Orlando Magic vs. Boston Celtics Preview of Game 6
Fri, 05/28/2010 - 1:18am
By Eric Yearian
The Orlando Magic were caught off guard, beaten, completely out-played, and humiliated, and that was just in the first two games of the series. The Boston Celtics jumped on the Magic from the very start in this series and took a 2-0 series lead after the first couple of games in the series. With the series headed to Boston, the end looked all to near for last year’s Eastern Conference champs. According to history, A Celtics win in game three, a game in which the Celtics would have home court advantage, would essentially end the season for their counterparts from Orlando. No team has come back from a 3-0 deficit in the playoffs.
Game 3: Orlando came to Boston as a team on a mission. Mission failed. Orlando didn’t even put up a fight for the majority of the game. After one quarter they trailed 27-12. From top to bottom the team looked anemic on both ends of the court. Dwight Howard looked far more like Clark Kent than Superman in this game. He finished with as many missed shots (7), as he did points and rebounds. Seven points and seven rebounds in 39 minutes of play simply won’t get it done, especially at this stage of the season. The Magic’s high profile acquisition this past offseason, Vince Carter scored 15, but he was the only one producing for Orlando. Rashard Lewis scored a measly 4 points, and Jameer Nelson, despite scoring 15 points, missed on 9 of his 14 shot attempts and recorded only 1 assist.
The Celtics, on the other hand, came out looking to assert their will in front of their fans and they did just that. Rajon Rondo, continuing the play that has made the Celtic “Big 3” into a “Big 4”, recorded a double-double with 11 points and 12 assists. He controlled the game from the start and ran the team, putting his teammates in a position to succeed. Five of his teammates finished in double figures, with Glen “Big Baby” Davis surprisingly leading the way with 17 points. Paul Pierce finished with 15 points, and 9 rebounds, Ray Allen had 14, 6, and 6, while Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace finished with 10 points each. The Celtics ended up winning the game by a final score of 94-71.
With the win, the Celtics moved to within one game of their second NBA Finals appearance in 3 years. Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy gave the team’s fans some faint hope, saying “At some point, somebody is going to come from 3-0 down and win a series.” He gave no indication that it would be the Magic, or even that he believed that they were capable of the comeback. Little did he know, his team would respond in the next two games.
Game 4: Now this is the Dwight Howard Orlando wanted to see. Howard dominated game 4 by recording 32 points to go along with his 16 rebounds and 4 blocks. The Magic needed every bit of it from Howard to stave off elimination, winning the game 96-92. After recording only one assist in game three, Nelson came back strong with 9 assists and 23 points, while Lewis, Matt Barnes, and J.J. Redick also scored 10 or more points. The Celtics weren’t hurting for offense either, as Pierce led the attack with 32 points and 11 rebounds of his own. Allen also chipped in a very respectable 22 points on an even more respectable 7-12 shooting. KG added a double-double, but the Celtics came up just short in the end. Late in the game Howard recorded his fifth offensive rebound and 32nd point when he finished off a Nelson miss. On the other end of the court, Garnett turned the ball over and Pierce missed a pair of threes in an attempt to pull his team to within one. The Magic pulled the series to 3-1 with the series headed back to Orlando, where it would be another must win game for the Magic.
Game 5: Even though game 5 was a must win for the Magic, the game was almost as important for the Celtics. The Celtics came into the game knowing that a win would result in a trip to the Finals, a loss would give the Magic renewed hope for completing the comeback. After the first three games, just about everybody had written the Magic off, and for good reason, they were down three games to zero. However, if the Magic could come away from game 5 with a victory they would force a game six; a game in which they would have the chance to tie the series up. Now, the cliché saying is that a team must take it a game at a time, and there is some truth in that. As Van Gundy points out, however, if a team doesn’t believe they can still win a series then the one game at a time attitude won’t be enough. With a win, there is no question everyone in the Magic locker room would have no doubt the team is capable of winning the series.
The Celtics tried to prevent that from happening but the Magic had regained their form from the previous two playoff series. The Celtics were outscored in each of the four quarters and they ended up losing 113-92. Howard scored 21 and cleaned the glass for 10 rebounds. Jameer Nelson stepped up his game to lead the Magic with 24 points and 5 assists. The real difference in the two teams was the defense, though. The Magic held Allen to 3-11 shooting, and hounded Pierce in getting up only 8 shots, making 3. As if that weren’t enough, KG and Rondo shot a combined 12-29 from the field.
The Celtics were thoroughly outplayed in the game, and to add insult to injury, starting center Kendrick Perkins was ejected after picking up his second technical, his seventh of the postseason. After seven T’s, there is a league mandated suspension of one game. Luckily for the Celtics, the league rescinded the seventh, so he will be eligible for game six. That is vitally important because “Big Baby” Davis was knocked out of the game with a concussion when he caught Howards elbow. Had they been without both post players, Howard could have had a field day in game six. Once written off, the Magic have now made this series interesting, and Boston will look to avoid making history by allowing the first 3-0 comeback in NBA playoff history.
The Magic will try to tie this series up on Friday in Boston. We’ll see if Van Gundy’s comments after game three will prove prophetic.
Game 6: Friday, May 28 @Boston, 9:30 Eastern/ 8:30 Central
Game 7: Sunday, May 30 @Orlando, 9:30 Eastern/ 8:30 Central