- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “It’s up to the Orlando Magic now to bring back another game of basketball — not to mention their NBA championship dream — to Amway Arena. The Magic will leave the place for new digs next season, and it looked as if the Boston Celtics are swinging the wrecking ball of sorts. The Celtics took a 2-0 lead after beating the Magic 95-92 on Tuesday night, forcing Orlando to win a game in Boston to return the Eastern Conference finals to their building. [...] Maybe it’s karma or a delayed payback. But 15 years ago, the Magic closed out the storied Boston Garden with a first-round playoff win, the last NBA game played at the old haunt.”
- Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “Go ahead and have at it. Go ahead and try to bisect, dissect and trisect why the Orlando Magic are down 0-2 and on life-support following Tuesday’s 95-92 loss to the Boston Celtics. But I can save you a lot of time and trouble because the reason is really quite simple: The Magic have run head-on into themselves — a better, more determined, more poised, more experienced version of themselves. We are talking, of course, about the Celtics, who have now all but destroyed the Magic’s chances of winning the Eastern Conference finals and ultimately winning a championship.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The first 34 minutes and 1 second of J.J. Redick‘s playing time Tuesday night went well. The last seven did not. Redick collected a crucial defensive rebound with 6.9 seconds remaining in regulation and the Orlando Magic trailing by three points. But instead of calling his team’s final timeout immediately, Redick dribbled upcourt before he finally called for a stoppage with 3.5 records left. As it turned out, those 3.5 seconds weren’t enough time for a quality shot for the Magic, who lost Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals to the Boston Celtics 95-92.”
- Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “Throughout Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, Boston committed 29 fouls, more than half of those on Magic center Dwight Howard. As a Howard stopper, it didn’t work. He still played 40 minutes, scored 30 points and made 12 of 17 free throws. As a game changer, that physical play might have worked. The Celtics won Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, 95-92, despite losing two players to fouls and will return to Boston with a 2-0 series lead.”
- George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Howard matched every claw and scratch, every twist and turn, every screaming demand imploring his teammates to rise up again after losing Game 1. There would be no quit. There couldn’t be. Not with a Celtics team that has a 32-0 record when going up 2-0 in best of seven playoff series. Howard got Kendrick Perkins out of the game when Perkins fouled out with 7:44 remaining. Howard reached high for an offensive rebound after a 3-point miss by Rashard Lewis, whose marksmanship in this series has gone AWOL. His two free throws cut the Celtics lead to a point with 4:05 left. All Howard, all the time.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “When Nelson’s heave from 30 feet fell short at the buzzer, the Magic were forced to stomach the first two-game losing streak at Amway Arena all season and stare down some daunting odds. In NBA history, 14 teams have come back to win best-of-seven series after falling into 0-2 holes. It happened as recently as 2008 when the San Antonio Spurs rallied to beat the New Orleans Hornets. Only three times in playoff history has a team lost the first two games at home and rallied to advance. The most recent case of that happening was 2005 when Dallas battled back to beat the Houston Rockets in seven games.”
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “What makes this loss doubly frustrating is that Orlando indeed made the proper adjustments. Howard still got his share of post-up opportunities, but he moved more decisively this time, and showed softer touch and a calmer demeanor than he did in Game 1. He also got some chances on the move. Yet he didn’t have much help on offense apart from Redick, who drilled some big shots, repeatedly attacked the teeth of Boston’s defense, and made excellent passes. [Jameer] Nelson and [Vince] Carter missed Howard on his rolls to the rim several times. Rashard Lewis did a better job of getting him the ball in useful spots, but that’s it. Lewis, who is suffering from the flu, shot 2-of-6 from the floor, grabbed 4 rebounds, and dished 4 assists in a team-high 41 minutes. Boston’s defense had some holes, such as when they overplayed the pick-and-roll and unwittingly left Howard open. But as I said, Nelson and Carter got tunnel vision and didn’t always manage to deliver the ball to him. The biggest factor in their defensive success, I thought, was their removal of the three-point shot. The Magic shot a solid 38.9% from beyond the arc, but managed only 18 attempts. Boston can live with Howard scoring efficiently, and even getting some dunks, if it can limit the three-pointer. That’s exactly what happened tonight.”
- Gary Dzen of The Boston Globe: “The teams traded a Jameer Nelson layup and Pierce free throws and the Celtics clung to a 95-92 lead with 34.7 seconds left. On the next possession, Vince Carter drew the sixth foul on Pierce, but Carter missed both free throws, giving the Celtics the ball back with a three-point lead. Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy elected not to foul, and despite a miss by Garnett, the Magic got the ball back with only 3.5 seconds remaining after J.J. Redick delayed in calling a timeout. [...] From that failed bit of execution to solid execution down the stretch by the Celtics, what made the final few possessions even more impressive for Boston is that they were able to execute without their leading scorer. Pierce had 28 points for the game, including 12 points in the first quarter and 22 points during what was a strange first half. While Pierce was torching Orlando, Garnett and Ray Allen combined to go just 1 of 9 before halftime. But the Celtics led at half despite the poor shooting of Garnett and Allen, Orlando failing to turn eight offensive rebounds and 17 free throws into a lead before the break.”
- Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: “Pierce, starting with a 12-point first quarter, stepped up with his premier moment of the last two rounds – a 28-point, five-assist, five-rebound performance before fouling out with 31.9 seconds left and the result essentially nailed down. The Celtics captain, who walked off the floor slowly pumping his fist following the team’s Game 1 win on Sunday, repeated that ritual last night. But this time he had a cutting message for the section of fans who eventually met his stare: ‘See you next year.’ ”
- Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: “Rasheed Wallace (Ken Linseman in Zdeno Chara’s body), Kendrick Perkins, who fouled out (the equivalent of a game misconduct), and Davis combined for 24 points, which isn’t too bad a differential when a guy who finished fourth in the MVP balloting goes off. By game’s end, the C’s big people were filled with fouls – six for Perkins, five for Wallace, three for Davis. Rivers picked up two just thinking about how to guard Howard. But that didn’t matter in the overall scheme of things last night and in this series. The Magic are playing hard. The Celtics are playing harder.”
- Ron Borges of the Boston Herald: “Sitting in a near-silent Amway Arena yesterday morning, Paul Pierce spoke about one of his favorite things – hearing once raucous fans in opposing arenas grow silent and then slink away after the final buzzer. Last night, he made that a stunning reality. “See you next year,” Pierce snarled in the direction of several sad-faced Orlando fans as he walked off the Amway floor following a 95-92 victory in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals. That left the Magic down 0-2 and in need of Houdini to escape the vise the Celtics now have them in.”
- Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com: “These Celtics aren’t exactly the feel-good type. Boston wants to beat you up and then they’re going to take your lunch money, too. In an ultra-physical Game 2, the Celtics endured every haymaker Howard and Co. offered, and bounced back with two of their own. The Magic tried desperately to even this series with a late rally, and the Boston team of a month ago would have crumbled under the adversity. Not now. These Celtics have put together five consecutive postseason wins and are headed back to Boston with a commanding 2-0 series advantage. Also packed on their carry-on: an undeniable confidence.”
Vince Carter didn't get abused by Ray Allen, simply for the fact he's barely guarded him in the first two games of the series. Allen hasn't been able to do much when J.J. Redick has been on him, but it hasn't mattered because Pierce and Rondo have been able to pick up the slack offensively.
I don't know what you've been reading but I've given all the credit to the world to the Boston Celtics. They've been the better team, so far. End of story.