Answers guarded on defensive plan
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — With Game 1 of the Finals drawing near, the talk at Lakers practice yesterday focused on matchups, particularly on defending Rajon Rondo. Potentially, any of four players could guard Rondo: Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Shannon Brown, or Jordan Farmar. Other than that, the Lakers kept specifics to themselves and stuck to generalities.
“We look at them as a team,’’ said coach Phil Jackson. “We don’t look at them as individuals. We’ve got to stop Rondo. We’ve got to stop [Kevin] Garnett. We look at the individuals and the strengths they have and how they’re used. And say we have to limit whatever their strengths are in whatever possible way we can.
“If we turn the ball over or if [Rondo] gets rebounds, he’s going to score in transition. That’s what he does. He’s great at that. If we make a lot of mistakes, he’s going to score more.’’
Fisher also emphasized the importance of transition defense with Rondo controlling the offense.
“Today was about getting more comfortable with the things that [the Celtics] like to do offensively,’’ he said. “Transition defense is going to be huge because of Rondo’s ability to push the pace and Ray Allen and Paul Pierce’s ability to stretch the floor in transition, as well as Rasheed Wallace.
“Today was about defense, really. That’s what it’s going to take for us to win a game and win this series.’’
Meanwhile, Bryant wasn’t at all talkative when it came to Rondo. Asked about the key strategy for defending the Celtics point guard, Bryant said, “I don’t know yet.’’
“I don’t know if we’re concerned with perceptions,’’ said Fisher. “We’re just concerned about the things we can control — that’s reality and the things that happen when the game starts.’’
That said, he does expect a lot of pushing, bumping, and general testiness.
“It should be testy,’’ said Fisher. “You’re playing for the world championship, so I don’t think there’s any expectation that it’s going to be a walk in the park for either team.’’
Added Pau Gasol, “They play hard and they challenge you. You have to attack them.
“You’ve got to make sure you’re the aggressor. Not by being dirty, but we’ve got to keep hitting people and continue to get hit.’’