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To survive, or to grow

05.10.09 at 7:58 pm ET
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Stephon Marbury sat by himself in the Celtics locker room. At the other end of the room Rajon Rondo was seated in front of the TV watching film of Game 3. Between Marbury and Rondo was about 50 feet of stony silence. There was no time for idle chitchat in the hours before Game 4, and the mood was deadly serious, even for a locker room that is not exactly known for being a barrel of laughs.

During his pregame press conference Doc Rivers was short and to the point. Any defensive adjustments? “We have to stay in front of them,” Rivers said, not that he would have given away the gameplan in any event.

Across the way, Stan Van Gundy was waxing philosophical about the position his team finds itself in. It’s no secret that the Magic have developed a bad reputation for not handling success all that well. With his team just hours away from possibly taking a commanding 3-1 lead in its own building, Van Gundy addressed it.

“I don’t think confidence is, or ever will be, a problem at any point,” he said. “No matter what happens. being able to keep our composure when things get tough. That’s where we keep gaining a playoff maturity. As you go along every win gets tougher and tougher. You’ve got two wins in the second round against the defending champs. That’s great. The third one will be harder and the fourth one will be the hardest of all to get. We have to understand that.”

Van Gundy stopped for a second and continued, “I’ll be interested to see our approach tonight. We have been at our best, as I think Boston has, when things don’t look as good. At some point if you want to grab control of a series, you have to do it in back to back games.”

This is a crucial test for the Magic. Are they mature enough, grown up enough even to handle success? That’s the key question and from Van Gundy’s answer it seems that he’s not even sure about it himself. Across the way Rivers was asked about having a veteran team, but he didn’t agree with the assessment.

“I don’t know if this is considered a veteran team,” Rivers said. “Last year was a veteran team with Kevin (Garnett) playing and (James) Posey and PJ Brown. last year they just knew where to be. You kind of knew who you were going to be every night. Not that you knew that you would play well every night, but you knew what they were going to give you every night.”

And so for the Celtics this too is a crucial test. Can they rally themselves one more time and win a game on the road that while not technically a “must win” is as close as you can get to that distinction. Throughout the playoffs last year, and even the Bulls series, there has not been a point when the Celtics had to go into someone else’s building and win a game.

Those are the stakes as Game 4 tips off.

Read More: Celtics, game 4, Magic,

Game 4: What to watch for

05.10.09 at 3:21 pm ET
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Is it too much to suggest that the Celtics are playing for their season tonight in Orlando? Probably, if only because two of the next three games would be back at the Garden, but NBA history is not kind on teams who find themselves down three games to one. Only eight teams have been able to pull off the trick and the Celtics would do well to avoid trying to be the ninth.

After finding so much success with a smaller, quicker lineup back in Boston, the Magic adjusted in Game 3 using rookie Courtney Lee as a counter and moving Rashard Lewis to the post where he took advantage of his size and scoring touch. Not even Dwight Howard’s foul trouble slowed down the Magic onslaught.

The Celtics caught a huge break when the NBA decided not to upgrade Kendrick Perkins‘ Flagrant 1 foul, but that was about the only thing that has gone right for them in Florida.

“It’s so easy for us to fall back on being tired, injured, all the that stuff,” Doc Rivers said. “But nobody cares about that. You’re on the floor and guys have to play. We have a chance to do some great things if we set our minds to it.”

How can the Celtics regroup? Here are three things to watch for tonight. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, game 4, Magic,

Did Howard learn from Garnett?

05.09.09 at 4:47 pm ET
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Before the start of the playoffs Kevin Garnett teamed up with Dwight Howard for adidas to share some postseason knowledge. KG revealed the Celtics blowout of the Lakers in Game 6 of the NBA Finals solidified last season’s championship run for him. After the Magic’s 21-point win over the Celtics in Game 3, it looks like Howard has picked up on a few things. For more videos, click here.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett,

Doc on the passing of Chuck Daly

05.09.09 at 2:53 pm ET
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When Doc Rivers got the Orlando Magic coach job in 1999 he wasn’t the first coach to know about it. Chuck Daly was way ahead of him. Daly called Rivers into the office he was about to vacate and laid it all out for him–who to keep, who to trade, who to fire.

There wasn’t much Chuck Daly didn’t know about basketball. A lifer who started coaching high schools, he worked his way up through an assistant job at Duke and then on to head jobs at Boston College and Penn before landing his first NBA gig as the head coach of the woeful Cleveland Cavaliers. Daly didn’t last long there, but he found basketball nirvana with the Detroit Pistons where he led the Bad Boys to back-to-back NBA titles before later stints running the Nets and Magic.

Daly died Saturday morning in Jupiter, Fla. after battling pancreatic cancer. He was 78 years old.

“He loved it,” Rivers said. “He was a coach. He and Red Auerbach were very similar. You’d think when you called Red he’d give you a complicated answer, but they saw the game so simply. It’s a tough loss.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Doc: ‘They played great. We played awful’

05.09.09 at 2:34 pm ET
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Doc Rivers didn’t mince words Saturday afternoon when asked to dissect his team’s performance in Game 3:

“I was in a awful mood when I turned (on the film), and whatever is past awful, I was in that (mood) afterward,” Rivers said. “They played great. We played awful. Our defense was awful. I thought we were soft. They were the aggressors, we were the retaliators. They picked us all game. Other than that, it was a wonderful night.”

Rivers showed the tape to his coaches and then decided that he would let Armond Hill and Tom Thibodeau edit the bad stuff down to a more manageable size to show the players. “Probably the best move we made all night,” Rivers joked.

Of primary concern is getting Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Eddie House better spacing and looks. “I introduced our bigs to Ray and Eddie and Paul,” Rivers said. “We’ve got to get those guys open. That’s their job.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Game 3, Magic,

Updated: No penalty for Perk

05.09.09 at 2:18 pm ET
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Update: The verdict is in from the NBA and there will be no suspension for Kendrick Perkins for Game 4 against the Magic, ESPN’s Chris Sheridan reports.

Sheridan reports that NBA will leave the Flagrant 1 call as it stands, which means Perkins will be in the lineup for Game 4.

The Celtics opted not to practice Saturday, and instead conducted a film session and walk-through at the team hotel in downtown Orlando. Topic number one on everyone’s mind was Perkins’s status after he was assessed a Flagrant 1 foul for hitting Orlando’s Mickael Pietrus up high during Friday’s Game 3.

“I didn’t even know who it was,” Perkins said. “I was just trying to get through a pick. It wasn’t like I saw Pietrus and tried to hit him with an elbow. It wasn’t nothing like that.”

The Magic have already had two players suspended during the playoffs. Dwight Howard was out for Game 6 of their first round series when he hit Philly Sam Delambert with an elbow and Rafer Alston was suspended for Game 3 of this series. LA’s Derek Fisher was suspended for Friday’s Game 3 of the Lakers-Rockets series, and all this has Doc Rivers more than a little ticked off. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Kendrick Perkins, Mickael Pietrus,

Game 3: Final Wrap

05.08.09 at 9:58 pm ET
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The Magic were in control the entire night as they defeated the Celtics, 117-96, to take a 2-1 series lead in Orlando. The Celtics got off to a slow start and found themselves down 54-41 at halftime. After cutting the lead to single digits, they failed to take advantage of Dwight Howard’s five fouls. Even with the Magic’s big man on the bench, the Celtics were never able to put together a threatening offensive run. Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 27 points (14-14 FT). Ray Allen shot just 3-for-13 (8 points). Rashard Lewis led all scorers with 28 points. Game 4 will be played on Sunday at the Amway Arena.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic,
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