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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. staffo - May 23, 2010 at 1:16 PM

    CHARLES “overweight” BARKLEY predicted cleveland in 5 then picked ORLANDO in 6 what does it take for you to understand your drunk , or just plain high what do you expect from someone who never won anything go get a $5.00 box from taco bell that’s all your good for.

  2. king james - May 23, 2010 at 1:19 PM

    hot damn, as a cavs fan, i think lakers are in for a rude awakening in these finals. most of the laker fans believe its gonna be a cakewalk against the celtics to the championship. heres my advice, dont get your hopes up cuz its gonna hurt alot more when the lakers lose. expect to see low scores, low shooting percentages and bad games from the lakers. lakers fans are gonna think that lakers are choking in the biggest stage because of their bad offense, but its not choke, its celtic defense. good luck.

  3. JoJo - May 23, 2010 at 1:25 PM

    Hey Laker fans, keep that feeling of confidence going, but be forewarned, this is not the Celtics of the regular season! I have followed them all year, and their primary focus is on another banner, and the teams believes they can accomplish this. Thus, the elimination of the Cavaliers (anticipated match up with Lakers with LeBron finally geting his ring!) and the Magic’s total dismantling with what on could only call a basketball clinic put on by the C’s last night. This is a team that despite a large lead did not let up on the accelerator. The finals will be once again fantastic but my money is on the C’s with the Lakers getting beaten up down low and Rondo continuing to show why he’s the best point guard in the league.

  4. Anonymous - May 23, 2010 at 1:26 PM

    king james, my friend YOU have a clear head.

  5. hedo hedid - May 23, 2010 at 1:49 PM

    remember hedo turkoglu ?

  6. b.nimble - May 23, 2010 at 2:17 PM

    the Lakers are a very good “Western” ball club…but they play the west coast type b-ball…high scoring…low contact…Hollywood type game…high glitz but low grit b-ball…but celtics are truly a beast from the east…tough, grind it out, low scoring, high contact, extremely physical, low scoring type b-ball, mostly Defense type of game (with a big D)…the 08 celtics team was good enough to beat the lakers…this time around this 2010 celtics team is even tougher all around…with more and better scorers to boot – think rondo, big baby, sheed, the other guys…so the lakers (if they reached the finals) will have gone from the frying pan (the 2008 c’s) to the proverbial fire (the 2010 c’s)…should be FUN to watch…can’t wait for the finals to start

  7. green - May 23, 2010 at 2:23 PM

    Van Gundy……not a good coach. It is up to the coach to have his team prepared and ready to play…..Just a few weeks ago the Cav’s coach was all but fired in public opinion polls. Let’s start the talk about Van Gundy being fired also.
    The players have a roll to play and it is up to the coach to get them into those roles.
    Laker fan

  8. green - May 23, 2010 at 2:29 PM

    King James….you obviously frequent the medical marijuana dispensary a lot in your hometown if you think the Celtics are going to beat the Lakers.
    JoJo…you quite surely have lost your MoJo…….Lakers in 6…
    fan

  9. KU62 - May 23, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    pipi,
    Your attempt at Slovakian bears a remarkable resemblance to DH’s struggles with English.
    The on-line Translator app did manage to pick up two words out of seven, maybe a third, but I wonder if they would fit into a coherent sentence , , ,
    write nihere nihre eh nonen phenomenon snap

  10. Boston Lakers Fan - May 23, 2010 at 4:46 PM

    I haven’t seen a reasonable explanation as to why Boston would triumph against Los Angeles, but rather the fumbling explanation of folks who never played organized ball.
    The Lakers have weaknesses. Why doesn’t someone mention them? Are any of you up to intelligent hoops discussion, or does “the Lakers play Western Conference basketball” (recirculating 1980s analysis) the extent of you jokers?

  11. JC - May 23, 2010 at 5:26 PM

    Nelson is a stiff . Hedo T went in the tank in Toronto this year but clearly he has been more of a big game player and a big shot maker throughout his career than Carter or Jameer. Bad trade there why bust up a team that was just in the finals like that but hey, the Celtics coasted through the season ,Rondo got big time confidence dealing on every guard in the league , and now they got the MOJO. Maybe the Gasol-Kobe tandem can knock them down in 7.

  12. Boston Laker Fan - May 23, 2010 at 6:22 PM

    Spare me. I’ve probably been to more games at TD Garden than you, and unlike you I’ve watched most Celtic games. I doubt that even Tommy thought they’d get to past the Conference Semis.
    FYI: Since you don’t follow this team closely, let me tell you that the team had a minor rebellion during the course of the season, and they were highly factionalized.
    That being said, talk to me about the factions and how it resolved… since you’re such a Boston “expert”.

  13. cinammon - May 23, 2010 at 6:32 PM

    DON’T PUT ALL YOUR HYPE INTO THE C’S EVERYBODY TALKING ABOUT RON ARTEST,YEAH WELL WHAT ABOUT RASHAAD WALLACE, ALL HE CAN DO FROM WHAT I HAVE BEEN WATCHING IS WRAP HIS ARM THRU YOURS. LET HIM TRY THAT WITH PAU,BYNUM,OR EVEN ODOM FOR THAT MATTER.THE CELTICS HAS NO CLUE NONE WHAT’S SO EVER

  14. Alex Eyanson - May 23, 2010 at 6:42 PM

    BS i know someone to blame. David Stern and the rest of the NBA head honchos for making orlando wait a week to play then another 4 day layoff during the series. Pathetic how is any team like orlando supposed to keep momentum but boston gets to heal their old a** bodies and they dont shoot 3′s so to hell with momentum for boston. The NBA is gonna get what they want a LA/BOS series and this guy will not be watching

  15. MoGreennBanrz - May 23, 2010 at 7:08 PM

    Preach brother preach!

  16. MoGreennBanrz - May 23, 2010 at 7:24 PM

    Performax, where did you go? That was some fantastic copy! Please, blurb on, it’s like music!

  17. Lucky Luke - May 23, 2010 at 7:42 PM

    Ini semua lagi pada ngomongin apa sih? Pusing nih gua dengerinnya….Udah jelas donk Celtics bakalan juara lagi tahun ini

  18. luffy - May 23, 2010 at 8:51 PM

    Excuse me Celtic fans but enough of the backtracks, 2008 season? 2008 season my A$$! Bynum and Ariza were injured that time if you could also recall! in the 2009 season, both teams played w/ complete and healthy line-ups and the Lakers swept the Celtics in the regular season…
    And for all the talk about Rondo outplaying Fisher, yes indeed he is a great player and he will because he’s younger but it goes bothways, Rondo won’t also be able to guard Fisher because he’s a strong dude.
    In the Celtics run in the east, Rondo was guraded by who in Miami in the 1st round? Dunno? Mo Williams in the 2nd round? Please… and Jameer Nelson in the east finals. Derek Fisher has guarded Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams and Steve Nash in the west people!!!
    Going back to the topic, I think what’s missing in the Magic Line-up is Hedo Turkoglu but even if he was there I don’t think they could win against the Celtics. Celts 4-1 if Turk was still in Orlando’s team. Is it true btw that Delonte West is banging somebody’s mom? LOL!

  19. Kansachusetts - May 23, 2010 at 11:34 PM

    Hey Lakers fans. You haven’t seen any defense for two years. Your guys sure aren’t playing it against the Suns. They won’t be able to turn it on when they need to. You’d better hope your offense is red hot and Boston’s is ice cold for seven games.

  20. bobo - May 24, 2010 at 12:50 AM

    Hah! Chuck was wrong! Magic in 7!

  21. bobo - May 24, 2010 at 12:51 AM

    Hah! Chuck was wrong! Magic in 7!

  22. luffy - May 24, 2010 at 1:45 AM

    To Mnnaaaa…
    What the F*#K are you doing in this page? Another loser who was bullied by others since birth and doesn’t play any sport so what he does is just hate the world? go to hell Loser!
    Lakers in 7…

  23. riscifiguy - May 24, 2010 at 7:27 AM

    Anyone in particular or just everybody who disagrees with you?
    (Not that we can tell what you really believe!)

  24. John - 1018365 - May 24, 2010 at 9:09 AM

    The Magic got rid of Turkoglu for salary reasons; they didn’t think they could keep both him and Pietreus(sp?). Certainly they could’ve used him in this series, but I think they were looking forward to LA and having P. contain Kobe. If they had gotten past the Celtics somehow, they would need P. But if you can’t get past the Celtics without T., then what can you do? T. had over 10 assists in the game 7 victory in Boston last year. As well as they’ve done under Van Gundy, he may not be able to take them anywhere else, and in the back of their minds I’m sure they remember his collosal blunder in leaving an out of practice Nelson in NBA Finals Game 4 last year only to have him give up the tying shot to Fisher. Its easy to forget that the Magic beat a Garnettless Celtic team last year in 7 games.

  25. Michael O'Leary - May 24, 2010 at 10:40 AM

    Supposedly Delonte West was visiting Lebron Jame’s mother during the Cavs-Celtics series. It has been denied by both James and his mother. Celtics are playing defense and we are seeing teams having a hard time getting their timing when pressed defensively. They are making teams play physically and most teams don’t like it or want to play that way. The Cavs and Magic are not quitting, they are just not used to such physical play. You can tell because they have been so confused about why they are losing. Plus most commentators only see offense, so they attribute the loses to quitting rather than give the Celtics credit for playing defense. Defense isn’t sexy; it is hard work and most teams are not used to hard work on either end of the court. Celtics-Lakers will be physical war and a very enjoyable series. The outcome will turn on which team can steal a game from the other. Why don’t writers clean up the players’ grammar mistakes? That used to be the rule.

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