,’ Kobe Bryant needing some serious help on the court and Boston’s bench keeping the energy up every game.
- And finally, the ratings for Game 5 are slowly trickling in and it appears that it was the most watched game of the series so far and the most watched event of the night again. The 2010 finals have been the highest watched finals since the 2004 matchup between the Lakers and the Pistons.
|C’s need more from Rondo||06.13.10 at 7:42 pm ET|
Through the first four games of the NBA finals Rajon Rondo has been solid, yet hardly spectacular, save for a triple-double in Game 2. Rondo played only 31 minutes in Game 4, shooting 5-for-15 and finishing with 10 points, five rebounds and three assists.
The key to Rondo’s effectiveness is defensive rebounding and the Celtics have been up and down in that regard. The Lakers have also done a better job of getting back in transition since Rondo was able to turn them inside out in the second game.
But there is a concern that Rondo’s inability to make free throws combined with the Lakers size inside has taken away some of his aggressiveness.
“He kind of got back to it in the second half of Game 4,” Doc Rivers said. “He missed some layups. I thought he hung his head a little bit, and that happens. You know, I still think we forget how young he is. So, he still has some growing to do.”
Maybe so, but the time for growth has passed, at least this season. The Celtics need Rondo to play at an All-Star level because the Lakers don’t have an obvious counter for him. If Rondo and Ray Allen can get going in the same game, as they did in Game 2, it would force Phil Jackson to make a choice between Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher and that plays heavily into the Celtics advantage.
|Pierce not concerned with offensive struggles||06.07.10 at 1:38 am ET|
LOS ANGELES — Paul Pierce isn’t worried.
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.
‘I think I struggled offensively, I think I rushed a lot,’ Pierce said following the Celtics Game 2 win over the Lakers. ‘I 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.
‘I don’t have a big burden for me offensively on my team as Kobe (Bryant) does,’ he said. ‘So 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.’
|Celtics, Lakers look ahead to Game 2||06.05.10 at 8:11 pm ET|
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.
‘When 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. ‘Every 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, ‘On 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 ‘terrific 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, ‘To 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, ‘I 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.
‘I think in this situation you don’t have to do any of that,’ he said. ‘I 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.”
|Lakers key to defending Rondo||06.04.10 at 5:48 pm ET|
LOS ANGELES — With a new series upon us, we have yet another defensive gameplan geared to stopping Rajon Rondo.
The obvious opening gambit for the Lakers is assigning Kobe Bryant the task of guarding Rondo. Bryant is bigger than Rondo and will play off him to try to prevent him from getting to the paint. That is nothing new, of course. The Heat did it with Dwyane Wade. The Cavs did it with Anthony Parker and LeBron James.
But Rondo has said that he never concerns himself with the first defender. He always has his eye on the second wave and the Laker big men have a plan, as well.
“What happens is, he’s the kind of guy who waits for the bigs to cut and then he drops passes off to them,” Andrew Bynum said. “We’re trying to make him finish, and wait until he goes to shoot the ball instead of committing to him earlier. It gets their team going when KG gets dunks, when [Kendrick] Perkins gets dunks and screams and all that. We just want to eliminate all of that.”
The Lakers have faced a gauntlet of elite point guards in the playoffs, including Utah’s Deron Williams and Phoenix’s Steve Nash, but it was their first round opponent who provided the best test case.
“Russell Westbrook really got us prepared because he’s going to take it right to you,” Bynum said. “He’s athletic enough that he’ll jump over you.”
Rondo may not have quite the straight-forward athleticism that Westbrook has, but he has mastered the art of angles and has proven adept at getting off shots and using the glass. He noted that Pau Gasol was able to block two of his shot attempts and that he’ll have to come up with a counter move, but he insisted that it’s really all on him to make the right decisions.
“I think I drew their bigs a couple of times and got Perk to the free throw line,” Rondo said. “But other than that, it’s my read really. It’s nothing that [an opposing] big can do or sense. It’s all on me, my judgment, knowing how to play the game.”
The other obvious adjustment for Rondo and the Celtics is getting out in transition. They had only five fast-break points in six chances and that has to do with defensive rebounding and coming up with loose-ball rebounds.
“We had a film clip with all the 50-50 plays, and I don’t think we got any of them,” Rondo said. “They got all the loose balls. They dove on the floor first. They were the more aggressive team.”
That has to change in Game 2 or Rondo will be once again stuck in low gear with an entire defense geared to stop him.
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