• Let’s start with health: ESPN Los Angeles reports that Andrew Bynum’s knee isn’t getting any better, but it isn’t getting worse, and both he and the Lakers consider that a victory:
“It’s going to be what it is, as long as we keep the swelling down to a minimum, which we’re doing.”
And here’s Bynum on the decision to put off surgery after tearing his meniscus during LA’s first-round series against the Thunder:
“With me being so big, seven feet with a lot of weight on the knees, you never know how long the rehab’s going to take,” he said. “If it would have went well and I would have been able to play in three weeks, it would have benefited probably. But there’s no telling. It could have been three to seven weeks, and if it’s seven you miss the whole [playoffs].”
I wonder: Are we perhaps not giving enough credit to Bynum? As outsiders, we really have no clue how much pain he’s in. But we do know Bynum is being honest about what beating Boston would mean to him (also via ESPN LA):
“We’re pissed off that they took the opportunity for us to have another championship,” Bynum said after Game 1. “They robbed us of that, so we just want to return the favor.”
• Rajon Rondo may have tweaked his back during Game 1. Here’s what Danny Ainge said Friday on WEEI (via ESPNBoston.com):
“I think Rondo got hurt halfway through the game and kind of reinjured his back a little bit.”
Ainge apparently didn’t elaborate, but ESPNBoston’s Chris Forsberg reports in the above piece that Rondo made no mention of any back pain at practice Friday and participated fully in all drills.
• Bynum wasn’t the only Laker providing what some might view as tough talk on the day after Game 1. Pau Gasol had this to say about KG’s game (via ESPNBoston.com):
“On Kevin’s part, he’s also lost some explosiveness. He’s more of a jump shooter now you could say, comes off the lane. Before he had a really, really quick first step and was getting to the lane and he was more aggressive then. Time passes and we all suffer it one way or another, but he’s still a terrific player, a terrific competitor, and he’s going to bring everything he’s got. You can count on that.”
There will be those who perceive this as Gasol talking trash, or Gasol puffing out his chest prematurely after outplaying KG in a single post-season game. Those people will be wrong.
But the Finals is about ginning up controversy, so let’s gin some up!
The surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer was asked after Celtics practice if he took exception to what Gasol said.
“Not at all,” Garnett said. “I have no comments for his comments.”
Boston point guard Rajon Rondo‘s face broke into a sly grin when told about Gasol’s comment, perhaps knowing that the Spaniard might have just awoken the Celtics’ sleeping giant.
“I just can’t wait — I didn’t know he said that, but I’ll be excited to see how it goes in Game 2,” Rondo said. “You know, Kevin is fine. It’s just one game. We’ll see in Game 2. We’ll see in Game 2.”
• Kevin Garnett’s performance was so “bad”—or at least so scrutinized—that Doc Rivers actually had to state publicly that Kevin Garnett is not injured (via the same ESPNBoston piece):
He didn’t have a great game. But no, he’s fine healthwise and all that. It’s funny — just with our team — whenever we don’t play well, it always comes down to either health or age, and it’s usually sometimes we just don’t play well. I thought last night was more of that.
• Rajon Rondo sounds like he’s ready to have one of his Balls to the Wall games—you know the ones, when he’s flying around the court and it appears as if he has about eight arms. Via the Herald:
“There was a lot of loose balls that were out there that I usually come up with. I couldn’t get to them (Thursday). A lot of long rebounds that I usually get. I can just try to be a better rebounder, have a better knack for the ball in Game 2. And when I get it on the break, just try to be aggressive.”
Word of advice to Rajon: Be selective crashing the offensive glass, OK? The C’s have to minimize easy transition buckets on defense.
• The coaching staff’s choice in film clips may have inspired Rondo’s aggression (via the Globe):
“Well, they had a clip — we had a film clip with all the 50/50 [loose balls, long rebound] plays, and I don’t think we won none of them. They got all the loose balls. They dove on the floor first. They were the more aggressive team. Winning none of those categories, it’s hard to win a game.’’
Being a clip editor for an NBA team would be a great job, wouldn’t it?
• Via the same Herald piece: Doc’s response to that whole Phil Jackson 47-0 thing:
“Well, you know, it’s like I told our guys, because I assumed that this would come up,” said the Celtics coach. “I don’t know the record. I said also the last time we were in the Finals no team had ever come down from 24 in the second half. At some point, it happened.”
• Glen Davis was wearing ear plugs during Game 1. Find out why.
• Glen Davis also has some advice for you, the Celtics fan: Don’t panic. (Via the Herald):
“Celtics fans know we’re not fake,” he said. “We’re not soft. It’s a game that we didn’t compete in the way we’re supposed to compete. You can call it what you want, but we know how to bounce back.”
• I’ve dated Yankees fans before. Those relationships did not go well. At least I didn’t marry them. But here’s the story of a diehard Celtics fan who married a Lakers fan. And here are the hilariously detailed ground rules they established to watch the 2008 Finals without killing each other. Guess it’s time to dust off those ground rules.
• John Hollinger points out that the Celtics have been fouling a lot in the playoffs, but that the fouls in earlier series were targeted—they were disproportionately the work of bench players who committed them to stop specific opponents from finishing at the the hoop. Boston fouled a lot in Game 1, but the type of fouls they committed were very different from those in earlier rounds:
Instead, the fouls came on other plays — over-aggressive perimeter challenges, leaping on shot fakes and one dodgy whistle that sent Allen back to the pine with his fifth foul.
• Phil Jackson expects the obvious: The Celtics will try and exploit the Ray Allen/Derek Fisher match-up:
“They started off right away trying to exploit the Allen-(Derek) Fisher matchup and got Fisher out of the game in a matter of two minutes (with foul trouble),” Jackson said. “That may be something they want to go back to and work on again.”
This is a good match-up for Boston for one reason: Ray Allen is four inches taller than Derek Fisher. That’s it. Their listed weights—205 for Ray, 200 for Fish—are about the same, and Fisher is as strong a 6’1” dude as there is in the NBA. Ray Allen can’t back him down as if he were Kendrick Perkins working against a rail-thin rookie power forward on his back in the post.
Kelly Dwyer mentioned this in his Behind the Box Score review of Game 1, and I completely agree: Ray made this match-up more complicated than he had to in Game 1. If you can rise and fire over Fisher from 8 feet, do that instead of trying to back him down and get yourself a more complicated 4-foot runner that suddenly involves one of Andrew Bynum’s long arms in your face.
• Why we will continue to see Nate Robinson in this series, particularly if the Lakers play Fisher/Farmar or Farmar/Brown or Fisher/Brown together (via the Globe):
We had three non-shooters on the floor at the same time because we had no choice.
The three non-shooters Doc is referring to are, of course, Rondo, TA and Perk. The Lakers really present a perfect opportunity to play Robinson. Three of their five bench relevant bench guys (Farmar, Brown, Vujacic) are are guards, and while the latter two are obviously too tall for Robinson to deal with, Rondo’s long arms allow him to guard either Brown or Vujacic in a pinch. And if Farmar and Fisher are on the floor together, Doc can counter immediately with Robinson/Rondo, which allows the Celtics to sit TA and one of Pierce/Ray.
• Dan Shaughnessy has a larger column about the KG-Gasol match-up that includes this line:
Much of the pre-series hype centered on the Garnett-Gasol matchup. If KG dominated the gangly Spaniard as he did in 2008, the Celtics could win the series, we reasoned. Game 1 went the other way. In a big way.
That comes a day after Gary Washburn had a story in the Globe that included this line:
But the matchup between Pau Gasol and Garnett was expected to be Advantage, Celtics, and Garnett was a shell of himself, especially with his interior defense and rebounding. It hardly matters that you score 16 points when you allow 23.
Let me say this: Anyone who thought the Gasol/Garnett match-up would be an “advantage” for the Celtics, or that perhaps Garnett might “dominate” the match-up “as he did in 2008” either hasn’t been paying any attention the league or is just a super-optimistic Celtics fan.
Pau Gasol has been a better player than Kevin Garnett since KG injured his knee in Utah in February 2009. It has not been close. We should not be surprised if Pau Gasol outplays Garnett in every game of this series. If KG gives Boston 90 percent of what Gasol gives the Lakers, that is a victory for the Celtics.
That’s it for now. More later.