- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “In six years of time together, they have morphed from pups to the Orlando Magic’s unquestioned leaders – Dwight Howard being the heart of the franchise and Jameer Nelson representing its soul. Best friends off the court and co-captains on it, Howard and Nelson ensured that the Magic still have a heartbeat today in the Eastern Conference Finals because they would not let the team fade into oblivion without a fight. There will be at least one more game at Amway Arena, the place where Howard and Nelson grew together into cornerstones of one of the NBA’s elite teams, because of the unbreakable, unflappable will each displayed Monday against the Boston Celtics.”
- Is Vince Carter‘s legacy on the line?
- Matt Moore of NBA FanHouse: “After the Finals, the Magic saw a golden opportunity. “Let’s take a player who played well for us, Hedo Turkoglu, and whose contract is expiring, and let’s upgrade to an even better player at a similar, though not identical position!” And so, Vince Carter was brought in, and Courtney Lee and Hedo Turkoglu sacrificed. The plan seemed ingenious. After all, Carter is a better player than Turkoglu, and with all the extra size Orlando brought in with Brandon Bass and Marcin Gortat, many said the Magic were the best roster Nos. 1-10 in the league. They certainly looked like it through the first two rounds of the playoffs. But things change when the defenses intensify, when the style becomes more grinding, more physical, when the separation is a matter of inches and not feet.”
- It’s safe to say that the Orlando Magic need to run more pick and rolls in Game 5 against the Boston Celtics.
- John Krolik of ProBasketballTalk chimes in on the Magic’s pick and roll bonanza.
- Head coach Stan Van Gundy and Doc Rivers are master motivators.
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “If the Magic are going to send the series back to Boston for Game 6, then Vince Carter is going to have to step up. He has held the Magic back this series on both ends of the floor, with the key missed free throws in Game 2, and with a 1 for 9 shooting performance in Game 4. This time the Magic were able to overcome it, thanks in large part to J.J. Redick coming off the bench. Carter is still getting inside — five of his nine shots came within five feet of the rim — but he has got to find a way to finish. He has to hit shots over the long arms of the Celtics inside, and he will have to get the jumpers to fall as well.”
- Rob Mahoney of ProBasketballTalk writes an excellent write-up on Van Gundy’s coaching acumen: “Running Rondo ragged, playing J.J. Redick major minutes, sitting the ice-cold Vince Carter during crucial moments in the fourth quarter — these are the reasons why Stan Van Gundy would have a job even if the Eastern Conference Finals had ended in a sweep. Among the most logical reasons to fire a coach is a distrust in them to make the right adjustments. That has never and will never be the case with Van Gundy. He makes mistakes — with sets, with the rotation, with certain play calls — but he’s a perfectionist that works tirelessly to correct those mistakes. He’s always tinkering, and his willingness to adjust is what makes him so valuable as a head coach.”
- Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports criticizes Orlando after winning Game 4.
- Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon and Dwight Howard had a chat yesterday.
- The Magic are fortunate that Paul Pierce decided to go into ‘hero mode’ in the final seconds of the fourth quarter last night. Ray Allen had an excellent chance to end the series if he got the basketball.
Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Via ESPN Stats and Information:
The [Orlando] Magic found great success running the pick and roll against the Celtics on Monday, often with Dwight Howard screening for Jameer Nelson. Nelson was 8-22 in the first three games of the series as the ball-handler in the pick and roll; in Game 4, Nelson went 6-10 in those situations.
Games 1-3 Game 4 Plays 33 43 PPG 28 47 FG Pct. 35.6 51.6
Even though the Orlando Magic won last night in a thrilling game that went to overtime and avoided getting swept, the odds are still completely in the Boston Celtics’ favor to advance to the Finals sooner or later — NBA teams trailing 3-0 in a best-of-seven series are 0-93 in those series.
But if the Magic want any chance to do the impossible, to win four games in a row against a former champion, they need to ride on the Jameer Nelson-Dwight Howard pick and roll until the wheels fall off. There’s more Orlando needs to do, of course, to give themselves a chance to win tomorrow but offensively, there’s no question that Nelson and Howard need to lead the charge and display the same type of aggressiveness they did in Game 4.
Usually when Nelson runs the pick and roll, it’s normally just Howard setting the screen usually at the top of the key. However, head coach Stan Van Gundy introduced a new wrinkle yesterday … throwing in staggered screens that were set by Rashard Lewis before Howard set his screen to create additional space for Nelson to create for either himself or others. The adjustment worked. Nelson and Howard combined for 55 points, with a majority of the scores coming directly or indirectly from the pick and roll.
With Nelson taking the ball under the basket, the Celtics’ defense collapsed into the paint and was turned completely around. That allowed Nelson to find both open shooters on the perimeter and Howard with mismatches back under the hoop. Five of his assists were to Howard, three of them on lobs at the rim. Nelson picked up nine assists total, two more than he had in the first three games of this series combined. He also had more than a few hockey assists, with a Magic bucket coming two passes after his penetration.
Certainly defensive wizard Tom Thibodeau will try to throw a wrench in things because that’s his forte but until he does, the Magic need to live and die with the pick and roll because it’s one of the few plays that’s been successful against the Celtics’ staunch defense.
It was a play Orlando relied on down the stretch in the fourth quarter and overtime period when they need a bucket. It is a play the Magic will have to rely heavily on heading into Game 5.
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic were perhaps due some luck in the land of the shamrocks. And with two minutes, 42 seconds left in their season, point guard Jameer Nelson tossed up a 3-point shot that somehow banked in off the glass. Nothing but hope. And that’s what the Magic have to bank on after staying alive with a dramatic 96-92 overtime victory against the Boston Celtics on Monday night.”
- Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “This championship dream all started with Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson and it was those two team captains and best friends who wouldn’t allow it to end. Dwight, the hulking, bulking big man, scored 32 points, yanked down 16 rebounds and blocked four shots. Jameer, the pint-sized point guard, hit two key 3s in overtime, scored 23 points and dished out nine assists. […] Are the Magic still the longest of long shots to win this series? Of course they are, but at least now they can see a dot of illumination, a pinprick of light where before there was just a dismally dark hole. Doesn’t matter how dire your circumstances, everything just seems a little better and brighter after a win.”
- George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Dwight Howard leaned over on the Orlando Magic bench and said something to Stan Van Gundy Monday night. Words that every coach on this planet loves to hear from a player. “Look I may need a rest earlier than usual tonight,” he told the man who likes to call “Stanley.” “I’m going to go as hard as I can. ” Hours later, after all the elbows, all the energy and all the excitement, Howard finished 32 points, 16 rebounds and 4 blocks. Superman stats. An effort of will and perseverance, when his team needed a huge pick-me-up.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Of Nelson’s nine assists, five resulted in dunks by Howard, three occurred on 3-pointers and one came on a layup by Barnes. When the Magic have been at their best this postseason, Nelson has spurred them. He played flawlessly in the first round against the Charlotte Bobcats, averaging a team-high 23.8 points per game and only 1.3 turnovers per game. He continued his stellar play in the second round against the Atlanta Hawks, averaging 17.3 points and 6.0 assists per game. But in Game 2 and Game 3 against the Celtics, Nelson was thoroughly outplayed by his Boston counterpart, Rajon Rondo. The script reversed itself in Game 4.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “An Orlando Magic team not yet willing to let go of its championship dreams and beliefs that it is at least an equal to the Boston Celtics showed Monday night that it still has plenty of fight left. And because the Magic dove for loose balls, fought for rebounds, attacked relentlessly on both ends of the floor and even worked a bit of overtime, they still have life today in these Eastern Conference Finals. There will be at least one more game at the 21-year-old Amway Arena because the Magic played with great desperation and efficiency in a 96-92 overtime defeat of the Celtics at Boston’s TD Garden.”
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Ultimately, this game more resembled what analysts and media members envisioned when prognosticating this series: a close, back-and-forth, defensive struggle. Really, this game was also the closest Orlando’s come to looking like the team that swept the first two rounds by clicking on all cylinders on both sides of the ball. The Magic still face impossible odds when it comes to winning the series–teams trailing 3-0 in best-of-seven playoff series are 0-96 in NBA history–but the point here is they played hard, smart, and with a lot of pride tonight with their season hanging in the balance. Down 3-0 and trailing by a point headed into the fourth quarter, on the road, plenty of teams might have just packed it in. But this Magic team made the plays it needed to. Even if the Magic had wound up losing in overtime tonight, at least they would have done so swinging, so to speak. It’s a start. A late one, but a start nevertheless.”
- Gary Dzen of The Boston Globe: “It took more than two minutes for someone to score in overtime, but Nelson did it twice in a row, banking in one three-pointer and swishing a second to put the Magic up six with 1:59 left. Allen broke the overtime scoring drought for the Celtics on their next possession, hitting a three-pointer to put the Celtics within three. A Dwight Howard lay-up put the Magic up five, but Allen came back with another one of his five three-pointers to make it 94-92. The pick-and-roll worked to perfection for Orlando on the next play, Howard gobbling up Nelson’s miss and putting it back in to put Orlando up four. A bad pass by Garnett gave the ball back to the Magic. Howard would convert again on Orlando’s next trip, a basket that would prove to be the last of the game as the Celtics failed to convert several opportunities.”
- Zach Lowe of CelticsHub: “I’ll get to some of the nitty-gritty in a second, but let me throw out an underrated stat that tells part of the story of this game: Boston had 19 assists. The Celtics averaged 23.5 assists per game in the regular season, the 2nd-highest-mark in the league, and they needed a full overtime period just to reach 19 tonight. Boston’s offense functions best when the ball is moving, when Rondo can penetrate in the half court, when the team runs, when Ray can curl out to the elbow off of screens and move the ball from there and when KG can find cutters from the post. And Orlando allowed almost none of that tonight.”
- Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: “Even before back-to-back treys from Orlando guard Jameer Nelson broke the game open in overtime, they Celtics had a chance to take the game and the series at the very end of regulation. But on a night when the Celtics were gouged by too many possessions that ran deep into the shot clock, Pierce was left scrambling to retain possession of the ball against a triple team as time expired. The botched execution on this play said a lot about the state of execution last night for the Celtics. As has often happened this season, when the Celtics break down on offense, everyone wanted the honor of putting the Magic to rest for the year. None succeeded.”
- Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: “For three games, the Celtics were the ones making the Magic do stupid things. The difference last night was that, while Orlando did dig in on defense, the Celts were largely unforced in their decisions to go it alone or nearly so. So the Magic have life. Their playoff chances are still attached to a respirator and the pulse may be faint, but there is a game tomorrow night in Orlando. And another chance for Van Gundy to convince his people they can do the heretofore undone.
Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Out to prove that Game 3 was an aberration in terms of playing with a lack of effort and energy, the Orlando Magic defeated the Boston Celtics in an overtime thriller by the score of 96-92 in Game 4 of the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. From the opening tip, it was clear that the Magic were going to give everything they had to make sure they didn’t get swept, as well as let their previous loss define their season. Instead, Orlando played with pride and came away with a victory on the road. The Magic were led Jameer Nelson, who had 23 points, nine assists, five rebounds but six turnovers, and Dwight Howard, who had 32 points, 16 rebounds, and four blocks. Rashard Lewis and J.J. Redick chipped in with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Once again, Boston Celtics center Kendrick Perkins says his team is “locked-in” and focused heading into a playoff game against the Orlando Magic. […] Perkins made similar comments in the hours before Game 3, and we all know how that contest turned out. The first quarter ended with Boston ahead 27-12, and Orlando never mounted a serious rally.”
- Dwight Howard believes he and his teammates have given the Boston Celtics too much respect in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals.
- Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated takes a look at what the Orlando Magic need to do in Game 4 to avoid a sweep.
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “Orlando needs somebody to be their Dave Roberts. Someone other than Dwight Howard, who the Celtics will let have a big game as long as his teammates stay cold (see Game 2 for example). Someone on Orlando needs to step up and start hitting the shots the team has been missing, someone needs to make some defensive plays, someone needs to inspire them with effort. The Magic need that one win to plant the seed of hope and give it a little water.”
- John Schuhmann of NBA.com thinks that the Celtics have been the perfect matchup for the Magic: “I blogged about the Magic’s lack of assists after Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, but it’s a note that bears repeating, especially after Game 3. Orlando was held to just 10 assists on 24 field goals on Saturday, the same number they had in Game 1. The Magic have been held to 10 or fewer assists five times in 93 games this season, and four of those five games have been against the Celtics (Dec. 25, Jan. 28, Game 1 and Game 3). What’s even more fascinating is that the Celtics have held their opponents to 10 assists or fewer just six times this season. So it’s not like it’s something they do to everybody. The Magic just happen to be a very good matchup for them defensively.”
- Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook examines Boston’s defense in Game 3 against Orlando.
- Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse: “They came into the Eastern Conference finals riding a 14-game winning streak, fresh from back-to-back sweeps over Charlotte and Atlanta, clearly the hottest, trendiest team in the NBA playoffs. When this best-of-seven series began, the Orlando Magic were brimming with confidence, raising the possibility of winning their first championship without losing a single game. And it all seems so distant now. In seven days — three crushing losses — they have gone from darlings to dogs, from basketball’s best to basketball bums, from toasted to roasted.”
Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Via ESPN Stats and Information:
The key for the Celtics in the series has been their ability to guard the [Orlando] Magic one-on-one in the paint allowing their defenders to stay at home on Orlando’s shooters and forcing them to make plays. The Celtics’ interior defenders have held the Magic to 50.5 percent shooting after Orlando shot 64.6 percent in the paint against the Hawks and Bobcats.
First 2 Rounds vs. Celtics Paint 64.6 50.5 3- PT FG 38.3 28.6 Overall 46.7 39.4
- 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.”