|05.14.09 at 1:05 pm ET|
ORLANDO – Doc Rivers could live without suspense for once.
On their way to a 17th title, the Celtics head coach watched nervously on the sideline as his team was pressed to seven games against Atlanta and Cleveland before finally learning the art of closing out a seven-game series in Game 6 in Detroit. They repeated the feat in Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the Lakers.
Fast forward to the present, and the urgency to seal the deal in Game 6 tonight in Orlando is obvious. While courageous, gritty and determined, clearly these Celtics are weary and thin. They had that chance in Game 6 in Chicago before the epic triple-overtime loss spoiled their plans.
Now, a team that is relying on a remarkably thin bench has a chance to rest up for Cleveland. Read the rest of this entry »
|05.14.09 at 12:14 pm ET|
ORLANDO – The man assigned with covering Dwight Howard expects a Superman effort from the outspoken Orlando center.
“Yeah, he’ll probably come out with a point to prove,” Celtics center Kendrick Perkins said at Thursday’s shoot around at Amway Arena. “I know he wants to be the best player on the court, so yeah he is going to come out with a point to prove.”
Following Tuesday night’s game, Howard criticized his head coach Stan Van Gundy for not calling plays for him to get the ball during the last five minutes as the Magic watched a 10-point lead evaporate as the Celtics prevailed 92-88, giving Boston a 3-2 series lead.
But Perkins, who is responsible for defending the Orlando big man, feels Howard has been getting plenty of touches. Read the rest of this entry »
|05.14.09 at 10:32 am ET|
Van Gundy had told his players to switch one-through-four and Dwight Howard did exactly that when Paul Pierce came off the pick and roll. That left Glen Davis open in the corner and after his shot went through it was all over but the apologies. After Van Gundy’s mea culpa Howard absolved the coach of blame saying that the Magic win as a team and lose as a team. “We can’t blame Stan,” Howard said.
Howard was singing a different tune after Game 5 when he questioned the coach’s strategy and substitution pattern. Stuff like this happens all the time in the NBA, but what makes this situation unique is that this is the first time Howard publicly second-guessed his coach as Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi pointed out.
Van Gundy’s attempted to play down the situation yesterday, saying that he and Howard had a long talk and everything was copacetic, but Howard wasn’t the only one who questioned Van Gundy’s decision to try to burn the clock.
“We kind of played stall ball and you can’t really do that with a 24-second shot clock,” J.J. Redick said.
“We just stopped,” said Hedo Turkoglu. “They’re an experienced team. They’ve been here before. They know how to make decisions, especially in that kind of a game.”
Orlando has all kinds of questions heading into Game 6 beyond whether or not the coach and players are still on the same page. Courtney Lee has been more effective than Redick; does he start in his place?
Rafer Alston finally had a decent game, but his production has been spotty at best. If he falters does Van Gundy go with Anthony Johnson who has played well–but who also had a blowup with the coach during Game 3–or use Turkoglu at the point?
Tony Battie gave the Magic good minutes in the fourth quarter and Howard seemed to indicate that he wanted him on the floor instead of Rashard Lewis, who has been Orlando’s most effective player.
If the Magic can get themselves straightened out they have a very good chance of sending this series back to Boston for Game 7 because they do have several matchup advantages, particularly with Lewis. But on the other hand, they haven’t been able to maximize those advantages.
The Celtics know they got away with one Tuesday night, but they also have complete confidence in what they are doing.
“They say a team that has the most luck is the one that works the hardest,” Ray Allen said. “We end up looking lucky because of that.”
On the floor these teams are evenly matched, but the last 48 hours have brought all of the Magic’s internal issues out into the forefront. Whether they can get their act together could have as big an impact as any strategic decisions Van Gundy makes tonight.
|05.14.09 at 9:03 am ET|
“We can’t give up hope,” Howard told reporters on Wednesday. “We’re in this series to win it. We are going to win this series.”
Howard criticized head coach Stan Van Gundy following the Magic’s Game 5 loss. He questioned why he wasn’t being allowed to ‘dominate,’ as he barely touched the ball down the stretch of their fourth quarter collapse. Howard and Van Gundy seemed to have reached a resolution.
“Getting the ball shouldn’t be a big issue for me,” Howard said. “There’s more ways to dominate the game than scoring. Me and coach, we talked about that. I just can’t let my frustrations get to the point where I’ll say anything.”
Game 6 will be played tonight in Orlando. The Celtics lead the series 3-2.
|05.13.09 at 3:13 pm ET|
Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer believes otherwise:
He said he’d seen every one of the Magic’s playoff games and talked about how difficult they are to defend with Dwight Howard and his strong shooters. But there was an edge when James discussed the Celtics.
“We know everything about Boston; we have a history with them,” James said.
James considers last season Game 7 one of the most challenging he has ever played. Then the NBA’s MVP left his desire for a rematch up to interpretation.
“I’m a competitor; I thrive on going against the best,” James said. “I love playing against the best. You make your answer out of that.”
|05.13.09 at 2:05 pm ET|
|05.13.09 at 1:32 pm ET|
Paul Pierce was selected to the All-NBA Second Team the league announced today. Pierce had been on three All-NBA Third Teams (2001-02, 2002-03 and 200708), but this this is the first time he has cracked the Second Team barrier.
No other Celtics made First, Second or Third team All-NBA, although Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon R0ndo also received votes. This was not one of the captain’s better seasons statistically, but he earned praise for keeping the team together during an injury-plagued second half and for several clutch performances.
LeBron James was the only unanimous selection.
G: Dwyane Wade
G: Kobe Bryant
F: LeBron James
G: Brandon Roy
G: Chris Paul
F: Paul Pierce
F: Tim Duncan
C: Yao Ming
G: Tony Parker
F: Carmelo Anthony
F: Pau Gasol