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Game 7: Buzzkill

05.17.09 at 10:08 pm ET
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Before the fourth quarter started the Celtics luminaries were shown on the Jumbotron. Kc Jones, JoJo White and John Havlicek were all presented one by one and the Garden was rocking.

And then… Mickael Pietrus happened. First he banged a 3-pointer and then after Courtney Lee finished off a three-point play, Pietrus scored on a pull-up jumper to make it 74-61 with 10:30 left.

Doc Rivers called a timeout and as the crowd sat in stunned silence. Then a “Let’s Go Celtics” chant started up in the rafters and the Garden was brought back to life. Coming out of the timeout, Stephon Marbury missed a 3-pointer and Hedo Turkoglu completed another three-point play to give the Magic their biggest lead of the night at 77-61.

Do the Celtics have one more run in them?

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Game 7: Third quarter update

05.17.09 at 10:00 pm ET
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After three, the Magic lead, 66-61.

Every time the Celtics get close enough to really put pressure on Orlando, the Magic find a way to make a play or two. With the score 54-50, Ray Allen had a look at a 3-pointer, but it rimmed out. J.J. Redick and Hedo Turkoglu then hit 3-pointers to make it a 10-point game again.

With the Magic up seven, 64-57, Mickael Pietrus was able to get a layup in transition and Kendrick Perkins missed three shots from in close in rapid succession.

But the Celtics are hanging in there and they have the Magic to thank. Rashard Lewis missed a pair of free throws at the end of the quarter and Rafer Alston fouled Rajon Rondo while he was shooting a fade-away jumper. Then after Courtney Lee missed a 10-footer, Rondo drained a long two at the buzzer.

This sets up the classic fourth quarter situation. If the Magic are going to take a step and advance they will have to hold a lead on the road in a close-out game. The Celtics have 12 minutes to come back from yet another deficit and continue the defense of their title.

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Game 7: First Half Update

05.17.09 at 9:14 pm ET
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Welcome back Ray Allen.

The biggest question in this series had been, what happened to Ray? In the first half of Game 7 he answered. Allen entered halftime with 13 points (5-10 FG, 1-3 3PG, 2-2 FT). He also did the little things that make him valuable to the Celtics, contributing 3 rebounds and 2 assists.

Frustrated by whistles in the first quarter, the Celtics began attacking the basket determined to draw calls against the Magic. Slowly their plan worked. Hedo Turkoglu picked up his third personal with 6:39 left in the half. Dwight Howard got called for his third with 2:06 to go. The Celtics outscored the Magic 14-8 since Turkoglu went to the bench.

Even though the Celtics picked up momentum in the second quarter, the Magic still have a 45-38 lead at halftime. Foul trouble will be critical in the second half. Also keep an eye on Rajon Rondo, who had a quiet first half with just 2 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 assists.

Game 7: Foul trouble for Howard

05.17.09 at 9:06 pm ET
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Magic center Dwight Howard picked up his third foul at the 2:06 mark of the second quarter when he reached in on a Kendrick Perkins jump shot. Howard and Hedo Turkoglu each have three fouls for Orlando who still holds at 42-33 lead.

The Celtics have played much better this quarter as Doc Rivers has gone to his small lineup in various combinations. Ray Allen has also shown signs of life by utilizing his mid-range game. Allen still hasn’t been able to connect from 3-point range, but he has eight points and looks far more aggressive than he has at other points in this series.

Game 7: First quarter update

05.17.09 at 8:39 pm ET
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With about four and a half minutes to go in the quarter and the magic leading by 13 points, Rafer Alston tried to throw an alley-oop to Dwight Howard. The play had no chance of being successful and Howard wound up coming down out of bounds. It was either an indication that the Magic are playing confident, or that they were about to start getting too fast and loose.

After the botched dunk, the Celtics started making plays and scored eight of the next 10 points to get the lead into single digits. Ray Allen hit a pull-up jumper, Glen Davis drove the lane and banked in a layup and Paul Pierce scored four points. Just as soon as they got back in the game, however, Mickael Pietrus nailed a 3-pointer to make it 27-17 after one quarter.

The Magic are shooting 53 percent and are 5-for-6 from 3-point range, while the Celtics are shooting just 39 percent and have already committed five turnovers.

Doc Rivers also made a subtle adjustment bringing in Eddie House for Rajon Rondo at the three-minute mark. The Magic aren’t even making an attempt to guard Rondo outside and after he bricked a pair of jumpers House came on to try to make the Magic pay for doubling Pierce.

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Game 7: Turnovers and three’s

05.17.09 at 8:22 pm ET
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Coming into Game 7 the thought was that one of these two teams would start making 3-pointers and that would put the other team in a big bind. Well, it was the Magic who got off early from long distance as Rafer Alston, Hedo Turkoglu and Rahsard Lewis all banged 3-pointers early. Not only that but Dwight Howard also got off to a fast start making three of his first four shots as the magic took an early 19-9 lead at the 5:26 mark.

The Celtics, meanwhile have already committed three turnovers and have had trouble getting into their offense as the Magic are aggressively trapping Paul Pierce every time he touches the ball. The turnovers have run the gamut–an offensive foul on Ray Allen, a 24-second violation and a travel on Kendrick Perkins inside.

Allen hit his first shot, a 20-footer coming off a curl screen, but he proceeded to miss his next two shots. Orlando is 8-for-11 to start the game.

The Impact of NCAA Experience in Game 7

05.17.09 at 8:05 pm ET
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Veteran experience can be one of the biggest advantages in the NBA playoffs. The Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic, though, are relying on two of their more inexperienced players to help them advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. Fortunately for 23-year-olds Glen Davis and Courtney Lee, they have been in high pressure situations before ‘€“ the NCAA Tournament.

Davis was one of the driving forces on the LSU Tigers’ Final Four run in 2006, the school’s first in 20 years. Playing on a big stage prepared him for performing in the spotlight of the NBA, especially since being thrust into the Celtics starting lineup.

‘€œThis is the seventh game, the elimination game. Either win or go home,’€ Davis said prior to Game 7. ‘€œEvery game in the NCAA Tournament is either win or go home. So it’s a good experience because it helps you understand the meaning of each game, and you understand the meaning of Game 7. No matter how you look at it, it helps you mentally prepare yourself to win or go home.’€ Read the rest of this entry »

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