|Game 7: Third quarter update||05.17.09 at 10:00 pm ET|
After three, the Magic lead, 66-61.
Every time the Celtics get close enough to really put pressure on Orlando, the Magic find a way to make a play or two. With the score 54-50, Ray Allen had a look at a 3-pointer, but it rimmed out. J.J. Redick and Hedo Turkoglu then hit 3-pointers to make it a 10-point game again.
But the Celtics are hanging in there and they have the Magic to thank. Rashard Lewis missed a pair of free throws at the end of the quarter and Rafer Alston fouled Rajon Rondo while he was shooting a fade-away jumper. Then after Courtney Lee missed a 10-footer, Rondo drained a long two at the buzzer.
This sets up the classic fourth quarter situation. If the Magic are going to take a step and advance they will have to hold a lead on the road in a close-out game. The Celtics have 12 minutes to come back from yet another deficit and continue the defense of their title.
|Game 7: First quarter update||at 8:39 pm ET|
With about four and a half minutes to go in the quarter and the magic leading by 13 points, Rafer Alston tried to throw an alley-oop to Dwight Howard. The play had no chance of being successful and Howard wound up coming down out of bounds. It was either an indication that the Magic are playing confident, or that they were about to start getting too fast and loose.
After the botched dunk, the Celtics started making plays and scored eight of the next 10 points to get the lead into single digits. Ray Allen hit a pull-up jumper, Glen Davis drove the lane and banked in a layup and Paul Pierce scored four points. Just as soon as they got back in the game, however, Mickael Pietrus nailed a 3-pointer to make it 27-17 after one quarter.
The Magic are shooting 53 percent and are 5-for-6 from 3-point range, while the Celtics are shooting just 39 percent and have already committed five turnovers.
Doc Rivers also made a subtle adjustment bringing in Eddie House for Rajon Rondo at the three-minute mark. The Magic aren’t even making an attempt to guard Rondo outside and after he bricked a pair of jumpers House came on to try to make the Magic pay for doubling Pierce.
|Perk: We cool||at 7:58 pm ET|
Speaking just 90 minutes before tipoff Sunday night at TD Banknorth Garden, Kendrick Perkins wants all who bleed green and white to know this much, the Celtics are not nervous about a fourth Game 7 in the last two years.
He also wants those same people who will be spending the night biting their nails to know they’re not exhausted either.
“Yeah, we cool. I don’t think it’s a problem,” Perkins said of the team’s stamina. “I think guys have a lot of energy. Our bench has been playing well for us of late, Scal has come in and gave us some productive minutes, Steph has come in and played well. I think guys are alright. It’s the playoffs so you’ve got to find some type of energy somewhere.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Game 7: What to watch for||at 12:23 pm ET|
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 »
|Allen at a loss||05.15.09 at 1:33 am ET|
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 »
|Rondo: “I guess we just choked”||05.14.09 at 11:39 pm ET|
“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.
|Pierce to the rescue||at 9:34 pm ET|
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.