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NBA Playoffs, Magic Celtics Game 3: This one is on the Magic players

May 23, 2010, 1:09 AM EDT

SVanGundy.jpgThe Orlando Magic got punched in the mouth. They fell to the ground. And they didn’t even try to get back up.

Let’s not take anything away from the Celtics, they came out hungry, they came out wanting to end it. And they did. Well, sure, they still have to play one more game, but the Celtics came out and played like a team ready for the Finals and a banner. The Magic played like a team ready to go home.

This was not about Xs and Os adjustments, that was Game 1. The Celtics came out with their plan, by Game 2 the Magic came back with their adjustments. But it is moot for Stan Van Gundy to draw up changes when the players don’t execute. The inside-out offense doesn’t work when you shoot 26 percent from three. This wasn’t about strategy.

The Magic need to ask where their fight was. They may have lost anyway, but they rolled over and played dead.

“It seemed like tonight our bodies was here but our minds wasn’t,” Dwight Howard said in a televised press conference on NBATV after the game. “It seems like our hearts wasn’t there, too.”

The Magic were one of the two best executing teams in the Association this season — they ran their offense beautifully (Utah was the only other team that did that). But in Game 1 in this series the Celtics got physical, and when knocked off their game the Magic looked lost. They never fought back.

Tonight Boston took their effort to a new level. And Orlando…

“I thought there were several in the first half, hustle plays like that all went their way,” Van Gundy in his televised interview. “I mean they were a step ahead of us on every play. I though they worked harder than we did. I thought they out competed us.”

Van Gundy tried to throw himself on the sword in his post game press conference, but this is not really on him. Maybe there were little things he could have done — go to JJ Redick a bit earlier, for example — but when a team comes out flat for an Eastern Conference Finals game that is on the players. Howard admitted as much.

There needs to be accountability in the Magic locker room — and that starts with Howard and the other leaders.

“What I said to them after the game was there are a lot of guys in this room that have worked very hard to bring this franchise up a long way… to make this team to where it is a contender, to where it has gained respect and everything else,” Van Gundy said. “And that game out there tonight, not just the score but the way it went tonight is disappointing because that is not who we are, that is not who we worked so hard to become.

“Between right now and Monday night there is going to be a lot of soul searching, a lot of pulling together. The easiest thing to do, for anybody to do when things go badly is to escape…. And try to escape blame as much as you can so it goes to someone else. It takes very mentally mature people to stand up and say no, I’m a part of this…

“If we don’t have that kind of toughness, we shouldn’t be here anyway.”

It doesn’t look like they do. And that is on the players.

  1. Nate - May 24, 2010 at 12:46 PM

    OOOOOO-AHHHHHH, GOT YOU ALL IN CHECK!!!!! CELTICS OVER LAKERS IN SIX!!!!

  2. Steve - May 24, 2010 at 12:54 PM

    LOL. Yes Fisher guarded Westbrook until they had to start rotating Kobe on him to Slow Westbrook down. Also, Westbrook isn’t nearly as good as Rondo yet. He still needs another year or two of development. The Lakers beat OKC and Utah with their size. They are beating Phoenix with their size. They won’t beat Boston because of their size. The Celtics have Garnett, Perkins, Davis, and Wallace to put bodies on Gasol and Odom. If Bynum isn’t able to be effective, the Lakers could be in trouble. Here is the real problem though for LA. Boston can put Ray Allen on Kobe leaving Pierce to rest and help on defense because Artest isn’t much threat anymore. Boston will invite Artest to hoist up 3’s all series. Kobe can’t rest on D, because Ray Allen is always running his defenders off of screens.
    This is the worst matchup for L.A out of the 3 top teams in the east. Not Saying LA can’t still win, but Kobe, Gasol, and Odom all have to be really good throughout the series for them to win.

  3. Nate - May 24, 2010 at 1:01 PM

    The Celtics beating the Magic tonight to go to the NBA Finals is a foregone conclusion. FOUR—GONE, GET IT!!!

  4. Lion Woods - May 24, 2010 at 1:22 PM

    The Celtics handled their business in stellar fashion. The Magic particularly Dwight Howard has so many commitments off the court that I think he has already left the building. As Howard looks forward to having more time to spend on his acting career. Too bad he can’t loan me that fierce physique so I can show him what to do with that type of gift. Celtics in 4 with the sweep. p.s. the refs in Phoenix are blowing their whistles at the Lakers practice session today. Wow, what a poor group of officials.

  5. T - May 24, 2010 at 2:13 PM

    In case you missed it. Garnett is not a great player anymore. He isn’t even in the top 3 best players on his team. Wallace is in the same boat. All too old. Kobe is also over the hill, but still plays like he is 25.
    Lakers won it without Bynum last year, and they will probably win without him again, either way it should be a great final. Assuming the Lakers can beat the Suns.
    Celtics are old no doubt about it. 3 of there core players are well over 30 and past their prime
    Garnett 34
    Ray Allen 34
    Wallace 35

  6. Frank - May 24, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    I think the Magic should all “Call in Sick”. Save us all (Magic fans)from any further embarassment. What a disappointment; just no heart!

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