- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Orlando Magic power forward Rashard Lewis expects to receive intravenous fluids tonight before Game 5 of the Eastern Conference playoffs against the Boston Celtics as he continues battle a nasty stomach virus that’s plagued him all series. Lewis said after the Magic completed their shootaround today that he’s ‘not 100 percent, not where I want to be,’ but he added that he’s ‘getting better.’ ”
- Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “If you liked Matt Barnes’ fighting spirit before, you’ll love it after hearing Barnes explain what really happened when Kevin Garnett received a technical foul in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Garnett objected to contact with Magic center Dwight Howard and Barnes began to pull Garnett away from Howard in the kind of move that made it look like Barnes was trying to calm the Celtics’ very vocal leader. Not quite, Barnes said. ’I wasn’t trying to calm Kevin down, I was messing with him,’ Barnes said after practice today. ‘I was messing with him. He likes to talk a lot so i was just messing with him. I wasn’t trying to calm him down at all. If he’s mad it doesn’t matter to me, so I was just messing with him.’ ”
- Rajon Rondo is hurting, but will play tonight.
- Head coach Stan Van Gundy wants Vince Carter to be aggressive offensively in tonight’s game.
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “If the Magic are to send this series back to Boston, they are going to have to keep running the pick-and-roll. A lot. Everybody knows it. The question is, what does Doc Rivers — and really Tom Thibodeau — come up with? Rivers said at shoot around he wants more ball pressure, look for the Celtics to do what they do — be physical on defense. As much as the referees will let them. Rivers said he wanted his defenders to “put their body” into the Magic ball handlers. He’s talking specifically to Rajon Rondo. This is going to come down to how Rondo fighting through the picks and not letting Nelson have is way.”
- Bradford Doolittle of Basketball Prospectus: “There are two ways to look at Monday’s result. Either this was a springboard for a return to the Magic’s success of the earlier rounds, or this was the best Orlando could do and even then it was just barely enough. Which is the right point of view? I have to lean towards the latter. We saw even during Game 4, when Orlando was playing well, that when the Celtics execute their systems at both ends of the floor, the Magic struggle. I thought the Celtics got away from their strengths on offense towards the end of the game and that, as much as anything Orlando did, played a part in the series lasting another game. However, with the home crowd behind the Magic on Wednesday, there could be one of those momentum-type games in which all those missed threes suddenly start falling. You never know. The Magic may yet find a little wind in its sails.”
- Trey Kerby of Ball Don’t Lie comments on Lewis’ viral infection.
- John Schuhmann of NBA.com chimes in on whether or not the Celtics will adjust to the Magic’s pick and roll offense.
- Boston is treating Game 5 like a Game 7.
- Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated looks at Orlando’s chances of making a comeback in the series: “The foundation for any extended Magic comeback in this series will be provided by [Jameer] Nelson and Dwight Howard, who had a magnificent 32 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks and could put a huge scare in Boston by maintaining that intimidating level of play. They’ll also continue to rely on sixth man J.J. Redick, who has played in high gear while averaging 11.5 points and shooting 53.8 percent from the arc in these finals.”
- Matt Moore of ProBasketballTalk thinks that Van Gundy needs to mix it up with his rotations and 5-man units if the Magic want to win three more games against the Celtics.
- John Hollinger of ESPN Insider: “Should they survive Game 5, 36.7 percent of the home-court-advantage teams facing Game 6 elimination have prevailed. Combine the two probabilities and you get about a 1-in-4 shot for the Magic to become the fourth team in league history to force a seventh game after being down 3-0. And although no team has won after trailing 3-0, the same isn’t true for the Magic’s current 3-1 deficit. Six of the 60 home-court-advantage teams that trailed 3-1 came back to win; when trailing 3-2, which might be Orlando’s deficit after Wednesday night, the odds improve to 14.5 percent. Not anything you would bet on, perhaps, but still a grand improvement on zero. That’s where Orlando can hang its hat entering Game 5. Comebacks from 3-0 have been far less common than one might believe just from modeling the situation mathematically, but apparently the first step is the hardest. At some point, as Van Gundy noted, the law of averages dictates that an NBA team will win a series after trailing 3-0. After shaking off the negative psychology of 3-0 to win a road Game 4, the Magic have at least given themselves a chance — albeit a small one — of making history.”
- Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference examines which teams remaining in the 2010 NBA Playoffs uses their best lineups the most: “The Magic like to play with a lot of different combinations outside of their Nelson-Carter-Barnes-Lewis-Howard (+10.22) core, but some need to fall by the wayside. Williams-Redick-Pietrus-Lewis-Howard (-17.36) has been horrible even during the Magic’s 8-0 playoff start, as has Nelson-Carter-Redick-Lewis-Howard (-11.96) — although the latter has played better in recent games, and Redick has had Orlando’s best raw +/- mark vs. Boston. Boston has largely played well against the Magic starters and have even neutralized the vaunted Gortat lineups (Gortat had a +13.73 APM during the regular season), so there isn’t much Van Gundy can do beyond what he’s been trying so far, but he might want to swap Redick (positive +/- in every Celtics matchup except game 3) for Barnes, who’s been negative in every game of the Boston series (he was even -8 in Orlando’s win on Monday).”
Since the conclusion of Game 4, a lot of smart people have chimed in on the Orlando Magic‘s pick and roll offense that was wildly successful against the Boston Celtics. Even though there’s no guarantee that the Magic will beat the Celtics later tonight, it’s clear that Jameer Nelson and Dwight Howard will, once again, be the focus offensively for Orlando. The key, more than anything else, for head coach Stan Van Gundy is to keep Howard moving on offense because in Games 2 and 4, Howard scored 30 points or more due to the fact that his athleticism and speed was being utilized correctly, particularly in the pick and roll. As for Nelson, he needs to stay in attack mode offensively and play with the same aggressiveness he displayed two nights ago.
Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Via ESPN Stats and Information:
In his 33 minutes off the bench in Game 4, J.J. Redick was a game-high +14 in the plus/minus. Redick’s plus/minus of +20 for the series is by far the highest for any [Orlando] Magic player – no one else has even a positive rating.
Orlando is outscoring opponents by 8.6 points per 48 minutes with Redick on the floor this series (+20 in 112 minutes), compared to getting outscored by a staggering 26.0 points per 48 minutes (-46 in 85 minutes) with him off the court.
- George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: “For [Orlando] Magic fans, it’s all about the heartbeat of hope. Their team showed a pulse in Monday night’s overtime victory against the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. About time, especially after the 94-71 stinker a few nights ago. For Celtics fans, there is the cautionary tick of panic. Just a little bit, for now. But everybody goes into DEFCON 1 kookiness if the Magic win tonight. Suddenly, the Celtics will look like a bunch of old guys, staying on the ropes for the last few rounds, hoping to hang on for a split-decision victory. An Orlando victory changes all the dynamics. An Orlando victory changes all the dynamics.”
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “[Jameer] Nelson had led Orlando to a season-saving overtime victory against the Boston Celtics on Monday night at TD Garden. At 5 feet 10, he sometimes was all that stood between the Magic and an embarrassing four-game sweep. He finished with 23 points and added nine assists, scoring six of Orlando’s 10 points in OT. But it was his clutch, back-to-back 3-pointers in the extra period that helped the Magic trim the Celtics’ deficit to 3-1, setting up tonight’s Game 5 at Amway Arena.”
- Jarrod N. Rudolph of The Boston Globe: “The Magic played Game 4 with a focus and intensity that everyone expected to see in Game 3. Many will credit the pride [Rashard] Lewis talked about as the primary reason they were able to avoid a sweep. At this point, no one knows whether that win was the start of something special — perhaps a historic comeback like the ones pulled off by the Flyers this year and the Red Sox in 2004 — or just a bump in the road for the Celtics. But the Magic are going into Game 5 tonight with the confidence that they have recaptured the winning ingredients that had been missing in the first three games.”
- Julian Benbow of The Boston Globe: “The Celtics have never really believed in the idea of adjustments, but in simply correcting the things they know went wrong. The flaws from Game 4 were execution — particularly on the final play of regulation — and energy early on. If Game 4 was about how the Magic would respond as they gasped for air down three games to none, tonight’s Game 5 is about how quickly the Celtics can correct the issues they so readily recognized after the loss. If they go into Amway Arena tonight and drop another game to the Magic, they will have resuscitated a team that was in critical condition.”
- Christopher L. Gasper of The Boston Globe: “Monday night, Rondo wasn’t even the best point guard in his own building — blame it on the Sports Illustrated cover jinx — and the Celtics need to make this a one-time occurrence or they could be making more than one trip to the Magic Kingdom. For the first time this postseason, Rondo has a legitimate challenger. It will be interesting to see how he responds in Game 5. In the past, such point guard duels have brought out Rondo’s best — think his head-to-head with Derrick Rose in last season’s playoffs — and the Celtics should hope that’s the case now, because Nelson won’t back down.”
- Ron Borges of the Boston Herald: “Whenever the Magic are done this season, so is Amway, condemned to a pile of rubble in favor of a new palace around the corner that has the requisite luxury boxes, club seats and income potential to satisfy the needs of the modern professional franchise. When the Magic left a week ago down 0-2, and then were obliterated in Game 3 at the Garden, the belief here in Disney World was that Amway’s doors had closed for the last time. [...] They’ll be open for Game 5. If the two teams play similar to the way they did in the second half Monday night, I wouldn’t expect to see them open again.”
- Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: “Rondo, suffering from a jammed left finger, had a largely forgettable night with the ball. But his defense also was put on alert. If the Celtics are to win Game 5 tonight in Orlando and close out the series, Rondo and his help must do a much better job of keeping Nelson out of the paint. [Dwight] Howard, with four put-backs and eight dunks, has never been bigger in this series. But to knock down the Orlando strongman a few notches, the Celtics have to take care of Nelson.”
Via the Orlando Magic:
Former Academic All-America® basketball standout Adonal Foyle, ’99 of Colgate University, joins a pair of former Academic All-America® football selections, Dr. James Kovach, ’78 of the University of Kentucky and Dewey Selmon, ’76 of the University of Oklahoma, and Connecticut College rowing star Anita DeFrantz, ‘74 as this year’s inductees into the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-America Hall of Fame®.
The four honorees will join 108 previous inductees as members of the CoSIDA Academic All-America Hall of Fame®, which was created in 1988. They will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at CoSIDA’s annual workshop in San Francisco, California on July 6.
“The CoSIDA Academic All-America Hall of Fame® represents everything we all believe college athletics can be and the Class of 2010 certainly lives up to that standard,” said Justin Doherty of the University of Wisconsin, the 2009-10 CoSIDA President. “These four individuals were high achievers as student-athletes and continue to make a positive impact on society to this day. They each add something special to the Academic All-America Hall of Fame® and CoSIDA is very proud to recognize their extraordinary contributions.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “In six years of time together, they have morphed from pups to the Orlando Magic’s unquestioned leaders – Dwight Howard being the heart of the franchise and Jameer Nelson representing its soul. Best friends off the court and co-captains on it, Howard and Nelson ensured that the Magic still have a heartbeat today in the Eastern Conference Finals because they would not let the team fade into oblivion without a fight. There will be at least one more game at Amway Arena, the place where Howard and Nelson grew together into cornerstones of one of the NBA’s elite teams, because of the unbreakable, unflappable will each displayed Monday against the Boston Celtics.”
- Is Vince Carter‘s legacy on the line?
- Matt Moore of NBA FanHouse: “After the Finals, the Magic saw a golden opportunity. “Let’s take a player who played well for us, Hedo Turkoglu, and whose contract is expiring, and let’s upgrade to an even better player at a similar, though not identical position!” And so, Vince Carter was brought in, and Courtney Lee and Hedo Turkoglu sacrificed. The plan seemed ingenious. After all, Carter is a better player than Turkoglu, and with all the extra size Orlando brought in with Brandon Bass and Marcin Gortat, many said the Magic were the best roster Nos. 1-10 in the league. They certainly looked like it through the first two rounds of the playoffs. But things change when the defenses intensify, when the style becomes more grinding, more physical, when the separation is a matter of inches and not feet.”
- It’s safe to say that the Orlando Magic need to run more pick and rolls in Game 5 against the Boston Celtics.
- John Krolik of ProBasketballTalk chimes in on the Magic’s pick and roll bonanza.
- Head coach Stan Van Gundy and Doc Rivers are master motivators.
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “If the Magic are going to send the series back to Boston for Game 6, then Vince Carter is going to have to step up. He has held the Magic back this series on both ends of the floor, with the key missed free throws in Game 2, and with a 1 for 9 shooting performance in Game 4. This time the Magic were able to overcome it, thanks in large part to J.J. Redick coming off the bench. Carter is still getting inside — five of his nine shots came within five feet of the rim — but he has got to find a way to finish. He has to hit shots over the long arms of the Celtics inside, and he will have to get the jumpers to fall as well.”
- Rob Mahoney of ProBasketballTalk writes an excellent write-up on Van Gundy’s coaching acumen: “Running Rondo ragged, playing J.J. Redick major minutes, sitting the ice-cold Vince Carter during crucial moments in the fourth quarter — these are the reasons why Stan Van Gundy would have a job even if the Eastern Conference Finals had ended in a sweep. Among the most logical reasons to fire a coach is a distrust in them to make the right adjustments. That has never and will never be the case with Van Gundy. He makes mistakes — with sets, with the rotation, with certain play calls — but he’s a perfectionist that works tirelessly to correct those mistakes. He’s always tinkering, and his willingness to adjust is what makes him so valuable as a head coach.”
- Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports criticizes Orlando after winning Game 4.
- Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon and Dwight Howard had a chat yesterday.
- The Magic are fortunate that Paul Pierce decided to go into ‘hero mode’ in the final seconds of the fourth quarter last night. Ray Allen had an excellent chance to end the series if he got the basketball.
Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Via ESPN Stats and Information:
The [Orlando] Magic found great success running the pick and roll against the Celtics on Monday, often with Dwight Howard screening for Jameer Nelson. Nelson was 8-22 in the first three games of the series as the ball-handler in the pick and roll; in Game 4, Nelson went 6-10 in those situations.
Games 1-3 Game 4 Plays 33 43 PPG 28 47 FG Pct. 35.6 51.6
Even though the Orlando Magic won last night in a thrilling game that went to overtime and avoided getting swept, the odds are still completely in the Boston Celtics’ favor to advance to the Finals sooner or later — NBA teams trailing 3-0 in a best-of-seven series are 0-93 in those series.
But if the Magic want any chance to do the impossible, to win four games in a row against a former champion, they need to ride on the Jameer Nelson-Dwight Howard pick and roll until the wheels fall off. There’s more Orlando needs to do, of course, to give themselves a chance to win tomorrow but offensively, there’s no question that Nelson and Howard need to lead the charge and display the same type of aggressiveness they did in Game 4.
Usually when Nelson runs the pick and roll, it’s normally just Howard setting the screen usually at the top of the key. However, head coach Stan Van Gundy introduced a new wrinkle yesterday … throwing in staggered screens that were set by Rashard Lewis before Howard set his screen to create additional space for Nelson to create for either himself or others. The adjustment worked. Nelson and Howard combined for 55 points, with a majority of the scores coming directly or indirectly from the pick and roll.
With Nelson taking the ball under the basket, the Celtics’ defense collapsed into the paint and was turned completely around. That allowed Nelson to find both open shooters on the perimeter and Howard with mismatches back under the hoop. Five of his assists were to Howard, three of them on lobs at the rim. Nelson picked up nine assists total, two more than he had in the first three games of this series combined. He also had more than a few hockey assists, with a Magic bucket coming two passes after his penetration.
Certainly defensive wizard Tom Thibodeau will try to throw a wrench in things because that’s his forte but until he does, the Magic need to live and die with the pick and roll because it’s one of the few plays that’s been successful against the Celtics’ staunch defense.
It was a play Orlando relied on down the stretch in the fourth quarter and overtime period when they need a bucket. It is a play the Magic will have to rely heavily on heading into Game 5.