LOS ANGELES -- The weather really is beautiful here ...
Why are the Celtics on the verge of their first championship in 21 years? Because they've followed the lessons of their last title, when they had probably the finest front line in NBA history with three Hall of Famers 6-9 or bigger. Today's Celtics aren't so tall, but by today's standards they play abnormally large with 6-11
Amid all the major acquisitions made this midseason, the move with arguably the biggest payoff turned out to be the Feb. 27 signing of Brown out of semi-retirement. He is about to win his first championship with the Celtics, and they probably wouldn't be so confident -- and might not be playing -- without him.
The Lopez twins,
The other thing they need -- and this is tougher -- is a reliable second star to work alongside Bryant when the playoffs grow tough.
He was scared by that incident at first, because he has so little experience with knee injuries, then relieved that it wasn't as bad as he feared. But the feeling among some in the Celtics' camp is that Pierce has at least partially torn his meniscus and that he may need surgery after the Finals. As for refusing an MRI, he doesn't want the results haunting him.
He wants to win a title now, and deal with the injury later. In Game 3, he looked unable to move, but recovered Thursday to instigate the Celtics' record 24-point comeback. But he is doing this at less than full strength, that's for sure.
The reality has been that the Celtics have been more than OK with Rondo as their starter, and that a backup has been largely unnecessary. With Pierce, Allen and House, the Celtics have had enough handling in the backcourt. And the Lakers have failed to pressure Boston bringing the ball up the court.
For starters, these critics are never able to comprehensively explain a technical strategy that would be superior. Secondly, they fail to acknowledge the importance of player motivation in the NBA. Rivers has been among the leading coaches in the league when it comes to maxing out the talent on his roster. There is so much talent that goes to waste in this league by coaches who don't know how to relate to players, but Rivers has an excellent feel for when to pressure players and when to liberate them. During the Game 4 comeback, he could be seen exhorting them -- "Don't stop believing'' -- and they listened.
"Doc is not afraid to tell us when we're messing up,'' Garnett said. "I've been around for a while and I've seen some coaches say 'the right thing.' '' By that he is referring to coaches who tell the players what they want to hear.
"He gives it to you straight,'' Garnett said of Rivers, "and he's probably one of the best motivators I've been around. He gives us hope through his words, and we believe it. We go out and we try to do what's asked of us.''
Depending on the new direction taken by Bucks general manager
It could be an expensive Denver Nugget, whether it's
The Knicks will be looking to move any number of players, including
If the Suns fall flat, might they be looking to move some of their expensive talent?
Might free agents
The Raptors may be willing to move
Any of his starters is available for the right kind of deal, though the Pistons won't be interested in dumping salary without getting talent in return. They'll be looking to instill more energy and toughness, and whether that means moving a versatile and highly tradable forward like
I have yet to talk to GM
"We think we have a bigger audience overall,'' Stern said. "The ratings for network television in the last four years are down 20 percent -- that's for all network TV -- and it would be unusual for sports in entirety if it were not down.
"We're up this year. But that doesn't meant we won't be down next year.''
It turns out the ratings rise at that late hour in part because Easterners turning on their TV for the 11 p.m. news happen upon the Finals.