Piles of coverage out there to prep you for a Game 7 at least one Magic pundit is calling the biggest game in Orlando Magic history. (Note: the photo at the right is from Game 7 against Cleveland, almost one year ago today).
• Lots of focus on the shooting guards. Ray Allen is averaging just 11 points per game in this series on 30 percent shooting, and he’s made just two of his last 22 three-pointers. Walter Ray has some interesting things to say about the slump in the Herald:
“We’ll talk about it the next couple days, but it’s pretty simple watching it on film. Doc has been watching the whole thing, so I know he has a better perspective on it. But as players we do have to allow things to develop, and we have to make each other better.
“You hold the ball for a second longer, and the guy’s not open anymore, things like that. I know my defender is on me, but now the bigs are out, and we have to make them pay. We know someone’s open and we have to find them.”
Sounds like Ray thinks a) the ball is occasionally late getting to him; b) he has to make quicker passes when the Orlando bigs jump out as he comes off of screens.
• The New York Times reminds us that Allen isn’t the only slumping shooting guard in this series. J.J. Redick, still starting in place of Courtney Lee, is 3-of-25 in his last four games, and ESPN’s John Hollinger is (like me) wondering why Stan Van hasn’t inserted Lee back into the starting line-up. It appears from the NYT piece that SVG is sticking with Redick Sunday:
“Ray has not gotten off to a fast start yet,” Van Gundy said. “J. J. will play him as well as he can and Ray can still have 20 points in the first quarter. I know what a great player he is. But I’m a little hesitant to make that change in a matchup that has been — especially at the start of a game — not a problem for us.”
Twenty points in the first quarter–that would be nice.
• Out of seven ESPN experts, five predict the Celtics will win Game 7. (Our enemies today are Mr. Hollinger and Chris Sheridan). Perhaps more interesting: almost all of them mention that Orlando “should” have already won this series. As my Dad likes to day, “shoulda, woulda, coulda.”
• The Globe helpfully reminds us of the C’s record at home in Game 7, which isn’t really important but fun to read nonetheless: The Celtics are 17-3 in Game 7s at home, losing to New York in the 1973 conference finals (94-78), to Philadelphia in the 1982 conference finals (120-106), and to Indiana in the 2005 conference quarterfinals (97-70).
I love the term “conference quarterfinals” as a fancier version of “first round.” That 2005 loss to Indiana, by the way, came a game after Paul Pierce was ejected from Game 6 at Indiana in perhaps the lowest point of his on-court career–a moment the Globe’s Shira Springer called “the final, disgraceful act in a sequence of events that nearly resulted in the Celtics’ playoff elimination.”
• Speaking of Springer, she’s got a nice five-minute interview with the suddenly chatty Rajon Rondo. Rajon discusses his hyper-competitiveness, his frustrations with Doc Rivers during his rookie year (largely over playing time) and delivers this zinger about his tendency to play his best against elite point guards:
“I have to be more conistnet whether I’m going against Chris Paul or Rafer Alston.”
• Hollinger (see item #3) wonders if the Celtics will go small for a stretch in Game 7, sliding Pierce to the four spot and House to the two. He suggests the Truth could do a better job against Lewis than Scalabrine or Davis, though Ray Allen would struggle against the 6’10” Hedo Turkoglu. Pierce has done well against Lewis so far, but he’s only covered him solo on about a half-dozen possessions in this series.
• Amid this Globe story about the Game 7 experience gap between these two teams are some interesting quotes from Big Baby, who appears frustrated that Rivers is taking him out if he commits a foul in the first quarter:
“Get one foul, he takes you out, it kind of messes up your rhythm,” Davis said. “As a player, it’s tough to find a sense of rhythm . . . So, you’ve just got to play through it and go out there and play hard. You can’t control what goes on.”
• As always here, we give the last word to the Captain (via the Herald): “Tired right now is a state of mind. We have a tremendous opportunity with Game 7 being at home. We will be ready.”
We. Will. Be. Ready.