Was it just me or did this game feel like a close nail-biter the entire time? No lead felt safe- not even a 20+ point lead in the second half. Surprisingly, this discomfort had nothing to do with the fact that the Celtics led the league in giving up double-digit leads this season. This had everything to do just how good the Orlando Magic are.
The Magic missed an uncharacteristically high amount of wide open shots. That said, the ones they did make- especially in the fourth quarter- seemed incredibly timely. The Magic had a bad game overall, at least for them, and they certainly did not get any help from the officials, but after it was all said and done, the better team won.
The Celtics played arguably their best game of the series (especially if you believe as I do that game three was incredibly fluky). Before the game started, Hall of Famers Magic Johnson and Tommy Heinsohn played the role of soothsayer to a T. Johnson predicted that Nate Robinson would have a special game off the bench and Heinsohn correctly called on Pierce being the hero. With so much of predicting outcomes being shots in the dark, they really showed off their experience with this one.
Paul Pierce was the story tonight, scoring a huge but almost quiet 31 points. The bigger story tonight was Pierce’s rebounding. When Pierce is committed, he can really clean up on the glass and tonight he showed that- especially with two HUGE offensive rebounds.
How did I make it this far without mentioning Doc Rivers doing his best Nostradamus impression. Doc rightly said all along that Nate Robinson would win a game for the C’s in the playoffs and tonight was the night. The best part of this being the fact that it was not some random game the Celtics could afford to lose. The Celtics needed this game, and Nate Robinson’s second quarter was a huge, if not all, part of that.
There you have it folks. Next week, the Celtics will take on the winner of the Suns vs. Lakers series while they shoot for their 18th title. All the credit in the world goes to the Orlando Magic for tonight’s game, as I have wrongly felt that they really lacked heart. Their failure to fold and throw in the towel tonight showed me the error of my ways.
To quote one of the first true works are art of this century, I am of course talking about Brian Robbins’ Hardball, “We goin’ to the ‘ship! We goin’ to the ship!”
The following are my quarter by quarter notes, enjoy:
- Pierce throws Dwight Howard into Matt Barnes and rightfully gets called for a foul. A few plays later, Jameer Nelson throws himself into a trailing defender after dishing the ball and there’s no call. Where’s the consistency?
- Kevin Garnett looks like he is taking no prisoners tonight. Not happy with Howard hand checking him, he drops too people’s elbows on Dwight’s forearm and gets called for a foul. Dumb foul, but this team feels the pressure.
- The Magic are shooting terribly and the Celtics are playing very physical.
- The Celtics are moving the ball very well when the offense does not go through Pierce.
- Consistency asked for and received! Jameer Nelson gets called for a foul for throwing himself into the trailing defender (Ray Allen) after the pass.
- Rondo may have just had the pass of the playoffs: The Celtics get a steal, Rondo pushes the ball hard up the floor drawing two Magic defenders. Ray Allen is immediately behind him and the logical play for an easy pull-up jumper in the lane or even to take it to the rim. Rondo proceeds to fake to Ray and no-look a pass to a sideline streaking Paul Pierce for an easy dunk. What vision.
- Rondo goes down hard after attacking the basket with incredible energy and fervor. The fall is enough to force a Doc Rivers to burn a 20 second timeout as Rondo regroups. And regroups he does by stepping up to the free throw line and knocking down to free throws- swish style.
Post 1st Quarter Notes:
- Kevin Garnett: 0 points, 2 fouls, in four minutes and the Celtics have an 11 point lead…..say whatttt?
- Post concussion Glen Davis gives 8 strong minutes. He is showing no ill-effects from the concussion suffered in Game 5 (well, except for maybe a shaky jump shot) by going hard and physical to the rim.
- Celtics shoot 47%, Magic shoot 38%
- First play of the second quarter the Celtics pick up right where they left off. Some amazing ball movement and even an offensive rebound.
- Nate Robinson enters the game for a resting Rajon Rondo. Robinson drives in and makes a great pass to Glen Davis, who muffs the lay-up.
- Nate Robinson pulls up right in Nelson’s face and knocks down a three. This guy is not “short” on confidence.
- The second quarter has just officially become the Nate Robinson show. He makes a great pocket pass to a wide open rolling-to-the-rim KG for an easy dunk.
- Robinson is surprisingly aggressive on defense and frustrating Jameer Nelson to no end. He forces Nelson to commit a double-dribble, but the bravado he exudes forces the refs hand and Robinson is called for the foul.
- Kevin Garnett and JJ Redick both dive for a loose ball out of bounds and completely demolish a court-side fan. Luckily, the fan was okay and due to some fancy floor camera angles, I think Reebok has its new Zigtec ad.
- Without Nate Robinson on the floor, the Celtics offense gets a little stagnant yet creative. Pierce and Allen go into the lane and set picks for each other. The Magic are too concerned with Ray Allen shooting out to the three point line for an easy three that they leave Pierce for a slip second too long. Pierce rolls about a foot right to the basket and draws an easy foul on Matt Barnes.
Post 2nd Quarter Notes:
- The Magic up their shooting percentage to 44% while the Celtics’ fall to a dismal 42%. This is a big cause for concern and may foretell a lackluster third quarter.
- The Celtics are dominating the Magic on the glass (23 to 18) and in assists (9 to 5).
- Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson both have three fouls.
- Kevin Garnett goal tends Vince Carter and the refs do not call it.
- Howard fouls Pierce and it is actually not as bad as it looks. Pierce’s headband comes flying off on a top as Howard grazes the top of his head instead of the customary face-rake.
- Toward the end of the third quarter the Magic are getting some better shots but not making enough of them to make a significant dent.
- Garnett hitting everything mid range. Even off of one foot.
- Ray Allen is getting some time guarding Jameer Nelson and Rondo has to defer to Redick.
- Such a crazy exchange ending in a Pietrus three. Can’t even be mad, maybe a little disappointed but this was just too crazy to describe.
- Pierce forces to issue in the lane, looses the ball, collects himself, and has to force a little rainbow over Dwight Howard. Swish.
Post Third Quarter notes:
- The Celtics raise their shooting percentage to 48% as the Magic’s dwindles to 41%.
- The Celtics are shooting an amazing 57% from three.
- The Celtics are still dominating the glass (34 to 24) and the assist battle (16 to 9).
Fourth Quarter Notes:
- Pierce starts the fourth for a three. The Garden goes wild.
- TA takes a rebound right out of Howard’s hand. Only Nate Robinson fails to convert the bad three point attempt.
- The Celtics offense is getting really stagnant but their defense is unbelievably tight and the Magic are scrambling.
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