[Editor's Note: We here at Silver Screen and Roll always enjoy a little interaction with the enemy, and CelticsBlog was happy to help us continue our cross-blog endeavours. Jeff Clark manages CelticsBlog, and has volunteered to pony up some inside information about his beloved men in green. And before you ask, while it would be the definition of fantastic for Jeff and I to be two brothers on opposite sides of the battle line, like some storyline out of the Civil War, sadly, we're both just cursed with a last name slightly less common than Smith. Carry on.]
SS&R: During the regular season, I'm pretty sure that Boston fans considered Rasheed Wallace to be the worst human being in the history of the world. In the playoffs, he's had some positive impact. What is the general consensus regarding Wallace at this point?
Jeff: You'd be hard pressed to find any kind of consensus on Rasheed Wallace anymore. We've seen two different players now. One from the regular season that just didn't care 9 games out of 10 and one in the playoffs that has shown up for most of the games and contributed something (even if it is just a veteran defensive move - like "pulling the chair" on Dwight forcing him into a travel) in most of the games. I think we're just holding our breath with him. He's already been forgiven (for the most part) for his regular season but I think we do need him to keep producing in order to match up with the L.A. bigs. Counting on someone like him is never a comforting feeling, but I'm sure on some level you can relate with Ron-Ron.
SS&R: Injury report time: ESPN is mentioning that Rajon Rondo and Rasheed Wallace were limited in practice this week. I've heard talk about Kendrick Perkins' knee, and Marquis Daniels and Glen Davis both just had concussions. How much of a problem is health for the C's right now? Of those contributors, only Rondo is necessary. How much do you think he will be limited?
Jeff: Rondo will play with one arm if he has to, but he's not as effective if he doesn't have his burst. With that said, it looked like his fall just gave him a sore back and we're all hoping against hope that a little rest will heal that up enough for him to get back to being our MVP. Davis played well in game 6, so as long as he doesn't take a Bynum 'bow to the noggin, he should be full speed. As mentioned above, we'll need Sheed's back to be back to full strength, especially if any refs decide to make an example out of Kendrick Perkins. Perk's knee hasn't limited him lately, so hopefully that is fine for now. Daniels effectively played himself out of the rotation anyway, but he's out regardless.
SS&R: Looking at minutes played, the C's basically have only 4 guys (starters + Tony Allen) playing the bulk of the minutes at three positions. How have the Celtics not been punished for a rotation that thin? What is Boston's response if they run into perimeter foul trouble?
Jeff: Somehow Rondo has managed to play almost wire to wire for much of the playoffs (ahh to be young and talented). On the other end of the age spectrum, Ray Allen is just insanely conditioned. Rondo is the MVP and if you look up the team's numbers with Ray on the floor, you'll see just how important he is to our success. So you roll with your best and rest in the summer.
As for the subs: Doc didn't trust Nate until game 5, where he earned some respect from Doc for playing good defense. That might have set the table for his game 6 explosion. Will he be trusted going forward? We'll see, but I'd imagine that Doc's leash on him will be very short. Finley could come in if absolutely necessary, but I believe he's only being trusted for short spurts at a time.
SS&R: In 2008, the Celtics were able to shade their entire defense towards stopping Kobe Bryant, and it was effective because the other Lakers did not step up as much as was needed. Looking at the Lakers current roster, do you expect the Celtics to attempt to do the same thing, and if so, how successful do you see that strategy being?
Jeff: As the cliche goes, nobody is going to stop Kobe. You have to make him work and you can do some things that take away some of his options, but he's just going to find other ways to hurt you. The Celtics play team defense on anyone and customize the defense for each opponent. I'd imagine they'll try to keep Kobe out of the paint and play physical with the Laker bigs, but all that will change game to game and maybe even quarter to quarter. I know Doc mentioned that they started adding a zone to the defensive playbook, but I doubt it will be of the plain vanilla variety.
SS&R: Probably the easiest difference to identify between 2008 and 2010 is that the Lakers are in possession of Home Court Advantage. LA hasn't been beaten on their home floor, but the Celtics have played their best basketball on the road all season, including the playoffs. How big of a factor do you think the HCA will be?
Jeff: It will be huge as usual. If the C's can grab a game in L.A. it gives us a great edge. In the 2-3-2 format, you almost have to count on the Lakers taking one of the Boston games because it is so hard to win 3 consecutive games in the Finals. It will be a storyline all along.
One thing I'll mention is that the C's are a great road team because they have tremendous focus and they even thrive on the negative energy from the opposing crowds. In the regular season they kind of eased up at home, maybe due to overconfidence, but that hasn't been the case in the playoffs. Clearly the Lakers are a great team (home and away) as well, so somethings got to give. May the best team win.
SS&R: Thanks, Jeff. I think we can all agree that this should be an awesome match-up.