Game #1: Cleveland Cavaliers (89) @ Boston Celtics (96) – Boston leads the series 3-2. Announcers Dick Stockton and Mike Fratello; with Cheryl Miller reporting
Fratello on Celtics guard Ray Allen fouling Cavaliers forward LeBron James but still allowing him to make a shot: “You see LeBron (James) take the ball away because of his strength, and even when you give the foul you’ve got to make sure he does not get the shot at the rim because he finishes, whether it’s right handed or left handed.”
Celtics coach Doc Rivers on Cavaliers forward LeBron James having great basketball IQ: “I’m telling you (James) is 40, there’s no way he’s whatever he says his age is. He’s just too smart, he has too much knowledge. He knows right now that it’s very difficult for him to score, we have hands in his face, that doesn’t mean he can’t make those shots, but they’re tough. But he’s not worried about that, he’s worried about making the correct decision every time he has the ball.”
TNT’s Cheryl Miller interviewed Cavaliers coach Mike Brown after the first quarter.
Brown on LeBron James getting good shots in the first quarter: “We think that (LeBron has) had some decent looks throughout the series, he’s just stepped in and knocked that thing down being aggressive.”
A segment of Inside Trax aired featuring Celtics coach Doc Rivers.
Rivers in the huddle in the first half: “We’re getting good shots, we’ve just got to keep moving the ball. Defense is good, defense can be better but it’s good. We’re getting good shots. That’s the key, when they come, right now we are holding onto the ball an extra two dribbles instead of just moving it.”
Fratello on Cavaliers forward LeBron James’ style of play similar to Browns legend Jim Brown: “Perhaps the best open field runner since Jim Brown in Cleveland, we’ve got LeBron going to the basket.”
Fratello on the strong play of the Celtics before halftime: “Sometimes those last two minutes, or (90 seconds) before a half become the most important ones for you. It can turn the game around, it can give you that momentum that can give the coach just the thing he needs to talk about going in at halftime.”
TNT’s Cheryl Miller interviewed Cavaliers forward LeBron James at the end of the half.
James on the importance of this game: “This is a big game for everybody, for the Celtics, for us. With the series tied 2-2 you’ve got to come out with some aggression and try to get to the rim and get some easy ones.”
James on what broke down defensively at the end of the half: “(Rajon) Rondo hit two threes, if we’re going to give one thing up on the defensive end, it’s letting Rondo set his feet and hit threes. We can live with Rondo hitting threes, that means some of the others guys aren’t going to get so much in their offense and we can live with that.”
Ernie Johnson, Barkley, Smith and Avery Johnson
Barkley on TNT not showing any highlights from Avery Johnson’s playing career: “We’re in high def, we don’t have our black and white photos anymore.”
Avery Johnson on his current plans: “Right now we’re taking it easy, we had a great run in Dallas, four years as an assistant under Don Nelson and as a head coach, played with a lot of great players there, it was great for Mark (Cuban) to hire me, he was the only owner who took a shot on hiring me at that time with no experience. Right now I’m on a semi-vacation, taking it easy and we’ll see what the future holds.”
Avery Johnson on what stats he reviewed at halftime, as a coach: “Mainly I look at free throws, who is attacking the basket and right now Cleveland is attacking the basket more than Boston. The more that Cleveland can attack the basket on the dribble drive or making passes in the paint and try to score in the paint, that’s going to be a big difference.”
Avery Johnson on what stats he reviews at halftime, as a player: “I would look at how many assists I had.”
Smith on Cleveland increasing the tempo: “(Cleveland) took a play from Atlanta, they pushed the tempo up and they are getting layups. Now LeBron (James) gets to the rim, he’s strong enough and big enough to finish.”
Barkley on the Celtics needing someone to will them to win: “I am encouraged by the Boston Celtics, they haven’t played well, LeBron has exploded for 23 (points), but (the Cavs) are only up by three. But it’s still going to come down to somebody on the Celtics, someone from the “Big 3,” to say, ‘we aren’t going to lose tonight.’ And it can’t be Rajon Rondo.”
Avery Johnson on who Cleveland needs to step up: “I think with Cleveland it’s got to be Delonte West (who steps up). If LeBron continues to dribble drive and get in the paint, he’s going to need somebody to make some shots for him. It’s got to be Delonte West or (Wally) Szczerbiak and they’ve got to decide how long they are going to play Ben Wallace. He hasn’t attempted a field goal, he’s played 15 minutes or so and this game is about having guys on the floor that you’re going to have to guard.”
Avery Johnson on how to defend Lakers guard Kobe Bryant: “You’ve got to give him different looks, Kobe is too good to give him one look. There are times you let the guys play him one-on-one, but there are times to trap Kobe and get the ball out of his hands. I think the element of surprise is the best way to attack him, but you can’t give him the same steady diet of the same defense.”
Barkley on the benches of the Jazz and Lakers: “These two teams both have great benches, but neither bench has been traveling (well). Whoever’s bench plays well is gong to win, the starters are going to be a wash, so whichever bench plays better tonight is going to win tonight.”
Stockton on Celtics guard Rajon Rondo: “Rondo, the man of the hour, you talk about the Big 3, Rondo says why can’t it be the Big 4?”
Fratello: “This young man certainly has stepped up, it started out at the defensive end with pressure and steals…(offensively) on a regular basis he has gotten the ball to the right men on the team.”
Fratello on Celtics guard Ray Allen struggling: “Ray Allen wants to make his shot so bad, he wants to contribute and help this team win a basketball game (so much) that he rushes it. A normal look for him, he makes that shot most times and he’s struggling tonight.”
Fratello on the Celtics forcing the Cavaliers into a five-second violation on a critical possession at the end of the game: “You see what scouting and preparation does. The Celtics comes out of a timeout from having them scout games down the stretch, they knew what plays they like to do to and they defended it so well that the inbounds pass of Delonte West could not find an open man.”
Game #1: Utah Jazz (104) @ L.A. Lakers (111) – The Lakers lead the series 3-2.
Announcers Kevin Harlan and Doug Collins; with David Aldridge reporting
Collins on the return of Lakers guard Derek Fisher to LA having a positive effect on team chemistry: “I think a big part of that is that he had been through three championships with Kobe Bryant and there was a tremendous trust there. When the season started out in such turmoil with that roster, Derek Fisher was the voice of reason that Kobe Bryant could listen to.”
TNT’s David Aldridge interviewed Jazz coach Jerry Sloan after the first quarter.
Sloan on the challenge of guarding Lakers guard Kobe Bryant in the first quarter: “Kobe came out and was red hot, we never got up on him enough to give him any competition. After we changed it around, Andrei (Kirilenko) got up and guarded him a little more. The biggest thing with us, we still have to need to execute our offense a little better, we are still getting some tough shots.
Collins on Lakers guard Kobe Bryant ensuring that the Lakers got off to a good start: “I think he really came out on purpose and gave his team a dose of confidence by hitting his first few shots like, ‘guys, I’m ok, we’re going to win tonight.”
Collins on the importance of teams having confidence that they can win on the road: “If you go to a building and every time you walk out you lost, you get those thoughts walking into that (building) as much as you try to keep them out. That’s why it’s so important to be able to win on the road during the regular season, just to have that feeling that we’ve walked in that building and we walked out a winner and you can carry that feeling into the playoffs. If the game gets close, Utah thinks they can win, but you had better believe you can win. Jerry Sloan is feeling very good because the guy with the ball in his hands, Deron Williams, feels strongly they can win here.”
Ernie Johnson, Barkley, Smith and Avery Johnson
Avery Johnson on what he would say to the Jazz and Lakers at the half: “If (I’m) Jerry Sloan, I’m saying, ‘we are turning the ball over too much, we have 14 turnovers at the half and that’s too many. And we’ve got to take better care of the ball because those turnovers are going to lead to easy baskets for the Lakers.’ If I’m Phil Jackson, I’m saying, ‘keep playing the passing lanes we can create those turnovers, the more you can get easy baskets the better off you’re going to be.’ The game right now is being played too fast for Utah, but at the right pace for the Lakers.”
Barkley on the Jazz playing well enough to keep them in the game: “If I‘m Utah I feel pretty good, this is the closest they’ve been in any of these (road) games. (Utah is thinking,) ‘We’ve got 14 turnovers, we’re playing well, if we just don’t make any turnovers and make a shot every time, we can kill them on the offensive board. We’ve got better depth and we’ve got more players we can put in that can have an impact on the game’.”
TNT interviewed Lakers guard Kobe Bryant prior to Game #5
Kobe Bryant on enjoying NBA playoff basketball: “This is what makes the game fun…the pressure. That’s when it becomes extremely enjoyable when the stakes get heightened a little bit. It’s like playing poker, I’m going to bluff with a pair of two’s. Only we don’t have a pair of two’s, we have a little bit more than that.”
Collins on Jazz forward Matt Harpring not effectively guarding Lakers guard Kobe Bryant: “I just don’t think you can crowd Kobe Bryant like that, he is so smart and he is going to create contact. Matt Harpring does not have the kind of quickness to get his body up into Kobe Bryant, even though he likes to play that way, he cannot body up on Kobe because (Kobe’s) too smart and he’s going to get to the foul line.”
Collins on the Jazz relying on guard Deron Williams in the final minutes of the game: “The Jazz are going to put the ball in Deron Williams’ hands and they are going to live and die with him making the right decisions, either getting the ball to his teammates or finding a shot for himself.”
TNT’s David Aldridge interviewed Lakers guard Kobe Bryant after the game.
Bryant on how his injured back feels after the game: “It’s pretty sore right now, in the fourth quarter it got a little stiff. It was a great team effort and my teammates really picked me up tonight. The important thing is it didn’t get any worse, it feels pretty good besides being sore. We’ll treat it tonight and treat it tomorrow and I should be fine by Game #6.”
Inside the NBA
Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Avery Johnson
Avery Johnson on how the Jazz could have won Game #5: “(Jazz guard) Deron Williams tried to carry them at the end (of the game). I think that if they could have gotten a little more help from (Jazz forward Carlos) Boozer, with some of those scores in the paint, scoring attempts that (Boozer) had that he didn’t finish. I think they would’ve been in good shape with the opportunity to win this game.”
Barkley on Kobe Bryant only taking ten shots in Game #5: “I don’t think (taking ten shots) had anything to do with his back. I think he realized that if he takes 33 shots, (the Lakers) aren’t as good.”
Barkley on the Lakers’ combination of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom: “I think we need to move the name ‘the big three’ from Boston to L.A.”
Avery Johnson on Deron Williams: “Deron Williams apologized for taking a bad shot at the end of the game. Don’t apologize; I think he needs to take more shots.”
Avery Johnson on the Utah Jazz mindset going into Game #6 in Utah: “For Utah, it depends on who (their) leaders are. If they are mentally tough and they can rally everybody and let everybody know that (the series) is not over, then they are going to be pretty confident. They’ve played pretty well at home and if they can (win game six and) force a game seven, who knows what can happen in a game seven.”
TNT’s Cheryl Miller interviewed Celtics guard Rajon Rondo following the Celtics’ Game #5 victory over the Cavaliers.
Rondo on the Celtics plan to defend LeBron James: “We wanted LeBron to see five guys (on defense) and also keep him out of the paint. That was the biggest adjustment (at half-time) and I think we did a good job of it in the second half.”
Avery Johnson on how LeBron James’ Cavaliers teammates need to get more involved in the scoring: “LeBron can’t get baited into thinking, ‘I need to have a Michael Jordan 60 point game in the (Boston) Garden’, and (Jordan) didn’t even win that game. (James) needs to try and get double-figures (in scoring). (The Cavaliers) need four or five other guys in double-figures. They aren’t going to win with him getting 30 points at the half and no one else is in double-figures.”
Smith on what LeBron James needs to add to his game: “The one thing that (LeBron James) has to develop is an in-between shot because now he is only either going to the rim or shooting a three (point basket). Right now, the Boston Celtics have honed in and figured out that they can stop him from one of those two things. Once he develops (an in-between shot) that’s when you’ll see 23 (points) in the first half and 23 (points) in the second half.”
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