- Brian Schmitz notes that head coach Stan Van Gundy blamed himself for the way the Magic defended the last play. Interesting words from the ol' coach:
"My coaching decision at the end got us beat. They did what they were supposed to do. That was on me," he said, refusing to go into detail. "Our guys played it exactly right ... that's not to take away anything from them. They had to have the patience to go to their last option.
"The only guy who made a mistake on the last play was me."
Davis was open on the play as the Magic covered Pierce and Allen, and Pierce fired him the pass. The Celtics still have a lot of weapons without Garnett. The only hint that Van Gundy gave about the telling play was when he said, "We might have been able to take everything away."
- Mike Bianchi states that Orlando blew a critical chance to put Boston, the defending champs, down 3-1 in the series in the team's loss last night:
Now the Magic have gone and done it. They had them down. They had home-court advantage. They had the defending heavyweight champions on their backs with the ref standing over them counting them out.
And they let them back up.
They let Glen "Big Baby" Davis hit a shot at the buzzer and, suddenly, the tired, injury-depleted Celtics have been revived and resuscitated.
- Kyle Hightower states that the Magic guards struggled in Game 4.
- Tim Povtak reveals why Courtney Lee didn't start in yesterday's matchup ..
Lee is Orlando's best perimeter defender. He missed three consecutive games after surgery to repair a fractured sinus and returned Friday in a reserve role, looking like he never missed a beat, except for the mask he was wearing to protect his face. And normally, he would be put back in the starting lineup where he belongs.
But House is scaring the Magic, and with good reason. House, who plays in reserve for the Celtics, has shot 73 percent (19 of 26) from the field and 75 percent (9 of 12) from 3-point range in this series.
Because of House, the Magic Sunday night stuck with J.J. Redick starting against Ray Allen, holding back Lee to make sure he was in the game against House.
"We didn't want to be in a situation where Courtney was going to the bench, or having to be on the bench when Eddie is coming into the game," said Van Gundy an hour before the start of Game 4. "He is still on our mind. The guy with the best chance of keeping up with him is Courtney."
.. and provides his post-game assessment of Boston's win over Orlando.
- Chris Sheridan of ESPN.com thinks that Stan Van Gundy may want to consider tinkering with the starting lineup in Game 5 versus the Celtics:
Howard (23 points, 17 rebounds) and Rashard Lewis (22 points) carried the offense and the Magic bench contributed 31 points, but Orlando didn't attack the basket with the same vigor it had in Game 3 and launched 27 3-point shots, making only five. Starting guards Rafer Alston and J.J. Redick both shot 1-for -7, highlighting the vast difference in production each team is getting from its starting guards. Alston was benched for the entire fourth quarter and Redick played only 2:50, with coach Stan Van Gundy placing his trust in Hedo Turkoglu to take care of most of the ball handling and Courtney Lee to be the guard option when Orlando couldn't get the ball to its bigs in position to score.
Now, Van Gundy has to think long and hard about whether it is time to make wholesale changes to his starting backcourt, possibly moving Game 3 starter Anthony Johnson ahead of Alston at the point, and also re-inserting Lee into the same starting role he held until Howard elbowed him in the nose during Game 5 of the first round, fracturing Lee's sinus and knocking him out for three games.
I'd have to agree with Sheridan. After the game was over, I was trying to figure out what personnel moves are needed to be made if the Magic want to beat the Celtics on the road tomorrow. Later today, I'll make a post highlighting the lineup and rotation SVG should consider using in Game 5.
Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm elaborates on a number of things pertaining to last night's game:
There are two ways to look at this. Either this Boston Celtics team possesses a greatness that cannot be defined, that just finds a way to win, that never gets up and will always get big contributions from role players, and has juevos of titanium steel alloy, or ...
The Orlando Magic gave this one away, and there’s no way what occurs tonight is repeated, the Magic have way too much ammo, and this was the Celtics last night in victory.
I lean towards the latter. [...]
SVG gets this loss. No question. He buried this team. He overplayed Rafer Alston, who somehow managed to miss runners, jumpers, three pointers, one handers, two handers, gimmes, tough shots, and granny shots. Yet SVG kept going to him. At what point is SVG going to realize that his best chance to win is Lee, Hedo, Lewis, Gortat and Howard? He lets the Boston bigs double team Howard, then refuses to give Gortat the chance to play cleanup man. He watches Alston kill possessions, with the Celtics giving him shots and him still missing, and yet sticks with him over Anthony Johnson. The pride of coaches in the playoffs just floors me. This one is on you, Stan Van Gundy.
The Magic have all the pieces of a killer ultra-long, hyper-athletic lineup. Then SVG gets involved and we get Alston-Pietrus-Hedo-Battie-Howard/Gortat lineups. If SVG can learn to harness what’s referred to in some circles as "playing the talented players" then they can win this thing. If he sticks to his guns, the Magic are going home and Boston will lose to Cleveland in 2.5 games. Glen Davis will not be getting that shot versus Cleveland’s D.
I will say that Stan Van Gundy was "off" his game yesterday. Usually you'll hear players have 'off-nights' but rarely you'll hear the expression used for coaches. In any case, SVG certainly had an 'off-night' .. for his standards.
- Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don't Lie chimes in with his thoughts on Game 4:
Rafer Alston made some horrible decisions with the ball, and someone needs to get a restraining order that could help separate Dwight Howard and Patrick Ewing. Dwight just has no moves despite a running lefty toss, or that turnaround banked-in jumper that the defense always sees coming, and always beats him to the spot on.
UPDATE: Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus discusses yesterday's proceedings between the Magic and the Celtics:
The difference between the Celtics heading home tied at 2-2 or down 3-1 is enormous. According to WhoWins.com, teams in the latter scenario (excluding the NBA Finals and its 2-3-2 format) have won six out of 47 series, a 12.8 percent rate. Instead, with Davis's shot splashing through, Boston regained home-court advantage and is again (mathematically) the favorite in this series. That's potentially the difference between winning and losing a series.
Of course, there was plenty that played out over the previous 47 minutes and 49 seconds before the final possession. ESPN.com's John Hollinger wrote Monday about Orlando's ability to win even when its three-pointers weren't falling, and the Magic came ever so close to proving that true in dramatic fashion. Orlando was a dismal 5-for-27 from beyond the arc, the sixth time all season the Magic has failed to hit 20 percent of its three attempts. Nobody could find the mark; J.J. Redick missed all five of his tries, Mickael Pietrus was 1-for-5 and Rafer Alston 1-for-6.
From an academic perspective, it's impressive how well Orlando played even without the three going. From a fan's perspective, it must have been agonizing watching the Magic continue to hoist three after three. The looks weren't bad per se, but Orlando was able to get to the free-throw line 28 times when it got the ball inside. Besides Dwight Howard (23 points and 17 rebounds), that meant more post-ups for Rashard Lewis, who had 22 points on 8-for-14 shooting despite the Celtics doing a better job of taking away the looks that opened up for the Magic's centers in Game Three when the help defender came to double Lewis. [...]
On the Orlando side, the interesting strategic decision for Stan Van Gundy is at point guard. Down the stretch, the Magic went with Turkoglu as their de facto point and had Lee in the game to defend Rondo. That was the pairing that was so successful for Orlando in Game Three, and with Alston playing poorly in this series (five points and two assists on 1-for-7 shooting in 27 minutes last night), I'd expect to see more of it in Game Five. One way or another, it would be a shame for Lee to see just 23 minutes of action again. Assuming there aren't lingering medical issues, his play at both ends demands he be on the floor, if not in place of Alston then for Redick, who was unable to find his shot last night, at shooting guard.
The Magic also can't forget about Lewis, their most consistently successful offensive option besides Howard in this series. Lewis used just two possessions in the final six minutes, and that's not enough given the matchup problems he creates for the Celtics.
UPDATE 2: Henry Abbott of TrueHoop shows (via the NBA's Hot Spots feature) the statistical odds that Glen Davis makes his game-winning shot:
According to NBA.com's hot spots feature, during the regular season this year Davis took 249 shots that were not at the hoop. He missed 154 of them, to finish a dismal 38% shooting from any kind of distance at all.
If you're Stan Van Gundy, watching the ball come off Davis' fingertips, that might have felt a little like the Cetlics had just a 38% chance of winning the game, which would normally be viewed as a good sign for Orlando.
But the ball splashed in, and the Celtics changed everything by tying the series.
It's worth pointing out that even though Davis is essentially an abysmal shooter from every spot that isn't at the rim, there is one exception: long 2s from the left side. From that particular area, he made 23 of 45 shots this season -- to make him a 51% shooter. That's 17% better than his rate of all other longer shots.
That's the only part of the floor where Davis's jump shots are, in fact, likely to go in
Is it a coincidence that he shot the game-winner from precisely there?
UPDATE 3: Brian Schmitz adds that Jameer Nelson's absence is hurting the Magic; a fact that the media isn't really talking about according to him:
Coach Stan Van Gundy should go with Anthony Johnson and bring Alston off the bench, but that's doubtful. He doesn't like changing his rotation, and there's no telling how Alston will react to the demotion.
But are you trying to win a title or not?
(If Van Gundy isn't going to sit Alston, he must put Courtney Lee back into the lineup for J.J. Redick, just to give the backcourt some punch.)
There's always talk about the Celtics missing Kevin Garnett. So much so that Coach Doc Rivers instituted a no-KG discussion rule with the media.
But seldom does anybody mention the loss of Magic all-star point guard Jameer Nelson, who was sidelined for the season in February.
He's not KG, obviously, but he means so much to the Magic that at times he's their second-best player.
Nelson's scoring and shooting ability alone would have been enough for them to win Game 4, go ahead 3-1 and likely dismiss the Celtics to advance to theri first East finals since 1996.
You knew that at some point Nelson's absence would haunt.
Just as the Celtics aren't at full strength, neither are the Magic.
The difference is that Boston is getting better play from Garnett's replacement -- Big Baby Davis, who hit the game-winner Sunday.
Nelson's stand-in, as he'll tell you himself, is not doing anything at all.
UPDATE 5: The Celtics' celebration may fuel the Magic in Game 5:
The Orlando Magic apparently didn't appreciate the celebration by the Boston Celtics after Glen "Big Baby'' Davis knocked down a 21-foot jumper to win Game 4, according to the Boston Globe.
"It most definitely adds fuel to the fire," Orlando's Rashard Lewis said. "We don't like that type of stuff. You have to be professional about the game of basketball. We're a professional team and we expect them to be the same way."
"Those guys were jumping up and down, waving their hands at us, saying bye, but it's not over yet; it's just 2-2," Lewis said. "We could have done the same thing when we won on their court, but we're more professional than that. They still have to win ballgames. The series ain't over yet."
- For a Celtics perspective on Game 4, check out CelticsBlog and Celtics Hub.
Make sure to check out this post every few hours for updates.