- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic face an 0-2 deficit in the Eastern Conference finals, but players and coaches didn’t look or sound dejected after they gathered at RDV Sportsplex today to watch film from their Game 2 loss to the Boston Celtics. [...] Dwight Howard said he and his teammates don’t feel any pressure. ‘We know what we have to do,’ Howard told reporters. ‘Like I told those guys who went to the [NBA] Finals last year, we were in this situation, down 2-0 against the Lakers. Guys kind of just gave up. I don’t sense that in this team this year. We know what we have to do. We’re still the same team. Nobody in the locker room has their head down complaining about last night. We’ve moved on, and we’re just going to try to get better.’ ”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Vince Carter, who made 84.0 percent of his free-throw attempts during the regular season, missed a pair of crucial tries with Orlando trailing 95-92. You could tell just how frustrated Carter was with those misses once he returned to the Magic bench following a Celtics timeout with 30.6 seconds remaining. Carter slammed his hands against the cushion of a chair. To reporters, Carter always projects calm after games in which he plays well and after games in which he plays poorly. His demeanor doesn’t change. It didn’t change last night, either. But if you read between the lines last night, you could tell that he was disappointed in himself.”
- The Boston Celtics are up 2-0 in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals and it’s clear that they’ve been in control against the Orlando Magic since the start of the series. Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post explains: “When anyone says the Celtics are in control, they certainly refer to their 2-0 series lead. But they’ve also controlled both games, to a great extent. Boston has held a lead for 92.5% of the minutes played in this series. And though it’s true that Orlando can stage a comeback, it’s just as true that plenty has to change for that to happen. A poor start buried it in Game 1, while a lull in the third quarter of Game 2 helped Boston go on a 13-1 run to take a 70-60 lead. The margin for error against this Celtics team has been too low for the Magic to handle so far. We’ll see if that much holds true as the series continues. Game 3 tips this Saturday in Boston.”
- Remember when Michael Jordan scored 64 points on 49 shots against the Magic in 1993?
- Daniel Marks of Dime Magazine: “Despite the fact that he is an eight-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA player, Carter is still seen as overrated by many. For some reason, whether it be his inability to get a team to the Conference Finals before this year, or his seemingly laid-back attitude toward the game, people have disliked Carter for awhile. Despite the fact that Carter is a good guy, never in trouble with the law, and a man of principle who attended his UNC graduation on the same day as a Raptors playoff game, people still love to hate Vince. I personally am not one of those guys, as I grew to admire Vince in his time with the Nets, but the haters are everywhere.”
- Bethlehem Shoals of NBA FanHouse doesn’t hold back with his criticism of Dwight Howard: “Howard, on the other hand, simply has zero instinct for scoring. You know that phrase “nose for the ball”? He has no nose for the basket; he’s only effective on straight-forward dunks or clear-path lobs. The NBA does Howard, and itself, a great disservice every time it shows clips of Orlando Magic-era Shaquille O’Neal during these games. Shaq wasn’t just a physical marvel, he knew exactly how to use his body, when and where to take off from around the rim. There also wasn’t a sharp disjuncture in his game between dunks and everything else. O’Neal’s baby hooks looked natural; Howard might as well be trying to hoist a three. Some players block shots like they’re dunking; Howard dunks like he’s blocking shots. It’s great if he goes for 30, but Superman isn’t all he’s cracked to be. And that’s okay. We just need to be honest about it and move on.”
- Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook looks at J.J. Redick‘s poor decision at the end of Game 2 and the keys to Howard’s improved post game.
- Kevin Arnovitz of TrueHoop crafts another visual masterpiece, chronicling the many subtle breakdowns that led to the Magic’s loss in last night’s game: “The novelty quotient on J.J. Redick’s miscue was the highest of the bunch. Redick dribbled after collecting a crucial offensive rebound with about seven seconds remaining and his team trailing by three. His snafu denied the Magic the opportunity to advance the ball into their frontcourt for a final attempt at a 3-pointer to tie. Though Vince Carter’s pair of missed free throws will certainly attract those who make a pastime of schadenfreude at Carter’s expense. These were costly mistakes, but neither achieved the level of true meltdown status. Instead, it was the aggregate failure to execute that did them in.”
- Henry Abbott of TrueHoop chimes in on the myriad of referee issues that occurred yesterday.
- Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports: “Boston chopped down LeBron James, and now they’re going after Dwight Howard, too. It’s a mess for these Magic, and all they could do late Tuesday was sit back, seethe and know there isn’t a damn thing they could do to stop the snickering. Between now and a season lost, the Magic must make these Celtics respect them. So far, the Celtics’ private insistence is true: Orlando can’t beat them when they’re playing their best basketball. So far, it’s played out perfectly. If Pierce didn’t say it, then maybe he should’ve: Break out a broom for the sweep that no one saw coming, for a Celtics franchise full of so much bully and bravado that the rest of the NBA will have to go back to hating them again. Pride comes before a fall, Dwight Howard declared on Tuesday night. Yes, it does. The Magic need to show some on Saturday night, need to make a last stand for a season that already feels like it’s going, going and gone.”
- Sekou Smith of the Hangtime Blog wonders where’s the bench been for Orlando?
- Jay Aych of The Painted Area analyzes why the Celtics have been able to slow down the Magic’s offense: “So far, the Celtics have done a quality job limiting the Magic’s 3pt. shooting prowess. Orlando led the league in 3pt. attempts with 27.3 per game and shot them at a 37.5% clips (4th best). The Magic were held to a 5-for-22 3pt. shooting night in Game 1. In Game 2, Boston did allow the Magic to shoot 39% from 3pt., but kept the Magic to only 18 3PA, nine below their season average.”
- UPDATE: I will be covering the 2010 NBA Draft Combine in Chicago tomorrow and Friday, so stay tuned for media logs with quotes from the players — like John Wall.
Tough to say, because the NBA has changed over the years with the hand-checking rules being enforced and what not. Not sure this current Celtics' outfit is better defensively than the 2004 Pistons or the 90's Knicks. It's tough to compare, honestly. I do think that Boston's defense this year, in the playoffs, has been better than their defense in 2008 when they won a championship. Much better, actually. Despite playing at a faster pace, the Celtics are allowing fewer points per 100 possessions this year than in 2008 ... and it's not close, either. Right now, at least. What's interesting is that the Magic's defense, statistically, has been a teeny bit better.
It's not over till it's over but right now, I'm leaning towards saying that the Celtics are the better team right now with a healthy Kevin Garnett.