|All eyes on Howard||05.18.10 at 7:37 pm ET|
ORLANDO –Dwight Howard finished second in the MVP voting and was voted to the NBA’s First Team. He is a monster defender, as evidenced by his Defensive Player of the Year award.
But sometimes Howard can’t win, because too often in this game players get judged by their offensive numbers, and by any measure his were sub-par in Game 1. He scored 13 points on 3-for-10 shooting and turned it over seven times, which is a direct reflection on the Celtics defense.
Howard’s been getting some heat for his play, with some suggesting that he needs to score 30 points in Game 2 to justify his standing among the league’s elite. Stan Van Gundy, for one, disagrees.
“No, and here’s one of the problems,” Van Gundy said. “I think that it is a tough thing and you have to be a very strong person today if you are one of the best players. Whether it’s Dwight Howard or LeBron James because they will tear you apart in the media and say, ‘You need to do this, this and this to prove to us,’ and that may not be what your team needs you to do to win the game. Are you about your reputation at siliencing your critics, or are you about doing what you need to do to help your team win?”
Still, Kendrick Perkins is aware of the scrutiny, and what it might mean for him.
“It’s scary in a way,” Perkins said. “If he comes out and tries to do too much and is on point, it’s scary. Everybody goes through this at one point. I don’t think he played a bad game in my opinion. He’s doing what he’s supposed to do defensively. What happens is, y’all gas the man up and get him mad. Then I come out and I got my hands full.”
Van Gundy noted that part of the burden lies with him and the rest of the Magic. While he didn’t say it, look for Orlando to try and get Howard moving toward the basket on the pick and roll to make Perkins try and keep up with him. But if Howard has another game like he did in the opener, the criticism will surely follow.
“He’s going to be have to just be able to deal with the criticism, as unfair as it is right now,” Van Gundy said. “He’s a great player. We wouldn’t be anywhere near the level that we have been without him. For whatever reason, no matter how many times you say it, it doesn’t matter that the Boston Celtics turned things around with their defense in the playoffs. It doesn’t matter how many times people say that defense wins. The bottom line is the media won’t stop judging guys on their offense.”
If nothing else, Perkins can empathize with Howard.
“Dwight’s a good dude,” he said. “He’s got to focus on what he’s supposed to be doing. He can’t worry about what other people say.”
He’s got enough to worry about with Perkins, and maybe vice-versa tonight.
|Legler on D&C: Sheed’s ‘D’ key for C’s||at 10:15 am ET|
ESPN NBA analyst Tim Legler joined the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning to talk about the Celtics-Magic series. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Legler pointed to the much-maligned Rasheed Wallace as the pivotal figure in the C’s Game 1 victory. “You have to have guys that not only physically are capable of playing Dwight Howard in single coverage as much as you can, you have to have guys that are emotionally ready for it and want the challenge. Boston’s got a few guys like that,” Legler said. “I thought Rasheed Wallace was the key to their victory in Game 1. I thought he got in the head of Dwight Howard. I thought his nastiness, his edge was something Dwight Howard wasn’t prepared for, ready for. Rasheed, you think of him as a 7-foot 3-point shooter and a finesse player, but that’s not the case on the defensive end of the floor. He has been, in the 15 years he’s been in the league, he’s been one of the pre-eminent post defenders we’ve had. He loves the challenge.
“His versatility defensively I thought was the key to the first game, and it will be the key to the series moving forward. If [Kendrick] Perkins and Rasheed can play [Howard] that successfully one-on-one and you stay out on the 3-point shooters, Orlando’s in big trouble.”
Legler said the pressure is on Orlando’s big man to come up big. “Dwight Howard has to do more,” Legler said. “He has to be a guy who can knock down a face-up jump shot once in a while. I’ve never seen him even take one, much less make one. He doesn’t have enough ability to go to a sky hook or go to a turnaround jump shot in the post. He’s a guy that simply has to overpower you and he has to catch the ball in great position to be able to do that, and the Boston Celtics are determined not to let that happen. … What is his efficiency going to be when he catches the ball? It wasn’t there in Game 1. It’s going to have to get a lot better.”
Legler said the Celtics’ balance makes them difficult to defend, but he points to Ray Allen as the player the Magic should focus on stopping. Said Legler: “Ray Allen, to me, is the barometer for the Celtics. He always has been. He’s a guy, his activity offensively, when he’s running off those screens and he’s getting clean looks, or he’s getting looks in transition, that loosens up everything. … Ray Allen, to me, is a guy that you’ve got to get under control and make sure he’s not getting up in the mid-20s. Because when he’s there, the Celtics rarely lose.”
Asked for his prediction about where LeBron James will sign as a free agent, Legler said he would rank the favorites as Chicago, New York and Cleveland.
|Magic know formula to beat Celtics||11.21.09 at 12:05 am ET|
BOSTON – It has been nearly a year since the Magic faced a healthy Celtics squad. On Friday they proved they can beat the Celtics with or without Kevin Garnett.
“It’s very important especially when they are full strength to show you that we’re still a good team,” Rashard Lewis told WEEI.com after the Magic’s 83-78 victory (Recap). “You know they’re a great team. This is only one game, it’s early in the season and I definitely would not count them out at all. Every time we play the Boston Celtics it’s going to be a tough, tough game.”
The Celtics were 0-2 last regular season against the Magic without Garnett and were eliminated from the Eastern Conference Semifinals by the Magic without him. But the truth is, the Magic have held their own against the Celtics in recent years. They improved to 5-3 against the Cs since the 2007-08 regular season.
“I think the biggest thing playing their team is not allowing them to get a lot of second chance points, hold them to one shot, and then run,” said Dwight Howard.
The Celtics actually outshot the Magic 87-to-70 from the floor, but the Magic shot 10-for-22 from three-point range while Celtics were a mere 2-for-19. Vince Carter attempted 29 field goals — “All of them weren’t open, I’ll be the first to tell you that,” he said with a laugh — the same number as Ray Allen and Paul Pierce combined. Stifling the Celtics offense was a must-do for the Magic.
“You’ve got to play defense,” said Lewis. “I think every time we play this team we really buckle down on the defensive end and we try to take their main guys out – Ray Allen at the three-point line, and we try to crowd Paul Pierce and make other guys beat us. Tonight I think we did a good job of that.”
The Celtics lost their lead just three minutes into the first quarter, and the Magic held off a 17-12 fourth quarter run after Rasheed Wallace tied the game at 78 apiece. Lewis said his team regained their composure after coach Stan Van Gundy called a timeout and buckled down, realizing how easily the Celtics can fight back from a double-digit deficit. The Magic diminished the Celtics homecourt advantage and held on in the TD Garden’s playoff atmosphere.
“We’re not going to do that [back down] to anybody,” said Jason Williams. “I mean, we feel that we’re just as good as anybody else. So if we come out and do what we’re supposed to do, we’re going to win more times than not.”
On Friday night, like they have so many times in recent games against the Celtics, the Magic came out on top. Neither team can read too much into this victory, though. While the Magic know how to beat the Celtics, but they also know either team is capable of winning at any time.
“I don’t want to say we got their number because anything can happen on any given night,” said Lewis. “Tonight the ball kind of bounced our way and towards the end of the game we were able to get away. It’s not like we blew them out. We won by like four points so it could have easily gone the other way.”
|A kinder, gentler Van Gundy?||11.20.09 at 8:20 pm ET|
“I’m going to be be more constructive,” Van Gundy said. “I’m not Little Mary Sunshine, but I’m going to work on being less negative. Be more constructive.”
Van Gundy is one the league’s most direct coaches in his dealings with the media, and also one of the most sarcastic. Not surprisingly, that has rubbed some of his players the wrong way over the years. Van Gundy said he would try to work on it after a meeting with star center, Dwight Howard, but he did want to clear up what he said was a misconception about the nature of the sit-down.
“Dwight didn’t come to me about anything,” Van Gundy said. “I went to Dwight and said, ‘What’s going on?’ Why are we not playing with enthusiasm?”
Van Gundy went on to say that Howard mentioned a few things (expectations, injuries) before getting around to Van Gundy being too negative in his assessment of the team.
“It’s not as big a deal as it’s been reported,” Van Gundy said. “I thought it was done in a positive way.”
Van Gundy and Howard had a public disagreement after Game 2 of the Celtics-Magic series last season when Howard campaigned for more touches.
Howard said everything was copacetic between the team and the coach. “I just told him that we need to see more positive than negative.”
Asked for his reaction, Doc Rivers said, “His coaching style is just fine, honestly.” A few minutes before Rasheed Wallace came by and good-naturedly yelled that he and the group of reporters huddled around him were a fire hazard, which prompted Rivers to add, “On this team it’s the opposite. I go to Rasheed and say, ‘Can you be calmer?’”
|Sheed trying to keep Superman from lifting off||at 1:27 pm ET|
Rasheed Wallace makes no bones about his game plan heading into tonight’s match-up with Dwight Howard the defending Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic.
Don’t let Superman take off.
“Step on his launch pad,” Wallace said of his strategy. “He’s a big fella, he can jump. If you step on his launch pad before he can take off and make it a hard shot for him, it’s a 50-50 chance. He going to come with the hook and little jumper, just take that 50-50 chance.”
But just because he wants to make life miserable on Howard’s big feet, don’t get the impression he doesn’t try and help Howard when the two aren’t combatants in the low post.
Wallace actually gives Howard advice on how to become even more of a force than he is now.
“He doesn’t try to brush me off,” Wallace said. “He listens. That’s coming from him being raised well by his mom and dad. I don’t think he’s arroagant. He’s still trying to learn. I think he’s just tipping the iceberg because all we’re seeing right now is him dunking and catching the alley-oops. If he decides to go into the gym and get that little 12-to-15 footer down and they establish a good pick-and-roll with the three guys they’ve got, him and Jameer or him and Rashard, I think they’ll be pretty good.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Garnett joins new adidas campaign||10.14.09 at 10:03 pm ET|
Kevin Garnett has joined Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose, Chauncey Billups, Tim Duncan, Tracy McGrady, and Josh Smith for adidas’ “It’s On Me for My Brotherhood” 2009-10 season campaign. Check out the new advertisement below and click here for more videos.
|An answer to Kobe vs. LeBron||06.04.09 at 11:42 am ET|
Even while the Boston Celtics were defending their championship, advertising during the playoffs was dominated by Kobe vs. LeBron messages. Now that the NBA Finals match up is LA Lakers vs. Orlando Magic, what will happen to all the commercials? Dwight Howard has an answer. Check out vitaminwater’s newest ad, produced and directed by Howard, which will debut tonight during Game 1.
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