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NBA Playoffs Celtics Magic Game 1: Everything coming up Celtic Green

May 16, 2010, 5:42 PM EDT

Allen-layup.jpgIf they keep playing like this, who’s going to stop the Boston Celtics?

Certainly not the Orlando Magic, who walked into Game 1 against the Celtics as heavy favorites, having swept their first two series of the playoffs only to get blownout for thrre quarters, make a furious comeback that came up short, and eventually fall 92-88.

Everything you saw in the Cleveland series? More of that. The smothering Celtics defense? Check. The massive failure of the best player on the opposing team (Dwight Howard)? Check. Rajon Rondo playing brilliantly? Check. Glen Davis being annoyingly effective? Check. Ray Allen nailing shot after shot after shot? Check.

The Magic couldn’t get anything going for three quarters. Their offense looked stagnant and failed to capitalize on any of the perimeter rotations that gave them such advantages last year. Dwight Howard had one of the worst games of his career, and did all against single coverage. The MVP candidate continuously missed chip shots, failed to convert any and-ones, and missed his free throws on his way to a 13 point performance on 3 of 10 shooting.

The Magic made a late run, but the Celtics were able to hang on. The Celtics led by 20 in the third before the Magic cut it to 3 inside the final minute, but just couldn’t get past the lead as Paul Pierce and Ray Allen drained clutch free throws. The Magic comeback does give them some monetum, as Jameer Nelson was able to produce down the stretch in a key matchup against Rondo. But the Magic had dug a hole too deep.

So what were the specific elements that led to this Celtic win? Let’s do a bullets breakdown. Because there were so many.

  • Paul Pierce torched Vince Carter, who had the best offensive game for the Magic with 22. Pierce worked him  at the elbow, slipped free for threes, and hit several key shots in the fourth. Carter played terrific on offense, but if you let two of the big three loose, it’s hard to win the game.
  • Rasheed Wallace was a best, forcing Howard to go to the line, getting in his head with rough contact, nailing threes and outworking everyone. Everything Sheed said about turning it on when it counts has come true so far. 
  • Ray Allen was spectacular with 25 points, shooting 8-16 from the floor.
  • Glen Davis came in and showed off the offensive moves Howard did not, adding crucial buckets late as well as his usual whale bellyflop type energy.
  • Tony Allen had another terrific game, including an alley-oop you’ll be seeing on every highlights package for two days.

The Celtics withstood a terrific charge by the Magic from Nelson, Carter, and J.J. Redick who needs to start next game if Stan Van Gundy wants to keep Ray Allen under 20. Redick showed what we told you he would, an ability to run off Allen and limit him.

Even with the late near-meltdown, the Celtics are now in charge of the series, have a blueprint for limiting Howard without giving up perimeter shots, and have homecourt advantage again. They look more focused, are getting all the breaks (including one stretch where Pierce was granted a ridiculous continuation, followed by Rondo catching a blocked shot for a floater), and are out-executing their opponents at both ends.

Everything really is coming up green.

  1. clint - May 16, 2010 at 8:16 PM

    Good writing matt.You’re a man after my own heart. 2010 the NBA finals will go green so will the Larry Obrien trophy.

  2. Ron - May 16, 2010 at 10:40 PM

    It’s one game.
    I’m amazed Matt Moore hasn’t already anointed the Celtics the crown, considering his constant anti-Laker stance.
    Orlando still wins the series. Call it 4-1 or 4-2.

  3. Filipe - May 16, 2010 at 10:58 PM

    Sorry Ron, but if you follow Matt on twitter he compained about Celtics as much today as he usually does about LAL. Pretty sure if he could pick the finals it would be Suns-Magic.

  4. Laker4Lyfe - May 16, 2010 at 11:58 PM

    @Filipe. That’s true. They both whine a lot about the Lakers and Celtics, which will be a great series. I personally can’t wait. Suns just don’t have a finals team, I’m afraid. Magic looked one dimensional today. After seeing today’s game, I’m 90% certain it will be LAL and Boston for the final — as it should be in basketball land.

  5. Murcy - May 17, 2010 at 7:40 AM

    hey people, had you been reading HP you’d know that Matt treats most teams the same way, except for maybe the Lakers (but who could blame him ;) ) he always mentions good performances, and admits if teams are playing good. the Celtics were great this game, things might turn around next game, or they might not.

  6. Ron - May 17, 2010 at 2:24 PM

    Only the intellectually desperate resort to name calling. It’s my opinion. You have yours.

  7. chas - May 17, 2010 at 3:27 PM

    The Magic may win, but it won’t be because they are a better team.They are younger,faster and more gifted physically,but much like the Cavs, they lack the mental toughness the Celtics have.
    The Cavs were a much tougher team, and unless Boston goes stone cold shooting, they win this series in 6. Celtics play as a team, Cavs and Magic, have a star and a wingman, along with average at best fill ins.

  8. Chris - May 17, 2010 at 7:26 PM

    Ron, lets be real, you really think Magic will beat the Celtics 4-2?

  9. Ron - May 18, 2010 at 12:14 AM

    Yup.
    Let’s meet back here after the series to see if I am right or wrong.

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