2011 NBA Finals features a complete turnover

191544.jpg

2011 NBA Finals features a complete turnover

By JessicaCamerato
CSNNE.com

When the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers walked off the court following Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals, it was not unreasonable to expect one -- or both -- would be back in the championship round this season. With players like Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, and Pau Gasol on either side, each squad boasted enough talent to make another title run.

This season, though, both the Celtics and Lakers were eliminated in the second rounds, making way for two different teams to fight for the trophy.

The Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat are so different from the 2010 Celtics and Lakers, in fact, that none of the players from the 2010 NBA Finals advanced to the 2011 Finals. So what happened those players and their title hopes this season?

Atlanta Hawks: Eliminated in Eastern Conference Semifinals by Chicago Bulls (4-2)
Josh Powell

Boston Celtics: Eliminated in Eastern Conference Semifinals by Miami Heat (4-1)
Ray Allen
Glen Davis
Kevin Garnett
Paul Pierce
Rajon Rondo

Chicago Bulls: Eliminated in Eastern Conference Finals by Miami Heat (4-1)
Brian Scalabrine

Los Angeles Lakers: Eliminated in Western Conference Semifinals by Dallas Mavericks (4-0)
Ron Artest
Shannon Brown
Kobe Bryant
Andrew Bynum
Derek Fisher
Pau Gasol
Lamar Odom
Luke Walton

Memphis Grizzlies: Eliminated in Western Conference Semifinals by Oklahoma City Thunder (4-3)
Tony Allen
New Orleans Hornets: Eliminated in Western Conference First Round by Los Angeles Lakers (4-2)
DJ Mbenga

New York Knicks: Eliminated in Eastern Conference First Round by Boston Celtics (4-0)
Shelden Williams

Oklahoma City Thunder: Eliminated in Western Conference Finals by Dallas Mavericks (4-1)
Kendrick Perkins
Nate Robinson

Did Not Play in the 2010-11 Playoffs:
Marquis Daniels (Sacramento Kings)
Jordan Farmar (New Jersey Nets)
Sasha Vujacic (New Jersey Nets)

Did Not Play in the NBA This Season:
Michael Finley
Tony Gaffney
Oliver Lafayette
Adam Morrison
Rasheed Wallace

Former Celticcurrent Heat guard Eddie House is the only member of the 2009-10 team to advance to the Finals this season. He was traded by the Celtics to the Knicks in February of 2010 and did not appear in the playoffs last year.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter athttp:twitter.comjcameratoNBAShe can bereached at jessicacamerato@gmail.com.

Horford, Johnson wasting no time in developing chemistry

Horford, Johnson wasting no time in developing chemistry

WALTHAM, Mass. – When the news came out that Al Horford was going to be a Boston Celtic, Amir Johnson couldn’t wait to meet his new teammate.

He didn’t have to.

Johnson soon found himself on plane headed to Atlanta to not only work out with Horford, but also try and work out some of the kinks that tend to come up among new teammates in those early days of training camp.

“I took it upon myself when I saw Al was part of the team, I automatically wanted to go down to Atlanta and work,” said Johnson who added that he brought his daughter along for the trip and they went to dinner with Horford’s family during the visit. “I thought it was great just to get that chemistry going. I just wanted to get to known him, make him feel comfortable.”

It’s still early in training camp, but Johnson and Horford seem to be meshing quite well on the floor. 

“The chemistry’s definitely coming along,” Johnson said. “I know when Al wants to roll or pop, and just working my way around it. Al’s more of a popper and eventually he’ll roll. It’s up to me to read whether I stay up or work the baseline.”

Johnson has been in the NBA long enough to know that often the keys to success are subtle nuances that may be overlooked by fans and spectators, but players know are essential to them being successful.

Being able to not only understand a player’s game but figure out how to play well with them, are critical to teammates being successful.

Last season, Johnson was Boston’s primary rim-protecting big man which is a role the 29-year-old Johnson has been cast in the last few years he was in Toronto. Horford brings a similar set of defensive skills to the table which gives Boston a true 1-2 defensive punch along the frontline.

“It’s big time,” Johnson said. “We communicate to each other. It’s all about communication out there; just knowing he can hold it down and he trusts me to hold it down. It’s key.”

GREEN INJURY UPDATE

Gerald Green is expected to get a few more days to rest his hip flexor injury which he said on Thursday was feeling better.

The injury should keep the 6-6 wing from participating in the team’s Green-White scrimmage on Friday, but it isn’t considered serious.

Still, Green is eager to get back and return to full contact work which is why he is getting a steady diet of treatments during the day and returning in the evening for more treatments from the Celtics’ medical staff.

“It’s almost like a precautionary thing; make sure it doesn’t get worst,” Green said.

The injury occurred earlier this week but Green could not pinpoint exactly what he did to suffer the injury.

“I don’t think I stretched properly,” Green said. “I’m not 25 no more. Just try to come out there and go at full speed. Those are things I’ve got to learn now I’m in my 30s.”
Indeed, one of the many benefits of being older now is that Green sees the big picture of things better now, which is why he isn’t trying to rush back to the floor too quickly.

As a veteran, it’s a long season,” Green said. “You’re not trying to do too much to make it worst. Training camp is important, but being healthy at the beginning of the season is even more important.”

RUN, YOUNGSTERS, RUN

Near the end of Thursday’s practice, the Celtics had a full court game of 3-on-3 involving some of the team’s rookies and end-of-the-bench training camp invitees like Jalen Jones of Texas A&M. The 6-7 undrafted rookie had a dunk over Jordan Mickey, a 3-pointer and another strong, uncontested flush at the rim in a matter of minutes. He’s likely to wind up with Boston’s Developmental League team, the Maine Red Claws.

With Thursday morning’s session being the team’s fifth practice this season, head coach Brad Stevens thought it was a good idea to get some of the team’s younger players on the court.

“It was good to play some 3-on-3,” said Stevens who added that it was good for their conditioning since a lot of the running at this point involves trying to get the starters and the likely rotation players as acclimated and familiar with one another as possible. “We try to do that occasionally even through the season just to get everybody up and down.”

TURNOVERS? WHAT TURNOVERS?

Five practices in the books and there’s only one thing that really has stood out to the eyes of Isaiah Thomas.

It’s turnovers.

Apparently the Celtics haven’t committed too many thus far.

“We haven’t turned the ball over as much as teams usually do the first couple of days,” Thomas said. “We’re trying to learn the system, trying to get everybody familiar with what we do. But we’ve been playing well together. Guys are playing hard. Guys have gotten better, worked on their game.”

Ball-handling will be one of the areas to watch during the preseason as the Celtics look to find a replacement for Evan Turner (Portland) who has been one of the team’s best ball-handlers the past couple of seasons.

The Celtics were middle-of-the-pack last season with 13.5 turnovers per game which ranked 14th in the NBA.

Low turnovers often serve as a common trait among playoff teams. Just last season, eight of the top-nine teams in fewest turnovers committed, were in the playoffs.