|Close out special||05.14.09 at 1:05 pm ET|
ORLANDO – Doc Rivers could live without suspense for once.
On their way to a 17th title, the Celtics head coach watched nervously on the sideline as his team was pressed to seven games against Atlanta and Cleveland before finally learning the art of closing out a seven-game series in Game 6 in Detroit. They repeated the feat in Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the Lakers.
Fast forward to the present, and the urgency to seal the deal in Game 6 tonight in Orlando is obvious. While courageous, gritty and determined, clearly these Celtics are weary and thin. They had that chance in Game 6 in Chicago before the epic triple-overtime loss spoiled their plans.
Now, a team that is relying on a remarkably thin bench has a chance to rest up for Cleveland. Read the rest of this entry »
|Are the Magic unraveling?||at 10:32 am ET|
Van Gundy had told his players to switch one-through-four and Dwight Howard did exactly that when Paul Pierce came off the pick and roll. That left Glen Davis open in the corner and after his shot went through it was all over but the apologies. After Van Gundy’s mea culpa Howard absolved the coach of blame saying that the Magic win as a team and lose as a team. “We can’t blame Stan,” Howard said.
Howard was singing a different tune after Game 5 when he questioned the coach’s strategy and substitution pattern. Stuff like this happens all the time in the NBA, but what makes this situation unique is that this is the first time Howard publicly second-guessed his coach as Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi pointed out.
Van Gundy’s attempted to play down the situation yesterday, saying that he and Howard had a long talk and everything was copacetic, but Howard wasn’t the only one who questioned Van Gundy’s decision to try to burn the clock.
“We kind of played stall ball and you can’t really do that with a 24-second shot clock,” J.J. Redick said.
“We just stopped,” said Hedo Turkoglu. “They’re an experienced team. They’ve been here before. They know how to make decisions, especially in that kind of a game.”
Orlando has all kinds of questions heading into Game 6 beyond whether or not the coach and players are still on the same page. Courtney Lee has been more effective than Redick; does he start in his place?
Rafer Alston finally had a decent game, but his production has been spotty at best. If he falters does Van Gundy go with Anthony Johnson who has played well–but who also had a blowup with the coach during Game 3–or use Turkoglu at the point?
Tony Battie gave the Magic good minutes in the fourth quarter and Howard seemed to indicate that he wanted him on the floor instead of Rashard Lewis, who has been Orlando’s most effective player.
If the Magic can get themselves straightened out they have a very good chance of sending this series back to Boston for Game 7 because they do have several matchup advantages, particularly with Lewis. But on the other hand, they haven’t been able to maximize those advantages.
The Celtics know they got away with one Tuesday night, but they also have complete confidence in what they are doing.
“They say a team that has the most luck is the one that works the hardest,” Ray Allen said. “We end up looking lucky because of that.”
On the floor these teams are evenly matched, but the last 48 hours have brought all of the Magic’s internal issues out into the forefront. Whether they can get their act together could have as big an impact as any strategic decisions Van Gundy makes tonight.
|Starbury to the rescue||05.13.09 at 1:05 am ET|
On Tuesday night, Glen Davis felt like he was back in high school, watching one of his NBA idols tear it up on the floor.
Only this time, Davis had a much better view than on TV. Davis was playing next to Stephon Marbury as the reserve guard came off the bench to re-energize his Celtic teammates at the most crucial point of the playoffs so far, helping deliver a stunning 92-88 come-from-behind win over the Orlando Magic in Game 5 at the Garden.
“I grew up watching Stephon Marbury,” Davis said. “And there’s no doubt, I know he can play this game. Everyone’s seen Stephon Marbury play this game. He’s just got to get into the rhythm and the flow of our team. It’s hard to come from a (place) where he dominated the ball when he played as a star in this league and to come to where there’s a system and you’ve got to pass and create.”
Marbury scored 12 points in 14 minutes and helped the Celtics finally find their groove against an Orlando defense that looked solid, if not dominant, for three quarters. Read the rest of this entry »
|Game 5: Third quarter update||05.12.09 at 9:53 pm ET|
After three, the Magic have a 67-59 lead. We’ve played 36 minutes and the Celtics have yet to get into any kind of a groove offensively outside of Paul Pierce, who has scored 17 points and looks like the captain of old. Fortunately for the Celtics, the Magic have not been able to pull alway despite holding Boston to just 36 percent shooting.
It’s been a strange game to say the least. Rafer Alston is having his best game of the series by far with 16 points, five rebounds and five assists and Rashard Lewis has been able to score at will, and still Orlando can’t get any distance between it and the Celtics.
Other notes: With 6:32 left, Rajon Rondo picked up his fourth foul on a drive to the basket when Marcin Gortat stepped in to take the charge. Stephon Marbury replaced him but after missing two shots (including a wide-open 3-pointer) Doc Rivers subbed in Eddie House. Pierce was the nominal point guard, but it was another missed opportunity for Marbury.
The Celtics were able to get untracked a little after Dwight Howard went to the bench with his third foul. Howard has scored only six points, but he has 16 rebounds and has been a hulking presence in the lane. He has essentially been operating as a floating zone. He’s back out there to start the fourth.
Outside of Rondo, Rivers didn’t go to his bench once in the third quarter. Brian Scalabrine is in for Glen Davis, but Pierce, Kendrick Perkins and Ray Allen have gone the distance. Allen is still struggling (2-for-9).
|Game 5: Energy shift||at 8:47 pm ET|
Credit the Celtics bench, particularly Eddie House and Brian Scalabrine with getting them back in the game. Trailing 33-23 and shooting just 29 percent from the floor, the Celtics closed within five after Scalabrine knocked down a 3-pointer and House came up with a steal on the wing and a layup.
It’s been a struggle for Boston to get its shots off. The Magic are double and triple team everything that moves and the Celtics haven’t been able to make jump shots. Coming out of the timeout the Celtics have a small lineup on the floor–Rajon Rondo, House, Ray Allen, Scalabrine and Davis.
|Game 5: First quarter update||at 8:31 pm ET|
What can you say about a quarter in which the home team shoots 6-for-22 and the visiting team’s All-Star center grabs nine rebounds and scores zero points? The operative word here is “bizarre.”
The Celtics came out with a lot of energy and seemed a step ahead of Orlando, but after getting an early 8-4 lead, it’s been all Magic. Orlando has been aggressively helping on any and every Celtics drive to the basket and that has let to a lot of kick-out jump shots. Make that a lot of kick-out jump shot misses.
Ray Allen’s cold shooting has continued (0-for-4) and Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce are each 1-for-4. The Magic, meanwhile, have relied on Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu who scored 14 points and combined to go 7-for-9 from the floor.
|Game 5: Early update||at 8:20 pm ET|
The Celtics came out with great energy and then Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy called a timeout three minutes in and things have slowed to a standstill. At the 4:45 mark the Magic have a 10-8 lead but this game is more notable for the number of misses (17 combined) then makes (eight).
It is also notable for a lack of calls on both sides. The refs have called just four fouls and there has been an awful lot of clutching and grabbing. Speaking of clutching a grabbing, they just showed the Bruins scoring a goal on the Jumbotron. Maybe that will liven things up a little.
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