|Live from Orlando||05.08.09 at 5:32 pm ET|
I was in the cab for less than 30 seconds when the cabbie turned to me and said, “How come the Magic don’t get any respect?” Yup, Green Street hit the road and is live from the Amway Arena where everyone here wants to know why Orlando gets no love. They also want to know why it’s so freaking hot down here (apparently it’s not supped to be this warm until June.)
I suggested to the driver that if the Magic wanted some props they could get some by beating the champs. “Huh,” he said. “I don’t even respect them that much.” And there you have it.
We’ll be back with updates from the locker room, in-game and postgame analysis.
|Game 2: Third quarter update||05.06.09 at 10:03 pm ET|
And now for some defense. Having blitzed Orlando with a red hot first half in which they built a 16-point lead, the Celtics lead is up to 86-64 after holding the Magic to just 5-for-15 shooting in the third.
The fireworks came late in the quarter after Eddie House dropped a 3-pointer on Rafer Alston and Alston whacked House in the back of the head. The two squared off and were assessed double technical fouls. It was clear the officials didn’t see the play as it developed, but they reviewed it after the quarter and let the call stand.
The Celtics are doing all this despite Paul Pierce playing just 10 minute due to foul trouble. No matter. House picked up the slack for the captain, scoring 11 points and making all five of his shots. He’s 9-of-10 for the game.
Lost in all that was Rajon Rondo recording another triple double. He capped it off with a thunderous dunk right through the heart of the Magic defense. The Celtics have 12 minutes to finish off the split.
|Game 2 update: First quarter||05.06.09 at 8:34 pm ET|
In a complete role-reversal the Celtics have come out and taken it to Orlando in the opening quarter with a 26-21 lead. Rajon Rondo racked up eight points, there rebounds and four assists, while Ray Allen scored eight points to go with five rebounds and Kendrick Perkins–who has more than held his own against Dwight Howard–has five points and five boards. The only downside for the Celtics is Paul Pierce who picked up two quick fouls and also banged knees with Hedo Turkoglu. He was limping noticeably while he was on the court.
The Magic are being bailed out by J.J. Redick. Yes, that J.J. Redick who drained three 3-pointers and scored 11 points. Rashard Lewis, meanwhile, is just 1-for-4 from the floor and Orlando is shooting 32 percent.
There were two interesting subs by Doc Rivers. First, he brought in Brian Scalabrine for Big Baby Davis just two minutes into the quarter. Davis appeared unhappy with the move and he and Rivers had a 15-second chat on the sideline when he cane out. The other sub was when Doc called on Stephon Marbury to replace Pierce. That forced the Magic to guard three guards (hello, Chicago) and forced Turkoglu to chase Marbury around.
Also: McLovin is in the house. Repeat: McLovin is in the house.
|Game 2 pregame: Rajon Rondo||05.06.09 at 7:39 pm ET|
What was Rajon Rondo’s reaction to the news that he had been named to the NBA’s All Defensive Team Second Team? A shrug, basically. “I take pride in my defense,” he said. “It’s nice to be recognized.” It was his only individual goal, Rondo said, but still it didn’t really faze him, as almost nothing does. He did, however, advocate for Kendrick Perkins who did not get a spot on either the first or second team, despite receiving a first place vote. “I thought Perk should have been on one of those teams,” Rondo said.
A couple of other highlights from Rondo:
On gaining weight: He said that he weighs 179.2 pounds, up from 163 when he entered the league, which he attributes to growing up, working out with trainer Bryan Doo and eating healthy. Rondo said he spent more time in the weight room last summer than he has in the past. Rondo said that the trainers have told him he’s quicker than he was last year, but he doesn’t really believe it.
On the place he got booed the most in college: “Kentucky.” Wait, you mean where you played in college? “Yup. Tough crowd. I guess I just played bad.”
On his game: “I haven’t shot the ball well. I’m still getting rebounds, still getting assists. I’m just missing shots. They’re the same shots I took in the first five games.”
|Getting ready for Game 2||05.06.09 at 10:40 am ET|
Doc Rivers told the press yesterday that the Celtics Game 1 comeback was fool’s gold, and somewhere Stan Van Gundy is probably saying roughly the same thing to his Magic team about their 28-point lead. Moral victories are for Little League. All we know from Monday is that Orlando got its win and the Celtics have to get one back tonight.
But there are a few left-over pieces from Monday that have been the talk of the town, so let’s dive in.
1. Should Brian Scalabrine start?
Short answer, no. You’ve heard this a thousand times before, but it’s not who starts it’s who finishes in the NBA. Also the fact that Scalabrine can spell Paul Pierce, Big Baby Davis or even Kendrick Perkins in a pinch makes him much more valuable coming off the bench.
The Celtics have a tough matchup with Rashard Lewis. They know it. Lewis knows it. Even the dude behind the basket with the chicken on his head knows it. Scalabrine did a good job in the second half by “doing his dirty work early,” as he said. And by that he meant keeping Lewis from his preferred spot on the floor before he gets the ball. Scal will play. He’ll probably play a lot, but his versatility makes him a better option coming in off the bench.
2. What’s up with Ray Allen?
Not much. Sometimes you just have to give credit to the defensive scheme, and the Magic paid a lot of attention to the Celtics perimeter shooters. ESPN’s David Thorpe nicely captures a moment when J.J. Redick raced to find Eddie House after the Celtics grabbed an offensive board before the ball could be swung back to House.
Allen said after the game that he didn’t get a lot of rhythm shots, which had a lot to do with Orlando’s defense. Look for the Celtics to run him off the usual double screens and work extra hard to get him some space.
3. Will Rajon Rondo attack?
He has to. All the Celtics have to. One of two things will happen when they drive hard to the basket and encounter Dwight Howard. He will either send their shot into the third row or he’ll get in foul trouble.
The Celtics took 26 free throws in Game 1 and all of them came in the second half. It wasn’t the officiating either, as Rivers noted after the game. They were much more aggressive in the final 24 minutes, and if there is a carryover from the comeback it should be the knowledge that they won’t beat the Magic taking jump shots.
4. Will McLovin make an appearance?
I honestly don’t know, but if you haven’t seen this photo yet on Ball Don’t Lie, you’re missing out.
|Game 1: Third quarter update||05.04.09 at 9:54 pm ET|
After playing uninspired ball in the first half, the Celtics came out stronger in the third quarter, but failed to cut into Orlando’s lead all that much and trail 78-62 heading into the fourth quarter. Rajon Rondo led the charge, scoring 10 of his 12 points in the quarter, with all of it coming at the free throw line. He even challenged Dwight Howard with a tough drive to the basket, but the Magic made five 3-pointers in the quarter, which kept the C’s at bay.
The Celtics are still shooting just 38 percent from the floor, while Orlando is at 49 percent. It’s a simple game sometimes. They need to make more shots and force the Magic to miss if they’re going to get back into it.
|Game 1: First quarter update||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.