Updated: June 17, 2010, 11:23 AM ET

1. Keys For Success In Game 7

By Dr. Jack Ramsay
ESPN Radio

LOS ANGELES -- I'm impressed by the attitude of the Celtics. Even though they played a bad game on Tuesday and got beat statistically in every category, they remain confident. They turned the ball over, got outrebounded and didn't shoot well, but they know if they come out and play their game on Thursday they can still be NBA champions.

With Kendrick Perkins out because of his injury, it is going to be a little bit tougher for them, but I still heard a high level of confidence and togetherness from everyone I spoke to, from coach Doc Rivers down to all of the players. This is a Game 7 and you're talking about only one game. Someone has to step up for Perkins. I think Rasheed Wallace has to be that guy. Rasheed at his best is a good post defender. He has good timing to block shots and really long arms. He has had flashes during this series where he has defended Pau Gasol and done a good job on him.

As the Celtics have shown the entire series, they have the personnel to make this difficult for the Lakers. Glen Davis was outstanding in Game 4 but hasn't been a factor in Games 5 and 6. He has to make a contribution on Thursday. Rivers told me he wants Davis to play without thinking. He's an energy player. He has to drive it to the basket and use his body to score in the lane.

If the Celtics are going to win Game 7, Rajon Rondo has to have a big game. He hasn't shot the ball well the past two games. He needs to get all the way to the basket and finish. He has to penetrate, generate the transition offense and find the open receivers. Even when the Lakers are scoring, the Celtics have to find a way to run. Those opportunities are there if you are aware of them, and Rondo is a one-man fast break.

Lately, Rondo has been too concerned with scoring instead of creating plays. He is Boston's playmaker. His first objective should be to find open players. He has to find the wingmen -- Paul Pierce and Ray Allen -- so they can get open looks before the Lakers' defense gets set.

The Lakers defended and rebounded exceptionally well in Game 6. These are the most significant factors. I was talking with Allen about this; the Lakers were able to get out and run because Boston was sloppy with the ball and didn't execute on offense. The Celtics need ball movement. That is when they are at their best, when they swing the ball from side to side and get open looks.

With all that being said, I think the Lakers will win, but it will be close -- fewer than 10 points. It will be a hard-fought game.

I can't imagine Kobe Bryant allowing his team to lose a Game 7 in the Finals at home. When the Lakers struggle on offense, it is normally because they can't get their big men like Gasol the ball in the post. In Game 6, he caught the ball where he wanted to and was outstanding, putting up 17 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists and three blocks.

Back to Kobe. He wants to win. A lot of people misunderstand his game. They think he is just out there to score a lot of points. But he does whatever the team needs him to do. If he thinks they need scoring, he is going to score. He is a terrific basketball player and will do whatever it takes for the Lakers to win the NBA title.

Dr. Jack Ramsay is a regular contributor to the Daily Dime.

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2. Perkins Sidelined With Knee Injury

By Chris Forsberg
ESPN Boston
Perkins
Perkins

LOS ANGELES -- Boston Celtics center Kendrick Perkins told reporters at Wednesday's media session that he tore two ligaments in his right knee in Tuesday's NBA Finals Game 6 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers and will be sidelined for Thursday's decisive Game 7.

Perkins, arriving at the courtside podium on crutches with bandages around his knee, revealed that he tore the medial collateral and posterior cruciate ligaments. He underwent X-rays on the knee Tuesday night and was informed of the severity of the injury by team trainer Ed Lacerte on Wednesday morning.

He will undergo an MRI on Friday in Boston to further assess the damage.

"Physically, I'm in pain," Perkins said. "I hurt my knee pretty badly. I'm out for tomorrow. There's nothing I could do about it. It's a torn MCL and torn PCL, so I gotta watch from the sideline."

Perkins landed awkwardly trying to haul in an offensive rebound midway through the first quarter of Game 6 and suffered what was originally diagnosed as a knee sprain.

"I knew something was wrong," Perkins said. "I didn't know exactly what it was, but I couldn't get up on my own. I couldn't walk. My whole leg was hurting, and the back of my knee was in pain. I heard something pop, but I didn't know what it was. It was just painful."

Perkins wasn't under any obligation to handle media responsibilities Wednesday, but he said he wanted to address his health and be around his teammates.

To read the entire column, click here

3. Stars Will Decide Who Wins

By Howard Bryant
ESPN.com
Pierce
Pierce

There are too many reasons to pinpoint exactly why the NBA season has come down to a single game for only the third time in the last 16 years.

Among them are the Celtics' no-shows in Games 1 and 6 of the Finals, which could cost them a title. The Lakers' rise and fall in Game 4, a 96-89 loss, will not be forgotten, either, should the fourth-seeded Celtics win Game 7 in Los Angeles. Boston did that the last time these two teams played a deciding game there, also as the fourth-seeded East team in 1969.

Depending on Thursday night's outcome, certain individuals will either breathe a sigh of relief that his team picked him up when he was down, or carry for the summer and quite possibly the rest of his career the weight of not having it when the moments mattered most. Of course, we're talking about Ray Allen, who might already be holding his second championship trophy if he'd been just average in Game 3 (instead of shooting 0-for-13 from the field). We're also talking about Ron Artest, whose redemption in Game 6 just might be enough to erase his Games 1-5.

There is rightful talk about the newest addition to the sporting lexicon -- the "50-50 balls," those up-for-grabs loose balls the hungrier team gets -- and about the bench play that helped win Game 4 for the Celtics and Game 6 for the Lakers, who were quick and hungry on Tuesday night while the Celtics seemed to be standing still.

But Game 7 will be what basketball is: a superstar's game.

To read the entire column, click here

4. No More Fun In Phoenix

By J.A. Adande
ESPN.com
Stoudemire
Stoudemire

Even in the midst of this tense and unpredictable NBA Finals between the Lakers and Celtics, I found myself yearning for the wide-open style and high scores of the Lakers-Suns Western Conference finals. Now I'm simply mourning the Suns.

The fun days are over, the feel-good is finished. The first indication is the departure of easygoing general manager Steve Kerr, and the sure sign will come when Amare Stoudemire leaves as a free agent.

The Suns' high-scoring offense couldn't beat the bigger and better teams in the Western Conference and now it can't beat the accounting books, which remain the most formidable foe in the NBA. Kerr and Suns owner Robert Sarver clashed this month and you can see the result.

"Kerr wanted a little raise, Sarver wanted him to take a pay cut," one source said. "There's no other way to spin it."

Well, a second source indicated it wasn't as simple as a money grab by Kerr. He wanted more money for the coaching staff, video crew, front-office secretaries -- all the people who helped produce this unexpected trip to the conference finals that yielded more than $10 million in extra revenue from eight home playoff games. Except when Kerr went to bat with Sarver, "the guy just bludgeoned Steve," the second source said.

To read the entire column, click here

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