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Game 7: What to watch for 05.17.09 at 12:23 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Here are two things that have absolutely no bearing on tonight’s Game 7.

The Celtics‘ franchise 17-3 record in home Game 7’s: Bill Russell, John Havlicek and Larry Bird aren’t walking through that door and if they are they’ll be sitting in the loge seats. Patrick Ewing’s prediction: As other have pointed out, Ewing’s prognosticating skills are about as solid as the guy at Suffolk Downs who plays a can’t miss hunch on the No. 7 horse in the third race.

But there are more than enough subplots to go around for tonight’s penultimate game between the Celtics and Magic. Here are five.

1. UNDER PRESSURE

Normally the home team carries the weight of expectations in a Game 7, but not tonight. The Magic clearly have the heaviest burden because their entire season is based on taking the proverbial next step and if they can’t do it against a beaten up and wounded Celtics team their season will have to be considered a disappointment. ESPN ran an online roundtable discussion and six of the seven writers said the Magic had the most to lose (specifically Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy), and  five of the seven picked the Celtics to win. Until proven otherwise this is the Magic’s lot in life: They need to win, but no one expects them to.

Taking that next step can be the hardest in a team’s evolution. Some 20 years later the old Bad Boy Pistons still talk about getting past the Celtics as the most important step in their quest toward winning an NBA championship. Last year’s Celtics skipped the formalities, but they were a unique exception in that their three most important players entire careers had been about building toward that moment.

“That was one of the things we talked about before (last year),” Doc Rivers said after the team’s hour-long shootaround Sunday morning. “This is not a team that needs a test run to win it the following year. We were going to win it now and that’s what we did.”

Orlando has taken a more traditional approach, advancing to last year’s conference semifinals before getting worn down by the Pistons. This is the Magic’s time to either continue that progression or risk treading water.

Pressure has been a funny thing in this series. Orlando almost blew a huge lead in Game 1 and then it failed to close out a winnable game at home in Game 4. Add in the  Magic’s Game 5 collapse and that seemed to validate every negative perception they carried into this series.

Then in Game 6 the Celtics were unable to close out the series in what was a very winnable game. That was either poor execution or a statement on the Magic’s resiliency. It’s striking that even after that performance, very few people believe they can win tonight. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Game 7, Magic,
Allen at a loss 05.15.09 at 1:33 am ET
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ORLANDO – The good news for Ray Allen is that, win or lose on Sunday night in Game 7, he has seen the last of Amway Arena until next season.

After his three games there this series, he’s probably hoping he never plays there again.

In the three road games, Allen went 11-for-37 from the field while missing ALL 17 of his three point attempts.

“I try to sit back and let the game develop and let it come to me,” Allen said in the wake of the Game 6 loss at Amway Arena. “And time after time, you just sit back and wait and it never really does. I just try to find a way to have an impact out there. Offensively, you keep fighting it, fighting it and try to get to the free throw line. For the most part, I do things to try and make other guys better like setting screens and occupy my guy.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Game 6, Game 7, Magic
Rondo: “I guess we just choked” 05.14.09 at 11:39 pm ET
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ORLANDO – Rajon Rondo didn’t mince words following a bitter 83-75 loss to the Orlando Magic that has forced Game 7 Sunday night at TD Banknorth Garden.

“We didn’t run out of gas,” Rondo said. “I guess we just choked. We turned the ball over and things did not go our way. We did not get stops. We turned the ball over and things did not go our way. We did not get stops. Turnovers led to a lot of points. We did not get to the free throw line like we wanted to. We only got there 13 times. We were not the more aggressive team tonight. They fought back and stuck with it. We did not get the punch out.”

Rondo pointed to the lack of execution in the second half as one big reason for blowing a 10-point third quarter lead.

“We did not get any rhythm at all and that caused some turnovers,” Rondo added. “They capitalized off our turnovers.”

The Celtics committed 22 turnovers, leading to 29 points. Orlando turned it over 10 times and Boston scored just three points off Magic miscues the whole night.

Read More: Celtics, Magic, Rajon Rondo,
Pierce to the rescue at 9:34 pm ET
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ORLANDO – Call it a Pierce rally.

With his team down 72-67, the Celtics captain began a personal run, hitting a jumper at 6:00. Then another 30 seconds later and when he drained a long jumper from just inside the three-line at 4:48, the Celtics had recaptured the lead, 73-72. This time, it was his turn to fist pump the crowd, which he did.

Read More: Celtics, Magic, NBA playoffs,
Game 6 third quarter blog thoughts at 9:10 pm ET
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ORLANDO -If the Magic lose the game, look at the free throw line. Orlando missed five of their first six of the third quarter and had made just 9-of-17 through three. The Celtics still led, 62-61, in the lowest scoring three quarters of the series so far. Rajon Rondo has an amazing 15 rebounds as the Celtics are outrebounding the Magic, 37-29.

Dwight Howard began the quarter by getting fouled by Ray Allen but missed his two free throws.

9:24 Glen Davis picks up his fourth but Rashard Lewis misses another two free throws.

Some other tidbits: At 2:56 in perhaps the most bizarre reaction ever to a neutral jump ball call, Magic guard Rafer Alston kissed the folically-challenged head of Marc Davis. Alston blocked the shot of Kendrick Perkins from behind and Alston immediately pleaded his case for a traveling call. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Magic, NBA playoffs,
Game 6 second quarter blog thoughts at 8:18 pm ET
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ORLANDO – Kendrick Perkins started to show some frustration in his battle with Dwight Howard. He lost a battle for a loose ball rebound with 1:05 remaining. When he voiced his disgust to veteran referee Dan Crawford, he was whistled for a technical.

The Magic closed the first half on a 12-4 run to tied the game. Rashard Lewis’ floater hit the rim twice before falling through with 29 seconds remaining to tie the game, 44-44. Paul Pierce hit two free throws with six seconds to go before Rafer Alston hit one of two with 2.6 ticks remaining as the Celtics took a 46-45 lead to the locker room. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Amway Arena, Celtics, Magic, NBA playoffs
Game 6 First Quarter Blog thoughts at 7:36 pm ET
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ORLANDO – Some early thoughts from Amway Arena. Doc Rivers, who stressed the importance of his big men to play disciplined before the game,  sent an early message to Glen Davis. The hero of Game 4 would not return the rest of the quarter as the Celtics shot out to a 25-22 lead after one, quieting a crowd that was already nervous.

At 10:41, after getting Boston’s first basket on a layup, Davis pulled out after committing first foul and replaced by Brian Scalabrine. At 9:29 Dwight Howard dunked for his first basket. At 9:09, Howard with a put-back dunk. At 8:33 Perkins as shot clock expired. At 7:46 Howard gets easy layup then taunts and gets a technical foul.

Howard started 3-for-4 while the rest of the team started 0-for-9 before Rafer Alston drilled a three-pointer midway through the quarter.

Magic were ice cold in first quarter and shot just 9-for-26.

Read More: Amway Arena, Celtics, Magic, NBA playoffs
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