|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.’
|Magic: Can’t Afford to Foul Rondo||11.20.09 at 7:46 pm ET|
BOSTON — Even though Rajon Rondo enters Friday’s game shooting a mere 25 percent from the free throw line, the Magic are not going to give him extra trips to the charity stripe. Just because free throws have been a weakness for Rondo this season that doesn’t mean the same is true for his teammates.
‘With their team you don’t want to foul unnecessarily,’ said Anthony Johnson. ‘Even though maybe he’s not shooting well, Paul Pierce, KG, all the other guys, they’re going to draw fouls.’
In spite of Rondo’s struggle (4-16 FG), the Celtics are still in the middle of the pack around the league. Ray Allen is ranked eighth in the NBA (89.3%) while Shelden Williams and Pierce are both shooting better than 80 percent.
‘If you waste your fouls on Rondo, it’s going to help them as a team get into the bonus and it’s going to give those guys free points,’ Johnson said. ‘So as much as possible we want to keep them off the line, including him, and try to make them make tough shots over the top of us.’
The Magic have a lot more to worry about with Rondo than just free throws. They are without starting point guard Jameer Nelson (knee) and will depend on veterans Johnson and Jason Williams to contain Rondo.
“He’s a guy that plays with a lot of energy offensively and defensively so you’ve got to always keep him in front of you, don’t allow him to really dictate the tempo with his ball pressure and just putting pressure on our defense getting into the paint,” said Johnson. “So we’re going to have to keep him in front of us and not let him orchestrate and make all the big plays.”
|Former Magic Notice Changes in Celtics||10.11.09 at 5:01 pm ET|
The last time Rafer Alston, Tony Battie, and Courtney Lee played against the Celtics, they sent the C’s packing for the summer. The trio were members of the Magic team that eliminated the Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. This year they are in a different uniform and noticed the Cs have a different look as well.
Alston, Battie and Lee were traded from the Magic to the Nets over the summer as part of the Vince Carter deal. On Sunday they got their first take at the Celtics with their new team during preseason action at the TD Garden (recap here).
‘They got a brand new season,’ Battie said. ‘I mean, you look and [Kevin Garnett] is back and Rasheed [Wallace] is part of it. They got a great steal in getting Marquis Daniels, and you have those three additions coming back in the team. So, I think they’re the team to beat, definitely.’
Last season a hobbled Celtics squad was outscored, outrebounded and burned from the 3-point line by the Magic. Without Garnett on the court and veterans Ray Allen and Paul Pierce overworked, the Celtics bench could not save the season. Now the additions of Wallace and Daniels give the team much-needed depth.
‘They get their big guy back and then they add Rasheed Wallace in there now,’ Alston said. ‘I think when you’re trying to take away a lot of their main guys, they have a lot of guys that can step up and stretch the defense or post up on the low block. They have a different dynamic to their team, especially from a defensive aspect for other teams.’
Both Alston and Lee agree the series would have been completely different if the Celtics had so many weapons last season.
‘They would’ve been a better team,’ Lee said. ‘They definitely would’ve been harder for a matchup because you can play Marquis at the 1 and you sub in Rasheed, so they keep a shooting big in at all times, so they definitely would have been better.’
Said Alston: ‘I don’t think we would have been able to roam a lot off of a lot of their guys ‘ [Rajon] Rondo, [Kendrick] Perkins, Big Baby [Glen Davis]. Those guys who really bring more scoring to the offense, especially from the bench standpoint.’
The combination of a healthy Garnett and a revamped second unit has Alston noticing a difference in the 2009-10 Celtics. Although he isn’t as willing as Battie to name them the best in the Eastern Conference, he can’t deny the changes on the court.
‘Whenever they have all their guys, they have a swagger,’ he said. ‘When someone goes down they don’t have swagger no more. That’s just how they are.’
|Eastern Conference Preparing for Competition||08.18.09 at 10:20 pm ET|
Two years ago the Boston Celtics traveled to Europe for training camp. That season they won the championship. The close-knit squad credited the trip overseas for their unwavering chemistry on the court.
“The second we got to training camp in September, we all said, hey, let’s meet in September without the coaches and come together and just start playing with each other, starting to get to know one another, and I think all that stuff really helped us,” Paul Pierce said during the 2008 playoffs.
This summer Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson hopes he can have the same effect on his teammates. Nelson is hosting the Magic at his Philadelphia-area home for ‘Building Magic,’ a week-long getaway that combines strength and conditioning drills with team-building activities.
Like the Celtics did in 2007, the Magic traded a handful of core players in exchange for an All-Star (Vince Carter) and added to their bench along the way. After losing Rafer Alston and Courtney Lee, key pieces in their postseason run, and veteran mentor Tony Battie, Nelson understands the importance of this offseason.
He explained to Sports Illustrated in July:
‘We’re trying to piece it together because our team was in transition. For the most part, the big guns have committed — Vince [Carter], Dwight [Howard] and Rashard [Lewis]. After those guys have committed, no one can really back out unless they have some type of serious issue.
This year we’re doing it from the 16th through the 22nd of August. We do it at the same facility every year, same gym at Haverford College. We’ll work out with my trainers — conditioning drills, weightlifting, stuff to get your body right. The basketball stuff we do is later in the afternoon. We do that for about 2-3 hours.
Afterward, we’ll mix up the nightlife. We always do a dinner. Other days we’ll do paintball or bowling, maybe go to the movies.’
|Magic’s Lewis suspended for 10 games||08.06.09 at 4:49 pm ET|
Orlando Magic forward Rashard Lewis will be suspended for the first 10 games of the 2009-10 season without pay for failing a league drug test, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Lewis tested positive for Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a testosterone-producing steroid. The Sentinel reported it is common in several over-the-counter supplements but it banned by the NBA.
The Sentinel published the following statement from Lewis:
“First and foremost I take full responsibility for the situation and accept the corresponding penalty. Toward the end of the season I took an over-the-counter supplement which at the time I did not realize included a substance banned by the NBA. I apologize to Magic fans, my teammates and this organization for not doing the research that should come with good judgment. I hope this unintentional mistake will not reflect poorly on our team and its great character. I hope every athlete can learn from my mistake that supplements, no matter how innocent they seem, should only be taken after consulting an expert in the field.”
Lewis averaged 20.4 points and 6.3 rebounds against the Celtics in the 2009 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.
|Celtics: “We have total faith in Ray”||05.16.09 at 2:21 pm ET|
‘I don’t need to say nothing to Ray,’ Paul Pierce said after practice on Saturday. ‘Ray knows what he needs to do. I mean Ray’s been in the league long enough. We have total faith in Ray. There’s nothing wrong with him.’
Allen is averaging 11.5 points per game in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, down from 23 points in the first round. He is shooting just 14% from three-point range, including an 0-7 performance in Game 6. Allen has been held to a total of 22 points in the Celtics three losses.
Still Allen is unfazed by the buzz surrounding his battles at the basket. He does not watch television and chalks the hype up to the scrutiny of playoff basketball.
‘I’ll tell you what, every shot that I take is good. Every shot that I put up there, it always looks good to me,” Allen said. “For the last second, you see the ball rolling around the rim and sometimes it toilet bowls and it goes down and sometimes it pops out, and you just, you never know until that ball goes all the way through. So I’ll be making sure the ball goes all the way through tomorrow.’
‘We’ve survived other games in this series with Ray struggling. Even if Ray’s not making shots, he still has a tremendous value for us,’ Rivers said. ‘He’s going to make shots tomorrow. I do feel good about that. If Patrick Ewing can guarantee a win, I can guarantee that Ray will make shots tomorrow.’
|Ewing Guarantees Victory over Celtics||at 1:52 pm ET|
WALTHAM – Patrick Ewing doesn’t need to be playing to guarantee a Game 7 victory over in the Celtics. In fact, he doesn’t even need to have a proven track record of accurate predictions. The Magic assistant coach is certain his team will advance to the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday.
‘It’s a whole team. Everyone has to step up in a Game Seven. Bring your A-game. Get our there and play with your hearts on your sleeve and come away with a win,’ Ewing said in an interview aired on ESPN. ‘Even though I’m not playing, I’m guaranteeing a win.’
That guarantee sits well with Doc Rivers, who was teammates with Ewing on the Knicks.
‘Oh that’s great. We feel great about that,’ Rivers said after practice on Saturday. ‘I’ve been on those Knicks teams where he had some predictions.’
Rivers could not hide his sarcasm. Click here to see just how well Ewing’s past predictions have panned out.
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