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Game 3: Third quarter update

05.08.09 at 9:10 pm ET
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After 33 minutes, the Celtics were down by 18 points. Three minutes later, the Magic lead is down to nine and suddenly we have a very interesting fourth quarter ahead of us. Orland’s penchant for blowing leads late in games is becoming legendary and they have set themselves up for another test.

The change came when Doc Rivers inserted Stephon Marbury into the lineup and he began to pressure Anthony Johnson fullcourt. The shots that were coming so easy previously, were suddenly nowhere to be found and when Rajon Rondo picked Johnson’s pocket and race down the floor for a dunk the Celtics had cut a humongous lead down to a manageable size.

All of this came without Dwight Howard on the floor, who has been a force at both ends of the floor tonight.

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The Courtney Lee experience

05.08.09 at 8:36 pm ET
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Courtney Lee wasn’t supposed to play a lot tonight. So much for that plan. The Magic rookie guard suffered a fractured sinus in Game 5 of Orlando’s series with Philadelphia after he caught an elbow from teammate Dwight Howard and had to be fitted for a mask.

He worked out in Boston, but Magic coach Stan Van Gundy told the press that he wasn’t sure what Lee would be able to give his team back in Orlando. Perhaps Van Gundy was posturing, or maybe the coach didn’t have much choice after losing Rafer Alston to a suspension, but Lee played in the first half and he played a lot.

Lee logged 20 minutes and made an immediate impact scoring 10 points and making several energy/hustle plays. Lee recorded a +12 in plus/minus, second only to Rashard Lewis at +15.

Doc Rivers was pretty sure Lee would get some big minutes in this game. “He’s a tough kid,” Rivers said, and he’s made things tough on the Celtics thus far.

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Game 3: Halftime Update

05.08.09 at 8:33 pm ET
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Just as the Magic have a tendency to do, the Celtics fell into the trap of outside shooting in the first half of Game 3. Rather than attack the paint like they have done successfully so many times, the Cs are settling for jumpers. They’re not making them either. The Magic are outshooting the Celtics 56% to 41% from the field, while the Celtics have attempted 11 three-pointers and made just two.

The surprise of the night so far is the performance by Anthony Johnson. The Celtics were expected to gain an advantage with the suspension of Rafer Alston but it’s Johnson who is leading the Magic offensively. He has hit a game high five field goals (5-7 FG, 11 points).

None of the Celtics, on the other hand, have posted in double figures. Rajon Rondo scored a team-high nine points.

Foul trouble will be the key to the second half. Brian Scalabrine already picked up four personals and Glen Davis has been called for three. None of the Magic have more than two fouls. They shot 13-for-16 from the line.

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Game 3: First quarter update

05.08.09 at 7:41 pm ET
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All things considered, the Celtics ought to be reasonably happy to be down just 22-18 after one quarter. Orlando came out with a lot of energy and scored 14 points on layups and dunks, while the Celtics missed eight of their first 10 shots.

Ray Allen is the high scorer with six points, but nothing has really come easy for the Celtics. Two positive stats to note: Boston has three offensive rebounds and has kept the Magic off the offensive glass, and the Celtics had only two turnovers. Also, none of the Celtics has more than one foul, while Anthony Johnson and J.J. Redick both have two.

The Magic are playing without Rafer Alston, who was suspended by the NBA for his slap on Eddie House so depth is a concern for them at the point behind Johnson.

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Game 3: Early update

05.08.09 at 7:26 pm ET
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At the first media timeout, the Magic are running the Celtics off the court and have an early 14-6 lead. Orlando has clearly been the aggressor, making seven of their first 10 shots, while the C’s are shooting just 2-for-10 and settling for jump shots. J.J. Redick picked up two quick fouls, which brought in rookie Courtney Lee who missed the first two games of the series.

There’s been a lot of contact early, but few calls and this crowd is energized. As my can driver so presciently pointed out there is a feeling that the Magic aren’t getting the proper respect, and the fans around us have been helpfully pointing out how much the Celtics are getting away with off the ball.

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Game 3: Setting the scene

05.08.09 at 7:10 pm ET
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The Magic gave out a bunch of those clapper things to fans and they are up and ready. One of them even took the time to tell Rajon Rondo how little he thinks of him during the national anthem. The Magic mascot, who appears to be a mammal of indiscriminate genus and species, descended from the rafters and there were some fireworks to cap it all off, which have left a haze over the court. The fireworks were much like the ones the Celtics used to use until the commissioner urged them not to.

So, we’re ready to go.

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No Rafer, but no change

05.08.09 at 6:57 pm ET
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You’ve seen it a hundred times before. A starter gets suspended or misses a game because of injury, and his backup comes in and lights it up. The Magic will be without starting point guard Rafer Alston who was suspended by the NBA for his slap at Eddie House at the end of the third quarter in Game 2. Anthony Johnson, who defines the term “crafty veteran” will get the start in Alston’s place with Ty Lue likely to handle the backup minutes.

“(Johnson) doesn’t change how we play,” Doc Rivers said. “But they’re going to rally the troops. You saw them do that with Dwight Howard (who missed Game 6 of the Philly series). It just happens. We have to be ready for that.”

Along those lines Rajon Rondo spent a good bit of time studying film on Johnson. “I don’t think they really change that much,” he said. “He’s a professional point guard. Johnson is more of a scorer than Rafer. A lot of people underestimate him, but I’ve been doing my research. He runs the show. He’s been around for a long time. I’ve got to be ready.”

Earlier on Friday. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy told reporters that the NBA was being inconsistent with how it ruled on plays like Alston, and he pointed to Rondo’s foul on Brad Miller as an example.

“I don’t care about that stuff,” Rivers said. “I really don’t.”

Rookie Courtney Lee is also expected to see some time tonight. He is wearing a protective mask to protect his broken nose that he suffered when he caught a wayward elbow from Howard in the Philly series.

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