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KG vs. Gasol: It’s on (kind of) 06.04.10 at 5:16 pm ET
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LOS ANGELES — Pau Gasol was asked a lot of questions about Kevin Garnett on the day after he scored 23 points and had 14 rebounds in the Lakers Game 1 victory in the NBA finals. Gasol talked about how he has grown over the years and how playing Garnett was a big challenge when he was in Memphis and Garnett was in Minnesota.

Then he said this: “On Kevin’s part, he’s also lost some explosiveness. He’s more of a jump shooter now.” Gasol went on to say how Garnett is still a “terrific player, a terrific competitor, and he’s going to bring everything he’s got. You can count on that.”

Only the first part of the quote was relayed to Garnett who responded, “I have no comment for his comments.”

Pressed further, Garnett said, “I’m not getting caught up in what Pau’s talking about. I’€™m not going to play these games. I’€™m going to stick to my guns, continue to make the proper adjustments and move on. I’€™m not into this bull [expletive] that’€™s going on, you know what I mean? That’€™s it.”

So, we have our first media-driven controversy of the finals. Fair or unfair, and the set-up was more than a little bit dishonest, Garnett will have to bring more to the table defensively against Gasol in Game 2. He knows that, as does everyone else, but count on this being a major plot point over the next 48 hours.

For example, Rajon Rondo was asked about the Gasol’s comments, again without context, and he just grinned. “Every man is entitled to this opinion,” Rondo said. “You know, Kevin is fine. It’s just one game. We’ll see in Game 2.”

Asked how this would affect Garnett, Rondo said, “I just can’t wait. I didn’t know [Gasol] said that, but I’ll be excited to see how it goes in Game 2.”

Read More: Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol, Rajon Rondo,
Three Things That Went Wrong And Right in Game 1 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
Finals have a different feeling 06.03.10 at 8:58 pm ET
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LOS ANGELES -  It has only been two years since the Celtics suited up for Game 1 of the 2008 NBA finals. The majority of the faces are the same, but what about the feeling?

‘€œI wasn’€™t really nervous Game 1 of the Finals. I’€™m not really nervous right now,’€œ said Rajon Rondo. ‘€œIt’€™s kind of hard to tell right now until the lights actually go on and there’€™s two minutes left ticking down. Right now it’€™s no big deal, it’€™s the same thing.’€

The emotions are different this time around. In 2008, the Celtics were suddenly thrust from the lottery to the finals after acquiring Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. This season, they know what it takes to win it all and are trying to recreate the success they achieved two years earlier.

‘€œI think we’€™re more poised than we were last time. I think that’€™s the biggest difference. I don’€™t think the stage is as big a deal as the game plan. We’€™re more focused on the game plan than the finals,’€ said Brian Scalabrine.

‘€œIt’€™s the second time around, we’€™ve been there. We’€™ve done it before and there’€™s nothing really that surprises you. We know it’€™s going to be crowded out there, we know media day is going to be crazy, we didn’€™t know any of that. The intensity of this team in ’08 was different. It was a more high-strung team, we’€™re much more laidback. That’€™s not a bad thing. We can compartmentalize better than we did in ’08.’€

Doc Rivers is prepared either way.

‘€œIn some ways we have the same starters, but the bench is completely different,’€ he said. ‘€œFor some of the guys, this is their first time around. So you have to kind of watch their emotions. And even some of the guys who were on the bench last year, the last time when they were not in the rotation as much. Then in a lot of ways, it’€™s their first time. ‘€¦ We’€™ve got a veteran group, so we know what we’€™re in store for.’€

Read More: Brian Scalabrine, Celtics, Doc Rivers, Lakers
Celtics say they are healthy at 8:39 pm ET
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LOS ANGELES — Doc Rivers said just prior to Game 1 of the NBA finals that, “Everybody is good. Everybody is healthy, feels good, rested and ready to play. So, there’s no issues on our end.”

Rivers was talking about Rasheed Wallace (back) and Rajon Rondo (muscle spasms) who both missed practice time this week while they were healing their injuries. There is, however, one issue. Marquis Daniels (concussion) is not available for the start of the series, although he told WEEI.com when he arrived at the arena that he is “feeling much better.”

Brian Scalabrine will be active in his place, although Rivers did say that Daniels could be available by the end of the playoffs. “[Daniels] did drills, has feeling again,” Rivers said. “Before the series is over I think Marquis will be playing.”

As for Wallace, Rivers’ primary concern is not his back, but his conditioning. Wallace seemed to be in good spirits before the game, warning reporters to stay back of his locker, which is generally a good sign for him.

Read More: Marquis Daniels, Rajon Rondo, Rasheed Wallace,
Rondo’s new challenge at 8:34 pm ET
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LOS ANGELES – Derek Fisher has been in the NBA for 14 years, but he still poses new challenges for Rajon Rondo.

In the previous two rounds of the playoffs, Rondo has been matched up with younger point guards in Jameer Nelson and Mo Williams. Even though 35-year-old Fisher may not be as quick, he can create problems for Rondo that he has yet to encounter this postseason.

‘€œHe’€™s smarter,’€ Rondo said prior to Game 1. ‘€œI think he’€™s been to seven finals so this is probably the same old story for him. He’€™s probably going to play like this is his last, but Derek’€™s a veteran. Like I said, he’€™s very smart and he’€™s a unique player, so I have to be aware of his tricks he may try to throw at me, some of his veteran moves he may have to draw fouls against me or whatever it may be.’€

Fisher’s basketball IQ will keep Rondo on his toes throughout the series. The combination of his skill and intelligence has Rondo on the alert.

‘€œYou can’€™t underestimate Derek,” he said. “He definitely can shoot the 3, you can’€™t lose sight of Derek, and he draws fouls. He shoots 99 percent from the line so he’€™s not an easy match up. He’€™s a tough match up.”

Read More: Celtics, Derek Fisher, Lakers, Rajon Rondo
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
Heinsohn on D&C: Howard getting away with flagrants 05.27.10 at 2:39 pm ET
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Comcast Celtics analyst Tommy Heinsohn joined Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning to give his take on the officials from Wednesday night’€™s Game 5 loss and why Dwight Howard should be suspended.

‘€œI was up at the [Comcast] studios at Burlington and was in the conference room watching [Game 5],’€ Heinsohn said. ‘€œThere were several people and we kind of all were hit with the same thought that these [referees] are incompetent.’€

Heinsohn also touched on the similarities and differences in Rajon Rondo and Hall of Famer Bob Cousy‘€™s game.

Below is a transcript. Visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page to hear the interview.

I want a mental picture of you during last night’€™s game. Where were you watching it and with whom were you watching it?

I was up at the studios at Burlington and was in the conference room watching the game. There were several people and we kind of all were hit with the same thought that these [referees] are incompetent.

What was Ed Rush thinking on the technical foul calls?

Well this guy goes way back. I got in hot water some years ago when I said ‘€œEddie F. Rush. F for fool.’€ I used that because in a game against the Knicks on the very last play, they tried to get [Patrick] Ewing the ball. The man passed it five feet away from Ewing, it went out of bounds, the Celtics are going to win the game, and he calls a foul on [Robert] Parish like he was holding him or hitting him or something and they end up winning the game. This guy has had no common sense, I don’€™t know why he’€™s still around. He has a history, I’€™ve been watching the game all these years, I just marvel at how they let him keep refereeing. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Dwight Howard, Ed F. Rush, Kendrick Perkins
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