The Boston Celtics are the 2010 Eastern Conference champions, beating the Orlando Magic 96-81 in Game 6 to advance to the NBA finals, where they will play the winner of the Suns-Lakers series, with Game 1 set for Thursday night.
It was a balanced scoring attack by the Celtics in the Friday night clincher, with Paul Pierce’s 31 points leading five players in double figures.
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
POINT GUARD PLAY
Rajon Rondo (12 first-quarter points) returing to his Sports Illustrated cover level of play was far from a shock (and what happened to the SI jinx?), but the stunner of the game — and the series — was the effort offered by Nate Robinson. A virtual non-factor since his arrival in Boston, in Game 6 Robinson was the player that Doc Rivers said would win them a game in this series. Robinson exploded in the second quarter, scoring 13 points. His defense was also a huge factor, as he harassed and frustrated Jameer Nelson.
The two Celtics point guards combined for 25 points, four assists and zero turnovers in the first half.
PAUL PIERCE: MVP OF THE SERIES
Remember the “What’s wrong with Pierce?” talk during the Cleveland series? Turns out it was probably just a matter of getting away from LeBron James. Pierce was terrific in these six games, averaging 24.3 points and dominating Vince Carter on both ends of the floor. The Celtics needed Pierce to be aggressive in Game 6 and he answered the call, hitting an aggression double double with 13 rebounds and 10 free-throw attempts.
WINNING THE BATTLE OF THE 3′S
The Magic rely on the 3-point shot perhaps more than any good team in NBA history. When they shoot it well (see Game 5) they are nearly impossible to beat. Stopping (or at the very least limiting) the triples was a must for the Celtics in Game 6. Mission accomplished, as Orlando converted on just 6-of-22 attempts. But the Celtics own 3-point shooting was superb on Thursday, hitting 45.5 percent (10-of-22) in the win. Ray Allen and Pierce combined to hit 7-of-12, and Robinson hit a trio of 3′s off the bench.
JAMEER NELSON: NON-FACTOR
The key for Orlando in Games 4 and 5, Nelson struggled mightily in his final game of the season, hitting just 5-of-14 shots. He was also unable (and at times, it seemed, unwilling) to penetrate and find open 3-point shooters or Howard for the lob-and-dunk. He simply could not match up with Rondo in the first or Robinson in the second (and was clearly rattled by Robinson’s emotion and trash talk.)
BIG BABY SHAKES IT OFF
No signs of post-concussion problems for Glen Davis, who brought his usual energy in his 17:23 on the court, scoring six points with seven rebounds. Big edge to the Celtics bench (19 points, 13 rebounds) in Game 6.