- Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “In 1989 after sweeping through the first three rounds of the NBA playoffs, the Los Angeles Lakers met the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals. But with Los Angeles’ Byron Scott and Magic Johnson out with hamstring injuries, the Bad Boy Pistons won the championship in a four-game sweep. That win avenged a Pistons Finals loss to the Lakers in 1988 — the last of the Showtime Laker championships. The Pistons’ sweep was the only time since the current 16-team format, that a team that was previously playoff perfect was swept. In fact, no team since has been swept after coming off a sweep. But that could very well change this week. [...] If the Celtics sweep the Magic, Orlando will become the first team since the first round went from five games to seven games, to get swept after starting the playoffs 8-0.”
- The Boston Celtics aren’t worried about not being able to finish off the Orlando Magic in Game 4 of the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic aren’t just searching for answers after their humiliating 94-71 loss to the Boston Celtics last night. Right now, the Magic’s problems extend far beyond X’s and O’s. The team is searching for heart. The team is searching for composure. The team is searching for anything that will help it avoid being swept out of the Eastern Conference finals.”
- Head coach Stan Van Gundy (via John Schuhmann of NBA.com): “I think we have not been a team that’s been a soft team. We have not been a mentally weak team. We have not been a team who hasn’t competed. Now, last night, we were. But that doesn’t need to define us. And we need to make sure tomorrow night that does not define who we are.”
- Shaun Powell of NBA.com — surprise, surprise — criticizes Rashard Lewis‘ contract.
- Sean Deveney of The Baseline believes the Magic need to restore pride in tomorrow’s game: “Game 4 has to be looked at as an important game. This group, with Dwight Howard in the middle surrounded primarily by Jameer Nelson, Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis, is going to be together again next year, with just a handful of meaningful free agents (J.J. Redick and Jason Williams, plus Matt Barnes can opt out of his contract) and probably the year after that, too. What we saw last year from the Magic in the conference finals win over Cleveland was a resiliency that got them through difficult moments. What we’ve seen from the Magic this year in the conference finals has been a disappointing willingness to tuck tail and hide. And that’s not just bad in terms of this series. That’s bad for the franchise as a whole.”
- Courtney Lee was at the Game 3 watch party at Wall Street Plaza.
- Words of wisdom from Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “After the loss, I started thinking about all the people whom the Magic let down last night. I thought about the fans, primarily. The loyal customers who spend big bucks on seats and, ahem, helped pay for a brand-new building that will open this October. But until now, I hadn’t considered Van Gundy and GM Otis Smith. Maybe that’s selfish on my part, sure. But those guys have done everything they can to put this team in position to win. Smith, with owner Rich DeVos‘ blessing, spent big last summer to upgrade the Magic. And Van Gundy, with the help of his staff, has worked tirelessly for this team. They deserve better. The fans do as well. Ire toward Van Gundy and Smith is misguided. They did, and are doing, their part to bring this city a championship. The players now have to hold up their end of the bargain.”
I think it's a little absurd to not call Howard a superstar, simply because the Magic ran into a team that is perfectly suited to defend all their strengths offensively. I do agree that, ultimately, Howard needs to continue to improve on offense if Orlando wants to win a title but that's a wait-and-see proposition. We'll see what happens in the off-season.
As for Redick, I would expect Otis Smith to match anything up to the mid-level exception if I had to guess. Redick has proven this year that he's a starting-caliber player, so he'll net a few million.
Want to know where Lewis has been? Ask Kevin Garnett ... he's blanketed him the entire series. Lewis is partly to blame for his struggles, but have to give Garnett and the Celtics credit for not allowing him to do anything offensively. It's amazing how a series can change people's perceptions of Lewis but it is what it is.