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NBA Playoffs, Celtics Magic Game 5: Magic find their form, pull within game of Celtics

May 27, 2010, 12:08 AM EDT

Thumbnail image for Howard_Davis.jpg
You can talk about Perkins’ suspension. You can talk about Rajon Rondo’s second consecutive sub-par game. You can talk about Garnett and Pierce both struggling from the field. But the biggest reason the Orlando Magic won game five of the Eastern Conference Finals is that they played like the team who won 59 games in the regular season and dominated the first two rounds of the playoffs. They got Howard going without having to force-feed him in the post. They dominated the paint on defense and contested every shot. And most of all, they hit those three-pointers they love to shoot so much.
Yesterday, the three-point shot was what allowed the Suns to tie up their series with the Lakers. On Wednesday night, it was Orlando’s faith in the three-ball that allowed them to make the conference finals competitive again. After being held scoreless for the first two minutes of the game, Vince Carter jump-started the Magic offense with a three. Rashard Lewis hit a three of his own on the next Magic possession, and the onslaught from beyond the arc would continue for the next 45 minutes of the game. 
After struggling mightily from deep over the course of the first three games, the Magic finally found some success with the three-point shot in game four; on Wednesday night, they opened the floodgates. The Magic hit eight three-pointers in the first half, and went 13-25 on threes over the course of the game. Instead of dumping the ball to Howard and hoping the ball would return to their shooters for open looks, the Magic came out looking to get their three-point shooters going first and then setting up Howard. It was a subtle adjustment, but it was the key to the game. 
When the Celtics lost Jameer Nelson on the pick-and-roll, he would pull up for a three. When they sagged back to try and stop someone from getting into the paint, that player would toss it back to the corner for a three. When the Magic got an offensive rebound, they would kick it out for a three. Catch-and-shoot, off the dribble, off a screen, it didn’t matter. The Magic never hesitated to let it fly, and with their home crowd giving them confidence, they never stopped hitting them. 
The Celtics didn’t have a horrible offensive game, but Orlando was able to impose their will on that end. KG never got comfortable down low, the Magic packed the paint on Rondo in the half-court and kept him from getting out in transition, they never lost Ray Allen on screens, and they never gave Pierce any open shots in the half-court. They swarmed the ball on the perimeter, and Howard was there to contest every shot inside, even getting a chase-down block on Rondo at one point.
The Magic weren’t as red-hot in the second half as they were in the first, but with Perkins off the floor, they were able to use their size advantage to wear the Celtics down by drawing foul after foul after foul. The Celtics were able to hang around for a while, but two quick-trigger threes by Jameer Nelson and a Pietrus dunk put the Magic up by 18 with five and a half minutes to play and effectively ended the game.
Not that long ago, it looked like the Magic were on the verge of getting swept. If Perkins’ suspension holds, the Celtics will either have to win without Perkins at home or win in Orlando to make it to the NBA finals for the second time in three years. Sometimes your luck can change just that fast in the world of professional sports. 
  1. Luke Perry - May 27, 2010 at 12:18 AM

    I havent seen someone take a blow like big baby since rodney king

  2. sunil - May 27, 2010 at 1:20 AM

    its funny that the celtics always play physical east coast style now the boston fan base will have to complain about the magic getting too physical with kendrick(illegal screens, no offensive game,overrated thug)perkins and kevin(sutdio gangster fugazi tough guy), rasheed(techmagnet)wallace and of course glen(rodney king)davis all getting some elbows to the dome in this series… turns out they can dish it out but dont want other teams to play that way back against them-dont know if orlando can do it but i like their chances for a reverse sweep; they are pissed about the paul pierce anybody got a broom commentary, and want to literally hard foul the celtics out of the playoffs

  3. luffy - May 27, 2010 at 2:09 AM

    Still don’t know if possible but interesting if it happens, It seems the city of Boston always brings surprises, Red Sox, Bruins and now Celtics on the verge of being part of the greatest sports history upsets.
    NBA = Business, more games, more money, I think Celts could’ve finished it on game 4. I don’t know, I’m a Lakers fan btw…

  4. phil collins - May 27, 2010 at 2:15 AM

    both technicals on perkins were ridiculous. dont know if the celts wouldve won anyways, but with perk the fourth quarter wouldve been competitive, back and forth basketball…not a blowout

  5. luffy - May 27, 2010 at 2:25 AM

    Agreed, the NBA is getting soft nowadays, Perk doesn’t deserve those 2 technical fouls. Dumbass refs, they should put some cover in the players mouth if they don’t want players talking.
    FU David Stern! For these kinda calls, for fining Cuban for some comments. You’re a money hungry old man that’s gonna die soon…

  6. luffy - May 27, 2010 at 5:19 AM

    Well eitherway, Lakers in 6 in the finals, sweet revenge for the Celts if ever and I don’t know what for Orlando? I know, Phoenix isn’t a cakewalk but it should be Lakers in 7…

  7. Anonymous - May 27, 2010 at 7:34 AM

    Looks like now we know where “Big Baby” really got his nickname. His post-basketball MMA career just took a hit. Glad to see the humble, no (so far) trash-talking Magic coming back, but the NBA is still a referee-controlled game, and back in Boston I just don’t see them letting the series get back to Orlando for a Game 7. Of course the flip side of that argument would be that it would create a Game 7 being played on a SUNDAY, which the money-whore that runs the league would kill for. So expect the series to go back to Orlando now that I think it through. BTW, Perkins will play in game 6. Either of the two techs can, and one will, be “overturned” by the league office… another way of them controlling the outcome of the games. What… you think the league office wants a Phoenix-Orlando final? No way…

  8. Ray - May 27, 2010 at 7:53 AM

    Go Magic!!!
    They were the second best team in the league in the regular season and it is showing now. They will go all the way amd make the history. We believe in Magic.

  9. don henderson - May 27, 2010 at 11:51 AM

    It seems that the referrees cannot be controlled. there should be some method. reviewing videos of their bad calls should be noted and when they add up to enough, suspend them. as it is they operate with impunity. everybody else gets fines or suspensions, why not the refs?

  10. Moses Green - May 27, 2010 at 11:52 AM

    If no Celtic takes a full speed roundhouse punch at Howard then I will never watch this team again. He needs to get his cheating dirty ass kicked. Period.
    Hey Mr. “Anonymous” Tough Guy – cheap shot elbows from Superman are tough to walk away from. I’d like to see what that elbow would’ve done to your dumb ass. Probly would’ve made you drop your purse.

  11. Omnius - May 27, 2010 at 12:06 PM

    The Ancient Celtics didn’t get beat, they got Beat Up! So funny that the other day a Celtics fan bragged about how weak the Magic were when a Celtic pushed a Magic player and the Magic player didn’t retaliate, smart because that would have been a technical foul. The Magic did retaliate last night as they beat up three Celtic players, though to be fair the Celtic with all the hair did himself in by running into Gortat not knowing he was there.
    No Howard’s foul on Crybaby Davis wasn’t a cheap shot, just a case of him going for a rebound and Davis’s face being in the way of Howard’s fist coming down naturally. A big hit for sure but not a premeditated one. Man up Boston and stop crybabying and just go out there and play tough, or you won’t have the honor of being beaten in the Finals by the Lakers.

  12. Jeff - May 27, 2010 at 12:34 PM

    Yes, I agree that since people are used to Celtics physical play that it becomes a norm, yet , when Magic matches their intensity and physical play, then the media or others makes a big deal out of it. Even with Joakim Noah commented about K. Garnett’s dirty play, media didn’t make a big deal out of it, now some people are complaining about D. Howard. None of them were intentional, that was part of the game.

  13. Matt - May 27, 2010 at 12:53 PM

    It is only the nature of the thugs to openly encourage violence.

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