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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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Saturday , Oct , 02 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Rajon Rondo’s goal for 2011: prove he’s the NBA’s top PG

Rajon Rondo is eager to prove that he is the NBA's best point guard. “That I’m the best,’’ Rondo said. “Hands down. No speculation. ‘Oh, he may be top three, top five, top 10.’ No, I’m the best.’’

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Rajon Rondo is getting his ‘Gordon Gecko’ on.

The Boston Celtics point guard is wisely following the mantra of Oliver Stone’s fictional Wall Street character, greedily stating he wants to be the premier table-setter in the NBA.

Not top five. Not top three. But number one. Like Gecko preached: ‘Greed is good’.

Rondo must continue to emerge because the Celtics are his team. Ray Allen, at 36, is a spot up shooter; Kevin Garnett has health issues; Paul Pierce is on the downside of his storied run with the mighty green-and-white.

Raising an eighteenth banner and avenging last year’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals rests mostly with Rondo. After years as a supporting piece, he’s now the straw that stirs the drink, the lead dog on a veteran squad

So the Celtics will go only as far as the ‘greedy’ Rondo takes them in 2011.  

--Oly Sandor.


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Monday , Sep , 20 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Rondo left Team USA to ‘win another championship’

 "It was great to practice every day against the best young talent in the league, a veteran like Chauncey Billups and play for a Hall of Fame coach [Mike Krzyzewski]," Rondo said. "But some of these guys hadn't played since April. Lamar [Odom] and I had just got out of Game 7. And next season is right around the corner. I feel like I had to take advantage of the opportunity I have right now to win another championship. It's not often you get to play with four Hall of Famers. Another couple of years and I won't have that."

HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: It’s hard to criticize Rajon Rondo’s decision to step away from Team USA.

Rondo hadn’t recovered from the Boston Celtics’ crushing seven-game loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. He was drained and needed rest.

The emerging table-setter understands the championship window is closing on the green-and-white. Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce – also known as The Big Three - are hitting the end of their careers.

Rondo knows he needs to be at full strength in 2011 and 2012 because opportunities to win championships are rare. Playing in the World Championship would be tiring.

Fortunately, Stars and Stripes had talented floor leaders in Chauncey Billups, Stephen Curry, Eric Gordon, Derrick Rose, and Russell Westbrook. His departure wasn’t an issue and, in fact, eased the log-jam at point guard. 

Rondo’s choice may be a win-win for all involved.

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

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Thursday , Sep , 02 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Mutually Beneficial: Delonte West and Boston Celtics a match

The Boston Celtics announced today that they have signed free agent guard Delonte West. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

West, a 6’3” guard, has posted career averages of 10.0 points, 3.7 assists and has shot 37.3% from beyond the arc. Originally drafted by the Celtics with the 24th pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, West posted a career-high 12.2 points during his last season with the Celtics in 2006-07.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: This is a fit for player and team.

Those that love Delonte West and the Boston Celtics must be doing cartwheels, summersaults, and back flips after learning these two reached agreement on a new contract.

The troubled guard started his career with the Celtics, so this is familiar territory. His coach is the personable and friendly Glen ‘Doc’ Rivers. Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins are old teammates. He’s lived in Boston before, which isn’t far from his home of Maryland.

So West knows the organization. And vice-versa.

Rivers and GM Danny Ainge will support West through his personal issues, and accept that the guard will miss the first ten games of the season due to an NBA imposed suspension for a firearms infraction last summer.

Also, the Celtics are a veteran-laden club with big personalities. There’s The Big Three: Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce. Rondo is now an elite point guard. Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal have presence. Of course, there’s Glen Davis and Nate Robinson, also known as Shrek and Donkey.

This boisterous group can shield him from the media and spotlight. West only has regain the form he showed with the Celtics before getting traded in a package to the Seattle Super Sonics for Ray Allen.

The combo guard will provide scoring, intensity, and toughness off the bench. All it cost Boston was the league minimum for a sixth year player and a little faith.

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

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Thursday , Aug , 26 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Boston Celtics considering Rudy Fernandez?

The Celtics have a roster spot open and are currently looking for a shooter, meaning Rudy Fernandez could be an option.

“We’re just continuing to explore available players and trade possibilities and see what sort of options are there,’’ said Danny Ainge. “There are some trade discussions that we’re having. I don’t know the likelihood of those happening, but we’ll continue to not rush into something unless it’s something that we’re really excited about.’’

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: In theory, it’s a yes. Rudy Fernandez’s energy, youth, and sharp-shooting would greatly benefit a veteran-laden Boston Celtics’ squad.  

In reality, it’s a no. Fernandez has whined, complained, and moaned about being a reserve for the Portland Trail Blazers. The Spaniard wants to start, or he'll break his NBA contract and return to Europe.

With Boston, he’d back-up sure-fire Hall of Famers in Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. And the Celtics’ old school, collectivist approach wouldn’t stand for Fernandez’s diva tendencies.

For instance, if the super-intense Kevin Garnett can literally turn Glen Davis into a Big Baby, think what he’d do to Rudy?

Credit Boston executive Danny Ainge for exploring all possibilities. Fernandez, however, isn’t the right fit.

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.  

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Sunday , Aug , 22 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Eddie House on Miami: ‘This is going to be Boston on steroids’

"I compare it to the year I went to Boston when the Big 3 got together in 2007," House said. "But this is going to be even bigger. This is going to be Boston on steroids."

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HoopsVibe's Very QUick Call: Eddie House, sharpshooter for hire, is in a unique position.

Three years ago, around this time, House signed a one-year deal with the Boston Celtics. His role was simple: hit jump-shots and punish opposing defenses for double-teaming superstars Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce.

Of course, the charismatic journeyman also witnessed the hoopla surrounding the green-and-white’s Big Three. Expectations were high; night-in, night-out, opponents got up for the Celtics.

House is right: the Miami Heat will face even greater pressure in 2010-11 than the Celtics of 2007-08. After all, South Beach pulled off the all-time free agent coup, re-signing superstar Dwyane Wade, while adding Chris Bosh and LeBron James.

Wade and James are two of the NBA’s top four players. Bosh is a perennial All-Star and legit’ 20-10 guy down low.

However, it’s not what they did, but how they did it. Resentment lingers at Miami’s Three Kings for how they handled free agency, especially James for turning ‘The Decision’ into a spectacle.

Now the Heat is public enemy number one. They’re controversial rock stars. Their every move will be chronicled. And many are hoping they fail.

So House’s steroid analogy works. This year should be awfully interesting.  

--Oly Sandor.
 
Got a call on this? Get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

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Thursday , Aug , 19 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Paul Pierce:’I pushed’ for Shaq

"I pushed," he said. "You looked around and you looked at the free agents. I saw Shaq was the best available at the time." Pierce doesn't buy into the notion that the O'Neal signing is simply adding another over-the-hill player to an already aging roster.

"When you put him in our group of guys, he's going to have a different role now," Pierce said. "The role he had in Cleveland, he had to be the second guy or the third guy at times. With us, it's not going to have to be that way. We have a number of guys we can play through. There's not a lot of pressure for Shaq to go out and get the 15 or 20 (points) a night like he had to in Cleveland for them to be successful.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: 'The Truth' speaks the truth.
 
Paul Pierce is right when stating Shaquille O'Neal will succeed with the Boston Celtics because expectations are realistic.
 
Translation: The Big Shamrock won't have to be The Big Aristotle.
 
Coach Doc Rivers wants O'Neal defending the paint in a reserve role, not functioning as a 38-year old second option on the low block.
 
All that's left is for O'Neal to buy-in and help the Celtics compete for another championship.
 
--Oly Sandor.
 
Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.
 
 
 
 
The Boston Celtic Expendables gunning for one more title.
Thursday , Aug , 05 , 2010 J.N.

The Boston Celtic Expendables gunning for one more title.

The 2010-2011 Boston Celtics features the stars from the 1990s such as Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Jermaine O’Neal, and the eventual return of Rasheed Wallace. Either they moved one step closer to a title or hospital bed, the Green Machine remains the team to beat in the East despite Miami’s Super Friends. The Celtics are still the Eastern Conference Champions and until any other team officially knock them out; they remain the favorites to return to the Finals.

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Tuesday , Jul , 20 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Must have: Colangelo and Raptors can`t lose Barnes

Matt Barnes announced on Monday night that he is going to sign with the Raptors. However, ESPN.com's Marc Stein reports that Orlando's limited sign-and-trade options may scuttle the deal, according to sources.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Before they sign the contract, before they shake hands, before they profess their love for each other in front of reporters, there is business to attend to.

Yesterday, Matt Barnes – a coveted free agent – announced via twitter he had signed a two-year, $10 million contract with the Toronto Raptors.

His tweet omitted that Toronto and his old team, the Orlando Magic, have yet to work out a sign-and-trade. Unless Barnes restructures Toronto’s offer, a sign-and-trade is the best option because both teams have limited cap space.

Once again, the Raptors’ plan has hit a snag.

Last week, they thought they had a deal to send often injured point guard Jose Calderon to the Charlotte Bobcats for forward Boris Diaw and center Tyson Chandler.

But Bobcats owner and executive Michael Jordan got cold feet. His Airness suddenly called off the trade, pulled out his blackberry, and took the Dallas Mavericks’ package for Chandler.

Now there’s a complication with Barnes.

Look for GM Bryan Colangelo to pull out all stops to complete a sign-and-trade with Orlando. After all, Barnes would inject the right quota of nasty into an all too docile Raptors squad.

For instance, last season no teammate stepped to the Boston Celtics’ Paul Pierce after he dunked on and kneed franchise-face Chris Bosh. No teammate challenged Pierce, and, with Bosh on the ground in agony, Coach Jay Triano had to confront Pierce.
 
  
(Triano forced to play tough guy because no Raptor defended Bosh.)

This play surely influenced Bosh’s decision to depart the Great White North as a free agent for the warmer pastures of South Beach and the Miami Heat.

Consider what would have happened if Barnes was a Raptor last year. He would have gotten in Pierce’s grill; he would have taken revenge on the next Celtic to drive the lane; and - for good measure or, perhaps, his own enjoyment - he would have talked smack on-line.

Such an edge is rare. And Barnes developed his nasty streak floating on the fringes of the NBA for several years. As a result, he plays each game like it’s his last; nothing is taken for granted.        

So Colangeo and the Raptors can’t take for granted that they have Barnes. Too much is at stake not to. 
 
--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below. 
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Monday , Jul , 12 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Report: Tony Allen leaving Boston Celtics for Memphis Grizzlies

According to multiple reports, guard Tony Allen will sign with the Memphis Grizzlies. The Memphis Commercial Appeal first reported the deal. Just days after rumors swirled that Allen would re-sign in Boston, Yahoo.com reported he will ink a three-year, $10 million guaranteed deal.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Keeping their nucleus has reportedly cost the Boston Celtics a key reserve.

While Tony Allen had his ups-and-downs, the wing found his niche as a lockdown defender during the 2010 playoffs. For instance, he used his athleticism and length to slow Kobe Bryant in the NBA Finals.

His departure leaves the green-and-white without much depth behind Ray Allen and Paul Pierce at the shooting guard and small forward positions.

Meanwhile, Lionel Hollins and the Memphis Grizzlies will love having a scrappy, athletic defender off the bench. And Allen will serve as a nice back-up for both Rudy Gay and OJ Mayo.

-- Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

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Thursday , Jul , 08 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Ray Allen re-signs with Boston Celtics for 2 years, $20 million

The Boston Celtics' new Big Three will stay together to try for a second NBA title. Ray Allen confirmed to The Associated Press on Wednesday night that he has agreed to a two-year, $20 million contract to return to Boston.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: The Big Three is back in business, and returning to the Boston Celtics to complete the mission of winning a second NBA Title.

Of course, the green-and-white surprised the basketball world by advancing to the NBA Finals, where they lost a heartbreaking game seven to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Today, Allen inked a very fair two year deal for $20 million. Paul Pierce just re-upped for four seasons. Doc Rivers delayed retiring to Orlando. Kevin Garnett is under contract until July, 2012.

With their veterans returning, expect the Celtics to add blending pieces this off-season and take another run at a championship next spring.

-- Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

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Sunday , Jul , 04 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Dallas re-signs Dirk Nowitzki, interested in LeBron James and Chris Paul?

The Dallas Mavericks got the answer they were hoping for Saturday night: Dirk Nowitzki has pledged to re-sign with the only team he's ever played for.

The deal, sources said, is worth at least $80 million and includes a no-trade clause, with Nowitzki making good on a longstanding offer to Cuban to take less than the maximum $96.2 million he could have received over the next four seasons in exchange for assurances that the Mavericks will use that financial flexibility to ramp up their efforts to acquire a top-tier sidekick.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Player and team got it done.

Like Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics, Dirk Nowitzki re-signed with the only team he has ever played for, taking far less than the maximum available salary so the Dallas Mavericks could find him a co-star.

The former MVP will still earn a good wage: $20 million annually for each of the next four seasons. Best of all, he gets his no-trade clause.

With Nowitzki returning, the Mavericks will now focus on upgrading the roster. Mark Cuban will try and ultimately fail to work a sign-and-trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers for Lebron James.

And despite the New Orleans Hornets' firm denials, Chris Paul is available. Expect Team Cuban to chase CP3.

However, Dallas had to have Nowitzki. He has been the franchise, and will be for years to come.

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at us in the comment box below.      

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Friday , Jul , 02 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Pierce reduces salary, so Celtics can sign Allen and Lee or Miller?

The Celtics have reached an agreement with captain Paul Pierce to keep him in Boston, according to sources. The new contract is said to be four years and $61M in length, with only three of the seasons fully guaranteed.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: The Truth is back. And at a discounted price.

One day into free agency the Boston Celtics have announced they've agreed to terms on a new contract with franchise face Paul Pierce.

Pierce's salary will fall from $21 million to $15 million annually, giving the green-and-white the financial flexibility to re-sign Ray Allen and also add another valuable piece. 

For instance, reports indicate Boston is still talking to Allen, while simultaneously pursuing post David Lee or shooting guard Mike Miller.

In the short-term, Lee could replace the newly retired Rasheed Wallace as a reserve. In the long-term, he could, perhaps, take over for Kevin Garnett at the four-spot.

And Miller can play and guard multiple positions, and also stretch opposing defenses with his outside range.

If the Celtics can retain Allen and bring in other piece, they'll contend in 2011. And they'll have Pierce to thank for it.

-- O.Sandor.

Got thoughts? Get at us in the thoughts in the comment box! 

 

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Wednesday , Jun , 30 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

For the No-Trade: Why Nowitzki and Pierce are opting-out on Dallas and Boston

Add one more marquee name to the most anticipated free-agent class in NBA history: Paul Pierce.

The All-Star forward has notified the Boston Celtics that he will opt out of the final year of his contract before Wednesday's deadline, which will make Pierce an unrestricted free agent for the first time.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce will finish what they started with the Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics.

These star forwards will spend their entire careers with Team Cuban and the green-and-white, but first there is a little business to attend to.

Nowitzki and Pierce are opting-out of their current contracts, leaving millions of dollars on the table, and becoming free agents for two reasons.

First, they want to score lucrative extensions before player salaries are scaled back under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. And the Mavericks and Celtics can offer the most money.

Second, players with eight years service in the league and the last four with the same team are eligible for a no-trade clause. Nowitzki and Pierce have spent their careers in one place, so they'll demand - and likely get - this rare provision. Kobe Bryant is the only current NBA player with a no trade clause.

Expect Dallas and Boston to re-up with Nowitzki and Pierce early in the free agent process. And both will turn their attention to recruiting talent for their respective clubs.

After all, they won't be going anywhere. They'll be armed with no-trade clauses.

Got thoughts?

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Friday , Jun , 18 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Sweet Repeat: Bryant and Lakers win game seven and defend NBA Title

Beating Boston for the first time in a Game 7, the Lakers came up champions again after trailing in the last quarter of the last game of their season.

Kobe Bryant, the finals MVP, scored 23 points despite 6-of-24 shooting and the Lakers won their 16th NBA championship Thursday night, dramatically rallying to beat the  Boston Celtics 83-79 in Game 7 of the NBA finals.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call:  In game-seven of the NBA Finals, the Los Angeles Lakers showed that defense wins championships.

After all, tonight’s game was supposed to be a dream match-up between the Celtics and Lakers, but – at least on the offensive end – it resembled a bit of nightmare.

Both teams couldn’t execute their offensive sets. Both teams couldn’t hit shots. So both teams dug-in, defended, and battled.

Take the victorious Lakers: Kobe Bryant, the Finals MVP, shot a horrendous 6-for-24 from the floor, but grabbed 15 huge rebounds; Pau Gasol pulled in 18 tough rebounds, which offset his missed chippies and free throws; and Ron Artest – who thanked his psychiatrist in a classic Ron-Ron post-game interview – hit clutch shots, however, his greatest contribution was battling Celtic superstar Paul Pierce.

As a group, the purple-and-gold overcame a 13-point second-half deficit and won their second consecutive championship by getting stops. For instance, they held the Celtics to just 79 points on 40% shooting from the floor.

Lamar Odom sparked the turnaround. The forward entered the game in the third quarter with the Lakers trailing 49-37 and looking desperate.

Odom used his considerable length and versatility to score, rebound, and most importantly, provide energy. And his contribution was far greater than his modest stat line of 7 points and 7 rebounds.   

Boston led for most of the game and looked capable of pulling off the upset to win their second championship in three years.

Their offense went cold for long stretches of the second half. For instance, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, the Celtics’ top scorers, were a combined 8-for-29 from the floor.

And the talented bench – which so often provided a lift when the starters struggled – had little impact. Of course, the reserves were short-handed with Rasheed Wallace replacing the injured Kendrick Perkins in the starting-five.

Tonight, Bryant’s Lakers defeated the Celtics for the first time in a game-seven duel, something greats like Jerry West and Magic Johnson failed to accomplish.

Winning back-to-back championships cements this team’s place in history. And their leader and best player, Bryant, keeps solidifying his standing as an all-time great.

And the Lakers, the NBA’s glamour team, achieved this feat with grimy, blue-collar defense.

Got thoughts on the Lakers winning game-seven and consecutive championships?

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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

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 , 14 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

The Big Four Deliver: Allen, Garnett, Pierce, and Rondo lead Boston to game-five win

It's looking a lot like 2008 again, with Paul Pierce carrying the Boston Celtics to victory in the NBA finals and leading them to the brink of yet another title.

Pierce scored 27 points -- his best performance of this year's finals -- and the Celtics withstood 38 points from Kobe Bryant to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 92-86 on Sunday night and take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: On Friday, Kobe Bryant told reporters he was miserable because of his poor play. Tonight, he'll be miserable for a different reason.

The Los Angeles Lakers' superstar raised his play, even scoring an astounding 19 points in the third quarter; however, his co-stars all had poor nights, which was the reason for the game-five loss.

For instance, Ron Artest struggled on both ends of the floor; Pau Gasol's 12 points and 12 rebounds won't cut it in the NBA Finals; Andrew Bynum - wonky knee or not - should've been better than 6 points and 1 rebound; and Lamar Odom was a non-factor.

Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics won with balance. The Big Four delivered: Paul Pierce found his touch and had a team-high 27 points; Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo combined for 36 points, 15 rebounds, and 11 assists; and Ray Allen had an efficient 12 points on 5-for-10 shooting.

While the bench didn't repeat their game four heroics, they still contributed. Tony Allen, Nate Robinson, and Rasheed Wallace hit some shots, played tough defense, and, best of all, brought energy.

And this was the difference in game five. As a group, the Celtics seemed determined. Other than Bryant, the Lakers seemed flustered.

In the second half, Tony Allen gave the Celtics a surge with his tremendous weak side block on Pau Gasol. Then, in the closing moments, the 6-3 Rondo leaped the 6-10 Odom for an improbable tip-in basket to seal the win.

With the exception of Bryant, no Laker had a momentum changing moment or timely play. The purple-and-gold had too many passengers on this night.

Despite trailing in the series, the Lakers still have home-court advantage with game-six and seven at Staples Center.

The Lakers must improve, though. Or the Celtics will win the NBA championship and Bryant will be more than miserable.

Got thoughts on game five? Get at us in the comment box below.            

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Sunday , Jun , 13 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Ray Allen to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami?

So why stop there?

The latest buzz has Ray Allen looking to bolt the Celtics when he becomes free on July 1 to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami.

Link

HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Ray-Ray in The MIA makes sense.

The 2010 playoff showed The Big Three is no more for the Boston Celtics. Instead of relying specifically on Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce, the green-and-white is succeeding with a team-first approach.

Everyone has contributed. In fact, Allen, Garnett, and Pierce have - at one time or another - struggled during the club's second-season run.

Perhaps, Boston GM Danny Ainge lets his veteran sharpshooter leave via free agency and signs/trades for a younger two-guard. Remember, Ainge allegedly shopped Allen at the trade deadline, trying to swap his expiring contract for scorer Kevin Martin. 

Miami would be heaven for Allen. He'd get open looks galore with opposing defenses doubling Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh -if he signs with the Heat.  Wade, Bosh, and Allen would together vault Miami to the top of the Eastern Conference.

One thing is certain: The Big Three is on their last legs in Boston.   

Got thoughts on Ray Allen in Miami?