Despite Orlando’s seemingly inability to hold a lead and fighting in the locker room, I am not completely confident of a win tonight. The stars have been aligned for the C’s these playoffs-pulling out a gutsy seven game series with Chicago and making two comebacks against the Magic- but you don’t have to ask Ray Allen if stars mean anything in the playoffs.
The playoffs are about strong play all around, fighting for every inch your opponent gives you, and never giving up. Orlando has shown it can give up (Game 2, hope in their coach’s ability to coach) but that still doesn’t guarantee anything.
The Celtics have leaned on their less heralded players to come through in the clutch and play what has essentially been outside their collective comfort zones. That said, the Celtics can’t rely on Glen Davis to score 20 points a game. It’d be nice if he did, but it’s not fair to him to expect it. If the Celtics are going to win tonight, they’ll need to stay out of foul trouble, get to the line, and, as Zach pointed out, make Alston shoot.
Along with making Alston shoot, I’d go as far to say, “add Howard to that list.” Dwight Howard says he wants to ball with the game on the line and I say give it to him. Without trying to wake a sleeping giant, I don’t think Howard can be counted on when the game isn’t on the line, let alone in the waning minutes trying to keep a lead or stage a comeback. Kendrick Perkins has played stellar defense on Howard this series en route to making his defensive prowess nationally known. Celtics fans knew Perk was a big body that could chest people up and block shots, but now the country is well aware of his ability should he stay out of foul trouble. Howard also lacks actual post moves, does not shoot well from the line, does not pass out of double-teams well, and the bank shot experiment has not gone the way of Tim Duncan.
Despite all these short-comings, Howard is correct in saying he is a dominant player. Just dominant defensively and athletically. If the Celtics make him prove that he can beat us with Perk staying out of foul trouble, than this maybe the moment he ascends into offensive dominance and adds that to his resume. Personally, I just don’t see that happening. At least not tonight, at least not while Stan the Man’s calling the shots.
Prediction: Celtics’ Win.