• Andrew Bynum is feeling good after getting his knee drained, and he sounds optimistic he can give the Lakers more in Game 5 than he gave them in Game 4 (via the Herald):
“It is frustrating, especially during the series,” he said. “But I’m doing OK. The draining worked, and (tonight) I’m going to be ready to go.”
Kobe’s knee responded very well to a draining in the first round, and Bynum’s has responded decently to past drainings. The Lakers seem to be a tougher team defensively (if not offensively) with Bynum on the floor, and the plus/minus numbers back that impression up.
• Also re: Bynum: Phil Jackson talked about Perk’s ability to push Gasol off his preferred spots, though Jackson couldn’t resist one of his patented asides about the officiating (via the Herald):
“Yeah, he’s got the ability to displace Pau even though that’s not part of the standards of the game, but he does move him off the post.”
I love it: “Even though that’s not part of the standards of the game.” Why not just come out say, “He’s using both hands to push Pau, and that’s against the rules?”
• In what I can only assume is a polite lie, Kobe Bryant thinks the whole beating the Celtics thing isn’t that important for his Laker legacy, according to the Washington Post:
“What’s everybody’s fascination with the Celtics in terms of going down in history as — it’s a little weird to me.”
• Some people seem upset by the fact that Lamar Odom said this about Boston’s offensive performance in Game 4 (via WEEI):
“We have the quickness and the size to defend this team,” Odom said. “If we communicate, we’ll be alright. It wasn’t like they scored 125 points or anything like that.”
Lamar is right about the point totals, but he doesn’t take pace into account. There were only about 86 possessions in Game 4—a very low number—and Boston’s 96 points, underwhelming at first glance, work out to about 111.5 points per 100 possessions, a number that would have ranked in the top five in the NBA this season.
On the other hand, there is no question Boston’s offense is struggling against LA through four games. The team is shooting a hideous 45.8 percent from two-point range, down from 52.3 percent in the regular season, according to ESPN.
To me, that’s one of the big questions about the last part of the Finals: Can the Celtics find a semi-dependable half-court game? They haven’t so far, and they will have trouble beating the Lakers two more times without one.
• Along these lines, there are stories everywhere today (see here and here, for instance) wondering when all four of Boston’s best offensive players will all finally play well in the same game. Here’s my guess: Never in this series. You expect the Big Three to put up 60 or 70 points combined on 50 percent plus shooting? Well, why should you expect that? The C’s are facing one the league’s best defenses, and this is 2010, not 2008 or 2005. The Big Three are all past their primes, and Rajon Rondo is still feeling his way as a scorer against elite defenses stacked with shot-blockers.
If three of the four score efficiently, that would be a huge, huge victory for Boston. But if you’re sitting and waiting for a vintage performance from all three of the Big Three (or all four of the Big Four, if you prefer), you’re probably going to be waiting until next season.
• Speaking of Rondo, Chris Forsberg, writing at the Daily Dime, wonders if Rondo’s awful free throw shooting (4-of-15 in this series, 61 percent overall in the playoffs) is making him think twice about attacking the rim. Rondo insists it’s not, but Doc Rivers spotted something in Game 3:
“But then the confidence part has to come back as well. I will say this: I was really proud of him because I thought in [Game 3] when he missed a couple, he stopped driving, and that’s what happens when you miss free throws and then you don’t want to get fouled anymore. I thought [Thursday] night [in Game 4], he kept taking it to the basket, and for me that was huge. That’s a good sign for him.”
I’m not worried about this. I expect a high-energy game from Rondo tonight.
• More Rondo: Steve Bulpett reflects back on the Rondo contract negotiations in the Herald, and if Bulpett’s reporting is right (and it seems to be, as he spoke to all the key parties involved), the negotiations went like this: Rondo and his agent, Bill Duffy, named their price (five years, $55 million—Tony Parker money) and waited for Boston to match it.
And Danny Ainge eventually did. Here’s the GM:
“I mean, they gave a number that they were willing to accept and didn’t move throughout the entire negotiation. They just hung true, and they felt strongly that they wanted the number that they ended up getting. And we just decided that it was a good deal in the long run, too.”
Did the C’s end up with a bargain? One anonymous GM thinks so:
Said one NBA general manager, “You’re looking at a max-type guy in Rondo right now.”
Rondo is happy with his security, and he mentions the risk that he might not have played as well with free agency hanging over his head, or, even worse, that he may have suffered a serious injury like one of his “friends”:
“It wasn’t guaranteed that I would have the season I did this year, and also a friend of mine got hurt and he didn’t get an opportunity to get a contract. I can’t really say his name, but I’m just saying he’s a friend of mine and he got hurt and he didn’t get a contract. He almost made it through an entire season playing extremely well, but at the end of day, he got like a two-year deal. So I was definitely thinking about that.”
Sounds like Leon Powe, doesn’t it? Perhaps Powe’s injury changed Rondo’s strategy, making him more likely to prioritize signing a fair deal rather than preserving his free agency in hopes of hitting a home run later.
• Did Pau Gasol try and goad Perk into that 7th technical? Doc Rivers thinks so, but Perk disagrees, according to the Globe.
Doc: “Even though they say they didn’t, I thought Gasol — I thought there was a lot of extra stuff going on,’’ said Rivers.”
Perk: “I thought he was playing hard,’’ Perkins said. “He was just tyring to be that physical presence.’’
I’m with Perk on this one—it never struck me that Gasol was doing anything to tempt Perk into a T.
• I’ve joked lately that the only way the Lakers could have made themselves more hate-able to a C’s fan my age was to hire Chuck Person—and they did it! Well, Dave McMenamin has a nice story at ESPNLosAngeles.com detailing Chuck Person’s long relationship as an advisor to Ron Artest and Phil Jackson’s decision to add Person to his staff this season.
It’s also got some nice details on Person’s playing career, including this from Donnie Walsh, who drafted Person to the Pacers in the 1980s:
“He had kept a file card on every drill he ever learned, dating back to Jerry West’s basketball camp in the seventh grade,” Walsh said. “He kept it up to date all the way through his playing career and his coaching career. That shows me dedication for pursuing a goal.”
And on Person’s work with Artest in Indy:
“He made Ronnie work unbelievably hard,” Walsh said. “Everything he did, he did full-speed, full-court. So if you’re shooting jump shots, he had to dribble the length of the floor, pull up at the hash mark, take a jump shot, get the rebound and then, full speed, go back the other way. And he did that, he was doing it for 45 minutes to an hour and he did it at full speed.”
The whole piece is worth your time.
• Should the city of Boston do more to honor Bill Russell? And why don’t the C’s sell his jerseys at the team stores at the Garden?
• Rajon Rondo has declared himself (in the Sports Illustrated cover story) the best all-around point guard in the league, so perhaps we should not be surprised by his honest answer to a question about whether Big Baby is a better player than Lamar Odom (via the Globe):
The benches have played a big role in this series, and Rondo rates the Celtics’ Glen Davis over the Lakers’ Lamar Odom. Asked if he meant Davis had improved or he was better than Odom, Rondo replied, “Both.’’
“I expected that out of Big Baby,’’ Rondo said of Davis’s Game 4 contributions (18 points, 5 rebounds). “I think he’s pretty much a better all-around player.’’
Not quite, Rajon. But your team spirit is appreciated.
That’s it for now. Enjoy your Sundays. We’ll back with more later.