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NBA Playoffs, Celtics Magic: Does Orlando really have a reason to believe?

May 25, 2010, 9:05 AM EDT

Magic_team.jpgOne down, just three more to go.

That’s not how Stan Van Gundy is telling his team to look at things — he will talk about one game at a time only. Worry about and work toward winning Game 5 on Wednesday then see what the future holds. But fans don’t think that way. They are thinking about historic comebacks and the Finals,

They are thinking maybe, just maybe, in Orlando…

But man is that still a long shot.

Orlando played its best game of the series, the Celtics their worst (by far) and the game still went to overtime. The Celtics will play better on Wednesday and if the Magic do not match that, if they do not improve, then for the second year in a row the season will end for Orlando with another team celebrating on their home court. The Magic put up a photo of the Lakers celebrating on the Magic court in the weight room this season as motivation, the image should still be burned into their minds. They do not want to have a matching pair of these photos.

One key to watch next game is the Magic pick-and-roll and how Boston defends it. For the first time this series, the Magic ran it the way they had for the second half of the season and the first two rounds of the playoffs — they shot 51.6 percent off that play in Game 4, according to ESPN. That is after shooting in the 30s for the first three games. Jameer Nelson played fantastic basketball in this one. The Celtics will bring a focus to stopping this play, the Magic still need to execute the play and get the shots they want out of it — including kick outs to three point shooters who need to knock it down.

If the Magic are going to send the series back to Boston for Game 6, then Vince Carter is going to have to step up. He has held the Magic back this series on both ends of the floor, with the key missed free throws in Game 2, and with a 1 for 9 shooting performance in Game 4. This time the Magic were able to overcome it, thanks in large part to JJ Redick coming off the bench. Carter is still getting inside — five of his nine shots came within five feet of the rim — but he has got to find a way to finish. He has to hit shots over the long arms of the Celtics inside, and he will have to get the jumpers to fall as well.

Also, the Magic bench besides Redick needs to perform better. Jason Williams, Mickael Pietrus and Brandon Bass combined to go 1 for 8 shooting and missed all five three pointers they took. That can’t happen again, the Magic need that boost.

The Celtics will come out in Game 5 playing their best defense of the series, you can bet on it. This is how they respond to things. Rajon Rondo will not go 2 for 8 on shots in the paint again. Kevin Garnett will shoot better than 5 for 12. Doc Rivers may call timeouts at key moments rather than going all Phil Jackson (and during the playoffs even Jackson calls that timeout). Boston will play better.

Can the Magic? We’ll see, because that is where their hope rests.

  1. Mike - May 25, 2010 at 12:02 PM

    The Magic hit an extremely lucky 3(banked in) and another terrible shot for a 3(hand in the face) in overtime. They also got two lucky rebounds for put backs by Howard in OT. The breaks went there way this game. Very lucky…

  2. Ray - May 25, 2010 at 12:31 PM

    Go Magic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    They will win tomorrow night and will show Celtics what they are made of. Magic broke the NBA record with most 3s in one season. There are no lucky shots. This is Magic.

  3. Anonymous - May 25, 2010 at 12:32 PM

    Like the article says, they played their BEST game and Boston played their WORST game, and they still had to go to overtime to eke out a win. Doesn’t bode well for the Magic. Only fly in the proverbial ointment is that now all games are played with only one day rest in between, and that’s a travel day. No more 2-3 days of rest for the “veteran” legs in Boston’s lineup. Still have to give the Celtics a HUGE edge though, tired or not. Losing 3-0 leads can’t happen in TWO sports to the SAME city in the SAME year, can it?

  4. cifey - May 25, 2010 at 12:41 PM

    Too much size in the middle and perimeter for the magic to handle.
    If the celtics play with any kind of energy orlando will wear down and it will be over quickly.

  5. Seth - May 25, 2010 at 1:04 PM

    Celtics win this series in 6! Lakers win there’s in 5! Lakers vs celtics in the finals and lakers win in a VERY close game 7! will be One of best NBA finals ever….

  6. Mosski - May 25, 2010 at 1:38 PM

    I couldn’t believe the Celtic’s strategy in the last few minutes and overtime — Pierce one-on-one over and over and over again. They are not, or should not be, so one dimensional. It was like the Celtic before Garnet and Allen. Pierce cannot do it all by himself!

  7. Jeff - May 25, 2010 at 1:49 PM

    Let’s go Magic!!
    Also, check porkchopfactory . com for great fun!

  8. Omnius - May 25, 2010 at 1:56 PM

    The Celtics looked old and ragged last night as they didn’t have the will to win a closeout game at home. Geriatric Gang Green was wheezing badly in overtime as they couldn’t close out the Orlando Mundane. So much for all the clueless pundits who were crowning the Aged Celtics as champs before they get out of the Eastern CreamPuff Finals. Lakers will win tonight and set themselves up to closeout in game 5 at home. Can the Ancient Celtics close out on the road? Don’t bet on it.

  9. [a] proxy - May 25, 2010 at 1:58 PM

    I could care less who wins this series, but at least it’s a series now.

  10. BostonAndroid - May 25, 2010 at 2:14 PM

    The prediction is Celtics beat Orlando. And LA doesn’t stand a chance. The East-West rivlary will continue, favoring the better East. Watching LA and the Suns play is like watching 2 alright college teams. No skills to pay the bills.

  11. khn - May 25, 2010 at 2:15 PM

    No kidding! I’m so tired of the Pierce iso offense. How many games do they need to lose before they rip that out of the playbook, forever.

  12. dj-MD - May 25, 2010 at 2:20 PM

    No (DUH!!!!)

  13. [a] proxy - May 25, 2010 at 2:23 PM

    That so-called college team is going to be in their third NBA Finals in a row. I can’t say the same for the Celtics. BACK TO BACK CHAMPIONSHIPS FOR LAKERS! By the way, Celtics need to learn how to sweep a series like those two college teams the Lakers and the Suns! Ooops…and ORLANDO!

  14. Matthew - May 25, 2010 at 3:07 PM

    The Magic played their very best ball last night and it was “just barely” enough. The Celtics had only a 90% performance. Don’t expect Pierce to miss two wide open 3s to close the game again on Wednesday. And, certainly don’t expect Rondo to show up half-asleep.
    Wednesday night will end with more than 10 points between them and the Magic will be playing golf back in Orlando on Thursday.

  15. WestlakeVillage Bruin - May 25, 2010 at 3:27 PM

    “favoring the better East”
    You are completely clueless. The East is a junior league compared to West. Our 8th seed had 50 wins…MORON!!!
    It will be a great series and you have to be impressed with the Celtics run over the last few weeks. But KG looked like he was going to pass out during the 4th and overtime….Lakers in 6

  16. Erik - May 25, 2010 at 3:42 PM

    The Magic can put up all the photos they want but the truth is they do not have the mental toughness or the intelligence that the Celtics have to execute in offense and in defense. One good game does not make a series. Celtics in 5!

  17. Ed - May 25, 2010 at 3:54 PM

    uptempo magic creates mismatches in transition will equal game 5 win.

  18. timsan - May 25, 2010 at 5:00 PM

    Celtics looked very sketchy toward the end of the game. Very poor communication and definitely too tired. Paul Pierce’s ego is showing again. Doesn’t bode well for them in the finals.

  19. Katie - May 25, 2010 at 5:22 PM

    Agreed! Best NBA Finals! Can’t wait!

  20. Joel - May 25, 2010 at 5:55 PM

    The NBA has managed to extend the series and try to convince fans that this is a better match up than it seems. I sincerely believe that the Magic winning this game was really all a ploy and the Celtics played along with the what the league wanted. Such lousy match ups and games will kill the NBA over time. Let’s go watch some hockey!

  21. dj-MD - May 25, 2010 at 9:52 PM

    You mean “takes last step toward historic collapse.”

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  23. Tim - May 26, 2010 at 1:47 AM

    How could even imagine that that game was the BEST the Magic could play? The Magic had two far better games against Boston than that during the regular season alone, and continued to make sloppy plays, miss shots they nearly always make, and turn the ball over way beyond their normal rate. And last time I checked, the Celtics barely won games 1 and 2 although they were among the very worst games the Magic had played all season.

  24. Erik - May 26, 2010 at 6:25 PM

    No, Orlando does not have a single tangible or intangible reason to believe. This series is over after tonight. Celtics in 5! Gooo Celtics!!!

  25. hector - May 26, 2010 at 8:07 PM

    want to correct you celtics going all the way in games 7!!

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