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Game 3: Third quarter update 05.08.09 at 9:10 pm ET
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After 33 minutes, the Celtics were down by 18 points. Three minutes later, the Magic lead is down to nine and suddenly we have a very interesting fourth quarter ahead of us. Orland’s penchant for blowing leads late in games is becoming legendary and they have set themselves up for another test.

The change came when Doc Rivers inserted Stephon Marbury into the lineup and he began to pressure Anthony Johnson fullcourt. The shots that were coming so easy previously, were suddenly nowhere to be found and when Rajon Rondo picked Johnson’s pocket and race down the floor for a dunk the Celtics had cut a humongous lead down to a manageable size.

All of this came without Dwight Howard on the floor, who has been a force at both ends of the floor tonight.

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Game 3: First quarter update at 7:41 pm ET
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All things considered, the Celtics ought to be reasonably happy to be down just 22-18 after one quarter. Orlando came out with a lot of energy and scored 14 points on layups and dunks, while the Celtics missed eight of their first 10 shots.

Ray Allen is the high scorer with six points, but nothing has really come easy for the Celtics. Two positive stats to note: Boston has three offensive rebounds and has kept the Magic off the offensive glass, and the Celtics had only two turnovers. Also, none of the Celtics has more than one foul, while Anthony Johnson and J.J. Redick both have two.

The Magic are playing without Rafer Alston, who was suspended by the NBA for his slap on Eddie House so depth is a concern for them at the point behind Johnson.

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Game 3: Early update at 7:26 pm ET
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At the first media timeout, the Magic are running the Celtics off the court and have an early 14-6 lead. Orlando has clearly been the aggressor, making seven of their first 10 shots, while the C’s are shooting just 2-for-10 and settling for jump shots. J.J. Redick picked up two quick fouls, which brought in rookie Courtney Lee who missed the first two games of the series.

There’s been a lot of contact early, but few calls and this crowd is energized. As my can driver so presciently pointed out there is a feeling that the Magic aren’t getting the proper respect, and the fans around us have been helpfully pointing out how much the Celtics are getting away with off the ball.

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Game 3: Setting the scene at 7:10 pm ET
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The Magic gave out a bunch of those clapper things to fans and they are up and ready. One of them even took the time to tell Rajon Rondo how little he thinks of him during the national anthem. The Magic mascot, who appears to be a mammal of indiscriminate genus and species, descended from the rafters and there were some fireworks to cap it all off, which have left a haze over the court. The fireworks were much like the ones the Celtics used to use until the commissioner urged them not to.

So, we’re ready to go.

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Live from Orlando at 5:32 pm ET
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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.

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Alston suspended for Game 3 05.07.09 at 7:08 pm ET
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Orlando guard Rafer Alston has been suspended for Friday night’s game against the Celtics for an open-hand slap to the head of Eddie House following a House three-pointer late in the third quarter of Wednesday’s 112-94 Boston win in Game 2.

Alston said afterward that his slap was in retaliation for an elbow that House threw to his stomach after hitting the three-pointer. House was not suspended. Alston’s suspension was one of two handed out by the NBA on Thursday at Lakers guard Derek Fisher was suspended for Game 3 against the Rockets for his hit on Houston Luis Scola.

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Doc: Hold off on suspending Alston at 2:45 pm ET
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WALTHAM – If you think that Celtics coach Doc Rivers thinks Orlando’s Rafer Alston should be suspended for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semis Friday night, think again.

While he believes Alston should be disciplined for the open-hand head slap that he gave Eddie House after his third three-pointer of the night, he doesn’t feel that Orlando should be put at a competitive disadvantage for Friday night’s game at Amway Arena.

“You can’t go around slapping people, otherwise all the players will no longer punch they’ll just start slapping,” Rivers began. “And if they say you can get away with it, they’ll just say, ‘I didn’t punch him, I just slapped him.’ I don’t believe in suspensions personally, I really don’t. I know that sounds nuts. I wish everyone got fined and suspended in the regular season. I really don’t like guys getting suspended during the playoffs.” Read the rest of this entry »

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