Sneak Preview: Boston Celtics at Orlando Magic, Game 1 | Magic Basketball



May 16

Sneak Preview: Boston Celtics at Orlando Magic, Game 1

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “If their chance to construct a championship era was any grander, it would be lit up in blinking neon and announced by blaring horns. Surely, the Orlando Magic have taken a look around the shifting league landscape below them and admired the view. […] If the Magic can’t see an opening here to run through, they are wasting 24-year-old Dwight Howard‘s muscles and 33-year-old Vince Carter‘s motivation to come home. They are old enough now to know better, seasoned with veterans who are in their primes or clinging to them, hardened by last season’s failed trip in the NBA Finals. The time is right and the field is ripe for the taking, or so it seems.”
  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “Today, the championship march truly begins against the Boston Celtics — the most renowned, revered franchise the NBA has ever known. This time it won’t be so easy. “It’s a war from here on out,” Magic forward Matt Barnes says. “There are not going to be any sweeps or blowouts. The hard hats are on, and we’re going into battle.” Nothing like an overstated military analogy to get pumped up for the Eastern Conference finals, huh? I’m just wondering: Did the Celtics come to Orlando by airplane or did they drive their M60 infantry tank? Make no mistake about it, the Celtics mean business. They’ve already knocked the top-seeded Cavaliers out of the playoffs and probably ran LeBron out of Cleveland in the process. And now they are coming into Amway Arena today in their quest for yet another championship banner to hang with all the others.”
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic have an injury concern heading into Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals this afternoon against the Boston Celtics. Matt Barnes has been bothered by muscle spasms in his lower left back since the latter stages of Game 3 versus the Atlanta Hawks. The starting small forward said the pain has intensified in recent days, and team medical personnel held him out of practice Saturday to prevent the injury from worsening. Barnes said he plans to play in Game 1, but at times, he didn’t sound quite so sure. […] He expected to receive treatment after he left the Magic’s practice facility on Saturday and pledged he would arrive at Amway Arena early today to stretch and get a pregame massage to loosen up his back muscles.”
  • John Denton of “Point guards Jameer Nelson and Rajon Rondo have been two of the biggest stars of this postseason – Nelson leading the Magic to consecutive sweeps with his dynamic play running the controls and Rondo threatening to post triple-double type of numbers every game with his scoring, rebounding and passing. Nelson, the Magic’s little man playing with the proverbial chip on his shoulder, welcomes the challenge that Rondo brings. He has put to rest his uninspiring play in The NBA Finals last spring by being the Magic’s most consistently dynamic player this postseason, averaging teams highs in points (20.5 ppg.) and assists (5.3 apg.). Like the block-lettered tattoo across his shoulder blades that reads, “ALL EYES ON ME,” Nelson relishes a role where his play could ultimately decide the fate of the Magic.”
  • Julian Benbow of The Boston Globe: “Kendrick Perkins’s battle with Shaquille O’Neal could just as easily have been in a steel cage. […] He took an elbow to the neck in Game 5 that frustrated him to the point that he and O’Neal drew technicals, and Kevin Garnett had to calm him down. In Game 6, O’Neal lost his footing and tumbled to the parquet, with Perkins breaking the fall. His reward for surviving the six-game Texas death match? A paint battle with the well-rested Dwight Howard, the pseudo 7-footer known to devour rebounds, swat away layups and floaters, and crush opposing big men like a movie monster does to small cities. The Magic haven’t played since finishing a sweep against Atlanta last Monday.”
  • Jarrod N. Rudolph of The Boston Globe: “Point guard play has been big for the Celtics and the Magic. Their All-Star point guards elevated their games en route to an Eastern Conference finals rematch. Jameer Nelson has silenced his critics and created a fan base, and Rajon Rondo has taken over the floor for the Celtics. With a return trip to the NBA Finals on the line, Nelson will try his best to put out Rondo’s fire and stop the budding star from leading his team to the championship.”
  • Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: “Rondo looked like Wes Welker in Game 4 against Cleveland, with his ability to catch long rebounds on a sprint and get the ball behind the scrambling Cavs. Orlando has even more of a penchant for deep shots, which can lead to long rebounds when the misses start to mount. This may be Rondo’s best chance to reach the paint without fear of Howard.”
  • Ron Borges of the Boston Herald: “Orlando has more than the Cavs. It is not just about Dwight Howard. Although he is critical, he does not stand alone. He comes armed with a legitimately dangerous power forward in Rashard Lewis, a dangerous point guard who is playing well in Jameer Nelson, plus a solid and productive bench (all Cleveland had on its bench were towels) and a very good, if often whiny, coach in Stan Van Gundy. A year ago, the Magic had most of the same elements and were pushed to the brink by a Celtic team playing without Kevin Garnett. So, is there some reason to believe the C’s won’t be better this spring with a healthy Garnett playing near his optimum? No, there is not. Might Orlando, which is the betting favorite for the series, find a way to beat the Celtics? It might, but understand this: The team it’s facing is not the one that limped through the winter and early spring. The team it’s facing now is the best of the Celtics.”
  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: “Stan Van Gundy keeps looking at video from the Magic matchups with the Celtics this season, but by now the performances must seem to the Orlando coach like old Hollywood “B” movies. Considering how the Celts are acting these days, the four games are more like a remake of 1943’s “I Walked with a Zombie.” The Green nights with the living dead have been replaced by three straight convincing wins against the team with the best record in the game and advancement to these Eastern Conference finals.”