- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Historical evidence indicates the Orlando Magic are vacation-bound, unable to change the course of the series against the Boston Celtics. But maybe tonight they can change — or erase — an unflattering image that could dog them into the summer and beyond after Saturday night’s Boston Massacre.”
- George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: “[Dwight] Howard‘s pursuit of outside interests will only slow down his development as an NBA superstar. Dwight is sensitive to criticism — I’ve seen this personally on several columns I’ve written — and does take things to heart. This isn’t a rip job, just an honest assessment: He’s got to get better and develop a versatile offensive game plan. He’s got to start making more free throws. He’s got to earn that superstar status, because right now he’s losing a lot of street cred in the NBA.”
- Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “Fairly or unfairly, the personal stake in this series is huge for [Vince] Carter. Down 0-3 to the Boston Celtics after a 94-71 loss on Saturday, the Magic face the possibility of failing to match last season’s NBA Finals appearance or, worse, getting swept out of the Eastern Conference finals. If either or both happens it will be looked upon as a failure of Orlando’s offseason moves — the most significant of which featured Carter’s arrival and Hedo Turkoglu’s departure.”
- Julian Benbow of The Boston Globe: “Indeed, the Celtics have had the Magic boxed in for the majority of the Eastern Conference finals, taking a three-games-to-none-lead with a 94-71 win Saturday night. The Celtics, who can close out the series tonight at the Garden, have given up 100 points just three times in these playoffs — their only three losses. In their 11 playoff wins, the Celtics have held opponents to 84.9 points a game. The defense that struggled to keep teams from hanging 100 at the end of the regular season is now playing as well as it has all season.”
- Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe: “The Magic are taking more of a plunge than they would at Splash Mountain at Disney World in Orlando, and are figuratively being doused at the conclusion of the drop. They are soaking wet, embarrassed, and stunned as they enter Game 4 tonight at TD Garden. No NBA team has come back from a three-games-to-none deficit, and if the Magic are swept, this season will be considered an abject failure. Even if the Magic steal Game 4 and send the series back to Orlando, they will be tabbed disappointments considering how they finished the regular season and swept through the first two rounds of the playoffs. But the Magic have at least one more game to display that their pride has not been expunged.”
- Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: “[Rashard] Lewis averaged 16 points during the Magic’s first eight playoff games – all wins – but has averaged just five during these three games against the Celtics. He’s made only two baskets in each and has attempted only two free throws – both in Game 1. Lewis is also 1-of-13 from his preferred 3-point range. [...] But Garnett isn’t simply playing straight-up defense. As in 2008, when his help defense was the lifeblood of an NBA title, Garnett is again covering the hardwood like a free safety. He’s back to defending against the pick-and-roll and recovering on time to deny Lewis a good shot. Any thoughts that the Lewis of the regular season – the player who successfully drove out of the corner on an immobilized Garnett for the game-winner with 1.3 seconds left in a Jan. 28 game in Orlando – would be a factor now are gone.”
- Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald: “For not only are the Celtics “back,” they have conquered whatever problems they brought out to the parquet during the regular season. When they take the court tonight for Game 4 against the deflated, sad Magic, the Garden will be primed and ready to be the launching pad to the team’s second trip to the NBA Finals in three years. It wasn’t long ago – just weeks, really – that people were asking which of Boston’s four pro sports franchises was the closest to winning a championship. Few had the Celtics on the list, even after they dismissed the Miami Heat in just five games in the first round. The Celtics made believers of everyone when they humiliated the Cleveland Cavaliers in the next round, but there was one home clunker in the mix: a 124-95 loss to the Cavs. But think big picture: The Celtics are 6-1 at home in the postseason.”
- Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: “Stan Van Gundy has been trying to get in front of every bullet he can, but what the Celtics are doing to his team is hardly on the coach – and it’s amazing that some will try to pin it there. He has put his players in a position to succeed all year, and they have responded in this series by rarely working hard enough and by tightening up and missing open shots when they do. On a club with this much talent, the sight of the Magic failing to play for each other is a clear sign that no magnetic force in sneakers has yet emerged.”
- 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.”
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Boston Celtics 94, Magic 71 holds a place in club infamy because of all that was riding on Saturday night. Desperately needing a victory to essentially keep a title-or-bust dream alive, the [Orlando] Magic caved in early and never recovered. The Sentinel asked small forward Matt Barnes just who that team was wearing the blue uniforms. [...] The frustration boiled over in the Magic lockeroom when point guard Jason Williams screamed at least one reporter, upset he didn’t have room to undress. Williams also was beaten to a loose ball by a diving Rajon Rondo, a symbolic play of the game, a play that drew a line between the teams.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Saturday was supposed to be the night the Magic defense solidified. It wasn’t. In an attempt to slow down Pierce, Orlando opened the game with small forward Matt Barnes — one of the team’s top two defenders on the wings — guarding Pierce one-on-one instead of Vince Carter. Little changed. Pierce scored 10 of his 15 points in the first half. [...] The Celtics’ offense displayed the ball movement the Magic want from themselves. Boston finished Saturday with 23 assists to eclipse their previous high total in this series of 21, set in Game 1. On one Boston possession in the second quarter, Celtics assistant coach Kevin Eastman counted his players make eight passes without taking a dribble.”
- Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “Forget about those “Blue and White Ignite” T-shirts the Magic have been giving away before home playoff games. With the Magic trailing this series by an historically insurmountable 3-0, the only thing left to say now is this: Blue and White, good night. Sweep dreams, Magic.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Equal parts disappointed and shocked, an Orlando Magic team that went 44 days and 14 games without losing in April and early-May suddenly can’t win. And because the surging Boston Celtics once again flexed their muscles, the Magic’s championship dreams could now frustratingly be on the verge of extinction. A Celtics team that is starting to resemble the unit that won the NBA title in 2008 once again smothered Orlando defensively and systematically picked the Magic apart in a 94-71 Boston rout at TD Garden. When Boston’s run to a 3-0 edge in the Eastern Conference Finals was complete Saturday night, the Magic were left to search for answers as to how things have so suddenly soured on them. An Orlando team that has dreamed for 11 months about making another run back to the NBA Finals to capture the title that eluded it last June is now in a position of merely trying to save face.”
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “For Orlando, there is no bright side here. Boston outclassed it in every aspect of the game. Jameer Nelson appeared to be the only player who really competed, at times, and he didn’t even play all that well, scoring 15 points on 15 shooting possessions with 1 assist and 4 turnovers. Rashard Lewis continued to struggle, with 4 points on 2-of-8 shooting, 4 rebounds, 5 fouls, and 4 turnovers. And the defense, which had to this point been decent, completely fell apart. The Celtics’ interior passing exposed the Magic and led to scores of easy buckets. Nothing went right.”
- Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe: “Before the Orlando Magic had the opportunity to gain a sliver of the confidence they’ve never had in this series, the Celtics showed how much they respect the authority of coach Doc Rivers. His influence on this team was questioned several times during the regular season, so much so that he considered walking away following the season. But the Celtics players are now digesting every word from their commander and because of that, they are one win away from a return trip to the NBA Finals. The Celtics scored 21 of the first 27 points in their 94-71 Game 3 Eastern Conference final victory over the Magic. They led by double digits nearly the entire game, using that game-opening run to suffocate the life out of a Magic team whose desire was sputtering from the opening tip.”
- Julian Benbow of The Boston Globe: “The Celtics had already piled up a 17-point lead after Rajon Rondo turned a sneaky little layup into a 3-point play. Then a hustle play became not just a highlight, but the highlight. Tony Allen got into a passing lane and tapped a pass that rolled into the Magic’s backcourt. Orlando backup point guard Jason Williams jogged after it, but Rondo was sprinting behind him. As Williams bent to grab the loose ball, Rondo dived headfirst at Williams’s ankles, tapping the ball to himself, getting up, shaking Williams with a quick crossover and sinking a layup that made it 36-17.”
- Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: “All anyone is going to remember from this one is the energy gap. Orlando, needing its best start of the series, folded almost from the opening jump. The Celtics, with the memory of their Game 3 stinker against the Cavaliers still fresh, opened with a Mike Tyson-style haymaker that shook Dwight Howard to the soles of his adidas. The energy launched Rajon Rondo onto the floor – after poking the ball from Jason Williams into the backcourt during the second quarter – for a sliding steal between the Orlando guard’s legs. The Celtics’ point guard got to his feet, drove to convert a short hook over Williams to convert a play that few had ever witnessed.”
- Ron Borges of the Boston Herald: “One hopes the Orlando Magic brought their golf clubs with them on this trip because they didn’t bring their pride. Facing a must-win, do-or-die situation last night the Magic opted for the latter. Not the do, the die. There were cadavers showing more life Saturday night in Boston than the Magic did. The Magic were so bad in the first half of an eventual 94-71 loss to the Celtics that left them down 0-3 in the Eastern Conference finals that head Magician Stan Van Gundy’s fondest hope was if he reached into his top hat they would all disappear … which they already had.”
Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images
The Boston Celtics defeated the Orlando Magic by the score of 94-71 to take a commanding 3-0 series lead in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics were led by a balanced attack, as six players scored in double-figures. Rajon Rondo led the way, as he finished the game with 11 points, 12 assists, three rebounds, and four steals.
Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images
When it comes down to it, the NBA playoffs are all about matchups and adjustments. For head coaches, and even assistants in different situations, this is their chance to prove their mettle against each other. One of the main storylines that has surfaced in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals between the Orlando Magic and the Boston Celtics is the fact that head coach Doc Rivers and assistant coach Tom Thibodeau have constructed an excellent game-plan, more so defensively than anything else.
The Magic have struggled to score, at times, against the Celtics because their options are being limited on offense. Boston has made it their priority to limit the amount of three-pointers (specifically, from the corners) Orlando attempts, let alone makes. The Celtics are wary of the devastation the Magic can cause when they’re making threes in bundles. One of the reasons why Boston has been so successful on defense is that they have the personnel to single-cover Dwight Howard and hound Orlando’s shooters on the perimeter. Open looks have come at a premium for the Magic and unfortunately for them, the problem is being exacerbated given that the Celtics are doing an excellent job of limiting the amount of three-point shots being attempted. For example, even though Orlando shot a good percentage from beyond the arc in Game 2 (38 percent), the number of threes they attempted (18) was less than their average during the regular season (27).
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “A not-so-funny thing happened to the [Orlando] Magic on the way to a second consecutive Finals appearance: The 2008 championship Celtics have materialized.They didn’t step out of an Iowa cornfield or magically appear through some heaven-sent cigar smoke from the late Red Auerbach. The tough old birds got their legs back, along with finding life in other assorted appendages. They stole home-court from the Magic, jolting them in Game 1 and winning Game 2 thanks to the play of a kid whose name sounds like a hero from an action movie: Rajon Rondo. And now a Magic team that easily was racking up victories never needed one more.”
- Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “Dwight Howard objects routinely to contention that the Magic want to go down fighting, saying that he doesn’t plan on going down at all. He offered a modified General George Patton quote after practice on Friday in an effort to illustrate the Magic’s position that they didn’t plan to go down fighting. ‘Do you know what the object of war is?’ Howard asked a reporter. ‘It’s not to die for your country, it’s to make the other person die for theirs.’ ”
- Julian Benbow of The Boston Globe: “With the Celtics leading the Magic, two games to none, in the Eastern Conference finals, Rivers’s fear was the team would hear continuous praise for three days. Instead, there was talk about overconfidence and the potential for a letdown, considering what hap pened two weeks ago. In the Celtics’ second-round series, they split the first two games on Cleveland’s home court and came back to Boston with three days off before Game 3. Rivers had described the practices as “lousy,’’ and the Cavaliers dealt the Celtics their worst home playoff loss in team history, with LeBron James exploding for 38 points in a 124-95 decision. Rivers said there was no need to show the team tape of that game again. The lesson was obvious.”
- Jarrod N. Rudolph of The Boston Globe: “The Magic aren’t ready to concede anything to the Celtics. They are down, 2-0, and have given their counterparts full credit for two wins on their home floor. The Magic are coming to Boston with the understanding they have to win tonight’s Game 3, and the belief they’re good enough to get the job done. [...] Three teams have come back to win a best-of-seven series after dropping the first two games at home. The Magic, however, don’t feel they need to go to the history books for inspiration. Their approach will be simple and straightforward. The task of winning in Boston will be hard enough without complicating it.”
- Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: “Tony Allen says he wants strictly to look ahead – a healthy perspective if ever there was one. When the Celtics guard looks back, there are too many thorny memories – the multiple knee and ankle surgeries, the repeated falling out of favor with his coach, the off-court and on-court troubles of his early pro career that led to an NBA security alert last April during the first round of the playoffs in Chicago. Compared to Allen’s current run as a rotational stopper – the man you might soon see on Lakers star Kobe Bryant, the one who can match up on just about any Magic player not named Dwight Howard – his past is locked in a closet. Right now he’s simply grateful for what has to feel like his third or fourth chance on this team.”
- Dan Duggan of the Boston Herald: “A common explanation for the rediscovery of Paul Pierce’s offense in the Eastern Conference finals against Orlando is that he no longer must worry about guarding LeBron James, as he did in the previous round. Although the assignment was undoubtedly a burden, that rationale overlooks another, more glaring reason why Pierce struggled offensively against the Cavaliers: He was being defended by LeBron James. A two-time all-defensive first-team selection, James is more than capable of locking up an opponent’s top scorer. In that matchup, Pierce was giving up size, speed, strength and leaping ability.”
In today’s media session (click here to read the log from Day 1), I was able to speak with Evan Turner amongst the media, as well as speak with Paul George, Patrick Patterson one-on-one, and Larry Sanders.
Could you talk about the rich basketball culture in Chicago, given that you’ve grown up in an area that’s produced talents like Isaiah Thomas, Quentin Richardson, and others?
Yeah, I just think basketball has always been a big thing in Chicago. It’s a competitive sport. Kids have a ball before they can walk. Everybody grows up playing it. It’s the thing to do during the summer. I used to play basketball from like 11 a.m. all the way to [midnight], so I think it’s a very competitive sport and just the way life is out here.
How did Thad Matta help prepare you for the NBA?
I think just mentally. He’s really big on the mental aspect of the game. He says everybody has talent but not too many are mentally tough and they crumble. I think he’s gotten me prepared for being positive, always have confidence in myself, and just preparing right. Working hard and not letting a day go by or an opportunity go by.
What makes your play-style so conducive to the next level?
I think I was blessed with the ability to slash. I picked up the game and learned how to find my teammates quicker … use the ball screen. I think it’s just a players’ game. I play basketball and I just work on different type of things to be ready for the NBA game and it’s a players’ game. I feel like it’s just basketball.
The NBA has become more of a league dominated by wing players. How do you think you’ll take advantage of the game in its present form?
Being in the Big Ten where they could carry you up the court pretty much and not getting any fouls called, I think I’ll adapt to it well. Definitely I have to get used to it on the defensive end because you can’t use your body or your hands. These are pros now. It’s their job to make shots. It’s their job to attack and everything, just have to be smart, really use your technique, and really use your fundamentals.
Some of the players I spoke with yesterday said that the college game is more physical, so how do you think you’ll adapt yourself to the league where it’s more spread out and what not?
The pace is going to be faster and the length of people [is different]. Somethings it’ll be tougher to finish at the rim and that’s pretty much it. The pace is going to be way quicker. Better athletes … you might face a guy your height or taller, as opposed to facing a guy who’s a little bit shorter.
- Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic are well aware of how important this weekend. Center Marcin Gortat called it the most important weekend of the season. After practice on Friday, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy acknowledged that the season would be judged based on how the team performed in the playoffs. He said the expectations surrounding the Magic are a good thing and right where the franchise wants to be.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “For two days since the Orlando Magic plummeted into a shocking 0-2 hole, Rashard Lewis has had plenty on his mind. He’s thought repeatedly about ways to get himself more involved in the offense, he’s steamed over the trash talk from the Boston Celtics and he’s listened to the noise about how the Magic are done. All of it, combined with the frustration of losing the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals, has raised the dander of the mild-mannered, soft-spoken Lewis. He vowed on Thursday that the Magic might be overlooked now and little expected of them, but by Saturday’s Game 3 people will see there is still plenty of life left in this team.”
- Dan Savage of OrlandoMagic.com thinks there’s still hope for the Orlando Magic in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals: “With each step taking me closer to the Magic’s locker room, I feared I’d see a room with heads held low and the look of utter defeat. But upon my arrival, I witnessed the near antithesis of my worries. The team’s facial expressions and body language still reflected determination and a complete belief that they could turn this series around. And that’s the moment that initiated my metamorphosis from a sullen disbeliever to an all-biases-aside-writer who sincerely thinks that Orlando’s Finals run is far from over. “
- Rob Mahoney of ProBasketballTalk responds to Matt Barnes‘ comments about Paul Pierce being a flopper: “Paul Pierce is a fantastic player, but the infuriating thing about him is that he stands (or falls?) amongst the most egregious floppers. It’s one thing for Paul to exaggerate a bump on the way to the rim, but the way he collapses on the floor after minimal incidental contact or pretends to be hit in the head while shooting seems like it should be beneath him. He’s honestly too good of a player to be compensating like that. [...] Barnes’ quote applies more to a singular incident of Pierce’s flopping than a general trend, but his point stands. However, that doesn’t mean I’m here on a holy crusade to rid the world of the flopping abomination. That’s the problem, actually. No matter how much we rant and rave, there isn’t a convenient solution to get rid of this kind of play. Pierce will continue to go on rewarded for what he does, and there’s really not much the NBA can do about it.”
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “A lot of things need to happen for the Magic to make this series interesting again. Three-point shooting is just one aspect. But it’s an important aspect. Getting to the foul line more–[Dwight] Howard and [J.J.] Redick are the only two players do to it consistently–can offset the lack of three-point chances, but it’s clear that the Magic need to rediscover what they did against the Celtics in the regular season. In those 4 games, Orlando got 27 of its 78 three-pointers from the corners, or 34.6%. Before the Conference Finals, the Celtics adjusted. Now, the Magic need to counter. Otherwise, they’ll be vacationing sooner rather than later.”
- Mickael Pietrus speaks!
- Assistant coach Patrick Ewing could play some basketball in his heyday.
- Austin Burton of Dime Magazine: “I think Vince Carter can shake his reputation as a crunch-time choker and overall soft player. All he has to do is play the game of his life tomorrow.”
- The top 10 players of the 2010 NBA Playoffs, featuring Jameer Nelson and Dwight Howard … in that order.
- Bradford Doolittle of Basketball Prospectus: “It’s apparent that the Celtics are not going to allow Rashard Lewis to become a big factor in this series. If that trend seems to be continuing in Game 3, I’d like to see Stan Van Gundy give more time to Marcin Gortat, who has been a spark whenever he’s stepped on the floor in the first two games. I don’t always love a Gortat/Dwight Howard pairing on the Magic frontline, but I do like it against the Celtics’ starting unit. Orlando can dominate the glass and as long as Kevin Garnett is struggling with his jump shot, Gortat should be able to contend with him on the defensive end. So far, it’s felt like Van Gundy has struggled to adjust to what Doc Rivers (or Tom Thibodeau, as the case may be) has thrown at him defensively. Going really big may force Doc to make some unwanted adjustments.”