There is too much NBA Finals coverage to track it all, but I wanted to serve up some highlights:
• Let’s start with the important stuff: Rajon Rondo practiced today but reported stiffness and said he won’t be 100 percent for Game 1, according to Ramona Shelburne at ESPNLosAngeles. (Note: That link is broken for some reason, and the link on ESPN’s main NBA page also doesn’t work). Here’s a RotoWorld link that contains quotes from the original story). But he doesn’t sound worried:
“I’m about 67 percent today,” Rondo joked, before the Celtics practiced at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion. “I won’t be 100 percent by Thursday, but I’ll be like 94.7.
“Right now, nobody in the Finals is 100 percent. If you find someone let me know who is, let me know,” he said. “You can ask the Lakers too. One of our rookies might be 100 percent.”
Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis also participated fully in practice today and reported no problems, Shelburne reports.
• The New Orleans Hornets might push for a yes or now from Tom Thibodeau as early as Thursday, before tip-off of Game 1, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.
The Hornets also like Portland assistant Monty Williams, which gives them some leverage to push Thibodeau into a quicker decision than Thibodeau might like—particularly with the possibility that Doc Rivers might step down at the end of the this season, opening up the Boston job.
What timing for Thibodeau, huh?
• Jeff Clark, the godfather of CelticsBlog, politely answers some questions for the outstanding Lakers-themed blog Silver Screen and Roll. Here’s Jeff on the 2-3-2 format:
In the 2-3-2 format, you almost have to count on the Lakers taking one of the Boston games because it is so hard to win 3 consecutive games in the Finals. It will be a storyline all along.
So, how to get Kobe free? I think we’ll see a lot of what we spoke about already in this post – Kobe will need to work well off the ball and find the creases in the defense by getting free off screens and curls while also working off the post ups of Gasol. I also think the Lakers will play a fair amount of P&R (like they did in the ‘08 Finals) to force Boston to either play him with the standard hedge/recover tactic or trap him completely – which will then allow Kobe to read the defense and make the correct play coming off the screen.
• You’ve probably seen this by now, but the LA Times has removed Ted Green’s column on hating the Celtics—the one that joked about Paul Pierce being stabbed. While the stabbing joke was obviously in poor taste, I was more surprised that one of the nation’s largest newspapers—one that has historically covered the NBA very, very well—gave space to someone who so clearly had done zero research and had nothing original to say about anything. Compare that column to what the guys at Forum Blue & Gold and Silver Screen and Roll do every day for little compensation.
• The must-read column of the day for hoops nerds: John Hollinger’s ranking of the last 66 teams to make the NBA Finals. Seriously, go poke around this thing for 45 minutes. You won’t regret it. The top three teams of all-time, per Hollinger’s formula: The ’86 C’s, the ’87 Lakers and the ’96 Bulls. But not in that order. Hollinger ranks one of those three teams well above the other two.
The 2008 C’s also come out very well.
• More love for Doc Rivers, this time from Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thomsen.
• The humans and machines at Basketball-Reference both like the Lakers in a tough series.
• So does Kevin Pelton, writing at Basketball Prospectus:
By now, I’m convinced Boston is legitimate and that we didn’t see the true Celtics team during the regular season (at least the last four months of it). The question then becomes whether that is enough to beat a Lakers team that is playing some pretty fair basketball itself and holds home-court advantage. I think we’ve got a good chance of seeing the classic NBA Finals we anticipated when these two teams met two years ago and Boston won going away, which would be nice given how forgettable most recent Finals series have been.
Still, I’m picking the Lakers to win it.
That’s it for now. If you see an important link we’ve missed, please let us know.