Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 234

May 19

Second Look: Boston Celtics 95, Orlando Magic 92

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “It’s up to the Orlando Magic now to bring back another game of basketball — not to mention their NBA championship dream — to Amway Arena. The Magic will leave the place for new digs next season, and it looked as if the Boston Celtics are swinging the wrecking ball of sorts. The Celtics took a 2-0 lead after beating the Magic 95-92 on Tuesday night, forcing Orlando to win a game in Boston to return the Eastern Conference finals to their building. [...] Maybe it’s karma or a delayed payback. But 15 years ago, the Magic closed out the storied Boston Garden with a first-round playoff win, the last NBA game played at the old haunt.”
  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “Go ahead and have at it. Go ahead and try to bisect, dissect and trisect why the Orlando Magic are down 0-2 and on life-support following Tuesday’s 95-92 loss to the Boston Celtics. But I can save you a lot of time and trouble because the reason is really quite simple: The Magic have run head-on into themselves — a better, more determined, more poised, more experienced version of themselves. We are talking, of course, about the Celtics, who have now all but destroyed the Magic’s chances of winning the Eastern Conference finals and ultimately winning a championship.”
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The first 34 minutes and 1 second of J.J. Redick‘s playing time Tuesday night went well. The last seven did not. Redick collected a crucial defensive rebound with 6.9 seconds remaining in regulation and the Orlando Magic trailing by three points. But instead of calling his team’s final timeout immediately, Redick dribbled upcourt before he finally called for a stoppage with 3.5 records left. As it turned out, those 3.5 seconds weren’t enough time for a quality shot for the Magic, who lost Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals to the Boston Celtics 95-92.”
  • Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “Throughout Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, Boston committed 29 fouls, more than half of those on Magic center Dwight Howard. As a Howard stopper, it didn’t work. He still played 40 minutes, scored 30 points and made 12 of 17 free throws. As a game changer, that physical play might have worked. The Celtics won Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, 95-92, despite losing two players to fouls and will return to Boston with a 2-0 series lead.”
  • George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Howard matched every claw and scratch, every twist and turn, every screaming demand imploring his teammates to rise up again after losing Game 1. There would be no quit. There couldn’t be. Not with a Celtics team that has a 32-0 record when going up 2-0 in best of seven playoff series. Howard got Kendrick Perkins out of the game when Perkins fouled out with 7:44 remaining. Howard reached high for an offensive rebound after a 3-point miss by Rashard Lewis, whose marksmanship in this series has gone AWOL. His two free throws cut the Celtics lead to a point with 4:05 left. All Howard, all the time.”
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “When Nelson’s heave from 30 feet fell short at the buzzer, the Magic were forced to stomach the first two-game losing streak at Amway Arena all season and stare down some daunting odds. In NBA history, 14 teams have come back to win best-of-seven series after falling into 0-2 holes. It happened as recently as 2008 when the San Antonio Spurs rallied to beat the New Orleans Hornets.  Only three times in playoff history has a team lost the first two games at home and rallied to advance. The most recent case of that happening was 2005 when Dallas battled back to beat the Houston Rockets in seven games.”
  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “What makes this loss doubly frustrating is that Orlando indeed made the proper adjustments. Howard still got his share of post-up opportunities, but he moved more decisively this time, and showed softer touch and a calmer demeanor than he did in Game 1. He also got some chances on the move. Yet he didn’t have much help on offense apart from Redick, who drilled some big shots, repeatedly attacked the teeth of Boston’s defense, and made excellent passes. [Jameer] Nelson and [Vince] Carter missed Howard on his rolls to the rim several times. Rashard Lewis did a better job of getting him the ball in useful spots, but that’s it. Lewis, who is suffering from the flu, shot 2-of-6 from the floor, grabbed 4 rebounds, and dished 4 assists in a team-high 41 minutes. Boston’s defense had some holes, such as when they overplayed the pick-and-roll and unwittingly left Howard open. But as I said, Nelson and Carter got tunnel vision and didn’t always manage to deliver the ball to him. The biggest factor in their defensive success, I thought, was their removal of the three-point shot. The Magic shot a solid 38.9% from beyond the arc, but managed only 18 attempts. Boston can live with Howard scoring efficiently, and even getting some dunks, if it can limit the three-pointer. That’s exactly what happened tonight.”
  • Gary Dzen of The Boston Globe: “The teams traded a Jameer Nelson layup and Pierce free throws and the Celtics clung to a 95-92 lead with 34.7 seconds left. On the next possession, Vince Carter drew the sixth foul on Pierce, but Carter missed both free throws, giving the Celtics the ball back with a three-point lead. Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy elected not to foul, and despite a miss by Garnett, the Magic got the ball back with only 3.5 seconds remaining after J.J. Redick delayed in calling a timeout. [...] From that failed bit of execution to solid execution down the stretch by the Celtics, what made the final few possessions even more impressive for Boston is that they were able to execute without their leading scorer. Pierce had 28 points for the game, including 12 points in the first quarter and 22 points during what was a strange first half. While Pierce was torching Orlando, Garnett and Ray Allen combined to go just 1 of 9 before halftime. But the Celtics led at half despite the poor shooting of Garnett and Allen, Orlando failing to turn eight offensive rebounds and 17 free throws into a lead before the break.”
  • Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: “Pierce, starting with a 12-point first quarter, stepped up with his premier moment of the last two rounds – a 28-point, five-assist, five-rebound performance before fouling out with 31.9 seconds left and the result essentially nailed down. The Celtics captain, who walked off the floor slowly pumping his fist following the team’s Game 1 win on Sunday, repeated that ritual last night. But this time he had a cutting message for the section of fans who eventually met his stare: ‘See you next year.’ ”
  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: “Rasheed Wallace (Ken Linseman in Zdeno Chara’s body), Kendrick Perkins, who fouled out (the equivalent of a game misconduct), and Davis combined for 24 points, which isn’t too bad a differential when a guy who finished fourth in the MVP balloting goes off. By game’s end, the C’s big people were filled with fouls – six for Perkins, five for Wallace, three for Davis. Rivers picked up two just thinking about how to guard Howard. But that didn’t matter in the overall scheme of things last night and in this series. The Magic are playing hard. The Celtics are playing harder.”
  • Ron Borges of the Boston Herald: “Sitting in a near-silent Amway Arena yesterday morning, Paul Pierce spoke about one of his favorite things – hearing once raucous fans in opposing arenas grow silent and then slink away after the final buzzer. Last night, he made that a stunning reality. “See you next year,” Pierce snarled in the direction of several sad-faced Orlando fans as he walked off the Amway floor following a 95-92 victory in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals. That left the Magic down 0-2 and in need of Houdini to escape the vise the Celtics now have them in.”
  • Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com: “These Celtics aren’t exactly the feel-good type. Boston wants to beat you up and then they’re going to take your lunch money, too. In an ultra-physical Game 2, the Celtics endured every haymaker Howard and Co. offered, and bounced back with two of their own. The Magic tried desperately to even this series with a late rally, and the Boston team of a month ago would have crumbled under the adversity. Not now. These Celtics have put together five consecutive postseason wins and are headed back to Boston with a commanding 2-0 series advantage. Also packed on their carry-on: an undeniable confidence.”

May 19

Recap: Boston Celtics 95, Orlando Magic 92

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Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images

BOX SCORE

“Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion.”

Former head coach Rudy Tomjanovich said those memorable words after the Houston Rockets swept the Orlando Magic in the 1995 NBA Finals, and that statement could — in theory — best describe the Boston Celtics as they defeated the Magic by the score of 95-92 in Game 2 of the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals to take a commanding 2-0 series lead heading back to Boston, and it probably does. Can’t help but harken back to 1996, either, when the Chicago Bulls road-blocked what many considered, until now, the best Orlando team in franchise history from making a return trip to the Finals. The circumstances were similar. Certainly there’s no comparison, in the sense that the 72-win Bulls are widely regarded as the best team in NBA history, but there are some eery similarities (subtle differences, too) in what is taking place right now in the postseason this year. After losing to the Magic a year before in the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Bulls exacted revenge in the 1996 Eastern Conference Finals with a sweep. In that regard, the Celtics are on their way to doing the same thing.

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May 18

Preview: Boston Celtics at Orlando Magic, Game 2

8:30 EDT | ESPN
50-32 @ 59-23
Pythagorean Record: 52-30 Pythagorean Record: 61-21
Pace: 91.6 (22nd) Pace: 92.0 (18th)
Offensive Rating: 107.7 (15th) Offensive Rating: 111.4 (4th)
Defensive Rating: 103.8 (5th) Defensive Rating: 103.3 (3rd)
Amway Arena | Celtics lead series 1-0

May 18

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Boston Celtics expect a tougher challenge from the Orlando Magic when the teams play Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals tonight at Amway Arena. Rivers said the Celtics need to do a better job of preventing open shots and stopping the Magic’s dribble penetration and offensive rebounds.”
  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Magic small forward Matt Barnes said he will play closer to full speed tonight in Game 2 against the Celtics and will stick with defending Ray Allen. Coach Stan Van Gundy would not reveal whether Barnes would stay on Allen or guard Paul Pierce, which is the way the defensive assignments fell in the regular season. [...] After playing just 15 minutes in Game 1, Barnes said he headed back home and rode a stationary bike at about 11:30 p.m. on Monday night to get increase conditioning level. He had basically sat out several practices trying to calm the back spasms.”
  • A review of Vince Carter‘s missed free-throw “play” in Game 1.
  • Did you know that assistant coach Clifford Ray once saved a dolphin?
  • Apparently, Carter didn’t take too kindly to a question that was asked to him by an Orlando sportscaster.
  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Perkins has a weakness, however, and that is covering the big man rolling to the rim on pick-and-roll plays. According to Synergy Sports Technology, Perkins defended 51 such situations this year, and opponents scored 1.02 points per possession and 51% of the time. He rates from “Good” to “Excellent” in every other play type, meaning [Dwight] Howard‘s best bet is to keep running hard to the rim on screen-and-roll plays. Marcin Gortat, Howard’s backup, has proven lethal in these situations against Boston. Remember, he shot 11-of-12 against the Celtics in last year’s Conference Semifinals, with teammates setting him up for 10 of those field goals. Boston pays him no mind. Interestingly, Perkins’ next-biggest hole defensively is defending the small man on the pick-and-roll, so even if Howard’s teammates can’t deliver him the ball on the roll, they can still try to attack Perkins.”
  • Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse states that Rashard Lewis needs to step up on offense and produce if the Magic not only want to win Game 2 but the series, as well.
  • Sean Deveney of The Baseline: “Howard’s disappearance was troubling for the Magic because the perimeter game was uncharacteristically out of whack, with the most prolific 3-point shooting team in NBA history making just 5-for-22 from behind the arc. Credit Boston’s dogged defense, which has lately taken on its 2008 championship form. But there’s little chance that the Magic will continue to shoot so poorly. If Orlando can just get back to its normal percentages—and get a little something more out of Howard—the Celtics will face a tougher challenge in Game 2.”
  • Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated looks at what needs to change for Orlando heading into tonight’s game: “There can be no chicken-or-egg rationale when the Magic enter Game 2 here Tuesday following the 92-88 opening win by the Celtics. After going 5-for-22 from beyond the arc, do they need to shoot threes at a better rate in order to open the paint for Howard? The answer: Yes. Doesn’t Howard also need to score inside to force double teams that create space for Orlando’s three-point shooters? Another yes.”
  • Rob Mahoney of ProBasketballTalk: “There’s nothing wrong with a player like Jameer Nelson or Vince Carter creating for themselves off of a screen, but Orlando’s two-man game will have to be more balanced if their offense is going to make a true comeback tonight. Unpredictability can only be a good thing in this case, as the well-defended Magic pick-and-roll in Game 1 only generated 0.67 points per possession. Dwight’s horribly unrefined post-ups, for comparison’s sake, scored 0.79 points per possession. Running more pick-and-rolls isn’t the answer, just like running more post-ups or more isolation plays isn’t the answer. Orlando needs to make the necessary adjustments, but just has to play better in Game 2 than they did in Game 1.”
  • How can the Magic beat the Boston Celtics in Game 2? John Hollinger of ESPN Insider attempts to find an answer to that question: “The Celtics had 20 fast-break points, in part because of the 18 turnovers committed by the Magic, and that was Orlando’s one major misgiving at the defensive end. The Magic generally have defended Boston extremely well, which has allowed them to overcome Perkins’ generally masterful work on Howard at the other end. But on Sunday, Orlando made “mistakes we weren’t making in preseason,” according to one staffer. Chief among them was poor transition D. Because the Magic generally have at least three players outside the 3-point line, it’s normally easy for them to rotate back on defense. Although the task is complicated a bit against a greyhound such as Rajon Rondo, Orlando was among the league’s best transition defenses in the regular season and can lock up Boston in the half court.”
  • Tom Haberstroh of ESPN Insider: “Rest assured, Game 2 will be different. Expect the Magic to return to their bread-and-butter play: the pick-and-roll. The Magic’s best offense starts with Jameer Nelson handling the ball on a screen-and-roll at the top of the key with Howard. It creates the player movement necessary to open up the perimeter as the defense is forced to rotate off of the 3-point line to help out on the rolling Howard. Once the defense begins to rotate, the Magic will either penetrate to the rack or promptly locate the open man on the perimeter through swift ball movement. And the Magic will always capitalize on open looks from downtown, especially if they can get to the corners. Not only will the playing style look different in Game 2, but so will the personnel. Expect marksman J.J. Redick to take on a bigger role Tuesday, even if he doesn’t get the starting gig over Matt Barnes. Redick will provide a much-needed injection of 3-point shooting after Rashard Lewis, Vince Carter and Barnes all were held without a made 3-pointer in the same game for just the third time all season. While it is true that the Celtics effectively created their own luck Sunday, they’d also be foolish to assume that Orlando’s dry spell in Game 1 will carry over into Tuesday night’s rematch.”
  • Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook states that Orlando must create their offense from the perimeter, by relying on pick and rolls and pick and pops.
  • Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference analyzes how pieces of a team fit together. This year’s Magic is one of the teams that’s examined: “Instead of grabbing all 30% usage guys, you deliberately take players who aren’t necessarily as talented, but will perform with better efficiency when they are asked to play that 18% role. But one question that pertains to the NBA playoffs is this: what exactly is the optimal combination? Is it the percentages I listed above? Or should the Alpha Dog take away more possessions from the mid-usage guys? Or maybe our role players are taking too big a % of the possessions? To find the answer, I looked at the postseason Modified Shot Attempt %s (same as poss%, but without turnovers) for the top 7 playoff minute-earners on every NBA champion since 1952.”

May 18

It’s a Make or Miss League

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Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Via ESPN Stats and Information:

One reason for Orlando’s struggles in Game 1 was its inability to hit jump shots in their half-court offense, which was a strength of the [Orlando] Magic over the course of the regular season and the first couple rounds of the playoffs. They even succeeded on jumpers against the Celtics in the regular season.

FG Pct. Pts. Per Shot
Regular Season 39.4* 1.03*
Regular Season vs. Celtics 38.5 0.99
1st 2 Rds. of Postseason 40.1* 1.02*
Conf. Finals Game 1 32.4 (11/34) 0.79 (27/34)

*Ranked in Top 5 in NBA

May 18

Sneak Preview: Boston Celtics at Orlando Magic, Game 2

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “[Orlando] Magic coach Stan Van Gundy decided before the series that he would use [Vince] Carter to defend Paul Pierce and [Matt] Barnes to defend Allen — the opposite of how the Magic began games against the Celtics during the regular season. Pierce scored 22 points, and Van Gundy said Monday that he didn’t know whether he’d continue with the new defensive assignments. He just knows that the Magic can’t allow both Allen and Pierce to shoot 50 percent or better from the field tonight. Van Gundy was more definitive about something else: He wants his team’s energy level to improve.”
  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Boston Celtics’ defense is no mystery. The man behind it is. His name is apparently Tom Thibodeau, Doc Rivers’ associate head coach. He’s all but a rumor, perhaps a figment of Rivers’ imagination. He might be a hologram or an animated robot that Doc winds up at game time, yelling instructions from the bench and mimicking the movements of his defenders like a dance instructor. It’s no wonder the Orlando Magic’s mighty offense didn’t know what hit it in Sunday’s Game 1 loss. This Thibodeau guy is like the phantom punch.”
  • Gary Dzen of The Boston Globe: “Ray Allen, who torched the Magic for 25 points in Game 1, said he wasn’t aware that the man who was guarding him, Orlando’s Matt Barnes, had any kind of injury. Barnes played just 15 minutes and complained of back pain after the game. [...] Allen made a conscious effort to drive to the basket more in Game 1 (he took the ball to the hole nine times), but he said it was more of a result of what the defense gave him than trying to take advantage of Barnes.”
  • Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe: “The focus of the Celtics’ resurrection can be attributed to the revival of Kevin Garnett, the evolution of Rajon Rondo, and the sparkling play of the bench. Largely ignored has been the increased execution of the defense, which was critical in containing the Magic in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals Sunday. The Celtics have earned the reputation as one of the league’s stingiest defenses the past three seasons, but that mind-set was missing most of this season. The Celtics allowed 100 points or more in 30 games, their defense slashed and overwhelmed by young, eager opponents who capitalized on their age. It wasn’t that coach Doc Rivers and associate head coach Tom Thibodeau adjusted the defensive sets or stressed help any less than two years ago. The problem was focus. Although the Celtics worked feverishly on defense every day, the players lacked the fervor to execute.”
  • Michael Vega of The Boston Globe: “The Magic were an inside-out team this season, with a squadron of perimeter scorers surrounding Dwight Howard in the low post. That identity was reinforced in the first two rounds of the playoffs when the Magic swept the Bobcats and Hawks, hitting 37.5 percent of their treys against the Bobcats and 39.3 percent against the Hawks. But when the Magic converted just 5 of 22 attempts from behind the arc Sunday, missing nine in a row before Jameer Nelson knocked down Orlando’s first trey 25 seconds into the second half, it had become apparent there would be little inside threat from Howard, who had to fight his own battles underneath, without much help from the perimeter players.”
  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: “Sheed has his set of ethics, and beyond that he just doesn’t care what anyone thinks, so don’t even bother. He steadfastly refused to yield to public pressure and, you know, play during the regular season. And he’s willing to put his wallet where his mouth is, spending a cool $100,000 in fines for sharing his opinions on the state of NBA officiating – and this doesn’t include more than $20,000 in automatic hits for technicals. But the figure on everyone’s mind during the first 82 games (and, notably, Game 1 of the Cavaliers series) was the $5.8 million the Celtics were paying him. That the return on investment now is coming to light puts Wallace in the awkward position of being forgiven for something for which he never apologized.”
  • Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: “This is what Doc Rivers has to deal with. The Celtics might be a maddening team at home. Their Game 3 loss to the Cavaliers was so dispiriting, the crowd booed. But they were the dominant team in Quicken Loans Arena, with the Cavs crowd poised to jump from the upper balcony on two of those three nights. Nor is this strictly a playoff phenomenon. The Celtics had the second-best road record (26-15) in the NBA during the regular season, behind only Cleveland. The Celtics were two wins better on the road than at home (24-17). Even more than the 2008 championship team, which didn’t win a playoff road game until the conference finals in Detroit, these Celtics seem to enjoy a harsher environment.”
  • Ron Borges of the Boston Herald: “In Sunday’s Game 1 win, Perkins and associates Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis caused Howard to miss more shots in one game (seven) than he missed in Orlando’s entire four-game second-round sweep of the Atlanta Hawks (five). Howard shot a ridiculous 84.4 percent (27-of-32) in the Hawks series, but just 30 percent against Perkins in Game 1. This was no fluke. Perkins may well play Howard better than anyone in the NBA because he uses a simple formula: Hold your ground like an oak tree in a blizzard and, if they let you, hold your man, too.”

May 17

Florida Hospital and Community Leaders Rally to Support the Orlando Magic

Gary Bassing, Orlando Magic

Via the Orlando Magic:

In support of the Magic’s quest for an NBA Championship, Florida Hospital, the official hospital of the Orlando Magic, held a pep rally on Monday, May 17, during which Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Richard T. Crotty issued a proclamation encouraging everyone in Orlando and Orange County to wear blue and white to support the hometown team. Florida Hospital also unveiled its limited edition blue hair during the event. For $10, clip-in blue hair can be purchased at the Amway Arena during Magic home games, at the Official Magic Playoff Headquarters at the Altamonte Mall and in all Florida Hospital gift shops. Proceeds from the blue hair sales will benefit the Florida Hospital for Children and the Orlando Magic Foundation.

May 17

Monday’s Magic Word

  • Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “Matt Barnes ran before and after practice today, trying to recover the some of the conditioning he lost after back spasms kept him from running for nearly week. He did a workout on an exercise bike after last night’s game, too, attempting the same result. [...] Barnes went through a full practice today with the team, but Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said they didn’t do full contact. Pain hasn’t been a problem for Barnes for the last two days, he said. Yesterday’s issue, in addition to fatigue, was that his back felt tight as he played.”
  • Matt Barnes, ladies and gentlemen: “Being 8-0 in the playoffs – I can’t speak for everyone – but we may have been feeling ourselves too much. They kicked our (butts) last night, and now we have to get back to work.”
  • Several players for the Boston Celtics comment on how they don’t choose to pick a poison when defending the Orlando Magic.
  • George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Assuming that [Dwight] Howard doesn’t fall prey to Boston’s shenanigans in the paint, the Magic have plenty of playing time left in the 2010 NBA Playoffs. It starts Tuesday night, with a renewed focus and understanding that the playoffs officially start now. Charlotte and Atlanta were gnats, squatted away with ease. Now comes the nasty. Boston fired the first haymaker. Now Orlando needs a counter-punch.”
  • Josh Cohen of OrlandoMagic.com states that the Magic will be ready for Game 2.
  • Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook takes a look at Orlando’s first half three-point shooting and clock management in Game 1. As they say, it’s not a pretty picture … but you’ll learn something.
  • Dwight Howard: “Our main goal was to win every quarter and play harder than the other team. The Celtics played harder than us on Sunday and that’s how they won the game. I know we’ll respond and am not worried one bit. We always find a way to bounce back; I’m confident that we’ll do it again. We understand what we have to do and have already talked about what we need to do to win Game 2. We have to put this game behind us, learn from it, but put it behind us. Trust me, we knew from experience that this was going to be a really tough series. Boston played great against Cleveland and the Celtics are one of the best defensive teams in the league. They are full of vets who know all the little tricks. We had a tough time with them in the playoffs last season and they were tough every time we played them this season, so we knew this series was going to be a dogfight.”
  • Kevin Arnovitz of TrueHoop constructs a must-see video to describe and show, with the help of David Thorpe, as to why Howard struggled to score against the Celtics yesterday.
  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post offers his opinion after watching Arnovitz’s vid: “For me, the biggest point Thorpe makes is that Howard is too deliberate with his moves against Boston’s Kendrick Perkins. The video shows that moving slowly against Perkins gives him time to establish a low base and knock Howard away from where he wants to be. It also lets Perkins get away with more physical activity. But when Howard’s on the move, and Perkins is giving him the business? Much more obvious for the officials. So the advantages of moving faster are twofold: Howard will score easier and, at least in theory, draw more fouls.”
  • John Schuhmann of NBA.com examines the Magic’s low assist total after the first game of the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals.

May 17

Orlando’s Rally Falls Short

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

As seen on ESPN’s Daily Dime.

The Orlando Magic relinquished home-court advantage with a loss to the Boston Celtics by the score of 92-88 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, but not before rallying back in the game after being down by as much as 20 points in the second half. After Ray Allen made a 3-pointer to increase the Celtics’ lead to 13 points with 5:33 left to play in the fourth quarter, the Magic went on a 13-4 run after being thoroughly outplayed for the majority of the game.

One of the spark plugs for Orlando during the comeback was J.J. Redick, who saw minutes at shooting guard as Vince Carter slid over to the small forward position. It was a calculated choice by head coach Stan Van Gundy, given that Matt Barnes was struggling on the floor and having some trouble defending Ray Allen. Perhaps Barnes’ troubles running around could be attributed to the fact that he’s been suffering from back spasms lately. In any case, Redick was able to provide a jolt of energy the Magic needed on both ends of the court — especially on offense, where Redick was able to influence better ball movement and floor spacing for Orlando.

The Magic defense did much to help the cause against the Celtics, too. Many times during the game, Orlando would go on a scoring spurt and cut into the deficit, but almost every time, Boston would respond with a bucket or two. However, in the final period, the Magic were able to string together stops defensively. Dwight Howard, who struggled on offense, was able to make a few key blocks to keep the Celtics from scoring. Redick did an effective job of chasing Allen around screens and running him off the 3-point line whenever possible. There are more examples of Orlando’s defensive efforts but these are some of the sequences that stood out the most.

Fast-forward to the end of the game: the Magic were able to trail by as little as two points with eight seconds left after Carter purposely missed his second free throw attempt and Jameer Nelson, somehow, maneuvered his way into the lane to make a layup off the miss. However, Allen was able to make his free throws and that was essentially the ball game. It was an excellent effort by Orlando, to not give up after trailing by double-digits for the majority of the game, but it wasn’t enough.

May 17

A Closer Examination of Dwight Howard’s Struggles on Offense in Game 1

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Via ESPN Stats and Information:

During the first two rounds of the playoffs, Dwight Howard was a dominate force in the post. Howard entered Sunday leading the playoffs in field goal percentage on post-ups at 71.1 percent (27-38) (minimum 10 plays), scoring 78 points on 78 post-up plays. On Sunday, Superman was shut down by the Celtics as Howard shot 25 percent and scored 9 points on 13 post-up plays.

Post-up plays:

First 2 Rounds Sunday
Plays/game 9.8 13.0
FG Pct. 71.1 25.0
Pts/Play 1.00 0.69
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