A few quotes from Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy outside the locker room about an hour before tipoff tonight against the Boston Celtics.
Regarding his team's preparation and attitude, Stan said he "didn't know" if the team was "loose," but did have this much to say:
"I know this morning they were in a tremendous frame of mind in the walkthrough, and I said to our assistants, 'that's really the best preparation, the best walkthrough--and they're always pretty good-- the best we've had in the postseason.' So, um, I thought their frame of mind today was outstanding."
Some of the guys appeared to be in good spirits in the locker room just a few moments later. Courtney Lee and Rashard Lewis joked about a play from Game 5 in which Eddie House stole the ball and got a transition layup (5:27 mark, 2nd quarter). Lee, while operating the locker-room A/V equipment, needled Lewis about setting a poor pick for Anthony Johnson on the play; then he called attention to how Lee himself slid as though he were on skates as he tried to defend House. Shortly after that, Dwight Howard flatulated as Adonal Foyle walked by, eliciting laughter from all his teammates around to hear it... except Foyle, who hurried away.
Van Gundy on his team's confidence:
"I've said all along I just don't think confidence is a problem with us. I mean, I just don't. It'll come down to whether or not we play well tonight."
Van Gundy on the leadership of injured team co-captain Jameer Nelson from the sidelines:
"He's been very encouraging to guys, but any athlete will tell you you can only go so far, you know. I mean, you're talking to guys and everything else, but all of that stuff to me is... and what guys are gonna say... may be important when you help a guy a little bit individually but it's a little, uh, it's a little overrated. I mean, real leadership has to come out on the court in terms of what you do and what people are seeing you do. You bring a great effort, you energize these other guys, things like that. I think that's more of the leadership thing."
Later, Van Gundy was asked if he had considered starting Courtney Lee, the Magic's usual top shooting guard, instead of J.J. Redick. He said he would stick with Redick, then continued...:
"I can tell you the reasoning. Number one, the starts of games have not really been our problems. So, you know, I'm a little hesitant to change that, because we've gotten off to pretty good starts. Number two, on that matchup in particular [Redick vs. Ray Allen], you know, Ray has not gotten off to a fast start yet. Now, look, J.J.'ll play him as well as he can and Ray could have 20 in the first quarter. I know what kind of player he is. But, I'm a little hesitant to make that change to a matchup that has been--especially at the start of a game--not a problem for us. And I still think, like I said before, that, um, our best matchup speed-wise with Eddie House is Courtney. So, I think for us to go the other way, and put Courtney on a matchup where he hasn't been on Ray Allen as much in the series, start him, and when it's rest time for Courtney have J.J. have to chase Eddie House around... I don't think from a defensive standpoint, at least at the start of the game, it makes a helluva lot of sense for us."
On Dwight Howard and what he has to do tonight:
Well, I just think all the time with Dwight... I think Dwight is, um, is a guy always capable of making a huge impact on the game on the defensive end of the court and on the boards. On the boards, he's been fine in this series, on the defensive end he's been okay but could be even better, um, and I think if he keeps his focus there, on those two things, and just plays with great energy, staying on the move, really moving, because I think where Kendrick [Perkins, the Celtics' starting center], you know, gains more of an advantage is when they [the Magic], uh, when they stand still.You know, then it's just body-on-body.
Van Gundy went on to say that he knows there isn't another big man in the NBA who can keep up with Dwight athletically. He stressed the importance of Dwight moving and being energetic. Then, he said...
"I think this with every player: when you put your focus on really defending hard and playing hard and playing with great energy and take your mind off your offense, you know... I think it helps."
Van Gundy continued to stress that Dwight focus more on defense and rebounding, saying his offense would improve from there.
We're moments away from tipoff now. Magic owner Rich DeVos is in the building. He told reporters in the locker room, "we're all here and everybody's ready to go." It certainly looks like it. Amway Arena is hopping.