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NBA Playoffs, Celtics Magic: Game 6 or bust for Boston

May 27, 2010, 9:13 AM EDT

Garnett_headdown.jpgGive credit to the Magic — a lot of teams would have just rolled over after losing three straight games and meekly surrendered their season. I’m looking at you, Atlanta. The Magic showed some fight, caught a couple breaks and won Game 4 in overtime.

Then they came out and threw a knockout punch. A haymaker. It connected right on Celtics jaw in Game 5. It seemed to give the Celtics a concussion, and I’m pretty sure Kendrick Perkins dropped an F-bomb when it landed and got ejected for it. For Celtics fans, that one hurt.

Except you can’t knock someone out with a second loss.

By rule, Boston lives to fight another day.

It is Game 6 or bust for Boston, it wants no part of a Game 7 back in Orlando. Friday night is the showdown.

Game 5 was just a perfect storm of things gone wrong for the Celtics. Orlando couldn’t seem to miss from three, hitting 52% of their shots, and Jameer Nelson was 4 of 5 from deep. JJ Redick stepped up to be everything Vince Carter is not. Celtics players kept getting in foul trouble. Dwight Howard played 40 minutes and collected just two personal fouls while being the most aggressive player on the floor. Ray Allen was cold (3-11). Jason Williams was breaking people’s ankles. Rashard Lewis looked healthy and was hitting shots against the Boston defense.

Game 6 will be different. The opponent’s rims always seem a little smaller in big games at the Garden. Ed Rush will not be one of the referees. Kendrick Perkins should be back (although predicting the whims of the league office is fraught with peril). Allen and Rajon Rondo will play better at home. Magic players may end up in some foul trouble.

But it comes down to defense. Always does with Boston.

Kevin Garnett must be inspiring and be everywhere, as he seemed to be at the start of this series. In the first three games the Celtics took away the Magic pick-and-roll and forced them to do other things, contested threes, and then turned defensive stops and turnovers into some easy buckets going the other way. Rondo was pushing the pace and probing the Magic. Wednesday night, it was Nelson doing that (and getting a couple easy buckets for the effort). In Game 6, Rondo has to stay in front of Nelson. He needs help on those picks, but he has got to recover and help defend the man who the whole Magic attack centers around. He needs to be back in transition. It is about the defense first.

Paul Pierce needs to step up, ditch the melodrama, and play like the 2008 Finals MVP. The Magic don’t have a good matchup to stop him. He had 18 points and got to the line 10 times in Game 5, but he needs to keep attacking plus shoot better than 3 of 8. He needs to be the unstoppable force. Finally, the Celtics bench needs to step up with better than the 5 for 14 shooting performance of Game 5 (once you take the hot but foul-prone Rasheed Wallace out of the equation). Tony Allen needs to hit shots. Sheed needs to keep hitting them, keep defending and stay out of foul trouble.

All of this can happen. The Celtics still lead this series, they still need just one win and they are heading home to a place that has been a fortress over the decades. Those banners hang up above because the Celtics win things like Game 6.

The Celtics are not in that much trouble. But they will be if they lose Friday night.

  1. YX - May 27, 2010 at 9:29 AM

    Perk and Big Baby has an excellent chance of being out in C’s last home game and C’s have an excellent chance of following B’s footprints. WWE refs ftw.

  2. Sguy2130 - May 27, 2010 at 10:46 AM

    The reality is that Boston is just getting worn down. They played phenominal for 2.5 series. But it doesn’t take away from the fact that they are old, and unfortunately for my Cavs, their age didn’t show up until now. Sure, they can still eek out another win and take this series, but I don’t know if they’ll have enough left for the Lakers/Suns. When Boston is on and healthy they may be the best team in the NBA, but Garnett doesn’t look the same, and when Ray Allen isn’t hitting everything he chucks up the Celtics are very beatable.

  3. ocgunslinger - May 27, 2010 at 10:47 AM

    Well it is turning out to be a series. Just like the Lakers and Suns. Momentum (turnovers, key rebounds, MAKING 3 point shots) always are a factor in the playoffs. There are 4 teams left and 2 are going to be suffering a long off season because of “If Only” reflections. Now this is good drama.
    Celics will win one more and the Lakers will take two and then take the Celtics in 5.

  4. Sean Truscott - May 27, 2010 at 10:57 AM

    I think if boston gets back to playing like they did in the first 3 games they wil win another title. I hope the suns take out the lakers, because kobe is such a egomaniac and a jerk.he has nothing on the greatest ball player jordan. that man was a class act There needs to be another team coming out of the west. too represent

  5. FontainesDomains.com - May 27, 2010 at 10:58 AM

    You’d have to be follish if you couldn’t tell the Celts weren’t that much better than the Magic in the 1st three, and the Celts arent as bad as the looked in the two losses. These teams are pretty close. What I can figure is, look at Howards elbow coming down on Pierce as Pierce was already falling backwards towards the ground, THAT was a nasty takedown. Then look at Howards elbow come down and knock Davis out.. rediculous. Combine that with two fake techs knocking Per out of the game, and what does the NBA think the result will be? I REALLY cant beleive they let Howard do that, only to kick another player out of a game for getting mad at a call. I dont care who wins now, but I am REALLY not liking Howard (where I had up till this point).

  6. stoms - May 27, 2010 at 11:01 AM

    I think if boston gets back to playing like they did in the first 3 games they wil win another title. I hope the suns take out the lakers, because kobe is such a egomaniac and a jerk.he has nothing on the greatest ball player jordan. that man was a class act There needs to be another team coming out of the west. too represent

  7. Andy - May 27, 2010 at 11:06 AM

    The Magic will steal game 6 at Boston. They beat the Celtics last year at home to close out and they will do it again. Boston will not beat the Magic in Orlando in a game 7. The Celtics age is showing now. The wear and tear is too much for the Celtics. Orlando will make history. Boston better prey that the league reverses one of the techs on Perkins if not the Magic will not only steal game 6 but a probable blow out at Boston. GO MAGIC!!

  8. Randy - May 27, 2010 at 11:15 AM

    Like any player Howard is going to take what the refs give him so don’t get your panties in a wad Mr. Fontaine. Also, this series was closer than what the 3-0 looked like. The Magic took game three off but one and two could have gone either way. Boston had won 6 straight including 4 straight on the road so I see no reason why the Magic can’t take the next two. The momentum has definately switched. Age is catching up with Boston.

  9. NickLA - May 27, 2010 at 11:39 AM

    This is why when you’re up 2-0 going home, u don’t tweet and say “broom, anyone” ? -ok my inglewood, CA Paul Pierce.
    Leave the arrogance to the fans. The players need to focus on their work and not their mouth.
    The NBA is the WWE, now, “where soft happens” lol. They saw the lakers up 2-0. celtics up 3-0 and thought, “we can’t limit revenues in the conference finals”. let’s maximize profits here. something was really fishy in the lakers/los illegal suns game 4. and from the past corruption with officiating, i won’t eb surprised if something sinister is behind that. the celtics also were ridiculed by the refs in orlando.
    The NBA should be changed to the national basketball entertainment. harlem globetrotters, your jobs are no longer secure.

  10. Omnius - May 27, 2010 at 11:47 AM

    The Ancient Celtics missed a big chance to close this series out in game 4 at home. I saw some Celtics fan the other day say that the Magic were weak because a Celtic pushed a Magic player and he didn’t retaliate. That Celtic fan called the Magic weak. Now that the Magic have retaliated in the second half of game 4 we see that the Celtics didn’t get beat, they got beat up. Where was the Celtic’s retaliation at last night? The Ancient Celtics looked old weak and frail, on the verge of retirement.

  11. nresq - May 27, 2010 at 11:53 AM

    What a friggin’ dork. Egomaniac this, class act that. Shut the f*ck up, dude. This is playoff basketball in 2010, get it? Not 2003 or the 1990’s. Kobe’s at the top of his game right now. Boston getting back to playing like they did in the first 3 games, and Orlando playing like they did, yeah, Boston looks all world. News flash: That don’t happen that way for long in the NBA. Teams adjust; players get tired; players get hurt; refs start calling fouls on the other team. Looks to me like Boston is baked like beans. Anyway, thanks for all your observations, Captain Obvious! Suggest you try another sport.

  12. John - 1018365 - May 27, 2010 at 11:55 AM

    Someone needs to tell Kurt Helin that the place that was a fortress for decades for Boston (Boston Garden) is not the place the Celtics play anymore. That place Boston won 16 championships; the place they play now (TD Garden, I think) Boston has only won one championship–in 2008. The Celtics lost their first game 7 in history at home to the Magic last year in this building. Don’t get me wrong, the smart money is still on the Celtics, but not long ago the smart money was on the Celtics not needing this game to advance. If the Orlando Magic play like they’ve got nothing to lose, they’ve got a chance. And if they win, its going to be tough for the Celtics to win game 7 in Orlando.
    I think one of two things will happen in game 6. One, the Celtics will crush the Magic. Two, the Magic will stay in the game, and this will lead to another possibility: a literal fight, in which the team which doesn’t leave the bench will have the advantage. The series is getting much too physical, and in the key game, game 6, its hard to not see a close game resulting in puches being thrown.

  13. nresq - May 27, 2010 at 12:01 PM

    Uh, Nick, I guess you didn’t get the memo that Pierce didn’t send that tweet, his account was hacked. Check it out. I agree with the rest of your post about the NBA and the refs. Total joke.

  14. al - May 27, 2010 at 12:28 PM

    Celtics have looked thier age in the ot and in game 5 but should prevail at home game 6 bostons home crowd will give them that adrenaline they’ll need

  15. JC - May 27, 2010 at 12:40 PM

    The refs handed this game to Miami. The Celts #1 interior defender was EJECTED from the game in the first half. His primary backup (yeah, Wallace is technically the center, but Baby guards Howard when Perk is out) was sent off the floor, and possibly the series, with a concussion from Howard’s 8765896798769876th “inadvertent” elbow of the series (that and the play where he pushed Pierce to the floor should both be upgraded to Flagrant-1’s except that we all know they won’t since that would mean Howard would get an automatic suspension for Game 6).
    Despite that, the Magic couldn’t push their lead much beyond single-digits until the Celtics got into the serious foul trouble, and the scrubs came out. Assuming the league does the right thing, and rescinds one (or both) of the T’s against Perk, and assuming Big Baby is ok to play, the Celts should take Game 6 in a walkover.

  16. Chitown-LA transplant - May 27, 2010 at 12:50 PM

    I grew up outside of Chitown and through the entire MJ era. Once the Zen Master went to LA, I also became an LA fan….then had the opportunity to move there. To say MJ was any better than Kobe is just plane silly, unintelligent blabber. The fact that you even compare them is proof the Kobe’s abilities. As a person, I’m not a big Kobe fan, but I’ve enjoyed watching his on-court character mature over the years and find myself Lakers-Kobe.
    As a player, he has commanded the respect of the entrie league…..which is proved by defenses resigning to the fact that Kobe is nearly unstoppable. They control him by reducing his ability to get others engaged in the offense and hoping he has an off game. The Suns over the last two games have managed to do just that, AND they’ve had the good fortune of Kobe’s supporting cast going cold.
    He has already created a legacy ranking him with some of the greatest players the NBA has ever seen. That’s undeniable. The stats don’t lie. The constant haters on Kobe as an NBA player is stupid. It only reflects your own immaturity and narrow-mindedness.

  17. Shrek Daddy - May 27, 2010 at 12:54 PM

    The Celtics have been down this road before. When they won it in 2008 didn’t most of their series go to 6 and 7 games (except for the Lakers series LOL, can’t stand LA)? In fact they looked at times like they were unbeatable and at other times it looked like their “age is showing” again. They have been old for 4 years now so that isn’t anything new, but they have a young emerging superstar who can lift this team up and his name is Rondo. If he pushes the ball and gets everyone involved (more of that and less scoring), unlike game 5, then the Celts will win. If he can’t do that then the only chance the Celts have is to make sure their A-Game Defense is clicking on all cylinders – they need the good D regardless. They can win without Perkins, but I do hope he is able to play and I also hope the refs can be just a tad more consistent. I love playoff basketball and the physicality of it all – Go Celts!

  18. IMJCS2 - May 27, 2010 at 12:55 PM

    Miami?

  19. Randy - May 27, 2010 at 1:02 PM

    Hey JC, if you can’t handle the heat get out of the fire (or go watch tennis). Pushing, shoving elbow throwing have all been part of basketball since its inception. Only lately because of crybabies like you have the league started calling these fouls so close. Every other game you’ve got Pierce rolling around on the ground like a freakin’ drama queen trying to get a call when he could just be a man and play ball. If Boston can’t play against a big strong guy like Howard then bow out. I’m sure everyone would understand if you just quit.

  20. Randy - May 27, 2010 at 1:04 PM

    Hey JC, if you can’t handle the heat get out of the fire (or go watch tennis). Pushing, shoving elbow throwing have all been part of basketball since its inception. Only lately because of crybabies like you have the league started calling these fouls so close. Every other game you’ve got Pierce rolling around on the ground like a freakin’ drama queen trying to get a call when he could just be a man and play ball. If Boston can’t play against a big strong guy like Howard then bow out. I’m sure everyone would understand if you just quit.

  21. Anonymous - May 27, 2010 at 1:21 PM

    I agree that Pierce overacts quite a bit at times and I also agree that physical basketball including elbows have been going on for a long time but Howard definitely goes out of his way to make sure his elbows are connecting more than necessary. With that being said I think the Celts should send every available, foulable man at Howard in game 6 and beat the living sh*t out of him – I mean if the refs are going to call in on the Celts anyway they may as well make it count. Maybe then we can keep him out of the paint, because he can’t do much else when he isn’t inside that circle of comfort. Great shot blocker, horrible shooter. Celts by 15!

  22. dkaplan0000 - May 27, 2010 at 1:21 PM

    For the first three games, the Magic made the mistake of playing Howard in the low post. The Celts played single coverage on him and stayed home on all of Orlando’s perimeter shooters. 3-0 Celts.
    Then Van Gundy got wise and started running the high pick and rolls. The Celts seem to have no answer for this and if they can’t come up with one, Orlando is going to make history.

  23. Shrek Daddy - May 27, 2010 at 1:23 PM

    I agree that Pierce overacts quite a bit at times and I also agree that physical basketball including elbows have been going on for a long time but Howard definitely goes out of his way to make sure his elbows are connecting more than necessary. With that being said I think the Celts should send every available, foulable man at Howard in game 6 and beat the living sh*t out of him – I mean if the refs are going to call in on the Celts anyway they may as well make it count. Maybe then we can keep him out of the paint, because he can’t do much else when he isn’t inside that circle of comfort. Great shot blocker, horrible shooter. Celts by 15!

  24. Anonymous - May 27, 2010 at 1:30 PM

    I’m pretty sure howard didn’t intentionally throw his elbow, he is just much stronger than everyone else and intense. Don’t lie, you hated howard before this game.

  25. Jboy - May 27, 2010 at 1:47 PM

    If the Tic’s can get back to taking Howard out of his comfort zone a little bit, and really harass the rest of the Magic players, they’ll win this thing Friday.Nobody is saying much about Rondo, but he just doesn’t look right. Who knows? Both teams are in for the fight of their lives Friday, I just hope Boston has enough gas to prevail.
    As far as Kobe/Jordan…Kobe’s got all the skills, and a lot of the intangibles, but you never ever saw Jordan make that stupid face Kobe makes when he thinks he’s scaring people. Jordan just looked focused and unflappable all the time. Kobe’s the closestto Jordan, this era has produced,(and that includes Lebron), but there will never be another Jodran.
    Go Tics!!!!

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