kendrick-perkins
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Saturday , Apr , 09 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Derrick Rose on the Celtics: ‘We know we can beat them’

With Perkins gone, everything changed for the Celtics and they knew it: the toughness, the tenacity, the presence in the post. “He was tough,” Rose said. “We could defend on someone that was big. He was really tough to go around. … They’re different.”

Different doesn’t mean better. It means diminished. The Bulls beat the Celtics 44-22 in the paint, beat them badly on the boards, too. They assailed the Celtics the way the Celtics used to assail everyone else. “We know we can beat them,” Rose flatly said.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Last night was the proof. It was the smoking gun, the bloody glove, and weapon of mass destruction all in one.

The Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls, two of the Eastern Conference’s premier teams, are moving in different directions. The Celtics are stumbling; the Bulls are soaring.

No other conclusion can be drawn from the Bulls’ decisive victory on Thursday in front of a national audience. The difference at point guard says everything.

After all, these teams live and die by their point guards, All-Star Rajon Rondo and MVP candidate Derrick Rose. As Rondo and Rose go, so goes the Celts’ and Bulls.

Rose soared last night, notching 30 points, 8 assists, and limiting Rondo’s effectiveness. There’s no longer any doubt he’s MVP worthy. His play clinched it.

Best of all, Rose spoke publicly of no longer fearing the Celtics, especially since they dealt defensive five Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Jeff Green.

Conversely, Rondo struggled. Mightily.

After getting outplayed, the Celtics’ floor general expressed doubt about his club’s ability to flip a switch ala 2010. He then requested a meeting with his coach, Glen ‘Doc’ Rivers.

Of course, the Celtics surprised everyone with last year's run. Repeating such heroics seems unlikely –if their point guard and best player doesn’t believe.

--Oly Sandor.

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Wednesday , Apr , 06 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Doc Rivers on Jeff Green: ‘I think he’s too nice’

Celtics coach Doc Rivers offered an interesting criticism of Jeff Green following Sunday’s 101-90 victory over the Detroit Pistons. ‘I think he’s too nice,’ Rivers said. ‘He’s trying to please the other guys on the floor. I’ve always thought playing with us is difficult, when you’re new, because you’re playing with Paul [Pierce] and Ray [Allen] and Kevin [Garnett] and [Rajon] Rondo and you almost don’t think like you deserve to be an aggressive offensive player or you should be, and I think he does that way too much.’

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call:  You know where nice guys finish, right?

It’s hardly surprising Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers wants Jeff Green to stop deferring to future Hall of Famers Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce and headstrong All-Star Rajon Rondo.

Of course, it can’t be easy for Green, who was acquired at the trade deadline from the Oklahoma City Thunder for Kendrick Perkins.

He doesn’t have the luxury of training camp, the regular season, or practices. He must learn on the fly. The playoffs are fast approaching.

Green’s best strategy is to use his athleticism and size on both ends of the floor to be an effort player. In time, he’ll get comfortable with the team’s half-court sets. Then, he’ll become more assertive.

For now, the Celtics have to settle for a nice guy.

--Oly Sandor.

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Biggest Surprises and Fails for 2010-2011
Monday , Apr , 04 , 2011 J.N.

Biggest Surprises and Fails for 2010-2011

The season is almost over. It is time to look back and reflect on the positives and negatives. The hype before tip-off was through the roof. There was a lot of anticipation on new rivalries and storylines to be played out. Will the South Beach trio work out? How will Blake Griffin play? Is Steve Nash’s window closed? Are the Lakers still the team to beat? Kevin Durant got the MVP? The Chicago Bulls are 4th seeders, right?

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Friday , Apr , 01 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Celtics need Shaq, Jermaine O’Neal, and Krstic healthy to win NBA Title?

Krstic left with 2:18 left in the first half of Thursday's game after landing awkwardly on his right leg. His knee became bent out of shape and he immediately felt the pain. With the help of Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte, Krstic limped off the floor. Krstic will return home to Boston where he will undergo an MRI on Friday.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call:  Suddenly, the Boston Celtics are thin at center.
 
Remember, the green-and-white signed the two O’Neals, Jermaine and Shaquille this summer. Depth was one reason executive Danny Ainge felt comfortable sending interior defender Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder for forward Jeff Green at the trade deadline.

Injuries, pending free agency, and a plethora of posts, made Perk’ expendable. Or, so the Celtics thought.

Jermaine O’Neal isn’t healthy. He hasn’t been all year. Shaquille O’Neal’s Achilles has kept him out of the line-up for some time. Whenever he returns, fitness will be an issue.

Knowing this, Ainge prudently acquired Nenad Krstic from Oklahoma City as part of the Green deal. Now Krstic is out for the foreseeable future with his own knee troubles.

Well, what does this mean?

Suppose the Celtics advance to the NBA Finals. They’ll need size at center to counter, say, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Andrew Bynum, the Dallas Mavericks’ Tyson Chandler, or the San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan.
 
Some combination of the O'Neals and Krstic must be available to log heavy minutes. And Garnett must be free to roam and help on defence. He does this best when playing power forward.

Sliding The Big Ticket to center makes the defending Eastern Conference champs smaller and limits Garnett's effectiveness.

Hopefully, the Celtics get healthy down low. Returning to the Finals and having any chance at beating the Lakers, or any other western foe, depends on it.  

--Oly Sandor.

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Friday , Mar , 18 , 2011 Oly Sandor

Video: Dwyane Wade ‘welcomes’ Kendrick Perkins to OKC Thunder

HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Leave it Dwyane Wade to welcome Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Yesterday, the Heat’s superstar spun baseline and posterized Perkins, who happened to be playing in his second game as a member of the Thunder. Then Wade dropped some celebratory dance moves from the Kid N Play era.

--Oly Sandor.

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Wednesday , Mar , 02 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Celtics, not Heat, sign Troy Murphy

Troy Murphy has decided to sign with the Boston Celtics.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: The rich just got richer. Today, the Boston Celtics won the first round of the veteran’s buyout war, signing free agent Troy Murphy to a pro-rated one year contract.

Translation: Murphy is a short-term rental. 

The left-handed post was dealt from the New Jersey Nets to the Golden State Warriors at the trade deadline. The Warriors then bought Murphy out, giving him the opportunity to choose his next team.  

Murphy will add depth off the bench for the Celtics and can start if Shaquille O’Neal and/or Jermaine O’Neal aren’t healthy.

Whatever his role, Murphy will rebound and extend opposing defences with his deadly three-point range.  

Most importantly, the green-and-white prevented Murphy from signing with the rival Miami Heat. And such a signing could be the difference between winning and losing the Eastern Conference championship.

--Oly Sandor.


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Wednesday , Mar , 02 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

A Thunderous Deal: Why Perkins is worth $35 million extension

The Oklahoma City Thunder have signed center Kendrick Perkins to a multi-year contract extension, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti. Per team policy, the terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but Yahoo! Sports reports that it will pay Perkins $34.8 million over four years.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: They got their man at the trade deadline. Now they’ll keep him for a while.

Once again, the Oklahoma City Thunder has scored a victory, extending newly acquired Kendrick Perkins to a very reasonable four-year, $35 million contract.

The Perkins-for-Jeff Green trade between the Boston Celtics and Thunder was controversial, but there’s little doubt the massive five-man can help Sam Presti’s club.

Consider the following facts:

First, Perkins’ size and toughness will help a Thunder club that was deemed too soft in the paint to challenge the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in a seven-game series.

Second, Perkins can serve as a defensive anchor. This will appeal to coach Scott Brooks, who implores his young Thunder to get stops.

Third, Perkins has attitude –lots of it, in fact. Whether glaring at refs, opponents, or occasionally teammates, Perkins accepts nothing less than winning.

Finally, Perkins acquisition could be a case of addition by subtraction. Green, a talented forward, wasn’t fitting in with the Thunder. Trading him solidifies the team’s core.

There is much discussion about Perkins’ worth. Some of these comments are fair; some of these comments are unfair.

When healthy, Perkins is a top defensive center, and this is exactly what the Thunder needed.

--Oly Sandor.


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Losing Kendrick Perkins Doesn’t Matter
Sunday , Feb , 27 , 2011 Paul Eide

Losing Kendrick Perkins Doesn’t Matter

 

Even with Carmelo Anthony finally going to the Knicks and Deron Williams sudden trade to the Nets, the most talked about trade completed before Thursday’s deadline was the trade between the Celtics and Thunder. Boston sent Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic.
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Saturday , Feb , 26 , 2011 Oly Sandor

Rumor: Celtics keeping an eye on Troy Murphy?

Meanwhile, Boston will continue to monitor the buyouts going on around the league with eyes toward adding as many as two more players with its available roster spots. All eyes seem to be on Troy Murphy, the sharpshooting big man who was traded to Golden State this week and could wind up available.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: As hard as it may be, the Boston Celtics have to get over Kendrick Perkins’ departure.

Sure, Perkins was their heart-and-soul, but trading the large five-man to the Oklahoma City Thunder was prudent -especially since the club weren’t prepared to extend him to the tune of $10 million per season.

Moving on means attempting to sign free agent Troy Murphy. The veteran was recently traded to the Golden State Warriors, who will buy him out.

All it will cost is money, specifically a pro-rated portion of the veteran’s minimum. And Murphy will contribute on the glass while stretching defenses with his outside range.

In fact, he’d have a similar role to former reserve Rasheed Wallace, who was with the Celtics in 2008 and 2009.

And Murphy will be motivated. He’d didn’t fit in New Jersey and ended up getting banished from the team by Nets coach Avery Johnson.

Such a situation has to appeal to a player’s sense of pride. So signing Murphy in a few weeks may help the Celtics' players, coaches, and fans forget Perkins.

--Oly Sandor.

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Friday , Feb , 25 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

A win-win: Celtics, Thunder swap Perkins for Green

The Celtics have agreed to send Kendrick Perkins to the Thunder in exchange for a package built around Jeff Green. Green and Perkins will both be free agents this offseason, while the former will be restricted. Nenad Krstic and Nate Robinson will also be included in the deal.Boston will also receive the 2012 first round pick of the Clippers from Oklahoma City.

 
HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: It's a win-win for the Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder.

The green-and-white either couldn't afford or wouldn't foot the bill to keep center Kendrick Perkins in Beantown. In Green, they get a swing that can play now and assume a greater role when Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce retire.

Meanwhile, Green wasn't a fit for the Thunder, so dealing him for Perkins made sense. The rugged rebounder will anchor Coach Scott Brooks' defence and assist Serge Illbaka in the middle.

Of course, with any trade there's risk. For instance, Green will be a restricted free agent in July. Getting his name on a long-term extension may not be easy.

Perkins will be an unrestricted free agent and could walk on the Thunder at season's end. For instance, there are rumblings he'll pair with current Celtics coach Doc Rivers down in Miami.

That, however, is for tomorrow. Today, the Celtics and Thunder should celebrate a mutually beneficial trade.

--Oly Sandor.
 
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Sunday , Oct , 03 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Shaq The Big Unselfish for Boston Celtics?

Shaquille O’Neal practiced with Boston's first unit for the second straight day. Doc Rivers said the plan was to start Jermaine O’Neal at center, but nothing was set in stone.

“I think just watching what [Shaq’s] doing, he doesn’t care [whether he starts],’’ Rivers said. “He just wants to play and help the team. He really wants to prove that he can play still, No. 1. And I think he just wants to win, and you can see that.’’

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Is Shaquille O’Neal really becoming The Big Unselfish?

Reports from Boston have the future Hall of Fame center switching in and out of the first and second units. Right now, he’s happy. Right now, he’s being a good teammate.

This can change. And fast.

Remember, these Celtics get stops. It’s who they are. Their defensive prowess – at home and on the road - gives them a chance in every game.

O’Neal has never been a committed defender. Even during the glory years with the L.A. Lakers, he was reluctant to guard the pick-and-roll.

Over the years, his pick-and-roll defense has gotten worse. Today, opponents run O’Neal through a steady diet of pick-and-roll sets to get easy hoops and draw cheap fouls on the big man.

Suppose O’Neal doesn’t improve his pick-and roll ‘D’. How long before coach Doc Rivers rotates in Glen Davis and/or Jermaine O’Neal? What happens when defensive star Kendrick Perkins returns from his knee injury?

Well, nobody knows exactly how minutes will be dispersed. However, Boston’s plethora of bigs will have to check their egos and put the team first.

This is where O’Neal could struggle. He’s always been the main attraction. Now he’s a supporting piece on a star-laden squad.

Being unselfish in October is easy. It’s much harder in May and June when you’re a former MVP and watching from the bench.

--Oly Sandor.

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Thursday , Sep , 23 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Andrew Bynum to miss start of season?

Andrew Bynum's status for the start of the season is in question as he returns from offseason knee surgery. “We’re hopeful that he’ll be ready for the start of the season,” Lakers spokesman John Black said Wednesday. Black said there is “an outside chance” that Bynum will be able to take part in the team’s final exhibition games Oct. 21 and 22.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Here we go again.

The Los Angeles Lakers could be without star center Andrew Bynum for the start of the regular season, as the massive seven-footer hasn’t recovered from off-season knee surgery.

Without Bynum, the purple-and-gold is great. With him, they’re unstoppable.

Bynum’s frame and wingspan gives his team an edge down the middle over almost every squad in the NBA. For instance, the Celtics – even if Kendrick Perkins was healthy – would have no answer for a hobbling Bynum in the Finals.

So expect the Lakers’ trainers to do everything possible to get Bynum ready. His status could be the difference between winning and losing a third championship.

--Oly Sandor.

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Friday , Sep , 10 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Kendrick Perkins on Celtics adding Shaq and Jermaine O’Neal: ‘we just got older’

"Well, I mean, we didn't do nothing spectacular. We got Shaq, we got Delonte [West], we got J.O. (Jermaine O'Neal). But it ain't like we signed no young Dwight Howards or anything like that. So if anything we just got older."

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: ‘Dem could be fighting words’.

Instead of embracing new teammates, instead of saying the right things, instead of playing nice, Kendrick Perkins threw Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal under the bus.

Part of this is competition. Perkins had been the Boston Celtics’ starting center, but will miss months of 2011 with injury. And he’s probably fearful Shaq and J.O. will take his position.

However, calling them old – even if it’s true - isn’t good. 

The green-and-white needs its veteran posts to play their roles if they’re to hold off the Miami Heat and return to the NBA Finals.

Perkins slamming Shaq and Jermaine O’Neal won’t get these former stars to willingly accept lesser minutes and a bench role. And it won’t help team harmony.

Perhaps Perkins – a notoriously intense competitor – would be better served focusing on his rehab and getting back on-court.

--Oly Sandor.

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Tuesday , Aug , 31 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Shaquille O’Neal now The Big Realist for Boston Celtics

"I'm much older now," he said. "This team is good with or without me. Sometimes, in order to win, you have to sacrifice. I don't mind sacrificing. At the end of the day, it’s all about winning."

"I'm going to do what I'm told to do. Whatever they need me to do. I'm not in a position to cause trouble or cause a ruckus. The reason why younger in my career I acted a fool is because they made me the CEO. If I'm the CEO and I'm getting all the blame, we're going to start doing it my way."

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: It seems age, weight, and getting engaged to a woman named Hoopz has turned Shaquille O’Neal into The Big Realist.

Instead of demanding minutes, instead of demanding adulation, instead of demanding to be the star or co-star, O’Neal realizes – and more importantly accepts - he’s a bit part for the Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics.

They’ve already got their Big Four. They’ve already established a formula for success.

However, O’Neal can still play an important role. Starting center Kendrick Perkins is out until mid season because of a knee injury sustained in game six of the NBA Finals.

While Perkins is recovering, O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal are expected to plug the middle. If Shaq can defend, rebound, and score, he’ll have fulfilled his role for the Celtics.

And maybe he’ll get rewarded with a fifth and final NBA Championship before finally retiring.
     
--Oly Sandor.

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Wednesday , Aug , 25 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Shaq ‘absolutely’ OK with bench role in Boston

Rivers said in a radio interview with ESPN 950 in Washington that the legendary center plans to be flexible. "Absolutely coach," O'Neal told Rivers when asked if he'd be OK with a reserve role. O'Neal went on to agree that he'd even be fine with playing just 10-15 minutes per game.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Easier said than done.
 
Shaquille O'Neal has always been the main attraction, so it's hard to imagine him in the supporting cast. But this is The Deal between O'Neal and Boston Celtics' coach Doc Rivers.
 
The future Hall of Fame five-man had limited options this summer as a free agent. The problem: teams were reluctant to give O'Neal the money, term, and playing time he wanted.
 
Enter Boston.    
 
Rivers knew his squad needed another big body low with Kendrick Perkins recovering from knee surgery. O'Neal landed a two-year deal for the veteran's minimum.
 
The catch: minutes would be limited. Transitioning from star to reserve is never simple. Especially since O'Neal has done movies, music, and reality television.
 
Unfortunately, Father Time is a factor. O'Neal had to play a role if he wanted an NBA job. Credit him for swallowing his pride and taking a seat on the Celtics' bench.
 
--Oly Sandor.
 
Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Thursday , Jun , 17 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Game-Seven Prediction: Lakers 95, Celtics 88.

The Lakers have the best player, but Boston's depth of big-time playmakers will prevail in a game like this. I count eight Celtics -- the four current or former All-Stars in their starting lineup, plus Rasheed Wallace, Glen Davis, Nate Robinson’s and little-used Michael Finley, a three-point shooter with the potential to become this game's Steve Kerr -- who have it in them to make the big shot. The absence of Kendrick Perkins may create more offense for the Celtics, and they'll make up for his rebounding with a team effort led by Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo. Anticipate nothing less than a tightly wound classic played to a tempo that suits Boston.

Click here for Ian Thomsen's official game seven prediction and more analysis from the CNNSI crew.

HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call:
The Boston Celtics are deserving of respect.

Consider their road to the NBA Finals. First, they took out Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat -despite some questionable tactics from Kevin Garnett. They made the Cleveland Cavaliers – the NBA’s best team in the regular season – implode, which, unfortunately, gave us an extra month of The LeBron Watch. They then coolly took out the Orlando Magic, the reigning Eastern Conference champions, in six games.

This was a most improbable run for a club that was supposedly dead, gone, and over at mid-season. Clearly, they saved their best for last, though.

The green-and-white have now pushed the defending champion and heavily favoured Lakers to the limit. The secret to Boston’s success: inspired team play on the defensive end.

Look at the NBA Finals: they’ve mostly contained Ron Artest and Lamar Odom; they’ve battled superstar Pau Gasol; and they’ve made the immortal Kobe Bryant look surprisingly mortal.

Doc Rivers’ crew is an all-time great defensive team. They can hang with any of Phil Jackson’s Chicago teams that had notable defenders like Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Horace Grant/Dennis Rodman. And they hold their own against Detroit’s Bad Boys and any of Pat Riley’s squads in Los Angeles or New York.

Offensively, somebody different carries the load each night. For instance, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo have all had moments.

Of course, reserves Glen Davis and Nate Robinson – also known as Shrek and Donkey - won game four of the NBA Finals. And the defending Sprite Slam Dunk Champion went off in game six of the Eastern Conference Finals, too.

That said, the Lakers have the edge in the decisive game-seven. Here’s why:

1) Home-court matters: The purple-and-gold is a different team at home. They’re confident. They’re nasty. And they’re arrogant.     

2) No Perk’: The Celtics will miss Kendrick Perkins. They lack the size to win the paint, and contain Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.

3) Kobe Bryant: He’s the best player on either team. He’s the best player in the NBA. And he understands tonight is a legacy game.

Bryant – if he wants to be considered an all-time great – can’t afford a loss. After all, five championships are far better than four. And two losses to the arch rival Celtics in the NBA Finals would be devastating.

Expect Bryant to drop a Jordan-like effort. And HoopsVibe News expects the Lakers to win.

Prediction for game-seven of the 2010 NBA Finals: Lakers 95, Boston 88.

Got thoughts? What is your prediction for game-seven of the NBA Finals?  

Kobe’s Lakers won the title. It’s over. Vol. 2010 NBA Finals game 6
Thursday , Jun , 17 , 2010 J.N.

Kobe’s Lakers won the title. It’s over. Vol. 2010 NBA Finals game 6

What happened? The game was over when Kendrick Perkins got injured. The Lakers took their hearts. After Kobe questioned his teammates’ hearts, they proved that they had more than enough for game 6 in Los Angeles. Pau Gasol finished with a near triple double: 17 points, 13 rebounds, 9 assists, and 3 blocks. Derek Fisher didn’t need to do much. Kendrick Perkins is done. Rajon Rondo took a vicious elbow from Ron Artest that required stitches. The Lakers got this and Kobe got his 5th ring.

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Wednesday , Jun , 16 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Is Kendrick Perkins the difference between Boston Winning and Losing NBA Title?

"The Boston Celtics might go to Game 7 without center Kendrick Perkins.

He landed awkwardly trying to haul in an offensive rebound midway through the first quarter of Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night and suffered a right knee sprain.

Perkins was hopeful, saying: "I'm going to try to give it a go [on Thursday]." But a team source told ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan: "He's done."

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Don't let his modest numbers deceive you. Kendrick Perkins could be the difference between the Boston Celtics winning and losing the championship.

The NBA Finals will be decided in the paint; the team that dominates down-low will host a victory celebration, while the team that gets dominated will spend their life wondering what could've been.

Perkins - despite his limited offensive skill and affinity for arguing fouls - is a throwback. He bangs. He competes. And he intimidates.

For instance, Perkins shut Pau Gasol down in game-five, which, not coincidentally, the Celtics won. In fact, Boston's five-man was so effective experts were again calling the Spaniard soft.

Gasol, however, was far more confident when Perkins left game-six with an injury. He ate the smaller Glen Davis up. Veterans Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace weren't much better, either.

And the Los Angeles Lakers, as a team, successfully attacked the basket, in large part, because Perkins wasn't there to deter them. Guards Kobe Bryant, Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown were able to get to the hoop whenever they liked.

Right now, Perkins' status is unknown for game-seven. What isn't unknown is how important he is to Boston.      

Got thoughts on this?   

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Wednesday , Jun , 16 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Do-or-Die: Bryant and Lakers ‘man up’ to force game-seven against Celtics

Kobe Bryant scored 26 points, Pau Gasol added 17 points and 13 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers emphatically extended the NBA finals to a decisive seventh game with a 89-67 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 6 on Tuesday night.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Two days ago, Kobe Bryant demanded his teammates 'man up and play'. Well, the Los Angeles Lakers - both individually and collectively - fulfilled his request on Tuesday evening.

The purple-and-gold dominated every aspect of game six, building an early lead through tough defense, infectious hustle, and inspired play. The Celtics never mounted a serious challenge and the Lakers cruised through the second half to an easy win.

The difference between games five and six was obvious: Bryant had help. Loads of it.

For instance, co-star Pau Gasol had a double-double, but - best of all - the Spaniard imposed his will down-low; Ron Artest hit shots; Lamar Odom stopped complaining about the flu and got active; and Shannon Brown, Jordan Farmar, and Sasha Vujacic provided energy off the bench.

Two specific plays stand out. First, Artest was so confident he over-dribbled and still sank an improbable fall-back shot. Second, Farmar out-hustled Celtic Rajon Rondo for a loose ball by sacrificing his body and diving on the floor.

Bryant aside, no Laker looked confident or sacrificed in game-five.

As a group, L.A. played superb defense. They challenged every shot. They provided helped. They got stops. They won the battle of the boards. And they held the Celtics to 67 points, the second lowest total in NBA Finals history.

Meanwhile, Boston resembled a team with a one game cushion. Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo were outplayed by the Lakers' big guns. The bench - which had been so effective earlier in the series - looked awestruck.

Of course, Kendrick Perkins' injury didn't help. The rough and tumble post sprained his knee early in the first quarter and never returned. His status for game-seven is unknown.

With or without Perkins, the green-and-white must re-establish their presence in the paint and show greater urgency on Thursday.

In fact, the Celtics should consider Bryant's advice and 'man up'. Or the Lakers will win what has become a one game, do-or-die NBA Finals and will hoist the Larry O'Brien championship trophy.

Got thoughts on game six? And what's your prediction for Thursday's game-seven?             

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Monday , Jun , 07 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Paul Pierce: “We ain’t coming back to LA!”

Striking a similar tone as he did in Orlando in the Eastern Conference finals, Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce directed a bold prediction at Lakers fans in the final minutes of his team's victory in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night in Los Angeles.

After Pau Gasol committed a hard foul on Kendrick Perkins with 1:12 remaining in Game 2 and the Celtics leading, 97-90, Pierce, as he helped his teammate off the floor along the baseline near the hoop was heard on video replays yelling, "We ain't coming back to LA!"

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Paul Pierce has reason to be confident.

Yes, his Boston Celtics looked solid in taking game two of the NBA Finals. And yes, the heavily favoured Los Angeles Lakers' struggled on Sunday evening.

Pierce's outburst was, in part, due to the championship series switching to a 2-3-2 game format, meaning the lower seeded team - the Celtics in this case - have the next three matches in Boston. 

The league uses a 2-2-1-1-1 game format for the first three rounds of the playoffs and critics believe the 2-3-2 format of the NBA Finals gives the lower seed an unfair advantage.

Years back, the suits at league head office thought the 2-3-2 format was appropriate for the NBA finals because it reduced travel. Today, every team has their own luxurious, five-star plane, so travel isn't as great an issue. 

With the next three games in Boston, the 2-3-2 format is an issue for the Lakers. And this has Pierce confident he "ain't coming back to LA!"

Will the Celtics finish the series at home? Is the 2-3-2 format fair? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below.