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Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Pregame notes: A coach's perspective

By Chris Forsberg

ORLANDO -- A collection of pregame news and notes before the Boston Celtics visit the Orlando Magic in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals Tuesday evening at Amway Arena:

The rundown (a quick look at pregame headlines)
* Van Gundy offers a coach's opinion on Ramirez/Gonzalez situation
* Doc shoots down the idea of a James/Rivers package to Chicago
* Loose balls: Super(man's) expectations; Doc's defensive checklist

Van Gundy offers a coach's opinion on Ramirez/Gonzalez situation

Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesStan Van Gundy wanted to talk some baseball before Game 2.
Ninety minutes before his team played its biggest game of the season, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy simply wanted to talk some baseball.

Van Gundy, never short on opinions, didn't need much prodding to get rolling about the hottest topic in Florida: Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez's decision to pull Hanley Ramirez after the star shortstop (and former Red Sox) didn't hustle after a booted ball Monday night, allowing two runs to score in a 5-1 loss to the Diamondbacks.

Van Gundy, a friend with Gonzalez, said he texted the manager throughout the day and, not surprisingly, sided with his coaching brethren.

"Our game is a little bit different, there's certainly times in a basketball game where a guy doesn't run back defensively," said Van Gundy. "But on the baseball field, it's just glaring. Guys are running around the bases and he's not going after the ball, he's walking after it. It's glaring."

Van Gundy was just getting warmed up.

"Here's my thing with baseball and I don't mean this -- I love the game -- but how many times in a baseball game do you really have to hustle? It's a skilled game, a difficult game. But if you get a double or triple, or go first to third running the bases, how many times does that happen? Two or three times per game? How many times do you have to go all-out like baseball demands, maybe like seven, eight, or nine times per game that you gotta really bust your ass, and you can't do that?

"Look, I saw the play, it was perfectly justified what [Gonzalez] did. If he doesn't do something in that situation, the other 24 guys are looking around going, 'What the hell is going on?'"

Van Gundy did struggled to relate it to a situation in his own sport.

"He made a substitution, which in baseball, that's a big deal," said Van Gundy. "Mid-inning, that's a big deal. Look, I don't think he was nitpicking. It wasn't like it was a ground ball to shortstop and the guy ran 3/4 speed down the line. That one you can probably jump on a little, maybe say something and move on. I thought... [Gonzalez] did the only thing he could do in that situation."

The Marlins rebounded to win 8-0 Tuesday without Ramirez in the lineup. Van Gundy thinks the situation will play itself out and be favorable for all parties in the end.

"I think after a little bit of time, it will be good for Ramirez, too," said Van Gundy. "And they got a nice 8-0 win this afternoon, that will help everybody feel a little better."

Doc shoots down the idea of a James/Rivers package to Chicago

Celtics coach Doc Rivers laughed off an unsourced rumor that emerged this morning suggesting he would be the next head coach of the Bulls and, what's more, would head to Chicago along with superstar free agent LeBron James.

"I'm not even going to answer that one," said Rivers, noting he already dismissed it this morning when asked by WEEI.com's Paul Flannery. "It's funny, that's the first time I had heard it today. I told him, I'm either going to Boston or Orlando. He said, 'Isn't Chicago home?' and I said that's just stupid talk. That's ridiculous."

Loose balls: Super(man's) expectations; Doc's defensive checklist

* When he finally got steered off the subject of baseball, Van Gundy did tackle one basketball question about Dwight Howard and the offensive expectations he faces in this series.

"We wouldn't be near the level we've been at without him," said Van Gundy. "But, for whatever reason, it doesn't matter how many times we say how the Celtics have turned everything around with defense. It doesn't matter how many times we say that defense wins. The bottom line is the media won't stop judging him totally by his offense. No one talks about the five blocks or any of that. It's all about offense. Hey, to me, that's unfortunate. That's something we need to deal with and he needs to deal with."

* Rivers said that, while Boston played a solid defensive contest in Sunday's Game 1 win, he saw plenty of room for improvement in Game 2.

"We have a defensive checklist and [dribble penetration] didn't get a check," said Rivers. "They cracked us off the dribble, and not just in the fourth quarter. I thought Vince Carter, when he wanted to go right, he went right. For most of the game, he lived in the paint. Jameer Nelson lived in the paint. J.J. Redick lived in the paint. That's something we have to do a better job of because usually it leads to 3[-pointers]. It didn't, but it will if we continue to allow it."