Recap: Boston Celtics 92, Orlando Magic 88 | Magic Basketball

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May 16

Recap: Boston Celtics 92, Orlando Magic 88

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Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

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The Boston Celtics were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 92-88 in Game 1 of the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals and as a result of the victory, gain home-court advantage in the series. The loss was the Magic’s first since April 2nd, when they were defeated on the road by the San Antonio Spurs, and snapped a 14-game winning streak dating back to the regular season. The Celtics were led by Ray Allen, who had 25 points and seven rebounds, and Paul Pierce, who had 22 points, nine rebounds, and five assists. The Magic were led by their starting backcourt, as Vince Carter finished with 23 points, five rebounds, and two steals, and Jameer Nelson ended up with 20 points and nine rebounds.

The game started out very ugly for Orlando, as it became clear very soon after the opening tip that they were going to be dealing with a different animal with regards to Boston’s defense. Yes, the Charlotte Bobcats’ defense finished the regular season allowing the fewest points per 100 possessions and they provided a challenge for the Magic’s offense in the first round of the playoffs but there’s no doubt that when the Celtics are healthy and motivated, they are the best defensive team in the NBA.

In the first half, Boston showed why. Aside from Carter, Nelson, and heck, even Marcin Gortat, no one else for Orlando played well offensively. The Celtics’ defense did an excellent job of playing with active hands, rotating with a purpose, and running the Magic shooters off the three-point line at almost every opportunity. Orlando has run offensive clinics in the postseason but this was a defensive clinic being ran by Boston. And it was beautiful to watch.

So what were Carter, Nelson, and Gortat were able to do successfully in the first and second quarters? For Carter, he attacked the basket … a lot. Never before in the playoffs has Carter been so determined to penetrate into the lane and be aggressive with his forays at the rim. And it worked, as Carter was able to score a majority of his points in the paint. For Nelson, he got off to a slow start but beginning in the second quarter, he was able to execute the 1/5 pick and roll with Gortat to perfection. The pick and rolls were a change of pace for the Magic in the first half, given that they ran a number of 4-out/1-in offensive sets for Dwight Howard but without much success. Instead, the movement and spacing on the pick and rolls allowed Nelson and Gortat to have some success.

With all that said, Orlando trailed by nine at halftime and seemed to be in the game despite getting off to a slow start offensively but things turned for the worse in the third quarter.

The Celtics’ offense came alive.

After Nelson scored eight consecutive points to start the second half, Boston went on a 22-5 run and seemed to be on their way to a blowout victory as they extended their lead by as much as 20 points. Not only did the Magic’s defense break down, but the offense couldn’t do much of anything. Howard, especially, was completely out of sorts offensively and was struggling to make an impact against either Kendrick Perkins or Rasheed Wallace. But Carter kept Orlando afloat by being a playmaker on offense, whether he was looking to score or pass.

In the fourth quarter, that’s where everything changed for the Magic.

Orlando was able to buckle down defensively, cut into the deficit, and hold Boston scoreless for a little over five minutes. J.J. Redick, Nelson, and Carter were able to lead the charge on offense but it was ultimately not enough, as the Celtics were able to leave Amway Arena with a win.

Two quick notes:

– Normally, Matt Barnes is a net positive for the Magic when he’s on the floor but head coach Stan Van Gundy may need to consider either playing Redick more or starting him at shooting guard and as such, moving Carter to the small forward position. Barnes didn’t appear to be moving very well when he was playing and Allen simply had his way against him. However, with Redick in the game, scoring became a tougher task for Allen. Since Carter is already assigned to Pierce on defense and Redick has proven he can defend Allen, it would be judicious if Van Gundy either lowered Barnes’ minutes or elected to start Redick.

– Despite what you may hear or read, Howard does have a post game but it is tougher for him to execute in the paint against Perkins and Wallace because of their abilities to use their strength to push Howard away from the basket and take him out of his comfort zone. Howard has had success against Perkins and Wallace in the past, but it was when he was using his finesse rather than his strength to score on the low block. Also, it is imperative to utilize Howard’s athleticism and speed in pick and rolls, that way he’s constantly on the move and isn’t stationary against slower-footed defenders like Perkins and Wallace. Van Gundy shouldn’t abandon Howard in the post, but certainly an adjustment needs to be made by player and coach. Howard needs to stay true to his word and try not to wrestle with Perkins and Wallace when he’s posting up, and Van Gundy needs to find different ways of getting the big fella involved offensively on plays that can be successful against Boston. Easier said than done, of course.

16 comments
Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera

@bilal

I never said that Nelson pressured Rondo. I said that the Magic buckled down defensively, regardless of what the Celtics were doing. We're going in circles with this discussion. Game 1 was no different than the Christmas Day game during the regular season, in my opinion. Orlando was down for the majority of the game, partly because they couldn't hit any shots. Then the Magic were able to rally back in the fourth quarter but it wasn't enough, since the deficit was too large to overcome.

bilal
bilal

@Eddy Rivera

I wish what you were saying was true Eddy. I saw the game again, and it was obvious that the 4th quarter was poorly executed by Boston vs. us having great defense.

In the first 3 quarters, Rondo found every opportunity to push the ball up. In the fourth quarter, he walked the ball up majority of the time. I can understand you argument if you say that it was Nelson's pressure that forced Rondo to take some much time brining the ball up. But that isn't simply true. Nelson was far behind Rondo each time, but Rondo choose to walk slowly with the ball.

My interpretation. Boston thought they had the game in the bag and couldnt wait for the clock to run out. They eased the foot on our throat. We capitalized on that of course, but it was them easing the foot, vs. us pushing the foot back.

Billy (slickw143)
Billy (slickw143)

Bilal, as the legendary Red Aurbach once said... "Basketball isn't solitaire".

And no, there's like, a 3% chance the Magic win in 5. I see the most likely scenario to be either C's in 6 or Magic in 7.

Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera

@Adolfo

Yeah, Celtics' fans are more than welcome to chime in with their thoughts. It's just not Magic fans checking this site out.

@bilal

The Celtics stopped playing the basketball they were playing in the first three quarters and a portion of the fourth quarter because the Magic were able to buckle down defensively and translate some of those stops into points on the other end of the court. Boston deserves credit for outplaying Orlando for a majority of the game. But the Magic deserve credit, also, for not giving up and fighting back after they were down by 20. End of story. Crafting these elaborate reasons why Team A stopped playing well for, literally, five minutes seems like a frivolous venture. Maybe, just maybe, Team B had something to do with it.

@Jamey D.

Boston is good but the Magic AREN'T going to win the series in 5 games. Let's be real here. This matchup is going 6 or 7 games.

Jamey D.
Jamey D.

Ray Allen even complained about Orlando's layoff after the game saying how hard it was to stay focused.. and I believe in the middle of the third we learned how to play against these guys.. It took Dwight one game against Atl to remember to keep his cool as well.. Boston is good, BUT, Magic win in 5 games. I rest my case. btw start JJ til Barnes gets healthy plzzzzz.

bilal
bilal

"Yes, that takes care of the fact the Magic scored 41 points in the last 14 minutes. That’s the only adjustment that Boston needs to make to ensure a true blowout. Billy (slickw143)"

Billy: Yes, there is a strong correlation between defense and offense. When Boston started to walk the ball up and didn't give themselves time to execute their offense properly, we got defensive stops. When a team gets defensive stops, they start feeling confident and their offense improves. Defensive stops also leads to fast break opportunities and opportunities to push the ball up before the opposing team's defense can get set.

So, yes, their walking up the ball had a lot to do with our improved defense and our improved offense. They stopped playing the kind of basketball they played in the first 3 quarters.

You don't see the implications of this I guess. But here is another way to look at it. Had this been a blowout, Celtics would have relaxed in the next game and it would be really easy for us to defeat them in the next game. Also, a blow out would have enraged us and we would have gone into game 2 with more energy.

Now, I bet all Magic players are saying, "we played really well at the end." And the Celtics are probably saying, "we played really poorly at the end." Result, in the next game, both come in with the same attitude and urgency they brought into game 1. Result: Celtics has a chance to win again on Magic court.

Adolfo
Adolfo

Wow I didn't knew that this post is Celtics fans too...

pcnyc
pcnyc

@JD
Well it was 0-0, and the Magic won the tip... so there.

Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera

@Billy (slickw143)

It's one loss, but certainly the Magic will need to do a better job of utilizing Howard on offense against the Celtics. Simply posting him up on the low block isn't going to work, I agree.

@Adolfo

Can't be too worried, yet.

@JoeybarZ

Hah, we'll see if that statement rings true for the Magic.

@bilal

The Celtics never lost the lead ... they lost a sizable lead, but not the lead itself.

@JD

Probabilities and semantics aside, the Magic did have a chance to win even if the chances were remote.

JD
JD

How did the Magic "have a chance to win" when they never had the lead, never had the tie, and never had the ball with a chance to tie or win.

at the end of the day, they never "had a chance to win" they cut into the lead really well. but never had a chance to tie, and never had a chance for a lead.

so no, they didn't have a chance to win

Billy (slickw143)
Billy (slickw143)

Yes, that takes care of the fact the Magic scored 41 points in the last 14 minutes. That's the only adjustment that Boston needs to make to ensure a true blowout.

bilal
bilal

Adolfo: don't be fooled by the score at the end of the game. The Celtics lost the lead in the fourth quarter because they decided to walk the ball up every time (in an effort to run out the clock). As a result, instead of having 20 seconds to execute their offense, they had 12 - 14 seconds each time, and as a result they couldn't convert. had they pushed the ball up (the way they pushed it through the first three quarters) the game would have been a blow out.

i expect Boston to make this adjustment going into game 2.

JoeybarZ
JoeybarZ

Bob Marley voice... Every little thing, is gonna be alright... It's a seven game series... We are cooler than a polar bears toenail...

derekk
derekk

Yea Dwight has to stay cool and be patient with his O.

Adolfo
Adolfo

Boston played a great defensive game but c'mon Dwight should known better by now...!!! They mess with his head very easy, especially Wallace. I'm very worried about our Magic because If we don't have Dwight totally focused in playing instead than complaining we will lost this series. I also think that the Magic cannot shot worst than today and still we only lost by 4 maybe that's a bright spot...

Billy (slickw143)
Billy (slickw143)

I'm too frustrated after that game, so I'm going to do something regretfully lazy and just copy-paste my two cents from OPP. Without further ado:

Boston played great D. Let’s get that out of the way right now. They’re playing D almost as well as they did 2 years ago. It’s impressive to watch at times. They’ve got a great mix of disciplined rotations and tough inside play.

With that said, yeah, I can’t understand Dwight’s post game against Boston. I mean, leading up to the series, he talked openly about not trying to muscle up with Perkins and using his speed to his advantage. Did he do that? No, no he did not. He allowed Rasheed to frustrate him. They didn’t put him in nearly enough PnR situations. To think we outscored Boston by 6 points in the 9 minutes Dwight was on the bench was unsettling. But Boston did this to LeBron last series, taking a superstar below his usual production, so we shouldn’t be surprised.

If Dwight can’t rectify those issues, we’re going to have to convert the inside-out game from him posting up and finding open guys to the drive-and-kicks from Vince and Jameer. I don’t know if we can win the series if we have to rely just on Vince and Jameer for initiating all of our offense, but we certainly aren’t going to win with Dwight throwing up off-balance hot garbage at the rim just to, I dunno, prove he can power through Perkins (I can’t quantify how frustrated I was watching him call for the ball each time, and then throw up trash when he was not in a legit scoring position instead of kicking it out for an open shot or for a re-post).

I was nervous the past few days leading up to the game (I would’ve rather faced Cleveland), and now there’s a good chance Boston wins in 6. Hopefully this was a result of being punched in the mouth the first time by a great team and the Magic will respond appropriately next game. Otherwise, if Dwight continues to play stupid basketball, if the Magic continue to have poor rotations on defense allowing easy buckets, if Ray Allen continues throwing up rubies and sapphires from deep, it could be a long summer.