Post-game Reactions

Orlando Magic fans are lucky to have a bunch of outstanding bloggers to read, a crew led by the guys at Third Quarter Collapse, Orlando Magic Daily and the new and very fun The Puns are Starting to Bore Me. I asked the same four questions to two of the smartest Magic fans–and NBA fans–around: TQC’s Ben Q. Rock and OMD’s Zach McCann (who, I’m happy to note, spells his first name correctly). Here’s what they had to say about this upcoming series. Read my answers to Zach’s questions at OMD here and to Ben’s at TQC here.

Celtics Hub: How have Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu looked so far in the playoffs, in terms of health? Without Kevin Garnett, the Celtics will face a mismatch against one or both of these guys basically all the time. How worried should we be?

Third Quarter Collapse: If Lewis’ knees are still bothering him, it didn’t show against the Sixers.

Turkoglu is a different story. As you might expect, his sprained ankle has compromised some of his quickness and lateral mobility. For the most part, he defended Andre Iguodala capably in the first round, but he allowed more blow-bys than he would have were his ankle fully healthy.

With that said, I don’t anticipate those injuries having much of an impact on this series.

Orlando Magic Daily: After an awful start to round one, Turkoglu and Lewis — especially Lewis — began to turn it around and played pretty well in the Magic’s three consecutive victories to close out the Sixers. I’m not worried about Lewis. Turkoglu, however, is a little concerning. He insists his ankle is fine, but he’s noticeably slower and unable to create much off the dribble on offense. And Andre Iguodala was able to penetrate at will, something Paul Pierce would certainly be capable of doing in the same situation. These four days off had to have helped, though.

Lewis should really worry you. Whoever you put on him — Glen Davis or Brian Scalabrine — his athleticism and ability to stretch the floor is going to cause problems. If Lewis asserts himself on offense (which he doesn’t always do), he could be in store for a huge series.

Celtics Hub: The Magic’s offense is simplified as a classic “inside-outside” offense. Tell us something else that is a big weapon offensively for the team–something they do a lot on screen/roll, certain match-ups they like to go to, something like that. What should be watching for besides Dwight and the three-point bombers?

TQC: Look for plenty of Rafer Alston floaters, assuming he’s able to get past Rajon Rondo (or Rondo gets caught in one of Howard’s nasty screens). He misses his fair share of them, but just getting into the lane and forcing the defense to react sometimes yields positive results… like Howard grabbing the miss and dunking it.

OMD: The “give it to Dwight, wait for the double team and pass to the open shooter” tactic isn’t going to work because Kendrick Perkins can stop Howard one-on-one and the defenders can stay at home. Consequently, we’re going to see a lot of different things from the Magic in this series.

They love the screen-and-roll with Turkoglu and Howard, with shooters waiting on the corners and one of the wings. If Turkoglu can find a crease off the screen and attack the lane, he’s a tough guy to stop. And it will usually open up some things for a shooter in the corner or Howard in the lane.

Given the absence of KG, we should see a few more isolation sets for Lewis. He’s deadly when he gets the ball on the baseline, about 15 feet out. He can shoot the turn-around jumper that he lives by, or he can knife through the lane for a quick right-handed floater. The Magic went to this repeatedly down the stretch of Game 5, when he was able to score several crucial baskets and lock up a victory for Orlando.

Also, with Courtney Lee out, the Magic will run a lot of pick-and-pops involving JJ Redick. He’s still the same Redick that set the ACC scoring record by coming off screens and making jumpers from all different angles. Redick scored 15 points in his only start of round one. He’s a solid scorer when working through multiple screens and shooting off the catch. Of course, he’s playing opposite the master of the art, Ray Allen.

After the jump, the guys talk Perkins-Howard and reveal what really worries them about the Celtics.

Celtics Hub: In Kendrick Perkins, the Celtics have one of the few centers in the league who may match Dwight Howard in terms of sheer physical strength and be able to make it difficult for Howard to get the position he wants in the low post consistently. How do you expect Howard to attack Perkins offensively?

TQC: I think the key is for Dwight to make his move immediately after catching the ball. If he lets Perkins–and his wide base–get set, he won’t have much luck muscling past him or through him.

Most of Dwight’s offense, at least in this series, is going to have to come in transition or from offensive rebounds. The Magic can’t count on him to torch Perkins as he did Samuel Dalembert in the first round.

OMD: There’s a short list of guys who can contain Dwight Howard, but Kendrick Perkins is certainly near the top of the list. His wide body and sheer strength, like you said, always give Howard fits. Last time these teams played Howard scored 24 points, but only one of his field goals came on traditional post moves. The rest came on put-backs, assisted dunks and free throws.

I don’t expect to see the Magic attack Boston through the post as much as they attacked the Sixers in round one. With the Magic’s array of shooters, they’re best when the ball is constantly in motion and guys are moving without the ball — when Howard gets it on the low block, and opponents don’t bring the double-team, the offense stops. I’m not saying the Magic won’t go to the post, but it’s certainly not going to be their primary option like it has been at times in the past.

Celtics Hub: I’ll end with an open-ended one: What’s the one thing about the Celtics that makes you really worried?

TQC: Experience, mostly. This team has seen its share of Game 7s, and has won them all. And if it comes down to a Game 7, in Boston, there’s little reason to believe Orlando will be able to pull off the upset.

If we’re talking about actual, measurable things, it’s Ray Allen. There’s only so much J.J. Redick can do defensively, and the Magic will probably need Mickael Pietrus to mop-up small forward minutes behind Turkoglu. The Magic are going to have to be awfully creative with their defenses if they hope to contain Allen, who was arguably the Celtics’ best player in the first round.

OMD: At the end of games, I really hate having to match baskets with Paul Pierce. When Pierce gets the ball at the top of the key or at one of the elbows — something I’m sure you know all too well — he is incredibly difficult to stop. Turkoglu will be the guy on him, and Pierce can cruise by Turk anytime he wants. Remember the last time these teams met, when Howard blocked Pierce’s game-tying lay-up in the final seconds? Before the block, Pierce surged past Turkoglu with nothing but a stutter step. And that was when Turkoglu’s ankle was 100 percent.

Other than that, I really, really don’t like the Rajon Rondo-Rafer Alston matchup. And oh yeah, how are the Magic going to contain Ray Allen? With Lee out, there’s no way the Magic hold him under 25 points, and that’s the basement.

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  • KOD

    Zach – love the blog and as a Celts fan mostly agree with what you guys have to say- (here it comes) BUT – I must say I'm a little baffled by your rather weak defense (as it appears on that OMD site) of the Celtics in regard to the "dirty reputation" comments. Bulls fans, and likely much of the other top NBA teams fans, may have unfairly labeled the Celts as a dirty team. That's what happens when you are defending champs and play an aggressive/physical style of play on defense (and the teams you beat are then often labeled "soft" as a result). In addition, the overblown and all-encompassing media coverage tends to reinforce these reputations to the point where casual observers then start to take it as gospel, despite the fact that the losing teams may have resorted to more dirty play in an attempt to avoid being hit with the "soft" tag. Moreover, the officiating in the NBA is often so inconsistent and poor – even at critical moments in the playoffs – that frustration clearly plagues both the players and coaches – and things can sometimes get out of hand on the court as a result.

    In a general overview of the Celts-Bulls series in regard to the "dirty play" angle – Celts fans could just as easily point to Brad Miller, Joakim Noah, Tyrus Thomas, and even Kirk Hinrich as the ones instigating much of the chippy play throughout the series. In addition, KG being animated on the bench is something you knew the tv networks would focus on repeatedly – but anyone paying attention could just as easily see a bunch of Bulls scrubs talking smack right in the grills of Ray Allen, Eddie House, et al whenever they faced up for a 3 along the Bulls sidelines. In yet another nod to terrible officiating – Eddie earned what could have been a very damaging taunting call late in the 4th quarter of Game 7 . In classic penalize-the-retaliation-but-not the-instigation form, the NBA zebras failed to cite the Bulls bench for doing everything but phsically accosting Eddie House on that late 3 pointer in the corner on Saturday night. Watch the replay, the Bulls are literally screaming right into Eddies ears as he's squaring himself for the dagger. EF Hutton doesn't get that close when they whisper financial advice into their clients' ears! By the way, I had no problem with this – until Eddie was whistled for an unfounded T. The correct call there should have no call, of course – no taunting on either side. Just let them play.

    I'm old school, and grew up loving the Celtics playoff battles with the Sixers, Lakers, and Pistons (among others) in the 1980's – so the minor altercations we saw in this most recent Celts-Bulls series paled in comparison to what used to be par for the course of tough playoff basketball in the NBA. Their was plenty of physical play and many altercations that in today's league would get players suspended for multiple games. Back then, fans and even the media focused more on the intense drive and ultra-competitive will to win that these teams displayed on the court, and knew that at times things would get ugly as each team fought to win the series. Villiains abounded on all sides (remember the late great Johnny Most labeling Rick Mahorn and Jeff Ruland of the Bullets "McFilthy" and "McNasty"? He also called Isiah Thomas the "Baby-faced Assassin" when he played for the Pistons, and had a particular distaste for all the "Bad Boy" Era Pistons – but I digress.

    At the end of the day, "dirty" is in the eye of the beholder – and fans of the losing team will always think the team that just beat them must have played dirty at times to do it. But in the image of their intense and inspirational defensive leader, KG – the Celtics are not a dirty team by any stretch of the imagination – they just know how to play a tough brand of playoff basketball, and as evidenced by that classic first round series with the Bulls – they are defending their title with a tremendous amount of heart and fortitude, despite being without the services of The Big Ticket.

    Click this YouTube link for a little comic relief, courtesy of Johhny Most.


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  • Excellent Q&A!

    Game One was a great game, unfortunately the C's comeback attempt came up a little short.

    I loved how Scalabrine played though. His man-to-man defense against Hedo was excellent, and his overall defense while at the PF spot was excellent. He should have a big role in this series. Very impressive performance.

  • A Fantastic blog post, I will save this in my Digg account. Have a awesome day.