A theme during Monday's pregame interviews was how it's ironic that Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro grew up a Celtics fan and Celtics coach Doc Rivers grew up a Bulls fan.
“It's more that Vinny and I are close friends. That's more difficult than I grew up a Bulls fan and he grew up a Celtics fan,” Rivers said. “Where you grow up, that's who you usually cheer for.”
Rivers is form Maywood and attended Proviso East High School, while Del Negro is from Springfield, Mass. They've been friends since playing together in San Antonio for most of two seasons from 1994-96.
“We're very close. We talk a lot,” Rivers added. “It's one of those things where you don't really enjoy series like this because you know it's somebody that you really care about.”
Del Negro is a former teammate not only of Rivers, but also Celtics GM Danny Ainge (in Sacramento) and Celtics guard Ray Allen (in Milwaukee).
“Danny, he won't like this, but he's a lot older than me,” Del Negro said. “I was in my first or second year (when a teammate of Ainge), so I tried to do the same thing with Ray. Then Doc was in San Antonio with me. You learn from all of them and hopefully I helped out Ray a little bit. All great guys, all great players and have done incredibly well.”
Rivers threw a little insult to his good buddy when asked about their days as teammates with the Spurs.
“I used to call him 'Kerosene,' because whenever I was put in, I had to put out the fire that he started,” Rivers joked. “That's what it was like. No, he was a terrific player. Part of that is true, though. At that point in my career, I basically came in as the hatchet man defensively to back Vinny up and Avery (Johnson) up. (Spurs coach) Bob Hill would always tell me to go put out their fires. He was getting torched (defensively), no doubt about that.”
WATCH OUT FOR FOUL TROUBLE
The Celtics have vowed to do a better job on Derrick Rose in Game 2 of their playoff series with the Bulls. One thing the Bulls need to watch out for on Monday night, though, is the easiest way to take Derrick Rose out of a game – foul trouble.
One potential strategy is to have Rajon Rondo try to attack Rose directly off the dribble. He did that successfully to draw Rose's sixth foul in Game 1, but it came with 10 seconds left in overtime, too late to make a difference for Boston.
There were a number of times this season when Rose got a couple of touch fouls early in a game, usually from bumping a player on the dribble. Will his Game 1 performance produce more respect from the officials? Rose did go to the foul line 12 times on Saturday, the first time all season he reached double figures in free throw attempts. The lack of foul calls against Rose became a running joke, it got so out of hand at times.
WAR OF WORDS IGNORED
The Bulls held a relatively long, but uneventful, shootaround on Monday morning. Coach Vinny Del Negro was asked about Sunday's comments by Boston center Kendrick Perkins, who basically vowed that Rose will never again score 36 points against the Celtics.
“I don't really read that stuff,” Del Negro answered. “I stay focused on what we can do and what I can control. It doesn't matter what people say. It's about going out and doing it. All that stuff gets overblown.
“Our guys know what they have to do, what their job is. It's going to be a physical series. But we've just got to keep on making plays, stay under control, keep our emotions are in check and get after it defensively. Get some stops, get in the open court and put some pressure on them.”
There were a few newspapers floating around the college gym where the Bulls practiced. But Perkins' comment about Rose did not appear in either of the Boston papers on Monday, the Globe or Herald. It was reported by the Associated Press.
GAME 2 OUTLOOK
The first six minutes might be important in this game, since Celtics coach Doc Rivers spoke so much about his team showing no sense or urgency in Game 1. If the Bulls weather an early storm, it might boost their confidence even more.
The Celtics claimed they didn't play very well on Saturday and there is plenty of evidence. Ray Allen couldn't make a shot, Paul Pierce was quiet in the first half and missed that free throw at the end. The Bulls were able to get out and run.
But at the same time, the Bulls might be better if Kirk Hinrch, Brad Miller or John Salmons find their shooting stroke. Hinrich is 2 for 16 in his last three games. Miller was 2 for 11 in Game 1. Salmons was 0 for 5 from 3-point range.
I think in general, the Celtics just aren't much better than the Bulls without Kevin Garnett. If Game 2 is close, it should be a clear sign that the Bulls are capable of winning the series.
--The Boston Globe ran a photo that summed up Game 1 perfectly and it was just up on their Celtics page on boston.com if you want to check it out. Derrick Rose is standing on the sideline ready to inbound the ball and a Boston fan is standing about 10 feet away screaming angrily in his direction. Of course, Rose looks like he's checking a bus schedule, nonchalant as always.
--Bulls general manager John Paxson is at Game 2. He missed Saturday's game because of his brother Jim's wedding.
--Celtics GM Danny Ainge, who suffered a mild heart attack last Thursday, was released from the hospital Sunday and visited Celtics shootaround before Game 2. He'll stay home for the rest of the series, most likely, and is reportedly under doctor's orders not to watch the playoffs. Good luck with that.
--There was some minor buzz in Boston today about Kevin Garnett possibly postponing knee surgery just in case he feels well enough to return for the playoffs. They just showed Garnett on television at the Celtics practice facility and he was still limping. The chances of KG playing against the Bulls are probably close to zero.