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SVG: Celtics weren’t playing possum

05.24.10 at 10:27 pm ET
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Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said anyone who thought the Celtics were holding back during the regular season just because they won only 50 games is terribly mistaken.

“I think that’s a bunch of crap,” Van Gundy said. “I think they had injuries, period. I don’t think they were holding anything back. Kevin Garnett had a serious knee injury that takes a lot of time to get back to full strength. When we were at the All Star Game, at that point, I didn’t either Garnett or Pierce were at full speed or looked healthy, still. I thought Kevin was still having trouble with mobility in that leg and Paul’s foot was bothering him. Injuries mean a lot.”

Van Gundy saw both Garnett and Paul Pierce during the All Star break in Arlington, Texas. He said he knew at the time, the Celtics weren’t at full strength. The Celtics finished fourth in the East with a 50-32 record, behind Cleveland, Orlando and Atlanta.

“They weren’t 41-41 were they? The way everybody talked about them they exploded out of the blue after winning 41 games,” Van Gundy added. “Didn’t they win 50 games? Fifty games is a hell of a season, and those guys weren’t healthy. I don’t they were out there saying, ‘Let’s hold it back.’ I think that’s ridiculous and I think it’s insulting to them, quite honestly.”

Doc Rivers knows a thing or two about getting shown the door. He was dismissed early in the 2004 season following a 1-10 start in Orlando after earning coach of the year honors in 2000. He has watched as Mike Brown won 60-plus games in back-to-back seasons and led his team to the NBA Finals in the year before.

“I don’t know what you have to do to keep your job,” said a perplexed Rivers.

Read More: Celtics, Magic, NBA playoffs, playing possum

1st half summary: Celtics vs. Magic Game 4

05.24.10 at 9:53 pm ET
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The Orlando Magic came to play Monday night in Game 4 after being embarrassed in Game 3 and made a point of showing it early on.

They took a 51-47 lead at halftime over the Celtics, amazingly their first such lead after 24 minutes in the series so far.

Orlando, which shot 61.5 percent in the first quarter, built their largest lead of the game at 10 points, 42-32, with 5:47 left in the second quarter.

The Magic were led by Dwight Howard, with 17 points and six rebounds.

Paul Pierce led all scorers with 19 and was red-hot from the field, making 6-of-8 shots from the field while Kevin Garnett added 10 points and eight rebounds.

The other thing to keep a close eye on in the second half is the condition of Rajon Rondo, who left with a minute to go with trainer Bryan Doo to treat muscle spasms in his right leg.

Read More: Celtics, game 4, Magic, NBA playoffs

Perkins, Allen to play through pain

05.24.10 at 8:30 pm ET
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Kendrick Perkins couldn’€™t recall the exact diagnosis for his right wrist injury. What he knew was that he tweaked it catching himself on a fall in Game 3. But he had heard so much medical terminology from Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte since then that he couldn’€™t keep track. He settled on a sprain, though he was not one hundred percent certain. It didn’€™t matter to him, though. He was going to play through it, no matter what it was.

The same sentiment was expressed just one locker over, where Tony Allen downplayed Doc Rivers‘€™ revelation of a twisted ankle Allen suffered in the first quarter of Game 2. Even though Rivers said the injury affected him in Game 3, Allen isn’€™t letting it hold him back on Monday night.

‘€œIt ain’€™t stopping me from playing the next game,’€ he said prior to Game 4. ‘€œIt’€™s just pretty sore. I’€™m sure there are a lot of guys who would come out right now and be honest with you and say there’€™s something wrong with them. But Doc spoke on my injury and I’€™m here to tell you all he’€™s a concerned dad. But no I’€™m cool, though. I’€™m cool for the most part. I’€™m playing in the next game and I’€™m ready to go.’€

Magic questions will be answered

05.24.10 at 8:12 pm ET
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Throughout the Eastern Conference finals the Magic have seemed to be a step behind the moment. Game 1 came and went and the Magic seemed unprepared for the Celtics physical play. Then down 2-0 Orlando was run off the court early by the Celtics and never recovered.

Now that it’s literally a must-win game for Orlando, Stan Van Gundy was asked if he would know if his team was ready early in the game.

“I don’t even think that’s the real question,” Van Gundy said prior to Game 4.  “I think the question will come, whether it’s early or later on in the game, the question comes whenever you get hit, especially when you’re in this situation.”

The Magic didn’t react well to that Celtics punch in Game 3 and Orlando has faced criticism that they laid down with their season on the line. Doc Rivers wasn’t going near that one.

“I don’t know,” he said. “We’ve always said keep your own bedroom clean, let everyone else clean their own. It would be great if it was us because that would mean that we’re playing well, but I can’t answer that.”

Things can change fast in this league. Take the Celtics who spent most of the regular season answering those types of questions. Now they are an efficient, focused machine. It was only a week ago when people were saying the same thing about the Magic.

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Video: Jason Williams’ postgame rant

05.24.10 at 12:32 pm ET
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Magic guard Jason Williams let off a little steam in the locker room following the Celtics‘ Game 3 rout Saturday night. Williams wasn’t happy that reporters were crowding his locker in an attempt to listen to an interview with Matt Barnes. Here’s the video of Williams’ rant.

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For Celtics, there was much ado about Hedo

05.24.10 at 12:27 am ET
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WALTHAM — The sudden disappearance of Rashard Lewis is not the only thing missing from the Magic team that defeated the Celtics in last season’€™s Eastern Conference semifinals.

This time around they are playing without Hedo Turkoglu, who left Orlando last summer and signed a multi-year deal with the Raptors. Even though the Magic acquired Vince Carter in his place — a role Carter’€™s teammates say he has filled well — the Celtics have noticed a difference in matchups without Turkoglu on the court.

It is one they have benefited from in the conference finals.

‘€œDefinitely with Turkoglu, he adds a size matchup being at 6-10 he can play the 2, the 3, the 1. Obviously, a walking matchup problem,’€ Paul Pierce said following practice on Sunday. ‘€œI just think the things that he does playing with the ball and off the ball in the post, he’€™s one of the more versatile small forwards in the NBA and one of the toughest that I’€™ve seen to guard. Them not having him, I think it really works in our favor.’€

Last season Turkoglu averaged over 16 points in the seven-game semifinals series. Not only did he score, he made it easier for his teammates to do so by spreading the floor. (In the deciding Game 7, Turkoglu scored 25 points while dishing 12 assists.)

Take Lewis as an example. This postseason series he is averaging just five points while shooting 25 percent from the field and going 1-for-13 from 3-point range. Even though he got more open looks last season because of Kevin Garnett‘€™s absence, the Celtics guarded him differently when Turkoglu was on the floor.

‘€œTurkoglu, one of the things I think he does so well is he’€™s a facilitator,’€ said Doc Rivers. ‘€œHe’€™s a big shot maker, but he is such a great passer with length. It’€™s tough to get deflections off Turkoglu, where all their other guys, you can get your hands up and you can get deflections. Turkoglu and LeBron [James] probably make the best cross-court passes in the league. So that’€™s been a little bit different for us. And Rashard is now at the 4, where really we played Turkoglu more at that position even though he was at the 3.’€

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Hedo Turkoglu, Orlando Magic, Paul Pierce

Celtics take credit where credit is due

05.23.10 at 3:41 pm ET
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WALTHAM — The Celtics are one game away from eliminating the Magic and advancing to the NBA Finals, and they believe credit should be given where credit is due.

‘€œI believe we deserve all the credit,’€ Ray Allen said following practice on Sunday. ‘€œIt’€™s only two teams playing. We’€™re putting them in the situation that they’€™re in, and we’€™re adjusting and trying to find the ways that we can confuse them as much as we can, and make it tough defensively on them and offensively. They’€™re not going out there and doing it to themselves.’€

Following their Game 3 loss, the Magic conceded they have been outhustled and outplayed the entire series. Players were baffled by their collapse, saying they have not seen the real Magic team yet. Others said they are beating themselves.

But the Celtics are not paying attention to the downtrodden morale of their opponent.

‘€œNone of my concern,’€ said Kevin Garnett. ‘€œThat’€™s them. That’€™s how they think. Nothing more, nothing less than that. I can’€™t really be worried with what they’€™re thinking over there and how they’€™re playing or what’€™s going through their head.’€

The Celtics have made it this far by staying honed in on each other the entire postseason. Some questioned whether or not they would even survive the first round, let alone make it to the NBA Finals. Now that they are just 48 minutes away from advancing, they are focused on the confidence they have in one another, not the uncertainty felt by the Magic.

‘€œI didn’€™t have any doubts in this team,’€ said Paul Pierce. ‘€œI never doubted us because I felt once we got to the playoffs, guys would be able to settle in a little more, travel wouldn’€™t be as much, we could really focus in on the team, and really do our scouting report. And I think just looking at a seven-game series, I always thought it’€™d be tough to beat us four times.’€

The Heat and Cavaliers have already found out just how tough it is. The Celtics hope to teach the Magic the same lesson on Monday night.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Orlando Magic, Paul Pierce
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