<
>

Practice report: TA ready for Kobe

6/2/2010

LOS ANGELES -- A collection of news and notes after the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers practiced Wednesday at the Staples Center in advance of Thursday's Game 1 of the NBA Finals:

The rundown (a quick look at practice headlines)

* Despite Posey comparisons, TA trying to be himself

* 'Sheed, Rondo participate fully at Wednesday's practice

* Loose balls: Bryant a member of the Doc Rivers Fan Club; Fun Finals?



Despite Posey comparisons, TA trying to be himself

Celtics guard Tony Allen sat on the scorer's table at the Staples Center fielding questions from reporters, most of which centered around coming off the bench to defend Kobe Bryant. When the same question kept coming time and time again, Allen politely interjected.

"They've got a great team, it's not just me versus Kobe Bryant," said Allen. "I've got to do a good job on those other guys as well, like Ron Artest. It's not just me and Kobe Bryant. I don't know where that's coming from. They've got a great core of guys and I've got to be ready for them all."

Allen was informed that many observers were simply pegging him to fill the role James Posey occupied during the 2008 Finals, helping to lock down Bryant as a defensive stopper off the bench.

"Now I see," Allen said with a sly smile. "If that’s what role they put me in, I've got to deal with it. Whatever I need to do to help my team, I'm looking forward to it."

The good news for the Celtics is that Allen pronounced himself in full health after battling the lingering effects of a twisted ankle suffered in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Magic. Allen seemed a step slow at times over the final four games of that series, but said he'll be ready to go when the Finals tip off Thursday (ABC, 9 p.m.).

"My ankle is cool, it's feeling great," said Allen. "This is the best I've felt all playoffs."

The ankle injury helped lead Celtics coach Doc Rivers to decrease Allen's playing time over the final three games of the Magic series.

But Allen, who played a shade under 20 total minutes in just three appearances during the 2008 Finals, deemed himself ready for whatever the team throws at him this year. He doesn't want to be an observer this time around. And he's certainly not living in the past.

"I've been playing all playoffs [this season], so there's no looking back to 2008," said Allen. "My whole progress right now is moving forward and helping this team win a championship."

Allen would have big shoes to fill in any such Posey-like role. According to the wizards at ESPN Stats and Information, Posey limited Bryant to 16 points on 26 plays (0.62 points per play) in which he was the primary defender during the 2008 Finals, including 2-for-6 shooting with two turnovers in 10 isolation plays.

How does Allen measure up? Over the last three seasons, including the playoffs, Bryant has produced 28 points off 32 plays (0.88 points per play) against Allen. Bryant was 10-of-25 shooting with a mere three turnovers and four trips to the charity stripe on plays during that span.

Considering Bryant averaged 1.19 points per play in the 2008 NBA Finals -- his most in a series during the last three years -- Allen's stats reflect an above-average job.

"I mean, honestly, Posey was Posey," Allen said of the comparisons. "I'm Tony Allen. And that's what you've got to deal with: Tony Allen."



'Sheed, Rondo participate fully at Wednesday's practice

Rasheed Wallace and Rajon Rondo, both of whom are nursing back injuries, participated fully in Wednesday's practice session, including contact drills, a positive sign as both ramp up for Thursday's Game 1.

Wallace, who originally tweaked his back during Game 5 against Orlando then left early in the fourth quarter of Game 6, had been held out of contact drills earlier in the week, but moved fluidly in the portion of practice open to the media Wednesday, which included stretching and shooting drills.

Rondo landed hard on a first-quarter drive to the basket in Game 6 versus the Magic, but said the time off has worked wonders.

"My body is fine," said Rondo. "These five days have definitely been great for me personally. I know it's great for the team, but for me I've been getting a lot of massages, a lot of treatment. I'm feeling better and better each day. The more time I get, the better I am. [Thursday], I'm sure I'll be back almost at 100 percent."

Elsewhere on the injury front, Marquis Daniels (concussion) said he is feeling better is still awaiting full clearance from team trainer Ed Lacerte.

"I'm feeling better, it's progressively getting better each day," said Daniels. "The break helped. I'm just waiting for Ed to give me the sign now. I'm antsy."

Daniels has seen his role decrease throughout the season, but threw his name in the hat to help defend Bryant.

"Like anyone that likes to compete, you want to go out there and play against one of the best in the game," said Daniels. "I'd like that opportunity."

Answering a query about Andrew Bynum and his injured knee, Rivers summed up injuries at this time of year.

"[Bynum's knee is a] non-factor for us; [it's a] factor for them probably," said Rivers. "We're not going to worry about whether he's healthy or not. Players tend to be healthy once the Finals start no matter what their injury status is, and you know that. We're viewing him as 100 percent and a factor in the series."

The Lakers probably consider Wallace and Rondo in that same boat.



Loose balls: Bryant a member of the Doc Rivers Fan Club; Fun Finals?

* Daniels has bonded with Nate Robinson since the trade that brought the three-time Slam Dunk champ to Boston in February. The two playfully bantered on the sideline during the media session, and Daniels expressed great satisfaction in watching Robinson play a key role in Boston's Game 6 triumph over the Magic last week.

"It was great, I was happy for him," said Daniels. "Being patient, we worked out every day together, just me and him out there sometimes. It's great to see him [on the floor], helping the team."

Robinson scored 13 points in 13 minutes to help Boston close out the Magic Friday.

* Count Bryant among the members of the Doc Rivers Fan Club.

"I love Doc, and I love his personality and the relationship that he has with his players," said Bryant. "I had a chance to spend some time with him over the All-Star break a couple years ago. He just happened to be on the same bus for a function, and I had a chance to kind of talk to him a little bit. He's just a down-to-earth guy, just extremely sharp, prepares extremely well, and I think he's the type of coach guys would love to play for."

* Asked if the NBA Finals are a "fun" experience despite the pressure of the competition, Kevin Garnett delivered a playful jab to the media.

"The competition could be labeled as fun," said Garnett, "but sitting here talking to you guys for 30 minutes, that's not necessarily fun."

Garnett was part of a handful of Celtics who stood at podiums to answer questions for the half-hour session. The others: Ray Allen, Glen Davis, and Kendrick Perkins. Other players were scattered about the floor taking questions from smaller groups of reporters.