- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Matt Barnes will test the free-agent market this summer. Barnes said minutes ago that he will not exercise his player option for the 2010-11 season, but he added that he hopes to return to the Orlando Magic. ‘As for me and my contract situation, I’m going to opt out,’ Barnes told reporters gathered at RDV Sportsplex this morning. ‘Always worrying about the team and stuff like that is something you have to do during the season, and I’m 100 percent with that. But now it’s about me and my family and what’s best for us. I’ve expressed throughout the season that I’ve loved my time here and would love to return. But I think I know more than anybody that this is a business. The organization has to do what’s best for the team. Hopefully, I impressed them enough to bring me back and give me something decent, but we’ll have to wait and see about that.’ ”
- More from Robbins: “Dwight Howard acknowledged Monday that he might not play for Team USA in the FIBA World Championship late this summer in Turkey.”
- George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel states that general manager Otis Smith will need to make a decision about Vince Carter‘s future with the Orlando Magic sooner rather than later: “Will Carter be one of those 13 guys in 2010-11? It would be a neat thing if Carter stuck around. This is home for him. He’s a good guy with his teammates and a stand-up guy with the media. He does worthy charitable work, including a drug and alcohol rehab center in Flagler County. But all of that stuff often has very little to do with the business of basketball. Carter has an expiring contract, always a valuable asset for teams looking to unload big money. At some point soon, the Magic will need to decide whether Carter is worth keeping for another run, or look into the possibility of trading him. It would be disappointing to see him go. But admitting failure is the less painful than sticking with a plan that isn’t working. Carter needs to be the guy who had a strong latter half of the season, including the 48-point bomb he dropped on New Orleans.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com sits down with Smith for a Q/A session and asks him a variety of questions concerning the Magic. Some answers from Smith were somewhat revealing, like this one: “I think that we can [win a championship with Rashard Lewis at power forward]. I don’t think that is the issue. I think we have enough bodies to play the way that we want to play and win. I’m not one of those guys who subscribe to the theory that we need another power forward. I’ll put that right next to the idea that we need another center. That’s not what I subscribe to at all. We have the right collection of people to get the job done but collectively we didn’t get it done.”
- Rob Mahoney of ProBasketballTalk: “Orlando will likely make an effort to keep him, but from the sound of things it seems like Barnes’ decision will come down to the money. Tough to blame him, as he’s hardly locked in for huge, mega-deals for the rest of his career and his biggest payday yet was a $3 million, one-year deal from the Warriors in ’07-’08. We’ll have to wait and see whether or not the Magic will give Barnes the most lucrative offer, but they could definitely use his services next season.”
- Mickael Pietrus‘ hairdo netted him $17,000 this year.
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “In the end, it was the beginning of the games that doomed the Orlando Magic and derailed their championship chase. [...] The Celtics built upon early leads in three of their four victories, a tell-tale Game 3 rout that put the Magic in a still inescapable 0-3 hole. Playing catch-up all series, the Magic had come back in the Eastern Conference finals with two victories against the 2008 champions. But they couldn’t come back after falling behind by 21 points in the first half against the Celtics, who thoroughly outplayed them on both ends to nix any dream of a Game 7 in Orlando on Sunday.”
- Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “The climb toward history brought them to here so tauntingly close to the spectacular summit. They could reach out and almost touch the historic mountain top. They could see the glistening majesty of the Everest-like peak. Oops. Then they stepped onto the wrong rock, lost their grip, the terrain beneath their feet gave way and they tumbled perilously to earth. Look out below. Boston 96, Orlando 84.”
- George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: “The winner would be the one that got in the best punch. There was one fundamental flaw with that: Games are won by the team that gets the ball in the basket. And that’s why the Boston Celtics are your 2010 Eastern Conference champions. It was their energy and effort that rocked Orlando hard in the first half, stretching a lead extending to as many as 21 before coasting home, 96-84, in front of a noisy sea of green Friday night.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “If you’re searching for a specific moment when the tide started to turn against the Orlando Magic and in favor of the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, look no further than Jameer Nelson‘s offensive foul with 2:22 remaining in the first quarter. It was Nelson’s second personal foul of the game, and coach Stan Van Gundy had no other choice but take his starting point guard and his offensive sparkplug out of the game. The Magic never recovered. There are a multitude of reasons why the Celtics routed the Magic 96-84 on Friday, ending the Magic’s season, but there’s little doubt that Boston won the battle of the point guards.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “In an Eastern Conference Finals already full of so many wild swings, this was the swing that the Orlando Magic never really saw coming – an early knockout punch. Orlando’s bid at making history by rallying out of a 0-3 hole met an early ruin Friday night when the Boston Celtics started quickly to build a big early lead, made one big shot after another and finally put the Magic out of their misery. Boston’s 96-84 defeat of the Magic in Game 6 kept Orlando from sending the series back to Amway Arena one more time for a deciding Game 7. As it turns out, the final Magic game ever played at Amway Arena will be Wednesday’s 113-92 Magic win that seemed to propel Orlando back into the series.”
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Point guard Rajon Rondo set Boston on a good course early, accounting for 19 of the Celtics’ 30 first-period points via a score or an assist. Orlando only managed 19 points itself in the period. In their wins, the Celtics forced the Magic to play from behind, and Orlando never recovered, though it came close in Game 2. Rondo’s drives and aggressiveness in transition fueled the Celtics’ hot start, and the Magic fanned the flames by failing to get back defensively.”
Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images
In a rather uneventful evening, the Boston Celtics defeated the Orlando Magic by the score of 96-84 to advance to the NBA Finals for a second time in three years. Dwight Howard had 28 points, 12 rebounds, and two steals, Vince Carter had 17 points and seven rebounds … and that was it for the Magic. The Celtics were led by a balanced attack, with five players scoring in double-figures. Paul Pierce had a monster performance, with 31 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, and two steals. Ray Allen chipped in with 20 points.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: ” ‘Ridiculous.’ That’s the word Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy used to describe a Boston Herald column in which Ron Borges labeled Dwight Howard as ‘a cheap-shot artist’ and advocated that the Boston Celtics attempt to impose ‘frontier justice’ on Howard in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals tonight.”
- George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: “It’s going to get chippy tonight. Very chippy. Expect plenty of steel-cage antics all around. But they only way the Celtics hold serve is that they somehow rattle Howard or get him into foul trouble. How this game is officiated might be the most critical factor tonight. But to insinuate that Dwight suddenly turned from Superman to Darth Vader is ludicrous. Hello? He is a big guy playing a physical game. Just ask his teammates. Remember that mask Courtney Lee wore last season? That was from a shot he took from Howard. [...] Howard has been ripped a whole lot for his happy-go-lucky disposition. Now he is getting ripped because he is the dirtiest player in the game, quite the confusing juxtaposition for anybody into pop psychology.”
- Adonal Foyle provides his thoughts before Game 6: “In spite of everything we’ve been through in the last five games, the focus remains the same. We must keep up the intensity and understand that the situation has been the same ever since Game 4 – all Boston needs to do is win one more. We’re now at Game 6 and Boston still needs to win one more. Nothing has changed. We still want to make it back to the NBA Finals, we’re still the defending Eastern Conference champions and we are still hungry for a world title. And it all starts with going out and getting this win and bringing the series back to Orlando for one last time. If we come out with the same urgency, the same passion and the same fire, I think we can do it.”
- Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse wonders if the Boston Celtics have ran out of gas.
- Bradford Doolittle of Basketball Prospectus takes a look at where the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals stand between the Orlando Magic and the Celtics: “This is now a new series and the pressure is squarely on the shoulders of the veteran Celtics. I know that’s the easy storyline and one thing we pride ourselves at doing in all the various incarnations of Prospectus is not regurgitating the obvious and the easy. I’m sorry, but I can’t think of any other way to frame Game 6. The Celtics, who have been running a race against age and injury for two seasons now, are battered. Their three-game lead has shrunk to one. And the Celtics enter tonight’s game knowing that if they can’t hold serve at The Garden, they’ll have to try to steal a Game 7 before a revved up crowd in Orlando. On Monday, it was difficult to envision the Magic summoning the will to stave off elimination, with the 3-0 deficit and the Celtics enjoying the home floor edge. Perhaps if Paul Pierce could have found a look at the end of regulation that night, we’d be talking about how the Celtics were resting and healing, while the Lakers and Suns were duking it out in the West. But Pierce didn’t get a shot off and it’s been all Magic ever since. Now, our perception of the series has flipped. It feels like Boston’s last stand. If the Celtics don’t close out the series at home tonight, it’s really difficult to see them them winning in Orlando on Sunday. That, my friends, is pressure.”
- Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated states that the spotlight will be on the big men for Orlando and Boston in Game 6.
- Rob Mahoney of ProBasketball praises Brandon Bass.
- J.J. Redick has impressed in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals.
- ESPN.com conducts a roundtable discussion to preview tonight’s game between the Magic and the Celtics. A must-read.
Even though Dwight Howard has played well on offense in the last two games for the Orlando Magic, everything starts and ends with his defense. Because the Magic rely so much on Howard’s defense, similarly to how the Cleveland Cavaliers rely so much on LeBron James’ offense, they tend to struggle to win games when he’s dealing with foul troubles or he isn’t making the impact defensively that he normally makes. These instances aren’t the norm but when they happen and Howard is not on the floor, his absence on defense is magnified.
It can’t be understated how much of an intimidating presence Howard is in the paint. During the regular season, opponents shot 57.4 percent at the rim against the Magic — the second-lowest figure in the NBA behind the Chicago Bulls (league average was 61.0 percent). When Howard is in the game, nearly every team in the NBA either struggles to attack the basket or neglects to penetrate in the lane altogether. That’s why it’s hard to quantify how good of a defensive player Howard really is. Sometimes you have to look at the video.
Photo by Gary Green-Pool/Getty Images
After being left for dead following an embarrassing loss in Game 3, not many people expected to see the Orlando Magic play the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. The Magic, for lack of a better word, quit in Game 3 and didn’t put forth the effort and energy required to compete against the Celtics, let alone beat them. However, after playing well in Game 4 and really well in Game 5, Orlando has given themselves an opportunity to live to play another day, as long as they can beat Boston in Game 6 on the road.
Tonight’s game will be the toughest road test the Magic will have ever played this season, up to this point, without a doubt. There’s no guarantee that Orlando will win, though at least they put themselves in a position to have a chance.
What have the Magic done to extend the series to a Game 6?
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Most things are overstated in the ying and yang of the playoffs, but this is not one of them: Tonight’s the biggest night in the history of the Orlando Magic since 1995. Why? If the Magic win Game 6 against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden, they will have a chance to play their next three games at Amway Arena — an improbable Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, plus the first two games of the NBA Finals. Yes, the championship would go through Orlando, just as it did 15 years ago.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “As it turns out, staving off elimination and winning an overtime nail-biter in Boston in Game 4 was the easy part. And then coming back to gash one of the NBA’s best defensive teams in Game 5 for 13 3-pointers and 113 points, well, that was child’s play by comparison. But now, with the Orlando Magic having the full attention of the Boston Celtics, things expect to get infinitely more difficult in a Game 6 in Boston. And that’s just fine with a Magic team that is oozing confidence out its every pore following two landscape-altering victories that have swung momentum back to their side. Though they know they a face an all-out basketball battle Friday in Boston’s TD Garden and are still staring at a 3-2 deficit, it is the Magic who possess the swagger of the favorites now.”
- Julian Benbow of The Boston Globe: “Without question, the Celtics are now in a fight. In Game 4, the Magic swung wildly simply to stay alive. In Game 5, the blows left bruises. And even though they’re still fighting off elimination, the Magic are defiant, convincing themselves the past two games that they can become the first team in NBA history to climb out of a 3-0 series hole to win.”
- Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe: “Don’t go to that dark place, people. Not yet. The Celtics are going to win tonight. They have a healthy Big Three. They have Rajon Rondo ready to answer Jameer Nelson. They have Kendrick Perkins, granted a stay by the NBA’s behavior police. [...] Keep your heads. The Celtics failed to close this out in Game 4 at home. They were predictably beaten at Amway Arena in Game 5. But now they are home. And they are better. And they will end this tonight. Or they have a Sunday date with history and humiliation.”
- Jarrod N. Rudolph of The Boston Globe: “The Magic have always been resilient. This season alone they’ve fought through suspensions, injuries, slumps, and most recently a 3-0 hole. Their ability to move on to the next game without dwelling on previous disappointments has been their trademark and the one of the biggest factors for their charge back into the series. [...] Winning the last two games has been huge for the Magic, but the Celtics are still leading the series. Orlando knows being confident and having momentum doesn’t mean anything if its performance isn’t the very best.”
- Ron Borges of the Boston Herald: “There is a time and place for everything. Tonight is the time, and the Garden is the place. It is time for Dwight Howard to be Rambis-ed. [...] It is all well and good to talk of hard fouls and the playoffs being a time to expect them. It is quite another to turn a basketball court into the caged Octagon that made MMA a sport for a new generation. Far be it from me to advocate gratuitous violence, but in the case of the Magic’s elbow-swinging cheap-shot artist, two words come to mind: Why not?”
- Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: “The real question is why the Celtics ever stepped foot again in Amway Arena after dancing off the floor on the night of May 18. In Paul Pierce’s moving speech (literally – he was walking off the floor) that evening, he told his listeners he would see them next year, when the Magic are playing in a new building that just might have luxury boxes. But “next year” translated to “a week and a day” when the Celts failed to perform the necessary maintenance in Game 4. Remember, the Magic seemed to be looking simply for a way to expire with dignity when they showed up at the Garden that night, but the C’s decided to wrap Orlando’s self esteem in a victory when they chose not to share the ball or play defense with concerted effort. So the C’s could have taken all the Game 5 weirdness off the table by making sure there wasn’t a Game 5. Let a team hang around on a given night, and you risk a loss. When you let a series hang around, you risk a trip to the offseason.”
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “So [Vince Carter is] taking a beating, and the media are exploiting the usual talking points about him: he’s soft, he’s not clutch, he’s timid, he doesn’t have a “killer instinct.” And, well, yeah, there’s truth to some of that, insofar as he’s having a pretty terrible series, shooting 35.9% from the floor for 13 points per game. But I don’t have a problem with his aggression in his series; I don’t see him settling for too much. Consider that his percentage of shot attempts at the basket area (28.1%) in this series actually exceeds that figure from the regular season (25.6%) and that his work in the pick-and-roll has led to 4 assists for 9 points, as well as 9 other looks for which his teammates did not reward his unselfishness, per Synergy Sports Technology.”
- Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie endorses J.J. Redick: “He’s not some per-minute wonder, built up on offensive rebounds and tip-dunks over bench types while averaging 6.7 fouls per 36 minutes. He’s a legitimate contributor that plays more efficiently the more he’s allowed to run the floor and lose the fear of falling short. Because Stan Van Gundy is in this guy’s head, and J.J.’s the only player on this team that works this into a bad thing. SVG helps, for everyone but Redick.”
- For Jameer Nelson, size doesn’t matter.
- Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm: “I have to wonder if this isn’t everything Orlando can throw at them. It’s a tentative balance, much more so than it was three days ago. The reason? The Big 3 are sputtering. When any combination of 2 of the Big 3 are hitting, you might as well go home. But last night Pierce struggled with the Magic’s physical play of him, Garnett’s head has been AWOL since the start of Game 4, and Allen, well, Allen’s got the best defender in this series on him like white on rice and is still hitting fairly regularly. The Magic have kickstarted the offense and as much as Celtics fans may not want to admit it, Rashard Lewis DOES look like he suddenly got healthier, playing with more energy and the focus on his release has been better.”
- The Orlando Magic have been running on Rajon Rondo and the strategy is working.
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk keeps it simple: “It is Game 6 or bust for Boston, it wants no part of a Game 7 back in Orlando. Friday night is the showdown.”
- Sean Deveney of The Baseline explains why the Boston Celtics lost in Game 5.
- Head coach Stan Van Gundy is NOT the “Master of Panic.”
- Eric Freeman of The Baseline: “That’s why their wins in Games 4 and 5 take on more importance than just a shift from 3-0 to 3-2. They have momentum and control, and not just because they’d have homecourt advantage in a potential Game 7. They’ve essentially changed the Celtics’ position in the series from on the brink of making their second Finals in three years to grasping at whatever advantage they can find. That’s why Game 6 looks like such a promising game. It’s in Boston, so the Celtics are not without hope, but the Magic have turned this series on its head. It seems difficult to predict which team will take control because the avenues for success are so varied. Will [Dwight] Howard control the paint at both ends once again? Can Rajon Rondo find his mojo again? Will one of the Celtics’ veterans step up? Can Carter wake up and not be a total failure? The list goes on.”