I went out to both the Lakers and Celtics practice this afternoon and found both teams in a very good mood. Yes, even the Lakers. There were two ways the guys could’ve been today: light and relaxed or serious and depressed. If you’ve known this team for any length of time, you’re not all that surprised they’d be relaxed just two days after the worst collapse in NBA Finals history. There are a lot of easygoing personalities on the team –Odom, Walton, Fisher, Ariza, Radmanovic, Kurt Rambis, Phil Jackson — and I just got this sense that the team had spent Friday licking its wounds and mourning the missed opportunity, and came back Saturday refreshed. Refreshed doesn’t mean happy of course. No one seemed jolly or anything. But if you think about it, the pressure is kind of off the Lakers now. What’s done is done.
Anyway, here’s a quick update on the Celtics that I just filed:
By Ramona Shelburne
EL SEGUNDO – Celtics center Kendrick Perkins did not practice Saturday but said that he expects to play in today’s Game 5 of the NBA Finals even though his injured left shoulder is still “very sore.”
Perkins told reporters that there is “a strong possibility” he’ll play, and that he expects to be in the starting lineup tonight, as the Celtics have a chance to close out their first NBA Championship in 22 seasons.
“It’s the Finals,” said Perkins, who was injured after slamming into the Lakers Lamar Odom in the third quarter of Game 4. “You’ve got to suck it up and go all out. I feel like I can go (Sunday night). The doctor feels the same way.”
Asked if he would play if this were a regular season game, Perkins said, “This isn’t a regular season game.”
It is the same shoulder Perkins had surgery on two years ago, and injured earlier in the year in a game against Minnesota.
The news was even more encouraging from second-year point guard Rajon Rondo, who has been hobbled by a bone bruise on his ankle. Rondo wasn’t wearing the hard protective sleeve under his sock that he had been, and showed no signs of a limp.
“The rest has been good for my ankle, and our whole team, because a lot of guys are banged-up right now,” Rondo said.
!bold!Surgery for Pierce?!off! A report on SI.com Saturday suggested that the Celtics fear that “Pierce has at least partially torn his meniscus and that he may need surgery when the Finals are over.”
That’s news to Pierce, at least as much as he’ll publicly admit.
“Man, you get the news faster than I do,” Pierce said. “It’s still the same from the time I hurt it. I really don’t know how bad it is. I won’t know until we end this thing. That’s why I hope I don’t get hurt and we end it on Sunday, and then we’ll see.
“But no one has said anything about surgery. I haven’t got the MRI or the x-ray, so we’ll see after the season.”
!bold!Bonding experiences:!off! With the Celtics just one game away from the championship, the first drafts of celebratory pieces were being written Saturday. The beginning to most of the stories starts early, at 8 a.m. one morning this fall, when coach Doc Rivers call up Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen and told him to meet him in downtown Boston.
“We really didn’t know the reason why we had to meet that early because it wasn’t even October training camp,” Pierce said. “So we went down there, we jumped in the Duck Tour, took a ride. I’d never been on the Duck Tour, all my years of being in Boston. So we took the tour, and Doc said, `you know, this is what they’re going to do if we win a championship.’
“It kind of like set the foundation, like, `Hey, this has gotta be our motivation.’ ”