Orlando Works Their Magic, Knock Celtics Down and Out
Posted by r1zzo23 on May 18, 2009
The Boston Celtics’ bid for a second consecutive and 18th overall NBA title came to a hault on their home floor last night as the Orlando Magic won in convincing fashion at the TD Banknorth Garden, 101-82. Looking at stats alone, there are two main categories that were the difference in the game: field goald percentage and three-point shooting. The Orlando Magic were on fire from everywhere on the floor, shooting 36-70 (.514) from the floor and 13-21 (.619) from beyond the arc. The Celtics, on the other hand, were a paltry 29-74 (.392) and only 4-16 (.250) from three-point range. Bottom line: the Magic hit more shots in a big situation than the Celtics.
When not just looking directly at the box score, it was easy to see how the Magic shot so well. The Celtics came out uninspired, something you wouldn’t expect such a proud franchise to do in a do-or-die game 7 on their home floor. Early on it was obvious that the team in green just didn’t have much in the tank to “get up” for another huge game. The youthful Magic, on the other hand, came out of the gate ready to give 48 minutes of everything they had.
One huge reason this series went to seven games (besides the obvious absence of all-everything Kevin Garnett) was the poor play of Ray Allen. Other than game two, where he scored 22 points (even only shooting two for seven from deep), Ray Allen was a no-show for basically the entire series until last night. Allen had 23 points on 9-18 shooting, including three trifectas.
Paul Pierce was noticeably worn down and even if the Celtics had advanced, it would have been hard on the eyes to watch him try to go one-on-one with the MVP of the league, LeBron James. Pierce shot four of 13 from the field last night for 16 points. He wasn’t really there in the first three quarters, leaving many Celtic fans to expect him to explode in the fourth, only it didn’t happen this time.
Couple the defensive deficiencies of the Celtics along with the shooting woes, it’s easy to see how the game ended as it did. Rafer Alston sparked the Magic early in the first quarter by scoring eight or so points, with Dwight Howard putting in a couple buckets as well. That early lead that Orlando snatched was not to be relinquished for the entire game. Hedo Turkoglu had the best game of his postseason, posting 25 points on nine of 12 shooting to go along with five rebounds and an eye-popping 12 assists.
The Magic are definitely a good team that can be great for games at a time. They beat the Celtics in seven games, stealing the final one on our home floor. Would we have won if we had Kevin Garnett? I think even Orlando fans would agree with that. But the fact was that the Celtics were a bit under-manned and ran out of gas. Does it save the Celtics the embarrassment of having to go up against Cleveland next round? Perhaps. I like to think that we could have given the Cavs a series, but if we were tired already, what would happen against a LeBron James lead team when they’ve had nine days of rest?
The long season has come to an end and we have fallen short of our goal of another NBA title. The lottery is on Tuesday and we don’t have any ping pong balls (obviously). The draft is in June and we don’t have a first round pick. We have four (possibly five) free agents and need to decide who will stay and who will go. I’m sure Danny Ainge will be as active as physically and fiscally possible this summer in search for the proper pieces to get us back to the top.