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Celtics and Magic: Road to the Second Round

05.03.09 at 11:07 pm ET
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The second round match up between the Boston Celtics (62-20) and Orlando Magic (59-23) has been in the makings for months. After the Cleveland Cavaliers ran away with the best record in the East, both clubs knew there was a strong chance they would meet again in the playoffs. The Celtics and Magic split the season series 2-2. This time, they will play until one team comes out on top.

December 1: Celtics 107, Magic 88

The Magic tried to beat the Celtics from long range … and failed. The Celtics shot 6-for-13 (46%) from behind the arc while the Magic shot themselves out of the game (5-26 3PG, 19%). Paul Pierce scored 17 of his 24 points in the third quarter as the Celtics outscored the Magic 59-42 in the second half. Rashard Lewis led all scorers with 30 points. Emotions ran high in this game, prompting eight technical fouls. Sam Cassell, in his most memorable moment of the season, was ejected from the sidelines for arguing a call. Jameer Nelson (hip) did not play.

Related Story: Sounds of the Game

January 22: Celtics 90, Magic 80

The Celtics cut Dwight Howard’s night short by drawing six fouls on the big man in 38 minutes. Howard shot just 4-for-10 from the field and finished with 11 points and 11 boards. The Celtics extended their winning streak to seven games behind 27 points from Paul Pierce. They got a boost from Glen Davis, who scored 16 points off the bench. The Magic outscored the Celtics 21-0 from three-point range.

Related Story: Are the Magic a Threat?

March 8: Magic 86, Celtics 79

Already banged up without Kevin Garnett (knee) and Rajon Rondo (ankle), the Celtics watched Glen Davis leave the game with a sprained ankle. The depleted Celtics squad could not fend off 18 points and 15 rebounds from Dwight Howard as the Magic won in Boston. Without Rondo in the lineup, the Magic posted seven more assists (17) and steals (9) than the Celtics. Ray Allen led all scorers with 32 points (12-25 FG).

Related Story: Magic a Problem Without KG

March 25: Magic 84, Celtics 82

The box score painted a different picture than the final score. The Celtics outshot the Magic 43% to 37% from the field and outscored them 20 to 14 in the fourth quarter. But ultimately it was Dwight Howard’s stat line that won the game. He posted 24 points, 21 rebounds, and 4 blocks (including a swat against Pierce with four seconds left) that gave the Magic the edge over the Celtics. Kevin Garnett (knee) was limited to just 16 minutes and Leon Powe (knee) did not play.

Related Story: Magic Not Ready for Prime Time

Game 1 will get underway at 8pm EST on TNT and WEEI. Follow Green Street for all the latest information and updates from the TD BankNorth Garden.

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A ‘completely extraordinary’ series

05.03.09 at 1:32 am ET
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Ray Allen has a way with words, even after it seemed every superlative had been used to describe the seven-game marathon struggle that finally ended Saturday night with a 109-99 Celtics win over the Bulls in Game 7 of their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.

“Completely extraordinary,” Allen said. “I’ve had friends all over the world watch this series and people just commenting on how nerve-wracking this series was, how entertained they were, how excited they were to watch us play and how devastated they were in the losses.”

Before the game, Allen was asked how either team could summon the energy for a Game 7 after a record four of the seven games went to overtime.

“I just think the people watching it are more fatigued than we are playing it,” Allen said. “I’m looking up at people in the stands in Chicago and they’re tired and ready to go home. For anybody watching at home, you can’t take your eyes off the TV, people are up late at night.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Game 7: Final Wrap

05.02.09 at 11:04 pm ET
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No overtime necessary tonight. The Celtics beat the Bulls, 109-99, to win the series 3-2. The Celtics will face the Magic in the second round. Stay tuned for reaction from both locker rooms …

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Game 7: Third quarter update

05.02.09 at 10:12 pm ET
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After the Celtics rolled at the end of the first half, you knew the Bulls would come out with everything they had in the third. The Celtics were able to absorb the Bulls charge for the most part and take a 78-71 lead into the third quarter.

Things got a little heated as Rajon Rondo was fouled hard twice. First by Joakim Noah and then by Brad Miller who topped it off with a little shove. Neither play was ruled a Flagrant foul. For his part, Rondo picked up a technical foul after a timeout.

The Bulls are shooting just 41 percent but are staying in the game at the free throw line where they made all 10 of their free throws in the quarter and are 23-for-27 for the game.

Heading into the fourth quarter, Kendrick Perkins has four fouls. Rondo, Big Baby Davis and Brian Scalabrine have three fouls. For the Bulls, Miller has four fouls. John Salmons and Derrick Rose each have three.

The question we have before us is simple. Will this be the last 12 minutes of this series or will be go to overtime for the fifth time?

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Game 7: The return of the bench

05.02.09 at 9:30 pm ET
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So, who had the Celtics bench in the X-factor pool? In the first half the much-maligned reserve unit shot 6-for-9 from the floor and 4-for-5 from 3-point range to score 18 points and completely turn the game around with their defensive energy, particularly from Stephon Marbury and Eddie House.

House picked up three steals and Marbury dogged Derrick Rose into having a scoreless quarter. The Bulls bench, namely Brad Miller and Kirk Hinrich missed all five of their shots from the floor and have not been a factor.

Even Mikki Moore contributed with a timely charge, four points and two rebounds. The Bulls were 3-for-14 from the floor in the second quarter and that had a lot to do with the defensive effort from the second unit.

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Game 7: Second quarter update

05.02.09 at 9:20 pm ET
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For the first time in this series, last season’s playoff atmosphere is back.

Down 27-23 after the first quarter, the Celtics outscored the Bulls 29-11 heading into halftime. In the final eight minutes of the half the Bulls shot 0-6 from the floor while committing 7 turnovers.

Rather than live and die from long range, the Celtics took it inside and scored 16 points in the paint. Even more importantly, they stopped the Bulls from doing the game. The Bulls did not score a single lay up in the entire half (4 points in the paint).

But there is more to this game than inside scoring. The Celtics bench has finally come alive in Game 7. Brian Scalabrine, Eddie House, and Mikki Moore combined for 18 points. Moore (gasp) even drew an offensive foul.

Ben Gordon leads all scorers with 17 points (5 second quarter). Paul Pierce leads the Celtics with 11 (4/10 FG).

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Game 7: First quarter update

05.02.09 at 8:39 pm ET
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As Game 7 began to get under way the crowd was rocking and the Garden was electric. Not that it bothered the Bulls at all. Chicago came out strong building an 11-4 lead and taking a 27-23 lead after one quarter.

Ben Gordon and Derrick Rose combined for 20 points, while Joakim Noah grabbed seven rebounds. The Celtics, meanwhile, struggled at the outset and shot just 35 percent from the floor. Also of concern is the fact that Big Baby Davis and Brian Scalabrine each have two fouls.

But it wasn’t all bad news for the C’s, Paul Pierce got off to a decent start scoring seven points, while Kendrick Perkins continued his strong play inside with four points and five rebounds and did not commit a foul. Scalabrine also gave the Celtics a huge lift with five points. The pace is fast–the Celtics got up 26 shots–but they only had one turnover.

All things considered, the Celtics did well to get the margin down to four points, which is something Ray Allen talked about before the game. “(We need) to get good starts and finishes to each quarter,” he said. “That builds momentum.” Consider that task half completed.

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