|05.24.10 at 9:53 pm ET|
The Orlando Magic came to play Monday night in Game 4 after being embarrassed in Game 3 and made a point of showing it early on.
They took a 51-47 lead at halftime over the Celtics, amazingly their first such lead after 24 minutes in the series so far.
Orlando, which shot 61.5 percent in the first quarter, built their largest lead of the game at 10 points, 42-32, with 5:47 left in the second quarter.
The Magic were led by Dwight Howard, with 17 points and six rebounds.
The other thing to keep a close eye on in the second half is the condition of Rajon Rondo, who left with a minute to go with trainer Bryan Doo to treat muscle spasms in his right leg.
|05.24.10 at 8:30 pm ET|
Kendrick Perkins couldn’t recall the exact diagnosis for his right wrist injury. What he knew was that he tweaked it catching himself on a fall in Game 3. But he had heard so much medical terminology from Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte since then that he couldn’t keep track. He settled on a sprain, though he was not one hundred percent certain. It didn’t matter to him, though. He was going to play through it, no matter what it was.
The same sentiment was expressed just one locker over, where Tony Allen downplayed Doc Rivers‘ revelation of a twisted ankle Allen suffered in the first quarter of Game 2. Even though Rivers said the injury affected him in Game 3, Allen isn’t letting it hold him back on Monday night.
‘It ain’t stopping me from playing the next game,’ he said prior to Game 4. ‘It’s just pretty sore. I’m sure there are a lot of guys who would come out right now and be honest with you and say there’s something wrong with them. But Doc spoke on my injury and I’m here to tell you all he’s a concerned dad. But no I’m cool, though. I’m cool for the most part. I’m playing in the next game and I’m ready to go.’
|05.24.10 at 8:12 pm ET|
Throughout the Eastern Conference finals the Magic have seemed to be a step behind the moment. Game 1 came and went and the Magic seemed unprepared for the Celtics physical play. Then down 2-0 Orlando was run off the court early by the Celtics and never recovered.
Now that it’s literally a must-win game for Orlando, Stan Van Gundy was asked if he would know if his team was ready early in the game.
“I don’t even think that’s the real question,” Van Gundy said prior to Game 4. “I think the question will come, whether it’s early or later on in the game, the question comes whenever you get hit, especially when you’re in this situation.”
The Magic didn’t react well to that Celtics punch in Game 3 and Orlando has faced criticism that they laid down with their season on the line. Doc Rivers wasn’t going near that one.
“I don’t know,” he said. “We’ve always said keep your own bedroom clean, let everyone else clean their own. It would be great if it was us because that would mean that we’re playing well, but I can’t answer that.”
Things can change fast in this league. Take the Celtics who spent most of the regular season answering those types of questions. Now they are an efficient, focused machine. It was only a week ago when people were saying the same thing about the Magic.
|05.24.10 at 12:32 pm ET|
Magic guard Jason Williams let off a little steam in the locker room following the Celtics‘ Game 3 rout Saturday night. Williams wasn’t happy that reporters were crowding his locker in an attempt to listen to an interview with Matt Barnes. Here’s the video of Williams’ rant.
|05.24.10 at 12:27 am ET|
WALTHAM — The sudden disappearance of Rashard Lewis is not the only thing missing from the Magic team that defeated the Celtics in last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals.
This time around they are playing without Hedo Turkoglu, who left Orlando last summer and signed a multi-year deal with the Raptors. Even though the Magic acquired Vince Carter in his place — a role Carter’s teammates say he has filled well — the Celtics have noticed a difference in matchups without Turkoglu on the court.
It is one they have benefited from in the conference finals.
‘Definitely with Turkoglu, he adds a size matchup being at 6-10 he can play the 2, the 3, the 1. Obviously, a walking matchup problem,’ Paul Pierce said following practice on Sunday. ‘I just think the things that he does playing with the ball and off the ball in the post, he’s one of the more versatile small forwards in the NBA and one of the toughest that I’ve seen to guard. Them not having him, I think it really works in our favor.’
Last season Turkoglu averaged over 16 points in the seven-game semifinals series. Not only did he score, he made it easier for his teammates to do so by spreading the floor. (In the deciding Game 7, Turkoglu scored 25 points while dishing 12 assists.)
Take Lewis as an example. This postseason series he is averaging just five points while shooting 25 percent from the field and going 1-for-13 from 3-point range. Even though he got more open looks last season because of Kevin Garnett‘s absence, the Celtics guarded him differently when Turkoglu was on the floor.
‘Turkoglu, one of the things I think he does so well is he’s a facilitator,’ said Doc Rivers. ‘He’s a big shot maker, but he is such a great passer with length. It’s tough to get deflections off Turkoglu, where all their other guys, you can get your hands up and you can get deflections. Turkoglu and LeBron [James] probably make the best cross-court passes in the league. So that’s been a little bit different for us. And Rashard is now at the 4, where really we played Turkoglu more at that position even though he was at the 3.’
|05.23.10 at 3:41 pm ET|
‘I believe we deserve all the credit,’ Ray Allen said following practice on Sunday. ‘It’s only two teams playing. We’re putting them in the situation that they’re in, and we’re adjusting and trying to find the ways that we can confuse them as much as we can, and make it tough defensively on them and offensively. They’re not going out there and doing it to themselves.’
Following their Game 3 loss, the Magic conceded they have been outhustled and outplayed the entire series. Players were baffled by their collapse, saying they have not seen the real Magic team yet. Others said they are beating themselves.
But the Celtics are not paying attention to the downtrodden morale of their opponent.
‘None of my concern,’ said Kevin Garnett. ‘That’s them. That’s how they think. Nothing more, nothing less than that. I can’t really be worried with what they’re thinking over there and how they’re playing or what’s going through their head.’
The Celtics have made it this far by staying honed in on each other the entire postseason. Some questioned whether or not they would even survive the first round, let alone make it to the NBA Finals. Now that they are just 48 minutes away from advancing, they are focused on the confidence they have in one another, not the uncertainty felt by the Magic.
‘I didn’t have any doubts in this team,’ said Paul Pierce. ‘I never doubted us because I felt once we got to the playoffs, guys would be able to settle in a little more, travel wouldn’t be as much, we could really focus in on the team, and really do our scouting report. And I think just looking at a seven-game series, I always thought it’d be tough to beat us four times.’
The Heat and Cavaliers have already found out just how tough it is. The Celtics hope to teach the Magic the same lesson on Monday night.
|05.23.10 at 12:09 pm ET|
As we all know by now, the Celtics have become a different team than the one they were in the regular season and the numbers bare that out.
Fair warning: This post uses non-traditional metrics to look for statistical trends. They are taken straight from the Celtics page on basketballreference.com and are by no means the end all and be all of analysis. As the guru of advanced basketball stats Dean Oliver once told me, numbers are useless if they don’t help tell a story, so we’ll use these to help paint a picture of how the Celtics have turned things around.
The important thing to remember is that these stats are adjusted for pace (possessions used during a game), which simply allows us to compare the numbers found in the box score to other players on other teams, regardless of how fast or slow they play. If you’re interested in understanding more, B-R has a very useful glossary page.
As you might expect, some interesting trends have developed with the Celtics over the course of 14 playoff games: Read the rest of this entry »
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