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Three things that went right and wrong in Game 2 05.18.10 at 11:53 pm ET
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The Celtics knew the Magic would come out fighting in Game 2 after they were dealt a blow on their own court in Game 1, and the Magic proved them right on Tuesday night. In spite of owning an eight-point lead after three quarters, Boston let the Magic back into the game in the fourth and nearly watched a win slip away. But a key bucket by Rajon Rondo and some big free throws by Paul Pierce gave the Celtics a 95-92 win (click here for the full recap) and a 2-0 series lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals.

Three things that went right

Celtics found Pierce early — and often: Paul Pierce scored 22 in Game 1, and matched that by halftime in Game 2. After being guarded by a scrappy Quentin Richardson and defensive-savvy LeBron James in previous rounds, Pierce took advantage of his matchup against a more offensive-minded Vince Carter. He was nearly perfect in the first quarter, going 4-for-5 from the floor, 2-for-2 from 3-point range, and 2-for-2 at the line for 12 points in just eight minutes. He followed it up with another 10 points in the second quarter despite being knocked to the ground by Dwight Howard on a flagrant foul. Pierce finished the night with a team-high 28 points (8-for-16 from the field), thanks in part to his ability to draw fouls (9-for-11 at the stripe).

Rondo had his way: Rajon Rondo was oblivious to the big bodies being thrown at him in the paint. He attacked the hoop as if the lane were empty to burn the Magic at the basket. Rondo scored 25 points (10-for-16 from the field and 5-for-6 at the line), including a critical jumper to give the Celtics a 93-90 lead with 1:32 to go. In addition to his offensive contribution, Rondo ran the floor with eight assists, two steals, and just two turnovers. He outplayed Jameer Nelson, who finished the game with nine points (on 4-of-12 shooting) and just four assists.

Celtics go home with the edge: The Celtics return to Boston just two games away from eliminating the Magic and heading to the NBA Finals. While the Magic have shown they can fight back late, they have been unable to do so on their own court. If they can’t build an early lead against the Celtics in Games 3 and 4, they will be forced to overcome a late deficit in front of the Garden crowd.

Three things that went wrong

Magic owned the fourth quarter … again: The Magic overcame a late-game deficit during the regular season against Boston, and nearly pulled off the feat in Game 1. Their determination did not change in Game 2. The Celtics led by as many as 11 points in the fourth quarter, but the final 12 minutes became prime time again for the Magic. They depleted the Celtics edge and regained the lead, 90-89, with 3:35 left in the game. The Celtics were forced to start from scratch and rebuild an advantage with minutes to go. They caught a break when Vince Carter missed a pair of free throws that could have brought the Magic within one with 30 seconds left, but they cannot rely on that moving forward. Even though they pulled out the win, they were outscored 22-17 in the fourth quarter. This is the second game in which they have fumbled a late edge (they were outscored 30-18 in the fourth in Game 1) and must play 48 minutes of basketball moving forward to avoid another surge by the Magic.

Foul trouble remains a problem: The Celtics struggled with foul trouble early on, just as they have been for most of the postseason. Kendrick Perkins and Paul Pierce were whistled for two personals in the first quarter. By halftime, Perkins and Glen Davis had three fouls while Pierce, Ray Allen and Rasheed Wallace had two apiece. (This was not lopsided, though. The Magic were called for one more foul in the first half.)  Fast forward to the fourth quarter, where first it was Kendrick Perkins, then Paul Pierce who fouled out. Rasheed Wallace sidelined by five fouls of his own, Glen Davis was forced to be the big man in the middle. Even though Dwight Howard didn’t take advantage of size over Davis, the Celtics were vulnerable in the paint. The absence of Pierce also posed a potential detriment to the C’s, as they were without one of their most clutch shooters late in a close game.

Dwight did damage: Dwight Howard more than doubled his Game 1 performance with a game-high 30 points on Tuesday night. Howard shot an efficient 9-for-13 from the floor and 12-for-17 from the free throw line. Foul troubles prevented Kendrick Perkins and Rasheed Wallace from staying on the court as long as the Celtics would have liked to defend Howard. (On a positive note for the Celtics, they limited Howard to just eight rebounds.)

Fast Break: Celtics-Magic 05.16.10 at 6:30 pm ET
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Final Score: Celtics 92, Magic 88
Series: Celtics 1-0

The Celtics looked to be on cruise control for the first three quarters before their offense went cold and the Magic nearly pulled off a comeback in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics held on for a 92-88 victory in Orlando, but the win did not come without uncertainty down the stretch.

It was fitting that a game featuring a pair of First Team All-Defensive Players (Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo) would start off as low-scoring duel. Neither team shot the ball well in the first quarter, combining for just 36 points. The Celtics took a 22-14 lead after shooting 37 percent compared to 20 percent by the Magic.

Ray Allen led all players with 8 points while Pierce added seven in just eight minutes (he was sidelined with two early fouls). Howard led the Magic with six points, although the C’s defense forced him to shoot 1-for-5 from the field.

In spite of five boards from Howard, the Celtics had a more balanced attack on the glass. The outrebounded the Magic, 16-10, behind five boards from Kevin Garnett, four from Ray Allen, and three from Rondo.

The Celtics went on a 7-0 run at the start of the second quarter to push the lead up to 15, 29-14. The Magic got back in the game, though, as Marcin Gortat provided a spark off the bench in place of Howard. He got to the basket with ease and scored six points in three minutes. The Magic cut the deficit to 33-24 before Ray Allen and Tony Allen pushed the C’s lead back up to 41-32 at halftime.

Jameer Nelson opened the third quarter by knocking down eight points (including two 3-pointers) in less than two minutes. The Magic swapped buckets to keep the game within three points before the Celtics went on a 17-2 run and took a 62-44 lead with just five minutes left in the quarter. Pierce scored 13 points in the third alone while the Celtics outscored the Magic, 33-26, to go up 74-58 after three.

The Celtics watched a 16-point fourth quarter lead dwindle to just five points, 88-83, with 1:30 to go. The Magic were aggressive coming out of the third, going on an 11-5 run to cut the Celtics lead to 10 points. The C’s responded with a run of their own to push their edge back into double digits. But the Magic continued to chip away as the quarter went on and took advantage of a Celtics offensive drought.

The C’s were scoreless for five-and-a-half minutes in the fourth. During that time, Ray Allen lost the ball on a fast break against Nelson, resulting in a jump ball between Rondo and J.J. Reddick with a minute left. Reddick won the jump and retained possession as the ball went out of bounds off of Garnett at the Magic’s basket. Howard made a layup to bring the Magic within three, 88-85, before Pierce drew a foul with 12 seconds remaining and pushed the Celtics lead to five. Carter drew a foul and intentionally missed the second shot, which a racing Nelson laid in with eight seconds left. Ray Allen iced the Celtics win with a pair of free throws as Lewis missed a 3-pointer as time ran out.

Game 1 Notables:

High Scorers:
Celtics –
Ray Allen: 25 points (8-16 FG, 2-5 3PG, 7-7 FT)
Magic –
Vince Carter: 23 points (9-18 FG, 5-6 FT)

Defensive Stoppers:
Celtics –
Kevin Garnett (11 rebounds)
Magic –
Dwight Howard (12 rebounds, 5 blocks)

Point Guard Battle:
Celtics –
Rondo: 8 points (4-10 FG), 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 steal, 3 turnovers
Magic -
Nelson: 20 points (8-18 FG, 2-7 3PG), 2 assists, 9 rebounds, 3 turnovers

Halftime Wrap: Celtics-Magic 05.16.10 at 4:49 pm ET
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It is fitting that a game featuring a pair of first team All-Defensive players would be a low-scoring duel.

The Celtics lead the Magic, 41-32, at halftime.

Neither team shot the ball well in the first quarter, combining for just 36 points. The Celtics took a 22-14 lead after shooting 37 percent compared to 20 percent by the Magic. Ray Allen led all players with 8 points while Pierce added seven in just eight minutes (he was sidelined with two early fouls). Dwight Howard led the Magic with six points, although the C’s defense forced him to shoot 1-for-5 from the field. In spite of five boards from Howard, the Celtics had a more balanced attack on the glass. The outrebounded the Magic, 16-10, behind five boards from Kevin Garnett, four from Ray Allen, and three from Rajon Rondo.

The Celtics went on a 7-0 run at the start of the second quarter to push the lead up to 15, 29-14. The Magic got back in the game, though, as Marcin Gortat provided a spark off the bench in place of Howard. He got to the basket with ease and scored six points in three minutes. The Magic cut the deficit to 33-24 before Ray Allen and Tony Allen pushed the C’s lead back up to 41-32.

Ray Allen leads all players with 12 points at halftime. After shooting 84 percent in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Hawks, Howard is 1-for-5 from the floor. Vince Carter has 10 points for the Magic, who are 0-for-9 from 3-point range. The C’s have a 24-21 advantage on the boards.

Big Baby won’t look back at ‘Shovegate’ 05.14.10 at 9:20 pm ET
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Last year Glen Davis sparked controversy after bumping into a 12-year-old Orlando Magic fan following his game-winning shot during the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

On Sunday, he will return to Amway Arena for the Celtics Conference Finals matchup against the Magic, and he isn’t looking back.

“I’m not worried about that,” he said. “I’ve been back during the year. It is what it is, but just play the game. Everything happens for a reason. Mistakes happen.”

The incident (sensationalized as “Shovegate”) prompted the boy’s father to email the NBA league office and demand an apology from Davis. But Davis has said all along that the bump was caused by game-winning excitement, not intentional harm. Even though the father dropped his complaint, the incident still tarnished Davis’ reputation in Orlando.

The jeers don’t bother Davis, though, especially if they come as a result of a winning performance.

“Everybody gives me a couple of boos here and there, but I don’t mind that,” he said. “I love it. It means I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Glen Davis, Orlando Magic,
Report: Cavs fire head coach Brown 05.14.10 at 1:53 pm ET
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The Cleveland Cavaliers have fired head coach Mike Brown a day after being eliminated the by Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, according to SI.com. Brown’s management of the team was criticized throughout the six-game series. Yahoo! Sports reported there are talks of University of Kentucky head coach John Calipari being named the Cavs next coach, but Calipari tweeted that he would not be leaving the school next year. Si.com also reported Danny Ferry will remain general manager of the Cavs “for the forseeable future.”

Read More: Cavaliers, Mike Brown, NBA,
Fast Break: Celtics – Cavs 05.11.10 at 11:08 pm ET
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Final Score: Celtics 120, Cavaliers 88

The Celtics limited LeBron James to just three field goals as they handed the Cavaliers their worst home loss in playoff history, 120-88, in Game 5 Tuesday night in Cleveland. James shot 3-for-14 from the floor and scored nine of his 15 points at the free throw line. The Cavs were minus-22 with James on the court.

Rajon Rondo got off to a slow start and was scoreless in the first half. But he proved the Cavs still don’t have an answer to stop him — he scored 16 points in the last two quarters. Paul Pierce broke out of his offensive slump with 21 points (9-for-21 from the field) and recorded a double-double with 11 rebounds. Ray Allen led all players with 25 points after a 6-for-9 performance from behind the arc. Kevin Garnett scored 18 points while Glen Davis added 15 off the bench.

With the commanding win, the Celtics took a 3-2 lead as the series heads back to Boston for Game 6 on Thursday.

First Quarter: Cavaliers 23, Celtics 20

After his remarkable Game 4 performance, Rajon Rondo was scoreless through the first quarter. The point guard shot 0-for-1 from the field with one rebound, two turnovers, and no assists in 11 minutes. But this was not because of a change in defense. The Cavaliers started Anthony Parker, not LeBron James, on Rondo. Just as notably, James was also scoreless (0-for-2 from the field) through 12 minutes. So who was scoring? Instead of Rondo and James, Pierce had six points, tied for a team-high with Kevin Garnett. Foul trouble began early once again for the Celtics as Kendrick Perkins picked up two personal fouls halfway through the first quarter.

Halftime: Celtics 50, Cavaliers 44

The Celtics bounced back from a 3-point first quarter deficit to outscore the Cavaliers, 30-21, in the second. The biggest question entering Game 4 was, who would shut down Rondo? (And as always, containing James was a concern.) But the biggest story of the half was the lack of scoring by both. Neither player made a field goal — Rondo was scoreless while all of James eight points came at the line (0-for-4 from the field). Pierce, who has struggled offensively the entire series, led all players with 14 points. Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett were right behind with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Mo Williams and Shaquille O’Neal scored seven points apiece for the Cavs. But the Celtics were not in the clear. Their unit of bigs were been hampered by foul trouble — Rasheed Wallace had four personals while Perkins and Glen Davis were both called for three.

Third Quarter: Celtics 80, Cavaliers 63

Rondo exploded for 12 points in the third quarter to give the Celtics a 17-point lead heading into the fourth. The C’s came out halftime on a 6-0 run led by a pair of Ray Allen 3-pointers, and continued on a 23-8 stretch. James scored his first field goal of the game off of a fast break dunk. But he continued to struggle, shooting 2-for-11 from the floor (12 points overall). Allen led all players with 22 points (including 5-for-8 on threes) and Garnett and Pierce were tied with 16 points. Shaquille O’Neal was the Cavs’ leading scorer with 13 points. The Celtics outshot the Cavaliers, 49.2 percent to 39.6 percent through three.

Fourth Quarter: Celtics 120, Cavaliers 88

Glen Davis scored 8 points in a span of 1:11 as the Celtics built their lead up to 14 points with a 10-3 run. James scored just three points in the quarter before Mike Brown sat the starter. Emotions still ran high, though, even with the game out of reach for the Cavs. Rondo and Mo Williams were called for double-technical fouls with a 23-point differential. Both coaches cleared their benches and Marquis Daniels and Shelden Williams scored the final six points for the C’s.

Third Quarter Wrap: Celtics – Cavs 05.11.10 at 10:14 pm ET
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Third Quarter Score: Celtics 80, Cavaliers 63

Rajon Rondo exploded for 12 points in the third quarter to give the Celtics a 17-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. The C’s came out halftime on a 6-0 run led by a pair of Ray Allen 3-pointers, and continued on a 23-8 stretch.

LeBron James scored his first field goal of the game off of a fast break dunk. He continues to struggle, shooting 2-for-11 from the floor (12 points overall).

Ray Allen leads all players with 22 points (5-8 3PG) and Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are tied with 16 points. Shaquille O’Neal is the Cavs’ leading scorer with 13 points. The Celtics are outshooting the Cavaliers, 49.2 percent to 39.6 percent.

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