Tag:Cavaliers
Posted on: June 1, 2011 5:19 pm
Edited on: June 1, 2011 5:22 pm
 

Shaq: The Last Big Interview

MIAMI – With Shaquille O’Neal announcing his Big Sayonara on Wednesday, it was the perfect time to reminisce about the Big Fella’s impact. Nobody ever did it like Shaq, or will ever do it like Shaq again.

He was one of a kind, an original. He was the last of the dominant centers, the first to market himself across platforms – from sports, to hip-hop, to movies, to pop culture.

I thought back to my last great interview with O’Neal, last October when he was embarking on what would become a frustrating, unfulfilling, and ultimately failed one-year experiment in Boston. After failing to get a “ring for the King” in Cleveland, O’Neal had hoped to capture his fifth championship and the 18th for the Celtics by teaming with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo. In the end, father time came calling for Shaq and sent him exiting, stage left.

Before he goes, a detailed look at that last interview in New York – a particularly candid moment that harkened back to a time when Shaq’s game was as loud and penetrating as his voice and ideas:

On the era of the dominant center: “I think I killed off all the centers, and now all the centers want to play the European-style basketball. There’s only one-and-a-half or two real centers left -- Dwight Howard and Yao Ming. Every now and then, Yao Ming steps outside and wants to shoot jumpers. But it’s gone more toward the European style. The days of the Patrick Ewings and Rik Smits and Kevin Duckworth and Robert Parish, those days are over, thanks to me.”

On whether it will ever come back: “No. Never.”

On his hip-hop career: “I was the one that did everything right and made it to the top and did it respectfully and kept it going. A lot of guys tried to come in, but I actually came in from the bottom, worked my way up with the crew and did this and did that. I was just a young kid coming from the projects of Newark, N.J., fulfilling one of his dreams.”

About the opportunities basketball has given him: “The good thing about being a humble athlete and a humble guy is, you get to meet people and you get to shake people’s hands. We all know that we all come from the same place. For me growing up, on the way to the court I was mimicking LL Cool J, and once I got to the court I was Dr. J. So it was pretty much even. And I always stated that the thing that made me a great athlete is because I’m a great dancer. I have rhythm.”

On any individual goals he had left: “If I did have an individual goal, it probably would be to pass Wilt Chamberlain in scoring. … Then I could feel complete with myself saying that I was the most dominant player if I had more championships and more points than him. But I don’t have any other individual goals that I’m going for. I’m just trying to get No. 5 this year.”

On whether centers can still be difference-makers: “No, not shooting jumpers. … I’ve never lost a series to a guy shooting jumpers – besides Pau (Gasol), but Pau has a couple of extra weapons with him. There hasn’t been a center that has won shooting jumpers. Pau is 60-40 – 60 inside and 40 shooting jumpers. So I think the centers are getting a little more Pau Gasolish.”

On whether that could change: “Dwight Howard plays like a true big man like we all played. … He’s actually in my eyes a true center. The game has changed, but to me he’s 95-5 – 95 inside and every now and then he’ll try to face up and shoot it off the glass. That’s how I like to see dominant big men play.”

On his love of sports cars: “I’ve always loved sports cars. I had a couple of Ferraris and had a Lamborghini. But I was coming off the 395 one night trying to get to the beach – chillin, looking good, smelling good. I don’t know why, but I hit something and spun around and the only thing I was thinking about was hitting that ___ wall and going into the water. I closed my eyes and when I stopped a ___ truck was coming this way, so I had to get in my mode and put that ___ in reverse and do like some Bruce Willis ___ and I traded it in the next day. No, as a matter of fact, when I came to Phoenix, I sold it to Amar’e (Stoudemire). I was speeding and I was trying to get to a party and I don’t even know what happened. I was just thinking about hitting a wall and thinking about all the courses I took, like if the car hit the water, what the ___ you gotta do.”

On being so critical of Howard in the past: “I wasn’t critical. It’s just that I know how to add fuel to the fire. But he does play like a true big man. I can’t say that he doesn’t play like a true big man. I was just saying last year that when I was his age, I didn’t have the luxury of calling a double to help me on Patrick Ewing. I would’ve loved to have help on ___ Pat Ewing and Rick Smits and all those guys, but I played them straight up. So if you want my respect, play straight up. That’s all I said.”
Posted on: May 31, 2011 7:43 pm
Edited on: May 31, 2011 9:48 pm
 

Source: No tampering complaint from Cavs yet


MIAMI -- In addressing the media 45 minutes before tipoff of LeBron James' first NBA Finals game with the Heat Tuesday night, commissioner David Stern is prepared for an abundance of labor questions and also, an inquiry that has particular relevance to this series: What happened to the Cleveland Cavaliers' plans to investigate possible tampering charges related to James' decision to sign with Miami?

There isn't much to address yet, according to a person with detailed knowledge of league operations who told CBSSports.com that no formal complaint has been filed.

"The answer is no," the person said.

In his annual pre-Finals media address Tuesday night, Stern said he has not received any correspondence from the Cavs or their legal representatives. Asked after his Q&A with reporters before Game 1 if he considers the matter closed, Stern said, "It was never open."

Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert declined to comment Tuesday night on his team's ongoing legal probe.

In December, Yahoo! Sports reported that Gilbert had hired a law firm to build a possible tampering case against Miami, which signed James and Chris Bosh as free agents to pair with Dwyane Wade last July. The fruits of LeBron's decision are on full display, with the Heat advancing to the Finals against the Mavericks after running through the Eastern Conference playoffs by beating the 76ers, Celtics and Bulls.

At the time, Gilbert was incensed by meetings that involved high-level representatives of James and Wade in Chicago last June, when they were still under contract with their teams. Also, published reports indicated that James was involved in a meeting with Heat president Pat Riley and Hall of Famer Michael Jordan last November during a Cavs trip to Miami. That report came from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which also reported in July that Wade and Bosh flew to Akron to meet with James at his home a month earlier -- before the beginning of free agency July 1.

Stern has previously defended players' rights to discuss future plans among themselves, but stated during a playoff appearance in Philadelphia last month, "If there was tampering that someone could prove, that would make my blood boil.”  
 
The NBA does not investigate possible instances of tampering without a formal complaint from a team.
Posted on: May 26, 2011 11:47 am
Edited on: May 26, 2011 9:33 pm
 

Rockets in final stages; McHale in W's mix?

The Houston Rockets are in the final stages of deciding on a head coach, with all three candidates having received two interviews for the job of replacing Rick Adelman.

“The next step is to make a decision,” a person with knowledge of the process told CBSSports.com Thursday.

Former Timberwolves coach and general manager Kevin McHale met with owner Leslie Alexander Wednesday in Miami, where McHale was broadcasting the Eastern Conference finals for TNT. Former Nets coach Lawrence Frank and Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey also have been interviewed twice.

UPDATE: A second person familiar with the process told CBSSports.com Thursday night that the Rockets are expected to extend a formal offer to their top choice as early as Friday.

Sources have been told that Frank has been losing ground in the three-man race, but that no clear favorite has emerged. The Rockets have not extended an offer or engaged in contract negotiations with any of the candidates, sources said.

While McHale’s candidacy has been bolstered by a strong recommendation from former Celtics teammate and current Boston president Danny Ainge, sources said Casey is on firm ground by virtue of the fact that he is the only candidate still coaching in the playoffs. Another person with direct knowledge of the interview process said all three candidates have presented compelling visions for the team, but not all aspects of the candidates’ strategies are on the same page with Houston management.

Meanwhile, Warriors management – bolstered by the addition of Hall of Fame consultant Jerry West – remains focused on a list of five remaining candidates the team has spoken with about its head coaching vacancy: Lakers assistants Brian Shaw and Chuck Person; Hornets assistant Michael Malone; ABC/ESPN broadcaster Mark Jackson; and Frank. The team also had spoken with former Cavs coach Mike Brown, who was hired Wednesday to replace Phil Jackson as coach of the Lakers.

A person familiar with the Golden State search said “one or two” other candidates could emerge for the Golden State job as a result of “musical chairs” with other jobs. One example of that could be Shaw, who may not want to remain with the Lakers after being passed over for the head coaching vacancy he had long hoped to fill once Jackson finally retired.

Another could be McHale, whose candidacy is expected to be strengthened by owner Joe Lacob’s connection to the Celtics. As a former member of the Celtics’ ownership group, Lacob is open to advice from Ainge and Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck, who are solidly backing McHale for a head coaching position. Sources in the coaching industry expect McHale to emerge as a candidate in Golden State depending on how his bid for the Houston job turns out.

UPDATE: A person with knowledge of the Warriors' search said Thursday that McHale had an "informal discussion" with team officials about the job.

UPDATE: In other NBA front office news, the Raptors are assembling a list of candidates to work alongside assistant general manager Marc Eversley under team president Bryan Colangelo. Although Maurizio Gherardini's contract expires June 30 and he may pursue other opportunities, Colangelo is chiefly concerned with filling the hole in the front office left by Masai Ujiri's departure for Denver. A person with knowledge of the Raptors' search said Colangelo is seeking a "high-level basketball person" to fill that role in what is expected to be an ambitious reorganization of the Toronto front office after the draft.
Posted on: May 18, 2011 7:16 pm
Edited on: May 18, 2011 9:36 pm
 

Brown finds Warriors job 'intriguing'

CHICAGO – Mike Brown finds the Warriors head coaching job “intriguing,” according to a person who said Wednesday the former Cavaliers coach has had conversations with Golden State officials about the opening.

Brown, who was fired after last season despite averaging 54 wins over five seasons in Cleveland, has yet to formally interview with Warriors owner Joe Lacob, sources said. Also in the mix to replace Keith Smart as Warriors coach are Lakers assistants Brian Shaw and Chuck Person, Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank, and Hornets assistant Michael Malone, according to sources. The search is expected to gain momentum in the coming days.

Frank also is one of three finalists for the Rockets’ head coaching position, along with Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey and former Timberwolves coach and GM Kevin McHale. All three are having second interviews this week, sources said, the Rockets officials are in the evaluation process. Two high-level coaching sources said Casey appears to be the favorite for the Houston job.

While Brown would bring playoff experience and a defensive foundation to a Warriors team that needs both, Malone – Brown’s former assistant in Cleveland – is a creative and especially intriguing candidate. Like reigning coach of the year Tom Thibodeau, Malone, 39, was mentored by former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy and is known as a defensive guru. He transitioned to coaching the offense in Cleveland after John Kuester left the Cavs for the head job in Detroit.

Malone, the son of Magic assistant and longtime NBA coach Brendan Malone, has coached in the playoffs seven times, including two appearances in the conference finals and one in the NBA Finals. He was hired last year as Monty Williams’ lead assistant in New Orleans.
Posted on: May 18, 2011 1:20 pm
Edited on: May 18, 2011 6:43 pm
 

Kahn explains comments; NBA considers fine


CHICAGO -- NBA officials are evaluating whether to fine Minnesota Timberwolves president David Kahn for comments suggesting Tuesday night's draft lottery was rigged, sources told CBSSports.com.

A decision on what to do with Kahn over his latest insensitive and inapropriate public remarks could be delayed because top league executives are traveling and scattered for multiple events, including the pre-draft camp and competition committee meeting Wednesday in Chicago. Commissioner David Stern and general counsel Richard Buchanan have yet to confer with other top officials, and there is expected to be a difference of opinion on whether fining Kahn and the Timberwolves would simply draw more attention to the unfortunate comments.

Meanwhile, Kahn told CBSSports.com Wednesday that his comments were meant as a joke, but reiterated that he believes in "the power of story."

The Timberwolves drew the No. 2 pick Tuesday night, losing out to the Cavaliers -- who were represented by owner Dan Gilbert's 14-year-old son, Nick, who suffers from a disease that causes tumors to grow throughout his body. Instead of being gracious, Kahn unleashed the following apparent attempt at humor and cleverness, which instead resonated with arrogance, poor taste, and what one league official called "bad karma."

"This league has a habit, and I am just going to say habit, of producing some pretty incredible story lines," Kahn said. "Last year it was Abe Pollin's widow and this year it was a 14-year-old boy and the only thing we have in common is we have both been bar mitzvahed. We were done. I told Kevin (O'Connor, GM of the Jazz, who got the No. 3 pick): 'We're toast.' This is not happening for us and I was right."

If you like to hear and see stupid things first-hand, rather than just read the quotes, you can watch Kahn's buffoonery here.

Speaking Wednesday to CBSSports.com at the Westin Hotel in Chicago, where league executives convened for the pre-draft camp and competition committee meeting, Kahn said his comments were made in jest and that he didn’t intend to imply that the lottery was rigged. But then he may have unintentionally dug a deeper hole when he reiterated the essence of his comment, saying he believes in “the power of story.”

“The first questions I was asked last night by the reporters were, did I feel that the Timberwolves were jinxed,” Kahn said. “You know, we have a poor lottery record. And I want to say for the record, I don’t believe in jinxes, curses, hocus pocus, and I don’t believe we’ve been harmed in any way. What I said last night, I do believe in the power of story. And I just felt it was a heck of a lot better story for a 14-year-old to beat out two middle-aged executives standing together on a stage on national TV, and that our league has had its own share of luck in being a part of those stories. That’s it. Anybody ascribing anything else to it is completely doing their own thing.”

Kahn pointed out that his comment Tuesday night “elicited laughter,” and said, “There was no follow-up question. Nobody said, ‘Do you understand what you just said?’ No, because everybody knew context. But I do understand, to your point, just reading it dry, that somebody could infer that. So lesson learned.”

Asked again Wednesday if he was simply reiterating his assertion that the lottery results were rigged to produce a better story, Kahn said, “Absolutely not. I’m just saying that, if you look at sports in general, typically fairy tale stories, Cinderella stories, whatever you want to say, those tend to dominate sports. I just knew when you’re standing there with a 14-year-old kid, logically the 14-year-old kid … it had nothing to do with being nefarious.”

Kahn said he hadn’t heard from the league about the comments, but said he wouldn’t be surprised if he received a fine.

“I’ve had money taken away from me before,” Kahn said. “It probably won’t be the last time. It is what it is.”

Whether Kahn’s comments warrant a fine or not, his latest in a pattern of missteps had rival executives shaking their heads in exasperation and privately mocking him Wednesday. In one fell swoop, Kahn offended the family of late owner Abe Pollin, reduced an heroic 14-year-old suffering from a horrific disease to a “storyline,” and insinuated that the primary means for bad NBA teams to improve – a process independently audited by an accounting firm – was fixed. And worse, upon reflection, Kahn didn’t seem to realize or care that he had done any of this.

“He oozes smug,” one rival team employee said.

Kahn and his organization were most recently fined $50,000 each last July for Kahn’s comments about Michael Beasley’s marijuana use – comments that were made soon after Kahn acquired Beasley in a trade with the Heat. This is not the kind of mistake that a seasoned, capable executive should make – especially one who is so close to Stern, who is mostly responsible for Kahn’s continued gainful employment in the NBA. Kahn’s basketball career began as an attorney at Proskauer Rose, the Manhattan law firm which handled, and continues to handle, NBA litigation.

Even now, with his organization hoping to secure a commitment from 2009 first-round pick Ricky Rubio to leave Spain and join the Timberwolves next season, Kahn’s latest actions have threatened what should be a positive, forward-looking time for a team that has endured years of hopeless ineptitude – some of it, Kahn’s own doing.

Overpaying for Darko Milicic and Nicola Pekovic while still having the lowest payroll in the NBA (when adjusted for Eddy Curry’s buyout) tells you all you need to know about Kahn’s basketball acumen. It’s truly amateur hour when the same GM who drafted two point guards on consecutive selections in 2009 now complains about being denied the No. 1 pick in the lottery – when the consensus top pick is, you guessed it, a point guard.

Had Minnesota gotten the No. 1 pick, Kahn would’ve had a controversy much bigger than this one on his hands – being forced to explain why he did or didn’t select Kyrie Irving first overall with Rubio, fellow 2009 lottery pick Jonny Flynn, and Luke Ridnour already Wolves property.

“But that’s presuming there would’ve been a controversy,” Kahn said. “I’m not in a position to presume that and I wouldn’t presume that if I were you. It hasn’t been discussed, internally or externally.”

In addition, the organization has needlessly dragged out the presumed firing of coach Kurt Rambis, whose representatives are meeting with Kahn in Chicago this week but still may not come away with a final answer on his future. Don’t cry for Rambis, who will see the more than $4 million remaining on his contract either way, but that’s not the point. The point is, Rambis deserves better. So do Wolves fans, and the rest of the NBA.
Posted on: May 11, 2011 1:27 pm
Edited on: May 11, 2011 1:53 pm
 

Big Hurt: End of the line for a legend

MIAMI – The end comes fast sometimes, and Shaquille O’Neal has reached it. Just like that, on a sunny Wednesday morning in South Florida, one of the giants of the game arrived at the finish line. Or rather, the finish line arrived at him.

Shaq didn’t retire Wednesday or suffer some unmistakably career-ending injury. There was no farewell news conference, no roast in a fancy banquet hall somewhere. But Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who’d hoped against hope that one of the best centers who ever lived might give him something – anything – in this playoff series against the Heat, said the words that needed to be said. They are the words that no legend wants to hear, words that no coach wants to have to muster the courage to say. But Rivers said it, right there in front of a black curtain in a staging area of American Airlines Arena, in the hours before Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

In so many words, Rivers said Shaq is done. Finished. Can’t play anymore. One of the last true post-up centers still roaming the Earth has reached the end. Through nobody’s fault but Father Time’s, Rivers had to admit Wednesday that the Celtics’ experiment with the Big Shamrock was a Big Failure.

“Yeah, there’s just nothing he can do,” Rivers said. “It’s not like he’s not trying. I told our team that yesterday. He’s done everything you possibly can do to get healthy. Unfortunately for him, he just hasn’t been able to do it. When he was originally injured, no one even thought it was that serious. … I think I remember saying it was no big deal, that he’d be back in four or five days. But it just never healed and it still hasn’t, and now every time he plays, it gets worse. There’s just nothing you can do about it, and we haven’t, really.”

And with that, an admission from Rivers that the Celtics have given up hope that any more treatment or hours on the exercise bike will make a difference. In all likelihood, O’Neal logged the last 12 minutes of his career in this series, scoring one basket, grabbing no rebounds, and committing four fouls. Like the last living member of a species facing extinction, O’Neal propelled himself forward until he literally could not move anymore.



It is not the first time Rivers, one of the great protectors of players and their egos in the coaching business, has had to deliver such grim news. 

“I had Patrick Ewing in his last year in Orlando, and I played with him,” Rivers said. “And I was the coach telling him, ‘We’re not going to play you anymore.’ That’s an awful position, because what makes them great is their pride. Even when they’re barely walking, in their minds they still think they can actually change the outcome of a game. And sometimes you have to be the one to tell them they can’t. And that’s very tough.”

After 19 seasons, O’Neal, 39, has one year left on a $1.4 million player option for next season. On a steady decline since his last productive season in 2008-09 with Phoenix, it is difficult to imagine O’Neal earning that money on the court. For an icon of his stature, pride and going out with dignity mean more than a seven-figure pay day – especially if you’ve already made close to $300 million in your career, not to mention hundreds of millions in endorsement money.

“You can never take away anything he’s done in this game as a champion, the way he set the blueprint for guys like Dwight Howard on and off the court,” said Dwyane Wade, who shared the 2006 NBA title with O’Neal. “He’s a living legend. It’s unfortunate you get to a point in your career where you have to be hawked by injuries.”

The guy sitting next to Wade at the interview table played one season with Shaq, and also had his differences with the big fella. When I asked Wade and LeBron James to weigh in on this being the end of the line for one of the NBA’s greats, James put his head in his hands offered silence. After Wade volunteered to go first – “Since I played with him first,” he said – James also took a crack at summing up one of the most dynamic figures the NBA has ever seen.

“Talk about someone who does it on both sides of the floor, and on and off the court, he did it as far as using his personality to get out to the world,” James said. “He made fans believe they were one with him. … If he was a complete stranger and you saw how big he was, you wouldn’t be afraid to go talk to him because you saw how likeable he was and how his personality was, how outgoing he was. Definitely like D-Wade said, he laid the blueprint for a lot of people, not only on the court, but off the court. Still to this day, he’s still a great person and it’s unfortunate, like D-Wade said, when you get to a point in your career where you have injuries.”

Whatever happens to the Celtics, Rivers said Shaq should “walk away for the summer and then decide what he wants to do.” But O’Neal has reached the point where the decision is out of his hands. Time stands still for no one, no matter how many championships (four), All-Star appearances (15), or nicknames (countless) he has.

“I just know that this has been emotionally draining to him, more than you guys would know,” Rivers said. “He feels awful about this because this is why he came here, to get to the playoffs and then play in the playoffs. And then not being able to do that has really hurt him.”

At training camp in Newport, R.I., many months and miles ago, O'Neal recalled his offseason phone calls to the Celtics' Big Three before signing with Boston.

"I basically was like, 'Help me help you,'" O'Neal said. "So I'm gonna help them get two and I'm gonna get five."

A few weeks later, in the locker room at Madison Square Garden, O'Neal declared the era of the dominant center a thing of the past.

"The days of Patrick Ewing and Rik Smits and Kevin Duckworth and Robert Parish, those days are over," O'Neal said. "Thanks to me.”

It turns out he was right, though a few months early. 
Posted on: May 2, 2011 4:32 pm
Edited on: May 2, 2011 6:42 pm
 

Pierce OK for Game 2; will Celts respond?

MIAMI -- Paul Pierce will not face further disciplinary action for his altercation with James Jones in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, a league source confirmed Monday to CBSSports.com. Whether the rest of the Celtics will show up with him for Game 2 against the Heat remains to be seen.

After reviewing the incident that resulted in the first of Pierce's two technical fouls in Miami's 99-90 victory in Game 1, league officials decided Pierce's actions did not warrant a fine or suspension. Before practicing Monday at the University of Miami, Pierce said he was "definitely worried" about how the league would view the incident, but the Celtics clearly have more problems to worry about as they try to avoid falling behind 0-2 in a playoff series for the first time in the Big Three era.

"I was surprised at getting kicked out, yeah," Pierce said. "I didn’t think what I did warranted an ejection. But sometimes, players get caught in the heat of the game and sometimes the refs do, too."

Pierce and Jones received technicals after Jones wrapped Pierce up as the Celtics star pump-faked him into the air with 7:59 left Sunday. Pierce and Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Monday they believed that play, as well as a later altercation between Dwyane Wade and Pierce, should have resulted in flagrant fouls on the Heat. 

Instead, Pierce was assessed his second technical foul after Wade tried to run through him on a screen with 7:00 left. Referee Ed Malloy gave Pierce a technical, and crew chief Dan Crawford explained after the game that Pierce received it -- and the accompanying automatic ejection -- for a "verbal taunt." 

UPDATE: After reviewing the incidents Monday, NBA officials rescinded Jones' flagrant foul from the Pierce incident but charged him with a flagrant foul, penalty-one for striking Pierce around the neck. In addition, the league office downgraded Jermaine O'Neal's flagrant-one with 2:30 left in the third quarter to a personal foul. The call was devastating to the Celtics, resulting in a five-point swing when Jones made both free throws and Mike Bibby added a 3-pointer that gave the heata 72-58 lead.

While Rivers disagreed with the explanations given by Crawford after the game, he expertly turned the tables on his team Monday -- essentially taunting his players for allowing the Heat to dictate everything in Game 1, including the physical tone and an aggressive defensive posture that forced the Celtics into a timid, impatient offensive approach.

"Miami wants to show us they’re physical," Rivers said. "That’s cool with us. And we just want to play the way we play. I honestly don’t know if that’s physical or not. That’s for everyone else to say. But at the end of the day, they’re going to play their style, we’re going to play our style, and somebody’s style is going to win."

This is the fourth time the Celtics have trailed 1-0 in a playoff series during the Big Three era; they've yet to lose a Game 2. In 2009, Boston lost Game 1 of the conference semifinals to Orlando at home and lost the series in seven games. The other two instances came on the road during the 2010 playoffs: against the Cavaliers in the conference semis (Boston won the series in six games) and in the NBA Finals against the Lakers (Boston lost the series in seven).

"This is the first time we’ve been in the playoffs with this team," Rajon Rondo said. "It’s different. Obviously, the Big Three have been here. But it’s only five guys now -- myself and Baby (Glen Davis) -- and everyone else hasn’t been in a playoff series with them. So it’s a different team. But we’re confident that we can win Game 2."

How do the Celtics avoid falling behind 0-2 for the first time since Pierce teamed with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in 2007? Five things:

1) Listen to Rivers and be the aggressor: Rivers has such a good feel for the personality of his team, and he knows how insulted his players will be when hearing him belabor the point about how Miami dictated the physical tone in Game 1. Look for the Celtics to come out much more assertively at the start. This means A) clean but hard screens and fouls from the get-go from the Celtics, and B) the officials will have their hands full even more than in Game 1. If you thought that was physical, chippy, cheap, or whatever, just wait until Tuesday night.

2) Channel the aggression into better execution: It's not enough to be aggressive. It has to come with a plan. Rivers has needled his players in recent days by publicly stating again and again how much more athletic the Heat are, saying at one point that if this were an Olympics, Miami would win. That may be true, but this is a basketball game. Rondo has to be in attack mode, but under control and with a purpose. He also has to limit his turnovers; he had five of Boston's 13 in Game 1. The Celtics have to get into their offensive sets early, and stay with them long enough to get to the second or third option instead of letting Miami's athleticism break them down into isolation or desperation -- or worse, turnovers, which activate Miami's unstoppable transition game.

3) Find James Jones: In the film session at the team hotel Monday morning, Rivers highlighted how Jones got free for seven 3-point attempts (he made five) without being forced to take a single dribble. "That's poor defense," Rivers said.

4) Win the matchups they should win: The Celtics actually got decent production from the bench (23 points), but they need more from Rondo and Garnett -- especially when both teams' starters are on the floor. Rondo vs. Mike Bibby and Garnett vs. Chris Bosh should be clear-cut advantages for the Celtics, but Rivers admitted they got away from going into the post to Garnett too early in Game 1.

5) Hope the Heat shoot too many jumpers ... again: The Celtics actually should have been pleased with Miami's shot selection in Game 1. Especially early in the game, Miami fell in love with the jumper. According to Synergy Sports Technology, 43 of Miami's 68 field-goal attempts were jump shots. That plays right into the Celtics' hand. Unless, of course, they go in.



Posted on: April 21, 2011 8:55 pm
Edited on: April 21, 2011 9:00 pm
 

Stern envisions replay official, challenge flags

PHILADELPHIA – NBA commissioner David Stern defended the officiating through the first week of the playoffs Thursday night and said he envisions a time when the league will have a dedicated replay official and when coaches will be allowed to throw challenge flags in the final two minutes of games. 

“The officiating has been how officiating is,” Stern said during a stop on his playoff tour at Game 3 between the Heat and 76ers. “We have this issue. We have humans that officiate our games and they don’t catch everything. But they’re the best at what they do.” 

The opening week of the playoffs included several controversial calls, including one in which Oklahoma City’s Kendrick Perkins was incorrectly credited with a basket in the Thunder’s 102-101 victory over the Nuggets in Game 1 of their series due to a missed basket interference call. The league office issued a statement acknowledging the mistake, but a blatant trip by the CelticsKevin Garnett against the KnicksToney Douglas – helping to free Ray Allen for a deciding 3-pointer in Game 1 of that series – did not result in a mea culpa from Stern’s officiating department. 

Stern stressed several times the need to strive for accuracy through replay enhancement without further slowing down the games. 

“Eventually, you may have someone sitting at a desk rather than having a Talmudic discussion of three referees every time there’s a disputed play,” Stern said. “We might have one person whose job it is to keep the headphones on and always watch. And you might let a coach throw the flag in the last two minutes. We’re striving for accuracy. … We have to find a way to speed the game up, and to get it right. That’s the most important thing.” 

With developments Thursday further enhancing Sacramento’s efforts to prevent the Kings from moving to Anaheim, Stern said Oklahoma City owner Clay Bennett – chairman of the relocation committee – and several league officials are in Sacramento “verifying” Mayor Kevin Johnson’s assertions to the Board of Governors last week about Sacramento’s renewed financial commitment to the team. 

“Our preference was to understand that better, and the verification is under way,” Stern said. 

Asked if the recently agreed upon sale of the Pistons to Tom Gores and the expression of interest from Ron Burkle to buy the Kings and keep them in Sacramento was proof that the NBA’s financial state isn’t as dire as owners say, Stern said, “No. It just means they know we’re going to get a good (labor) deal and they’re already factoring it into their decisions to buy. And they know we’re not only going to get a good deal, but a deal that really makes it sustainable to buy a team.” 

Among the other topics addressed by Stern Thursday night: 

• Asked if the league needs provisions in a new collective bargaining agreement to prevent “player-made teams” like Miami’s, Stern said, “No, because I have grown up in this league with teams that had great players.” Referencing the Celtics and Lakers of the 1980s, Stern said, “To me, you may call me a players’ person, but the players made a deal that says they’re allowed to become free agents and decide where they want to go. And you’re making it into a federal offense to discuss where they might want to play with another player. It doesn’t warm my blood. In fact, if the team that can get those players is under the cap, that’s the way the system was designed to work. I don’t get too boiled for that.” 

• However, when asked about a Yahoo! Sports report from December that Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert – a key member of the NBA’s labor relations committee – had retained counsel to investigate tampering allegations against the Heat for signing LeBron James, Stern said, “I’m aware of the issue, but there’s been no formal complaint of tampering or anything like that filed. … If there was tampering that someone could prove, that would make my blood boil.” 

• Reiterating comments he made earlier Thursday in New York to the Associated Press Sports Editors, Stern said he and players’ association chief Billy Hunter are in agreement that a court battle such as the one consuming the NFL in its labor dispute “should be avoided. … We’re going to do our best (to get a deal). And we’ve got more than two months.” 

• After maximum contract lengths were reduced by one year in each of the past two CBAs, Stern said he favored ratcheting them down again. “Shorter and less guaranteed,” he said. “I have no idea what they’ll agree to and I’m not going to negotiate with them here.” 

• On whether the Heat have met expectations, Stern said, “They met my expectations, but they didn’t meet everybody else’s. Before the season, everyone thought they were going to win 75 games and we should just mail the trophy. In fact, it takes a while for a team. This is a team game, and they’ve done pretty well. They’re pretty darn good and they’re playing awfully well, but it hasn’t been the walk in the park that they expected.”
 
 
 
 
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