- Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “It was [Matt] Barnes who revealed last week that his assignment for Game 1 was Ray Allen instead of Pierce, whom he guarded during the regular season. Pierce is averaging 25 points, seven rebounds and five assists per game in the Eastern Conference Finals. Today both Barnes and Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said the defensive assignments have yet to be determined. And while Barnes said he would do his job on whomever the coaches wanted him to guard, when asked if he could stop Pierce, he replied confidently. ’I think that I can,’ Barnes said. ‘You don’t really stop anybody; you just want to slow him down.’ ”
- More from Ganguli: “Magic coach Stan Van Gundy reminded his players this week that over the last few years very few teams have won a playoff series without winning on the road. It was his way of telling his players that even though their home court advantage was smashed to smithereens this week, that is something they can overcome. Something they might have had to overcome anyway. [...] Van Gundy said he didn’t implement any drastic changes to the game plan today. He does not plan to change his starters, either. [...] But they did insert a few new plays to help Rashard Lewis’s offensive game, and worked on improving ball movement, shot selection and offensive and defensive transition games.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com states that Matt Barnes will likely guard Paul Pierce in Game 3 of the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals: “The likelihood is that Barnes will hound Pierce in Game 3, while Carter will move back to checking Allen. That’s the way the Magic schemed defensively against the Celtics during the regular season. And Barnes grew accustomed to checking the other team’s best players, having big defensive nights against the likes of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Joe Johnson and Stephen Jackson during the regular season and in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Being the Magic’s defensive stopper is a role that Barnes, a potential free agent at season’s end relishes.”
- Shaun Powell of NBA.com comments on the prospective matchup between Barnes and Pierce.
- Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse has more on the same subject.
- Rob Mahoney of ProBasketballTalk takes a look at some of the adjustments the Magic need to make against the Celtics: “The key is for Stan Van Gundy and his staff to identify the most problematic areas and the Magic players to adjust before its too late. In a seven-game series, changes in approach and execution are only as influential as the time at which they’re implemented. Everyone within the Magic organization can only hope that there’s still time to implement a change, go about making the necessary adjustment, and do their best to perform beginning with Game 3. One possible adjustment is to yank the injured Matt Barnes from the starting lineup, and replace him with the far more effective J.J. Redick.”
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post goes a step further and explains why J.J. Redick should start: “I’m not trying to slam Barnes here–he’s playing through back pain right now, and he’s had a great year–but the individual and team-wide numbers condemn him, and strongly suggest that Orlando stands a better chance to compete with Boston when Redick’s on the floor. Look at the efficiency differentials the team posts with those players sharing the floor with the other starters. Redick’s worth 37.31 points per 100 possessions over Barnes so far in this series! That’s just too glaring to ignore.”
- Rashard Lewis needs to score.
- Austin Burton of Dime Magazine chimes in on head coach Stan Van Gundy’s plan to get Lewis involved more on offense against the Celtics.
- Senior vice president Pat Williams doesn’t think it’s time to panic if you’re a Magic fan.
- Dwight Howard: “Well, the sun came up today and life went on like normal. I know we’re in a really tough spot right now going down 0-2 to the Celtics, but I’m not about doom and gloom at all here. Repeat after me: We can still do this!!! We need to get over the hump. All that matters now is getting our minds and our games right for Game 3 and not worrying about what has happened in the first two games. Of course, we’re upset about losing a tough game like we did Tuesday. We poured everything we had into that game. We looked at the film today and saw that the game came down to doing all of the little things. In games like this it’s more about having energy, running back on defense, rebounding and scrapping for loose balls. Those are the things that win big games in the Eastern Conference Finals. Right now, Boston is making those plays, but we know we can turn it around and swing things in our favor.”
- Zach Harper of Hardwood Paroxysm takes a look, with the help of video, at Howard’s post game in Game 2.
- Trey Kerby of Ball Don’t Lie: “In the first two games of the series, Lewis has played a little more than 83 minutes. Based on his per-minute stats from the regular season, you’d expect about 35 points and 12 rebounds for that amount of tick. Lewis has fallen a little short of that — he’s scored 11 points and grabbed 11 boards in the two games. That’s not good. Furthermore, the normally dead-on Lewis has made just 25 percent of his shots thus far. And as you can see by his shot chart, in typical Lewis fashion he’s been hesitant to mix things up inside, preferring to hang out by the perimeter and chuck threes. Once again, not good.”
More Gortat/Howard needs to be considered, sure. My main concern has always been that it makes it easier for the Celtics to defend the Magic, given that there's not as much spacing on the floor with Gortat at power forward and Orlando is already having trouble scoring on Boston. I've been trying to think if perhaps playing Lewis at small forward here and there might open things up for him offensively, but it's tough to say. Adjustments need to be made, obviously ... it's just not clear cut what needs to be done.