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Stephen A. Smith on D&C: Never seen Kobe this focused 06.17.10 at 7:56 am ET
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Philadelphia Inquirer columnist and radio host Stephen A. Smith joined the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to talk about the NBA finals. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Smith said at least two of the Celtics’ top players must step up in Game 7, because he has no doubt Kobe Bryant will be at his best. “I have never seen him this focused,” Smith said of the Lakers star. “If he was this focused before Game 7, imagine how he’s going to be tonight.”

Talking about Rasheed Wallace, whose play becomes that much more important with the absence of injured starter Kendrick Perkins, Smith said: “As big as this game is, he is completely unfazed. … He’s not going to be nervous. At the same time, it’s a bad thing, because the urgency of the moment is not going to affect him. … Game 7 is not going to make him give you more.”

As for a prediction, Smith said that despite Bryant wanting it more than anyone else, “I picked the Boston Celtics to win this series, and I’m going to stick with it.” He also said to keep an eye on Nate Robinson, who could make a big impact with his outside shooting.

Smith also touched on Doc Rivers‘ future, saying: “He gave me indications the other day that he would probably come back,” based on his relationship with the players.

Read More: Kobe Bryant, Rasheed Wallace, Stephen A. Smith,
Phil on provoking techs: That’s not fair play 06.11.10 at 1:19 pm ET
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Kendrick Perkins and Rasheed Wallace are both sitting on six technical fouls during the postseason. If either of them gets one more they are subject to a one-game suspension from the NBA.

Doc Rivers has expressed concern that they could be provoked into getting technicals, but Lakers coach Phil Jackson said that was not part of his team’s mindset. “That’s not fair play,” he said. “That’s not the way to play the games.”

Before the series began, Jackson agreed with Rivers that the NBA should revisit the seven technical foul rule for the playoffs. Both coaches feel that the number should be reduced the longer teams are alive in the postseason and that the league should look at whether double technical fouls should be counted against the number.

That’s the biggest concern for Rivers. He noted after Game 4 that he pulled Perkins out of the game after he and Pau Gasol spent several possessions getting physical in the post because he was afraid a double tech was about to happen.

“Yeah, you can be provocative and get out there and act kind of like they do if you want to and get in people’s faces and do that,” Jackson said. “But that’s not the way I like to coach a team. That’s not what I consider positive coaching, and that’s what I like to think is the right way to do things.”

Read More: Kendrick Perkins, Phil Jackson, Rasheed Wallace,
A technical situation at 2:57 am ET
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The Celtics came into this series with the knowledge that Kendrick Perkins was sitting on six technical fouls and a seventh would mean an automatic one-game suspension. You can add Rasheed Wallace to the endangered Celtic list after he was whistled for his sixth in the fourth quarter of Game 4.

For good measure, Nate Robinson also got one after getting in Lamar Odom’s face. The Celtics have a rule against getting techs in the fourth quarter, but Doc Rivers was happy to waive it for one night.

“They were playing with great emotion,” Rivers said. “Even Nate, that was the one I didn’t like more than Rasheed’s. We don’t have to be tough, especially at whatever height you are. But that’s who he is. But they were playing well. They were happy. They were excited. So, it’s a fine line.”

Rivers said he hoped the league would rescind the technical on Wallace because, “he did a dance but he ran away. I didn’t think he said anything. The dance was funny, and so I could see it, but i don’t know.”

Rivers is concerned that the Lakers will use that against both Wallace and Perkins. He even pulled Perkins after he got physical with Pau Gasol late in the third quarter, fearing that a double-technical was on its way. We’ve got to get him out because you could see it,” Rivers said. “The double-technical was about to come But listen, we put ourselves in this situation and we’re going to have to play ourselves out of it.”

Read More: Double-technicals, Kendrick Perkins, Rasheed Wallace,
More need for Sheed 06.10.10 at 8:42 pm ET
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Rasheed Wallace has played just 55 minutes in this series, but they have been 55 effective minutes, particularly on defense where he has guarded Pau Gasol well.

Wallace would have played more in the first two games in Los Angeles when he scored 16 points and had 11 rebounds, but he been battling a back injury. He also has had to sit out practice and Doc Rivers said that was as big a factor as his back.

“It’s not as much as his back anymore,” Rivers said prior to Game 4 of the NBA finals. “It’s his conditioning. The two weeks or three weeks of literally just playing in games , they catch up to you conditioning-wise.”

Rivers said that Wallace has been able to run more on off days and that he should be able to play more in Game 4. “We anticipate playing him a little bit more tonight for sure.”

Wallace looked physically pained as he tried to get up and down the court in Game 3, and his shot was way off. The Celtics could use his height because he has caused Gasol problems when he’s been in there. Glen Davis has also played well off the bench, but his lack of height has hurt the Celtics at times on the boards.

“He’s feeling a lot better today,” Rivers said. “We can’t worry about it anyway.”

Read More: Rasheed Wallace,
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
Celtics say they are healthy 06.03.10 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,
Injury update: Big Baby improves, Quis does not 05.27.10 at 6:22 pm ET
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The good news for the Celtics is that Glen Davis has shown improvement after suffering a concussion in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals. The news is not so promising on Marquis Daniels, who also had a concussion. Rasheed Wallace, meanwhile is still struggling with back spasms.

First, the positive news for the Celtics. Doc Rivers said on a conference call with reporters that Davis was looking better and that he was undergoing tests this evening with the team doctors.

“He didn’t have any headaches today,” Rivers said. “He had some last night, he didn’t have any today, which is a big step. All of it will be a game-time decision, so we’ll have to wait and see.”

Daniels, meanwhile, is not so fortunate and it’s looking doubtful that he will be ready for Game 6 Friday.

“Marquis is not doing as well as Baby,” Rivers said. “I would actually say right now that he won’t be ready.

Then there’s Wallace who had his back tighten up during the game. Rivers sounded cautiously optimistic about Wallace’s availability, although he did have a rough morning.

“Rasheed is doing better,” Rivers said. “It was not going well at all today. We watched some film before we got on the plane and he couldn’t sit down, but he’s doing better [now].”

All three are said to be game-time decisions. Brian Scalabrine is the one player on the roster with NBA experience who has been mostly inactive during the playoffs. Scalabrine was activated for Game 2 of the series with the Magic after Shelden Williams had a back spasm.

Oliver Lafayette and Tony Gaffney, who were signed at the very end of the season, are the other two options in a worst-case scenario.

Read More: Glen Davis, Marquis Daniels, Rasheed Wallace,
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