Dan Shaughnessy

Putting Finals pieces together

By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / June 12, 2010

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Picked up pieces from the NBA Finals . . .

■Commissioner David Stern is full of beans when he said Red Auerbach pushed for the 2-3-2 format. We all know the Celtics and Lakers were inconvenienced during the epic 1984 Finals, the last one played under the 2-2-1-1-1 format. A year later, the Celtics earned home-court advantage for the Finals and Red was not happy to see Game 5 played at the Forum in Los Angeles. Larry Bird felt the same way. “Game 5 is the most important game of any seven-game series,’’ Bird said. “The team that earned home court should be home for Game 5.’’ Now that Red is high above courtside, the commissioner claims Red pushed for the change. It’s a myth.

■Still waiting for Kobe to win one of these games all by himself.

■Phil Jackson took a shot at Doc Rivers and the Celtics yesterday, saying, “You can be provocative and get out there and act kind of like they do if you want to and get in people’s faces and do that, but that’s not the way I like to coach a team. That’s not what I consider positive coaching, and that’s what I like to think is the right way to do things.’’

■ How many of you ever heard of 50/50 balls before these playoffs? Now it’s part of the language. I swear I heard kids at the Brighton Y talking about who was coming up with the most 50/50 balls during a pickup game.

■Totally underplayed story around these parts was the loss of Andrew Bynum in Game 4. After games of 28, 39, and 29 minutes, Bynum was stuck on the pine because of a right knee injury, playing only 12 minutes Thursday. Big Baby doesn’t take over Game 4 if Bynum is on the floor. Bynum’s presence changes everything — for both teams. Stay tuned.

■Best moment in the first two games in Los Angeles came when the KissCam at Staples Center panned to Dustin Hoffman during a timeout and he planted one on the lips of Jason Bateman. Must have been Hoffman’s “Tootsie’’ role coming back to him. Would Robert Mitchum have done that?

■I’m not one to get on anybody’s hairstyle, but somebody has to tell Tom Brady the Justin Bieber look has got to go. Bieber is 16. Tom is our QB and can’t go out of the house looking like mom dressed him for church.

■Paul Pierce refusing to give Ron Artest credit reminds me of Larry Bird’s reaction when Michael Cooper, Robert Reid, and/or Paul Pressey got credit for playing great defense on him.

■Before the Celtics took the court for Game 4, photographers outside the locker room saw Doc Rivers pacing the corridor, screaming about “11 illegal screens.’’

■Imagine Spygate breaking in the middle of this series and you have an idea of what it’s like in Los Angeles with Southern Cal getting spanked by the NCAA in the middle of the Finals.

■At what point, precisely, did Kendrick Perkins lose the last shred of his offensive game?

■If you want to channel Red Auerbach and order his favorite Chinese food for Game 5, here’s the dish: Shrimp with lobster sauce, wonton soup, roast pork, and beef with snow peas.

■Lamar Odom says he’s not going to take all the responsibility for this series. Jackson seems to be gently baiting him. After Game 4, the coach said, “I thought Lamar was going to kind of sit this one out . . . ’’ Yesterday, asked about “jump-starting’’ Odom, Jackson said, “I was thinking of an electrode.’’

■Congratulations to Jackie MacMullan on her election to the Basketball Hall of Fame. This means the Globe sports staff of the early 1980s employed a lineup of nine Hall of Famers: Jackie and Bob Ryan (basketball), Peter Gammons and Larry Whiteside (baseball), Will McDonough and Lesley Visser (pro football), Fran Rosa and Kevin Paul Dupont (hockey), and Bud Collins (tennis).

■Ray Allen missed his last three shots of Game 2, went 0 for 13 in Game 3, then missed five of his first six shots in Game 4. That’s a 1-for-22 stretch (the make was a layup) in the Finals for one of the great shooters in the history of the game. Might be a teaching moment for our kids.

■If you want to see how far back Jack Nicholson goes with the Lakers, check out the late David Halberstam’s “The Breaks of the Game’’ (1981) and turn to Page 89, on which the author describes the relationship between the Portland Trail Blazers and the star of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.’’ The key passage relates to Blazer Lloyd Neal getting in Jack’s face after Maurice Lucas blocked a shot by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The quote cannot be repeated here, but it goes something like, “Take that, [expletive] cuckoo!’’

■We are so deep into this series, it’s easy to forget that these might be the final days of Doc Rivers on the Celtics bench. Doc said as much late in the season and some Celtics owners were not happy that Rivers didn’t immediately backpedal from the statement.

■Testing a long-held theory, I crept up behind our own Bob Ryan as he spoke with David Stern before Game 1 at Staples Center. Satisfied that they were within earshot, I said, “Excuse me, Commissioner? . . . ’’

Both men turned around.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at

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