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Five reasons why the Celtics won Game 6

05.28.10 at 11:22 pm ET
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The Boston Celtics are the 2010 Eastern Conference champions, beating the Orlando Magic 96-81 in Game 6 to advance to the NBA finals, where they will play the winner of the Suns-Lakers series, with Game 1 set for Thursday night.

It was a balanced scoring attack by the Celtics in the Friday night clincher, with Paul Pierce’s 31 points leading five players in double figures.

WHAT WENT RIGHT:

POINT GUARD PLAY

Rajon Rondo (12 first-quarter points) returing to his Sports Illustrated cover level of play was far from a shock (and what happened to the SI jinx?), but the stunner of the game — and the series — was the effort offered by Nate Robinson. A virtual non-factor since his arrival in Boston, in Game 6 Robinson was the player that Doc Rivers said would win them a game in this series. Robinson exploded in the second quarter, scoring 13 points. His defense was also a huge factor, as he harassed and frustrated Jameer Nelson.

The two Celtics point guards combined for 25 points, four assists and zero turnovers in the first half.

PAUL PIERCE: MVP OF THE SERIES

Remember the “What’s wrong with Pierce?” talk during the Cleveland series? Turns out it was probably just a matter of getting away from LeBron James. Pierce was terrific in these six games, averaging 24.3 points and dominating Vince Carter on both ends of the floor. The Celtics needed Pierce to be aggressive in Game 6 and he answered the call, hitting an aggression double double with 13 rebounds and 10 free-throw attempts.

WINNING THE BATTLE OF THE 3’S

The Magic rely on the 3-point shot perhaps more than any good team in NBA history. When they shoot it well (see Game 5) they are nearly impossible to beat. Stopping (or at the very least limiting) the triples was a must for the Celtics in Game 6. Mission accomplished, as Orlando converted on just 6-of-22 attempts. But the Celtics own 3-point shooting was superb on Thursday, hitting 45.5 percent (10-of-22) in the win. Ray Allen and Pierce combined to hit 7-of-12, and Robinson hit a trio of 3’s off the bench.

JAMEER NELSON: NON-FACTOR

The key for Orlando in Games 4 and 5, Nelson struggled mightily in his final game of the season, hitting just 5-of-14 shots. He was also unable (and at times, it seemed, unwilling) to penetrate and find open 3-point shooters or Howard for the lob-and-dunk. He simply could not match up with Rondo in the first or Robinson in the second (and was clearly rattled by Robinson’s emotion and trash talk.)

BIG BABY SHAKES IT OFF

No signs of post-concussion problems for Glen Davis, who brought his usual energy in his 17:23 on the court, scoring six points with seven rebounds. Big edge to the Celtics bench (19 points, 13 rebounds) in Game 6.

Halftime: Celtics-Magic

05.28.10 at 9:55 pm ET
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The Celtics could be just 24 minutes away from a trip to the NBA Finals, leading the Magic 55-42 at halftime of Game 6.

The biggest reason why the Celtics have been able to regain control of this series and play their best half of basketball in nearly a week?

The point guards.

That’s right, plural.

Rajon Rondo was brilliant in the first quarter (12 points, three rebounds, two assists,) but left the game after taking a hard fall late in the opening 12 minutes. In this series, no Rondo has usually meant a Magic run. But Nate Robinson — who had his moments in Game 5 — came off the bench and went absolutely crazy in the second quarter, scoring 13 points and disrupting Jameer Nelson with his defense. A shocking effort and immeasurable bonus for the Celtics, who were using Tony Allen as the backup point guard for most of the playoffs.

The two point guards combined to score 25 points with three assists, two steals and zero turnovers.

Paul Pierce had a solid first half, scoring 10 points.

Dwight Howard was strong again, scoring 13 points with five rounds before leaving with three fouls. Vince Carter resurfaced, chipping in with 13 points, all in the second quarter.

The Celtics led by as many as 21 points in the second quarter, but the Magic (led by Carter) finished the half on a 11-5 run to keep within striking distance.

Daniels out ‘for a while’

05.28.10 at 8:54 pm ET
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While the Celtics got good news on the availability of Glen Davis and Rasheed Wallace for Game 6 against Orlando, the news was much more pessimistic on Marquis Daniels, who is out indefinitely after suffering a concussion minutes after Davis sustained his own in Game 5 against the Magic.

“Marquis is out and probably out for a while,” Rivers said. “If they’re putting a uniform on, they’re good [to play].

“[Daniels] had tingling in his feet, his hands and couldn’t feel either one for a while so that gets dangerous. We don’t know how long. He feels good now. Everything’s back. That’s something you have to be careful with. Eddie [Lacerte] said he’s the one, you just can’t take a chance.”

Brian Scalabrine is dressing for Game 6 and is taking Daniels’ spot on the active roster.

Read More: Celtics, Magic, Marquis Daniels, NBA playoffs

Perkins: ‘I might need to smile a few times’

05.28.10 at 8:28 pm ET
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A day after the NBA rescinded one of Kendrick Perkins technical fouls from Game 5, allowing him to play in Game 6, Perkins said he still has to play physical. The difference is, he may incorporate a new facial expression into his reportoire.

‘€œI go out there and play my game,’€œ he said prior to Game 6 on Friday. ‘€œI can’€™t worry about if I’€™m going to get another tech. I cant play like that. I’€™ve got to go out there and do my job. If they want me to play physical, I’€™m going to play physical. I might need to smile a few times. That might help me. Ive got to go out there and play. I cant worry about nothing else.’€

Perkins still  has six technical fouls on his record in the postseason. He will face an automatic one-game suspension if he is called for his seventh.

Another player who also expects the game to be physical is Marcin Gortat. Based on what he saw in Game 5, the Magic big man thinks Game 6 will be even tougher.

“It’€™s definitely going to be more physical. I’€™m 100 percent sure,” he told WEEI.com. “After the last game, what we did to Boston was definitely tough for them and difficult, so I believe it’€™s going to be harder today. For both teams, the game will be very physical, but hopefully the referees will handle it the right way.”

Big Baby will play in Game 6

05.28.10 at 7:14 pm ET
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Glen Davis said prior to Game 6 that he will play tonight after suffering a concussion in Game 5. “I’m feeling good,” he said. “[The headaches] are all gone.”

Davis was hit by Magic center Dwight Howard with an elbow and staggered to half court before collapsing. “He caught me off guard,” Davis said. “That was the big thing. I didn’t see it coming.”

Davis also said that he didn’t lose a tooth, but he have a brace in his mouth knocked out. Asked if he thought the play was dirty, Davis said, “I don’t know what to think. It’s not the only time he’s thrown elbows.”

Davis held court with reporters for about five minutes before Rajon Rondo told him it was time to stop and focus on the game.

Read More: Glen Davis,

A closer look at Game 6 refs

05.28.10 at 12:47 pm ET
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There seems to be a consensus that the referees assigned to Friday’s Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals will benefit the Celtics. Dale & Holley guest Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated called them liberal officials who will allow the C’s more room to bang Dwight Howard and the Magic down low.

Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy, who served prison time for a gambling scandal, talked to Dennis & Callahan producer Steve Ciaccio Friday morning and, after being informed of the crew assigned to TD Garden, said: “Orlando should dust off their golf clubs.”

The Game 6 refs are Ken Mauer, Monty McCutchen and Mike Callahan.

Mauer is an interesting story. A former University of Minnesota All-Big Ten baseball player, he is the uncle of Twins standout catcher Joe Mauer. An NBA official since 1986, Mauer is the son of a longtime referee, and his four brothers all officiate at various levels as well. He refereed his first NBA finals in 2006.

A decade ago, Mauer was one of the referees accused of felony tax evasion for not reporting profit from downgraded airline tickets as income. Mauer was one of two refs ‘€” of the 45 charged ‘€” who did not accept a plea bargain, insisting he did not intentionally commit a crime. In April 2001, he was sentenced to five months in prison, five months home detention and three years of supervised released, along with 800 hours of community service.

Mike “Duke” Callahan is a graduate of Cardinal O’Hara High School outside of Philadelphia. That’s also the alma mater of the disgraced Donaghy, as well as veteran official Joey Crawford, who called the technical foul on Rajon Rondo in Game 5 that drew a lot of criticism. Callahan was one of the officials when the C’s played in Portland two years ago and the Blazers had six players on the floor. The Blazers scored and were allowed to keep the two points, although a technical foul was called.

Monty McCutchen is a Texas native who taught high school history and English in Los Angeles before becoming an NBA official.

SI’s Mannix on D&H: Game 6 refs good for C’s

05.28.10 at 12:05 pm ET
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Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated joined the Dale & Holley show Friday morning to talk about the Celtics-Magic series. To hear the interview, click on the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Mannix said the officiating crew assigned to Game 6 ‘€” Mike Callahan, Monty McCutchen and Ken Mauer ‘€” appears to be one that will help Boston’s cause. “It will be a liberally called game,” Mannix said. “Just based on the names and what you’re saying, I think that favors Boston. I think they’re going to be able to get away with a little bit more physically against Dwight Howard and some other guys. That’s a good trio, I think for the Celtics.”

Looking back at Ed F. Rush’s ejection of Kendrick Perkins in Game 5, Mannix said the blame needs to be passed around. “I believe Eddie made a bone-headed call, I believe he wouldn’t have made that call if he remembered that Perkins had one technical foul, but I’ve got to slap some responsibility on Kendrick Perkins, too,” Mannix said. “You need to be aware of your surroundings and aware of your situation. You know you have one technical. You know you had five technicals coming into this game. You know another technical will throw you out of this game and likely get you suspended for another game. You’re not a rookie center. This is a fourth- or fifth-year guy who has won a championship. You need to understand the situation and not be so demonstrative. Did he deserve the tech? Probably not. But it’s possible. I didn’t rule it out in my mind.”

Mannix was more bothered by the technical foul Joey Crawford gave to Rajon Rondo for arguing with another official. “What Joey Crawford did was embarrassing,” Mannix said. “Rajon Rondo was not talking to Joey Crawford, and he just injected him into the story.” Added Mannix: “Joey I hope never touches another Celtics game ever again after his performance in Orlando.”

Asked if Dwight Howard is a dirty player, Mannix said there’s an element of that to the big man’s game. “Everybody’s saying no. I think there’s a twinge of dirt in Dwight Howard,” Mannix said. “He swings that elbow. And the NBA has noticed it, believe me, I’ve talked to people over there about this. They know he wields that elbow as a weapon sometimes. … Once you start swinging [the elbow], that’s a punch. You’re swinging it like it’s a weapon. … There’s definitely a bit of dirtiness to his game.”

Looking at the game strategy, Mannix said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy “has done a terrific coaching job and might have actually saved his own job.” He said now the Celtics need to make an adjustment on defense. “To me the adjustment is not Dwight Howard, it’s not defensively [overall], it’s that double pick and roll they keep running with Jameer Nelson. Boston has no answer for that. Either they get caught on it and Nelson has a clear path to the basket, or they wind up switched and Dwight Howard or Rashard Lewis get a massive mismatch underneath the rim. There’s got to be ways that Boston can tinker with that defense and make sure they don’t get caught with their pants down when Jameer comes around that corner. I think part of that responsibility is on Rajon Rondo. It looks to me a couple of times he fights through the first pick but he doesn’t quite give the same amount of effort through that second pick.”

Asked for his prediction, Mannix leaned toward the Celtics. “I think Boston wins,” he said. “I think they gut it out. I think the home crowd is going to be important, the energy behind them. I think they win a very close game. I think the important thing to look at it how they play in the first quarter. The games they’ve won so far in this series, they’ve jumped out to leads. The games they’ve lost, they’ve kind of had to fight from behind. I don’t think Boston’s very good at fighting from behind, at least not against Orlando, which has a tendency to six or nine points up on you so quickly. … So I think it’s very important for Boston to get out to one of those 7-0, 12-6 advantages. Take some of the pressure off them and put Orlando behind the 8-ball. Make them feel the pressure of making jump shots late in the game, in the third and the fourth quarter, so they have to get back in the game. I think the pressure at some point, if they’re trailing will get to the Orlando shooters. I don’t think you’re going to see Rashard Lewis or Vince Carter step up and make big jump shots  if the Magic are coming from behind.”

However, cautioned Mannix, “If they can’t defend Dwight, and they’re also not able to defend Jameer Nelson, this could be a blowout. … This Orlando team is fully capable of routing Boston on their home court.”

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