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When the Celtics were at their best against Orlando in the East finals, they controlled the flow.
It hasn't happened yet in these finals.
The foul calls -- and there hasn't been much arguing about them, just a lot of contact -- have kept Game 1 from developing any sense of smoothness yet.
The Celtics have had to go 10 deep already, and we're not midway through the second quarter. Plus, though these guys eat minutes like nothing, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo haven't gotten a break yet.
Meanwhile, the Lakers' subbing pattern is already off as well, with Lamar Odom getting his third foul after charging into Paul Pierce.
We're through one quarter, Lakers lead 26-21, but fouls are the story.
There's been 18 combined so far.
Tony Allen has three fouls in 5 minutes off the Boston bench. Kobe Bryant has two fouls, as does Ray Allen, Ron Artest and Derek Fisher.
Middle of the lane has been open on both ends.
Rajon Rondo got free to set up Kendrick Perkins, who appeared to travel -- he has happy feet, as the saying goes -- but drew a foul call. And then Pau Gasol came unfettered across the lane to get a pass on the next possession.
It'll be adjusted.
The lane's been open because everyone's so worried about the wings, where guys like Paul Pierce and Kobe Bryant are ultra-dangerous. So everyone's watching there, forgetting about things like the weak side.
Still very much a feeling-out process.
Very physical start to the NBA finals.
Barely two minutes into the game, Derek Fisher has two fouls. By the 6:57 mark of the opening quarter, Ray Allen had two fouls.
Fisher is really the Lakers' best choice against Allen. And on the first trip to the other end after that Fisher foul, Kendrick Perkins gets calling for too much body against Andrew Bynum and gives the requisite "Who, me?" look after the whistle blows.
Remember, Perkins has six technicals in these playoffs. Another, he'll miss a game.
Jeff Van Gundy made a great observation, that the Lakers have the most physical guards and swingmen in the league. Thing is, their frontcourt toughness might not match up with Boston's. Something to watch, for certain.
Given the crew we have tonight, Joey Crawford, Joe DeRosa and Derrick Stafford, it's mildly surprising there's been some relatively tight calls early. It'll open up.
Well, that didn't take long. All of 27 seconds after tip-off, and we've got our first "Here we go" moment of the NBA finals.
Paul Pierce and Ron Artest get tangled up and fall to the court. Pierce, I think, gets 2 points for the takedown. Artest gets 1 for the reversal. Oh, wait, this isn't Greco-Roman wrestling.
Double technicals, of course.
If the Lakers lose Artest for any significant portion of this series, they're in trouble.
Before we get going for real, here's a look at the 2010 NBA finals, by the numbers:
215 -- the number of countries and territories that'll be seeing the NBA finals.
56.81 -- distance of film, in MILES, that will be used by NBA Entertainment during the series.
51 -- number of outlets in China alone that will cover the series.
41 -- languages in which the NBA finals will be broadcast.
It took about 10 minutes before commissioner David Stern was asked about LeBron James' decision to give a finals-week interview to CNN.
Stern, the master of deadpan, was at his best.
"I don't have a problem with it. I mean, it actually demonstrates, we're really up there now, with Bill Gates, President Obama and Lady Gaga. How can you beat that trifecta, to add LeBron James to that?" Stern said.
It's been widely suggested -- and denied by people like Henry Thomas, Dwyane Wade's agent -- that players such as Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and others will meet before July 1 to hatch their plans for free agency.
Stern was emphatic. It's not happening.
"There is no free-agent summit," the commissioner said, later adding he's been assured of such, "at the highest level."
Stern added that players would be better off watching the finals, to see how championship teams are constructed.
Quipped the Commish: "I was wondering whether they'll all get together, eight players, and they'll all look at D-Wade's ring?"
Commissioner David Stern has put on a sharp suit, the Celtics and Lakers have been on the court at Staples Center getting loose in advance of Game 1 of the NBA finals, and this can only mean one thing:
We're a little more than 24 hours away from LeBron James' interview on CNN's "Larry King Live!"
Yes, we interrupt continuing coverage of Freeagentpalooza, opening in select cities July 1, for a little matter of deciding the 2010 NBA champion and as an added bonus, a series between the biggest rivals in the NBA. Boston vs. Los Angeles, the Celtics looking for an 18th title, Phil Jackson looking for his 11th as a coach and a second straight with the Lakers.
Plenty of updates coming over the next four to seven games. Probably closer to seven than four.
"This is gonna be a epic series... Hope yall get ready...," wrote Andre Iguodala on his Twitter feed earlier tonight.
Indeed, it's Celtics-Lakers. It's a matchup of kings.
And then tomorrow, King James talks to Larry King.
Friday night, James -- the biggest headliner in a free agent class that'll hit the open market July 1, a group that includes Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and others -- sits down with Larry King on CNN, in an interview taped earlier this week. There won't be any surprises in that one, since the transcript was out only hours after their chat ended.
Tonight, there'll be some surprises. At the very least, some answers.
Will Kendrick Perkins stop arguing and find a way to not get his seventh technical?
Will Andrew Bynum be able to be the physical force the Lakers need against Boston's frontcourt?
Who will be the biggest star of stars? Kobe? Artest? Rondo? Pierce?
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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