|05.04.09 at 9:54 pm ET|
After playing uninspired ball in the first half, the Celtics came out stronger in the third quarter, but failed to cut into Orlando’s lead all that much and trail 78-62 heading into the fourth quarter. Rajon Rondo led the charge, scoring 10 of his 12 points in the quarter, with all of it coming at the free throw line. He even challenged Dwight Howard with a tough drive to the basket, but the Magic made five 3-pointers in the quarter, which kept the C’s at bay.
The Celtics are still shooting just 38 percent from the floor, while Orlando is at 49 percent. It’s a simple game sometimes. They need to make more shots and force the Magic to miss if they’re going to get back into it.
|05.04.09 at 9:01 pm ET|
There was a glimmer of hope when Stephon Marbury began playing like the Marbury of old. He drove on Dwight Howard, pulled up for jumpers, and scored eight points in nine minutes. That was the only highlight of the second quarter for the Celtics.
With Paul Pierce sidelined by three fouls, the Celtics shut down on offense. They settled for outside jumpers, stopped penetrating, and got lost in the Magic’s passing game. Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo shot a combined 2-for-14 in the first half. Kendrick Perkins shot 1-for-5 as well. Even though their bench contributed (15 points), that could not compensate for their inability to stop the Magic from getting easy shots (52.4% FG).
At halftime … Magic 54, Celtics 36
|05.04.09 at 8:28 pm ET|
Maybe it was the long series with the Bulls, or maybe it was the layoff for the Magic, or maybe it’s just the first-game feeling out process, whatever the reason we’re off to a slow, even sluggish start in this one with Orlando holding a 24-19 lead.
The Celtics racked up five turnovers already, and the Magic have been active playing the passing lanes. Orlando hasn’t been much better, turning it over three times. But, as expected, Rashard Lewis has been a tough cover for the Celtics. He leads both teams with 12 points. Dwight Howard, however, is 0-for-3 and missed a hook from point-blank range. Paul Pierce has seven for the Celtics and Big Baby Davis scored six.
One other note: The Celtics in-game operations have been playing extensive clips from the first round series on the Jumbotron. Might be time to let it go. The crowd is nowhere near as hyped as they were for Game 7. That’s to be expected, but it’s a new series now.
|05.04.09 at 8:18 pm ET|
Like a couple of boxers, both teams came out a little gingerly, trying to size each other up. Two things have stood out so far.
First, the Celtics are not going to double Dwight Howard in the post when Kendrick Perkins is on him. That doesn’t allow the Magic’s perimeter shooters to get open looks off the double team, and simply reinforces how important it is for Perkins to stay out of foul trouble. Perk picked up a loose ball foul when he was a little too aggressive and knocked Rashard Lewis down.
Second, the Celtics are going right at Howard. Big Baby Davis, Perkins and even Ray Allen have taken it hard to the basket. Ray got his shot swatted into the third row for his troubles, but don’t look for the C’s to stop going at him. Howard picked up a charge 45 seconds into the game (Big Baby took it) and the Celtics would love to get him into foul trouble.
|05.04.09 at 7:35 pm ET|
They will renew acquaintances for the next two weeks when they battle in the low post in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Celtics and Magic.
But ever since the two came into the league four seasons ago, the two have always shared a bond that only NBA big men can share.
“Me and Kendrick, we worked out together when we first got into the NBA at a big-man camp, with Clifford Ray actually,” Howard said before Game 1 on Monday night. “I think he saw how hard I worked and how skinny I was when I first got drafted. And how was I was able to grow into myself and my game.”
Clifford Ray would be the Celtics coach dedicated to coaching big men. Quite the advantage for Perkins as he looks for any and all advantages.
“I always battled,” Howard said. “Back then we had a lot fun together working out and just hanging out and just learning about each other.”
Kendrick Perkins said earlier in the day that he isn’t losing any sleep worrying about guarding Howard. And Howard said on Monday evening that Perkins has earned the right to be that confident.
“I’ve seen him grow over the past couple of years and he’s done an excellent job for their team,” Howard said.
|05.04.09 at 7:33 pm ET|
Just because Kevin Garnett isn’t playing doesn’t stop him treating every trip to the TD BankNorth Garden like it’s gametime. As he does before every game, Garnett firmly planted his hand on the Celtics shamrock on his way to the trainers room prior to Game 1 of the Celtics-Magic series. Even though he was wearing a suit instead of a uniform, he kept his personal Celtics tradition going. Click here to watch Garnett explain his routine.
|05.04.09 at 7:10 pm ET|
Part of what makes Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy such an engaging guy to be around is his complete and utter refusal to tap-dance around a question. Ask him something he doesn’t like and he’ll let you know he doesn’t care for it.
Example: In his pregame chat with the press before Game 1, Van Gundy was asked if fatigue would be a factor.
“Who’s tired?” he asked.
Well, the Celtics presumably.
“They played one more game than we did,” Van Gundy said.
Yes coach, but all those overtimes too.
“It’s irrelevant,” he said. “It doesn’t matter. You guys do the analysis, we just play the games.”
OK then. But Van Gundy did not hold back his praise when asked about Kendrick Perkins.
“What’s Kendrick’s always been, in my opinion, is one of the better low post defenders in the league,” Van Gundy said. “He’s a good rebounder. A tough guy. Where his improvement has come has been on the offensive end of the floor. Before, this year, and even at the beginning of the year, pretty much his offense was limited to put-backs and some dishes on drives from (Rajon) Rondo. Now the can throw him the ball on the low post. Before he could just turn one way. Now he can go in either direction. He’s obviously a guy who has worked extremely hard.”
Van Gundy saved his best work though for the inevitable JJ Redick-Ray Allen question, as in how in the heck is Redick going to stay with Allen. (Not that it was asked that way, but that’s what everyone is thinking).
“I’ve been asked about the JJ-Ray Allen matchup a lot,” Van Gundy began. “I don’t know what to say about it. It’s two guys guarding each other. The funny thing is the perception you have about players. I didn’t hear a lot of those conversations in the Bulls matchup with Ray Allen and I saw him get 51 on them. My guess is JJ can probably hold him to that.”
Well-played, coach. Well-played.