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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. Foul Dwimmerlaik - May 23, 2010 at 1:24 AM

    The Celtics were RELENTLESS. Even when they were up double-digits they continues to PUT THEIR FEET ON THE MAGIC’S NECKS.You can feel that the C’s wants this series DONE AND OVER WITH. Killer Instinct is what we call it. Something real basketball fans would appreciate. I’m a solid Laker fan and I like what I’m seeing on the Eastern Board. To solidify its claim as the best team, the Lakers must do it at the expense of the Celtics. Props to Gang Green! Hope to see you guys in the Finals.

  2. Dalton - May 23, 2010 at 1:32 AM

    It looked as if they had just found out Delonte visited their mothers!!
    Was he at it again???

  3. Lakers4Lyfe - May 23, 2010 at 1:58 AM

    Yet more proof an NBA team can’t amd won’t win with 3-point shooting and no team defense. The Magic aren’t big enough … or good enough and neither are the Suns. Howard was a failure with 7 points.

  4. Drew - May 23, 2010 at 2:06 AM

    It would be nice for the Celtics to finish off the Magic on Monday to give that veteran team some rest for the finals, especially if the Lakers get pushed an extra game or two.
    If they continue with that level of defensive intensity, I don’t think anyone in the league can beat them. That’s the kind of team Rasheed Wallace predicted could win 72 games at the start of the season.

  5. Ron - May 23, 2010 at 2:50 AM

    They fell short 22 games of that prediction. 24-17 at home will not get you 72-10; the math just doesn’t add up. 😉

  6. Foul Dwimmerlaik - May 23, 2010 at 2:55 AM

    LOL! True that, Ron. But at least, the C’s are playing in June, unlike a certain team that won 60+ game 2 seasons in a row — only to fail miserably and not reach the Finals on both counts. Celtics are peaking at the right time — and dangerously at that! It would be foolish for our Lakers to take them likely should they meet in the Finals. Hopefull LA sweeps its series so that they can get that rest prior to the Finals.

  7. Kevin - May 23, 2010 at 5:32 AM

    Its gonna be war!! Go Celts!!

  8. dennis - May 23, 2010 at 6:55 AM

    Now what have the lakers changed since 08 when we annihilated them. Artest? Sorry but defense wins championships and the Celtics have that. The Lakers don’t. Besides Rajon Rondo will have a field day with the Lakers pg’s. Go C’s!

  9. JS3 - May 23, 2010 at 7:08 AM

    You must have just got home from the baaa, dennis….for one, yes the Lakers do have Artest, who will shut down anyone he puts his mind to on the celtics…and we have Bynum, who also wasn’t present in 08…and what exactly makes you think rondo is gonna run all over the best player in the game when the Mamba wraps him up?…. the celtics are beating up a weak team, so don’t get too excited….with a chip on their shoulder the Lakers will be parading all over bean town in about two weeks, you better reserve your spot now

  10. Foul Dwimmerlaik - May 23, 2010 at 7:12 AM

    I agree.Defense wins championships. Artest is an upgrade in that aspect. Don’t forget Kobe as well. Gasol has very much improved in that area (and to think people thought that he was soft) and he could disrupt Rondo’s play-making just like he did with Nash. Bar injuries, a Laker A-game is better than a Celtic A-game. Lakers can play defense just like the Celtics but unlike the Celtics, the boys from LA have a superior offense over the C’s.

  11. Anonymous - May 23, 2010 at 7:25 AM

    The Celtics defense completely exposed Howard’s weaknesses in his game. If Kendrick Perkins does this to him, can you imagine what Gasol, Odom and Bynum would do to him?
    The Magic don’t deserve the hype they get, and several posters are right, you don’t win NBA championships on 3-point shooting. This team needs to be restructured. I’d keep Howard, despite his obvious flaws, and Nelson, and go looking for a team to put around them.
    I’m surprised Rashard Lewis doesn’t commit a 24-second violation just getting his shot off. Can his release possibly get any slower? No wonder he’s a non-factor…

  12. Tony - May 23, 2010 at 8:41 AM

    I wouldn’t keep Nelson. He is not a true point guard and I believe he is the problem. Last year the Magic beat the celtics when Rafer Alston was pushing the ball up the court ahead of the Celtics D. Nelson walks the ball up the court time and time again. As for the Lakers Celtics it will be a war. I’m picking the Laker’s in seven.

  13. Dan - May 23, 2010 at 9:02 AM

    Dwight Howard is no Superman, he’s Kryptonite.

  14. Omnius - May 23, 2010 at 9:39 AM

    Maybe Stuporman Dwight Howard should have stayed in school so he could learn to speak proper English instead of sounding like some dimwitted idiot. Before he can get his mind into the game he needs to have an educated mind first.
    Fun to see Gang Green wipe the smile off Stuporman’s face, maybe someday he’ll learn to wipe the smile off his face before he goes into the playoffs.
    The Magic are a pathetic excuse of an NBA Conference Finals team, they are weak and soft. Van Gundy did a horrible job of getting his team ready, they need a real coach.
    Lakers versus Celtics will be the dream matchup of the last two NBA champs going head to head. The Lakers with Ron Artest will be a much tougher team than in 2008 and the Lakers will repeat!

  15. John - May 23, 2010 at 10:44 AM

    I have to agree with Omnibus: the Magic needed Superman, not Stuporman.
    I also agree with Omnibus that Howard had better work on improving his game, because his bad grammar will keep him out of the ESPN and network studio booths. What can one say about (televised) quotes like “It seemed like tonight our bodies was here but our minds wasn’t,” and “It seems like our hearts wasn’t there, too.” At least the “real” Superman had enough sense to work on his journalism skills (as Clark Kent). Howard sounds like he’s rehearsing to play Abner (or maybe, Pappy Yokum) in a revival of Lil’ Abner.

  16. Performax - May 23, 2010 at 11:01 AM

    The Cavaliers with “King” James were the best team in the NBA -until the Celtics exposed them with smart, ferocious defense. The Magic were an unstoppable offensive force – until the Celtics exposed them. The Lakers are prancing through the Western Conference and their fans think they’ll continue their triumphant march over an aging Celtics team and that that Rondo won’t do unto them what he’s already done to some equally good teams.
    O.K. Lakers fans, get your parades and triumphal marches ready. The Celtics have a different plan. This is going to be hard on you.

  17. Jay - May 23, 2010 at 11:18 AM


  18. pipi - May 23, 2010 at 11:44 AM

    pisat nihere nihre eh nonen jav ahah

  19. bdd806 - May 23, 2010 at 11:46 AM

    Who have the magic beat to get to the CF. If anyone thought they was for real shame on you. Stupoman has no inside game. Who is the 3 point shooter on the team, Reddick hasnt hit a clutch 3 since Duke and Vince hasnt been the same since dunking over the foriegn
    guy in the olympics. New coach new attitude and maybe the will be in the playoffs next time. GO NUGGETS

  20. OJ - May 23, 2010 at 11:56 AM

    The Magic team is a weak team. They beat up on the Bobkittens and Atlanta sparrows. The Celtics will end their season the next time the Celtic play. The Magic team is just showing up on the court.
    The Celts and the Lakers will be a good series. The Lakers will excell in the offensive and defensive areas. Celts will play well but not well enough to win. Lakers 4-2.

  21. Babool - May 23, 2010 at 12:00 PM

    To all the Lakers fans out there let me echo a certain football commentator, ‘not so fast my friend’.The last team I saw play D like this was in Oklahoma City. The Thunder pushed the Lakers harder than the series ended up. The tough D, the experience,and a very solid bench are going to be a problem. I wouldn’t size those rings just yet, this series could go either way very easily, this is not the same Celtic team we saw most of the year.

  22. OJ - May 23, 2010 at 12:03 PM

    Its the same team. Just older.

  23. Craig W. - May 23, 2010 at 12:32 PM

    As a Laker fan I don’t want to underestimate the Celtics.
    However, we still have a series to finish off before we can really talk.

  24. Boston Laker Fan - May 23, 2010 at 1:00 PM

    Going with JJ Redick earlier wouldn’t have done much. The Orlando Magic are flawed on defense, in that they don’t have a quality defender to stop Rondo. Rondo is great at penetrating, and can hit shots in the paint, finish, or find an open teammate. The key is to keep Rondo out of the painted area, and that’s not possible with the guys like Jameer Nelson or Mo Williams facing off against him.
    On offense, Orlando’s game goes from inside out, but that’s flawed to as Dwight Howard never developed post moves. Against weaker and smaller adversaries he’ll use his incredible athleticism, but when he faces someone who can deny him position within 8 feet of the basket, he cannot create for himself. Orlando has three options at that point when he kicks the ball back out: 1) PG play, have Jameer create for himself or someone else, 2) Hit Rashard Lewis or Barnes for an open three, 3) Vince Carter. Jameer is a good scoring PG, but a very mediocre PG in terms of playmaking. Rondo defended him well enough that he couldn’t score, and his own limited playmaking ability inhibited Orlando. In terms of perimeter shooting Rashard Lewis and the gang have stunk it up, and it isn’t only from Dwight Howard’s inability to give them space. They’re just awful this series, as Boston got into their collective heads. Last, relying on Vince Carter is like relying on your Greek bonds to pay 100% on the Euro when they mature. In other words, you’re foolish to have that as your backup plan.

  25. empire wizard - May 23, 2010 at 1:11 PM

    Lets get real people. The Laker fans always cite individual players names as the primary focus to their winning the championship series versus the Celtics, if they get there. It looks pretty favorable for both teams right now. If it happens lets look at the facts as they are. With the DEFENSE they are playing at this point, as you have seen, the CELTICS are unstoppable. We have seen it before, and history will repeat again! From DEFENSE comes Offense

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