- Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “It was [Matt] Barnes who revealed last week that his assignment for Game 1 was Ray Allen instead of Pierce, whom he guarded during the regular season. Pierce is averaging 25 points, seven rebounds and five assists per game in the Eastern Conference Finals. Today both Barnes and Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said the defensive assignments have yet to be determined. And while Barnes said he would do his job on whomever the coaches wanted him to guard, when asked if he could stop Pierce, he replied confidently. ‘I think that I can,’ Barnes said. ‘You don’t really stop anybody; you just want to slow him down.’ ”
- More from Ganguli: “Magic coach Stan Van Gundy reminded his players this week that over the last few years very few teams have won a playoff series without winning on the road. It was his way of telling his players that even though their home court advantage was smashed to smithereens this week, that is something they can overcome. Something they might have had to overcome anyway. [...] Van Gundy said he didn’t implement any drastic changes to the game plan today. He does not plan to change his starters, either. [...] But they did insert a few new plays to help Rashard Lewis’s offensive game, and worked on improving ball movement, shot selection and offensive and defensive transition games.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com states that Matt Barnes will likely guard Paul Pierce in Game 3 of the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals: “The likelihood is that Barnes will hound Pierce in Game 3, while Carter will move back to checking Allen. That’s the way the Magic schemed defensively against the Celtics during the regular season. And Barnes grew accustomed to checking the other team’s best players, having big defensive nights against the likes of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Joe Johnson and Stephen Jackson during the regular season and in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Being the Magic’s defensive stopper is a role that Barnes, a potential free agent at season’s end relishes.”
- Shaun Powell of NBA.com comments on the prospective matchup between Barnes and Pierce.
- Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse has more on the same subject.
- Rob Mahoney of ProBasketballTalk takes a look at some of the adjustments the Magic need to make against the Celtics: “The key is for Stan Van Gundy and his staff to identify the most problematic areas and the Magic players to adjust before its too late. In a seven-game series, changes in approach and execution are only as influential as the time at which they’re implemented. Everyone within the Magic organization can only hope that there’s still time to implement a change, go about making the necessary adjustment, and do their best to perform beginning with Game 3. One possible adjustment is to yank the injured Matt Barnes from the starting lineup, and replace him with the far more effective J.J. Redick.”
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post goes a step further and explains why J.J. Redick should start: “I’m not trying to slam Barnes here–he’s playing through back pain right now, and he’s had a great year–but the individual and team-wide numbers condemn him, and strongly suggest that Orlando stands a better chance to compete with Boston when Redick’s on the floor. Look at the efficiency differentials the team posts with those players sharing the floor with the other starters. Redick’s worth 37.31 points per 100 possessions over Barnes so far in this series! That’s just too glaring to ignore.”
- Rashard Lewis needs to score.
- Austin Burton of Dime Magazine chimes in on head coach Stan Van Gundy’s plan to get Lewis involved more on offense against the Celtics.
- Senior vice president Pat Williams doesn’t think it’s time to panic if you’re a Magic fan.
- Dwight Howard: “Well, the sun came up today and life went on like normal. I know we’re in a really tough spot right now going down 0-2 to the Celtics, but I’m not about doom and gloom at all here. Repeat after me: We can still do this!!! We need to get over the hump. All that matters now is getting our minds and our games right for Game 3 and not worrying about what has happened in the first two games. Of course, we’re upset about losing a tough game like we did Tuesday. We poured everything we had into that game. We looked at the film today and saw that the game came down to doing all of the little things. In games like this it’s more about having energy, running back on defense, rebounding and scrapping for loose balls. Those are the things that win big games in the Eastern Conference Finals. Right now, Boston is making those plays, but we know we can turn it around and swing things in our favor.”
- Zach Harper of Hardwood Paroxysm takes a look, with the help of video, at Howard’s post game in Game 2.
- Trey Kerby of Ball Don’t Lie: “In the first two games of the series, Lewis has played a little more than 83 minutes. Based on his per-minute stats from the regular season, you’d expect about 35 points and 12 rebounds for that amount of tick. Lewis has fallen a little short of that — he’s scored 11 points and grabbed 11 boards in the two games. That’s not good. Furthermore, the normally dead-on Lewis has made just 25 percent of his shots thus far. And as you can see by his shot chart, in typical Lewis fashion he’s been hesitant to mix things up inside, preferring to hang out by the perimeter and chuck threes. Once again, not good.”
Blue & White Ignite – Magic Host Official Watch Parties for Games 3 & 4 of Eastern Conference Finals
Via the Orlando Magic:
As Blue and White Ignite for the 2010 NBA Playoffs, presented by Bright House Networks, the Magic are encouraging the entire Central Florida community to show their spirit and support the Magic at the Official Playoff Watch Parties for Games 3 & 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday, May 22 and Monday, May 24, respectively. Some highlights of the Official Playoff Watch Parties include drink specials and appearances by Orlando Magic Dancers and the Magic AirTran Flight Crew. Both games against Boston tip-off at 8:30 p.m.
- Official Playoff Watch Party for Game 3: On Saturday, May 22, the Magic will host two Official Playoff Watch Parties in downtown Orlando, at The Plaza Cinema Café (155 South Orange Avenue (second level) Orlando, FL 32801) and at Wall Street. The watch party at the Plaza Cinema Café will feature a projection screen in the café and outside in the Plaza courtyard as well, where there will be music provided by DJ D Strong. Both watch party locations will feature the Magic Dancers, the AirTran Flight Crew, Budweiser drink specials and giveaways, including rally rackets, car flags and T-shirts. Activities will begin at 7:30 p.m., and tip-off of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals will be at 8:30 p.m.
- Official Playoff Watch Party for Game 4: On Monday, May 24, the Magic will host two Official Playoff Watch Parties, at The Plaza Cinema Café and at the Orlando Magic Fan Zone at Waterford Lakes Town Center (413 North Alafaya Trail
Orlando, FL 32828). The watch party at the Plaza Cinema Café will feature a projection screen in the café and outside in the Plaza courtyard as well, where there will be music provided by DJ D Strong. Waterford Lakes will feature a pop-a-shot basketball game for fans of all ages. Both watch party locations will feature the Magic Dancers, the AirTran Flight Crew and giveaways, including rally rackets, car flags and T-shirts. Activities will begin at 7:30 p.m., and tip-off of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals will be at 8:30 p.m.
Yes, J.J. Redick goofed at the end of Game 2 against the Boston Celtics when he didn’t immediately call a timeout after he rebounded a missed shot attempt from Kevin Garnett with 6.9 seconds left in the game but it is what it is. Unfortunately for Redick, his mental error overshadowed another solid performance coming off the bench for the Orlando Magic. Redick did a little bit of everything — scoring, passing, and defending. Perhaps the casual NBA fan tuning in to watch the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals will be surprised to see that Redick has evolved into a well-rounded player but Magic fans have been seeing this type of play from him all season.
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic face an 0-2 deficit in the Eastern Conference finals, but players and coaches didn’t look or sound dejected after they gathered at RDV Sportsplex today to watch film from their Game 2 loss to the Boston Celtics. [...] Dwight Howard said he and his teammates don’t feel any pressure. ‘We know what we have to do,’ Howard told reporters. ‘Like I told those guys who went to the [NBA] Finals last year, we were in this situation, down 2-0 against the Lakers. Guys kind of just gave up. I don’t sense that in this team this year. We know what we have to do. We’re still the same team. Nobody in the locker room has their head down complaining about last night. We’ve moved on, and we’re just going to try to get better.’ ”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Vince Carter, who made 84.0 percent of his free-throw attempts during the regular season, missed a pair of crucial tries with Orlando trailing 95-92. You could tell just how frustrated Carter was with those misses once he returned to the Magic bench following a Celtics timeout with 30.6 seconds remaining. Carter slammed his hands against the cushion of a chair. To reporters, Carter always projects calm after games in which he plays well and after games in which he plays poorly. His demeanor doesn’t change. It didn’t change last night, either. But if you read between the lines last night, you could tell that he was disappointed in himself.”
- The Boston Celtics are up 2-0 in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals and it’s clear that they’ve been in control against the Orlando Magic since the start of the series. Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post explains: “When anyone says the Celtics are in control, they certainly refer to their 2-0 series lead. But they’ve also controlled both games, to a great extent. Boston has held a lead for 92.5% of the minutes played in this series. And though it’s true that Orlando can stage a comeback, it’s just as true that plenty has to change for that to happen. A poor start buried it in Game 1, while a lull in the third quarter of Game 2 helped Boston go on a 13-1 run to take a 70-60 lead. The margin for error against this Celtics team has been too low for the Magic to handle so far. We’ll see if that much holds true as the series continues. Game 3 tips this Saturday in Boston.”
- Remember when Michael Jordan scored 64 points on 49 shots against the Magic in 1993?
- Daniel Marks of Dime Magazine: “Despite the fact that he is an eight-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA player, Carter is still seen as overrated by many. For some reason, whether it be his inability to get a team to the Conference Finals before this year, or his seemingly laid-back attitude toward the game, people have disliked Carter for awhile. Despite the fact that Carter is a good guy, never in trouble with the law, and a man of principle who attended his UNC graduation on the same day as a Raptors playoff game, people still love to hate Vince. I personally am not one of those guys, as I grew to admire Vince in his time with the Nets, but the haters are everywhere.”
- Bethlehem Shoals of NBA FanHouse doesn’t hold back with his criticism of Dwight Howard: “Howard, on the other hand, simply has zero instinct for scoring. You know that phrase “nose for the ball”? He has no nose for the basket; he’s only effective on straight-forward dunks or clear-path lobs. The NBA does Howard, and itself, a great disservice every time it shows clips of Orlando Magic-era Shaquille O’Neal during these games. Shaq wasn’t just a physical marvel, he knew exactly how to use his body, when and where to take off from around the rim. There also wasn’t a sharp disjuncture in his game between dunks and everything else. O’Neal’s baby hooks looked natural; Howard might as well be trying to hoist a three. Some players block shots like they’re dunking; Howard dunks like he’s blocking shots. It’s great if he goes for 30, but Superman isn’t all he’s cracked to be. And that’s okay. We just need to be honest about it and move on.”
- Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook looks at J.J. Redick‘s poor decision at the end of Game 2 and the keys to Howard’s improved post game.
- Kevin Arnovitz of TrueHoop crafts another visual masterpiece, chronicling the many subtle breakdowns that led to the Magic’s loss in last night’s game: “The novelty quotient on J.J. Redick’s miscue was the highest of the bunch. Redick dribbled after collecting a crucial offensive rebound with about seven seconds remaining and his team trailing by three. His snafu denied the Magic the opportunity to advance the ball into their frontcourt for a final attempt at a 3-pointer to tie. Though Vince Carter’s pair of missed free throws will certainly attract those who make a pastime of schadenfreude at Carter’s expense. These were costly mistakes, but neither achieved the level of true meltdown status. Instead, it was the aggregate failure to execute that did them in.”
- Henry Abbott of TrueHoop chimes in on the myriad of referee issues that occurred yesterday.
- Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports: “Boston chopped down LeBron James, and now they’re going after Dwight Howard, too. It’s a mess for these Magic, and all they could do late Tuesday was sit back, seethe and know there isn’t a damn thing they could do to stop the snickering. Between now and a season lost, the Magic must make these Celtics respect them. So far, the Celtics’ private insistence is true: Orlando can’t beat them when they’re playing their best basketball. So far, it’s played out perfectly. If Pierce didn’t say it, then maybe he should’ve: Break out a broom for the sweep that no one saw coming, for a Celtics franchise full of so much bully and bravado that the rest of the NBA will have to go back to hating them again. Pride comes before a fall, Dwight Howard declared on Tuesday night. Yes, it does. The Magic need to show some on Saturday night, need to make a last stand for a season that already feels like it’s going, going and gone.”
- Sekou Smith of the Hangtime Blog wonders where’s the bench been for Orlando?
- Jay Aych of The Painted Area analyzes why the Celtics have been able to slow down the Magic’s offense: “So far, the Celtics have done a quality job limiting the Magic’s 3pt. shooting prowess. Orlando led the league in 3pt. attempts with 27.3 per game and shot them at a 37.5% clips (4th best). The Magic were held to a 5-for-22 3pt. shooting night in Game 1. In Game 2, Boston did allow the Magic to shoot 39% from 3pt., but kept the Magic to only 18 3PA, nine below their season average.”
- UPDATE: I will be covering the 2010 NBA Draft Combine in Chicago tomorrow and Friday, so stay tuned for media logs with quotes from the players — like John Wall.
Dwight Howard‘s struggles on offense against the Boston Celtics in Game 1 were catalogued everywhere, it seemed. Everyone far and wide bemoaned Howard’s performance, citing that he’s no better in the post than he was a few years ago. Not only were people preaching that statement like it was canon, for whatever reason, but they were completely ignoring almost every game this year during the regular season when Howard made great strides on the low block.
Game 2 was another example.
Howard’s improvement and productivity can’t be denied, no matter what people may believe.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Via ESPN Stats and Information:
Dwight Howard clearly upped his play in game two. He dominated his two primary defenders (Kendrick Perkins and Rasheed Wallace) while racking up fouls by the bucket load.
PTS FG TO Fouls Drawn Wallace 12 4-5 0 3 Perkins 11 4-4 2 3 Davis 4 1-4 0 1 Garnett 3 0-0 1 0
- 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.”
Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images
“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.
- 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.”