|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.
|05.04.09 at 2:24 pm ET|
Rivers calls Orlando his home when he’s not coaching the Celtics. So, when the Celtics hit the road for Games 3 and 4, he’ll be going home.
“I get to go home and sleep in my own bed,” Rivers said Monday morning. “I’m in bed every night in my own bed, that’s not bad in a series. It’s rare that you can say that.”
But as for coaching in the playoffs against the franchise where he cut his NBA coaching teeth for four-plus seasons, including NBA Coach of the Year honors in 2000, Rivers said there’s no extra motivation. Rivers was fired after a 1-10 start to the 2003-04 season. Read the rest of this entry »
|05.04.09 at 1:32 pm ET|
Wondering what will work for the Celtics against the Magic and what won’t? We garnered the opinion of one scout who has seen both teams extensively to break-down what Orlando has to offer:
“He’s a really good three-point shooter so you you’re going to want to put the pressure on him because he’s not a great finisher when he drives. He will look to pass more than he looks to score when going to the hoop. I think (Rajon) Rondo can keep him under control. He isn’t Derrick Rose.”
“You have to limit his dunks. It sounds stupid, but you have to make him make offensive moves and score and not just give him dunks. I think you can attack him defensively because he is at his best when he is off the ball. That’s where he gets most of his blocks.”
“He’s the key to the whole series. It’s going to be tough for Big Baby (Glen Davis) to guard him because he can stretch the floor. That’s where (Brian) Scalabrine comes in. He’s going to play a big role. You have to limit his three’s but he is also a tough match-up for the bigs, that’s why using (Kevin) Garnett on him was so valuable. I thought Philly did a good job on him with Thaddeus Young.”
“He’s a very good three-point shooter who can get into foul trouble. He could have trouble trying to guard (Paul) Pierce. He’s really been able to make that transition from starter in Golden State to a valuable guy off the bench who can post-up and drive.”
“A three-point shooter, that’s all he is. You can really attack him defensively. He’s terrible defensively.”
“He comes in for Howard and supplies a lot of energy. He won’t hurt you with his shooting but he is good on the pick-and-roll, and gets garbage buckets. You just have to match his energy. He’s not a great shooter, and not a good post-up player, but he is a good rebounder. He’s one of the biggest reasons they beat Philly in that series’ last game.”
“He’s a solid backup point guard who is a pretty good penetrator and can hit an open three. He isn’t, however, a very good defender.”
“Very good three-point shooter who will also take you off the dribble. He’s a really solid player. Bigger guards can post him up a bit.”
“He’s just a very good player, and has done a good job with Pierce. Paul has some trouble guarding him because he has a very good first step and he’s a big guy who can shoot over you.”
KEY TO THE SERIES
“Two things: You have to limit the Magic’s three-point shooting, and limit the number of dunks by Howard. They aren’t going to move the ball like Chicago, but they will spread you out with guys outside and look for Howard inside.”
— ROB BRADFORD
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