- Brian Schmitz shines light on the fact that head coach Stan Van Gundy isn't worried about the outcome of the game last night for Orlando ...
"You guys get into, 'Oh, what a great comeback.' How about the fact we were up by 28? We play these games to win, and that's it. We won," Van Gundy said, rather defiantly. "Right now, the series is 1-nothing."
... but admits what was the problem for the Magic.
"We were sort of trying to run out the clock," Van Gundy said. "You can't do that in games like this."
This is a point I made poignantly many times in the game thread yesterday. It was obvious that once Orlando jumped out to a big lead in the third quarter, the team began to play the time & score rather than play the opponent.
Mike Bianchi states how Dwight Howard
was able to channel his inner-Bill Russell, ironically, against Boston last night in Orlando's Game 1 win:
Without fail, we always hear the old-timers talk about how lucky they were to have watched the greatness of Russell, but maybe, just maybe, we're catching a glimpse of the grandeur ourselves in Dwight Howard.
Did you see Howard's absolutely Russell-esque stat line — 22 rebounds, 16 points, three blocked shots — Monday? Did you see how his defensive presence and rebounding down the stretch helped the Magic survive a frantic Celtics' rally? Did you see how he was unselfishly content to let the offense run through his teammates?
"My main concern is defense," Dwight says. "There are going to be nights on offense when I don't get the ball or I'm not making shots, but the one thing my team can always count on is my defense."
Defense was definitely the calling card of the great Bill Russell, too.
- Kyle Hightower points out the fact the Magic were able to exploit the matchup of Rashard Lewis against Glen Davis.
Chalk up Round 1 for Lewis.
Thanks to a hot hand from the field, Lewis put Baby back in his crib with a combination of short jumpers.
He also was assisted by Davis' early foul trouble, which kept him strapped to the bench as Boston fell into a deep first-half hole.
Lewis finished with a team-high 18 points and seven rebounds, while Davis got to double-figures (12 points) but fouled out late.
It was the second straight big effort from Lewis in the playoffs, who had 29 in the Magic's Game 6 win over Philadelphia to close out the series.
Mickael Pietrus was certainly impressed with Rashard's performance.
"I've been in this league seven years and all I can say is, 'Wow,' " Mickael Pietrus said of Lewis' performance. "He gave us what we needed when we needed it tonight."
- Henry Abbott of TrueHoop highlights a few plays that caught his eye in the Magic v. Celtics game last night. Here's an except from Abbott's post:
Rafer Alston made, honestly, one of the most fascinating and exciting plays of the year with about 3:23 left in the game. After a Dwight Howard free throw, the Magic were up a dozen. Perhaps the game would soon be out of reach.
With a stopped clock, Rondo had the opportunity to save some precious seconds. The clock wouldn't start until he touched the ball. So he didn't, letting it bounce up the court.
This is sometimes called walking the dog.
Alston gave Rondo room ... to a point. But as Dwight Howard ran by, Alston hid behind him a bit and then ... POUNCED FOR THE KILL. Just launched his body fully horizontal, like a jaguar, diving cleanly between Rondo and that ball.
If Rondo walked the dog, and Alston was a dog assassin.
Just so ballsy and strategic. It was a risky play by Alston, and bizarre and creative. But justified, as it worked.
- Chris Sheridan of ESPN.com talks about how the talk may center around Boston's comeback and debates may ensue whether last night was a moral victory for the C's, but SVG offers his opinion on the issue at hand:
"The end of the game probably puts you at a point where you're not ecstatic, and they ended the game on a tremendous run, but we got the win," he said. "It's still a much better night for us -- you guys can write it however you want -- but it's still a much better night for us than for them. You guys get into the fact of the whole great comeback, but what about the fact we were up 28? You know, you play these games to win, and that's it. We won."
"They were fantastic in the last 16 minutes, and if we don't adjust and play better then we'll have a lot of problems Wednesday, but right now the series is 1-0."
- Tim Povtak of NBA Fanhouse thinks complacency, not panic, is what attributed to the Magic squandering a sizable lead against the Celtics:
The Magic looked bad in the closing minutes, but it didn't look like panic. It looked like complacency, like they got lazy, like they really aren't that worried about the Celtics.
And they aren't. The Celtics couldn't guard Rashard Lewis. They didn't know what to do with Hedo Turkoglu.
There was no fear in Orlando's crash at the end. The fact is, they should have blown out the Celtics, who obviously still were hung over from their delightful and surprisingly competitive first-round series against Chicago. It took everything the Celtics had to beat the No. 7 seed. Like that's a great accomplishment.
When Game 2 starts Wednesday night, the Celtics will be trailing 1-0, and they still will have no answer for center Dwight Howard, who had 22 rebounds, chewing up and spitting out Kendrick Perkins.
"We can't be happy with the way it finished,'' Howard said. "We got complacent. And that's not good enough.''
Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm sums up yesterday's events succinctly:
The popular story will be the inability of the Magic to maintain their composure. I’ve watched a bunch of Magic games and seen them blow a few leads. This was a cruise control situation, not a choke job. The Celtics came back on the Lakers in the Finals last year as a result of concentration, defense, and playmaking. the Celtics came back in this game because Orlando was thinking about victory martinis at Cheesecake Factory. They quit pushing themselves, quit using their superior athleticism, talent, and skill, and just trusted their hot streak. And you know? It was STILL enough.
Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus chimes in with his observations of last night's matchup between Orlando and Boston:
[...] make no mistake--this win was more about the Magic's defense than their shooting or scoring. Improbably, Orlando shut down the Celtics' starting backcourt of Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen, each of whom shot 2-for-12 from the field. Rondo flirted with yet another triple-double, grabbing 10 rebounds and handing out eight assists, but committed seven turnovers in addition to his bad shooting. Rondo was able to get in the paint enough to attempt 12 free throws; when the Magic shut down those shooting lanes, he was completely neutralized, missing all eight of his attempts that weren't essentially layups. Allen got some looks and simply could not get it going, missing six of seven three-point attempts.
Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated wonders which All-Star will be missed most between the Magic and Celtics, Jameer Nelson or Kevin Garnett:
The opening 27 minutes were all about Kevin Garnett, the injured All-Star forward of the Celtics. The concluding 21 minutes were all about Jameer Nelson, the injured All-Star point guard of the Magic.
UPDATE: J.J. Redick talks about the challenge of guarding Ray Allen:
``Ray is a great scorer and some nights he’s going to hit those tough shots, but tonight he just didn’t hit them,’’ Redick said. ``The goal is to get a hand in his face as much as possible and contest every shot. Sometimes he can hit those anyway.’’
[...] ``I’m a competitor and of course I want to guard him.’’
UPDATE 2: Adrian Wojnarowski recaps the last night's proceedings:
Orlando understood that Game 1 was the chance to steal one from the Celtics, and delivered the deed. There are no moral victories for a failed comeback in the NBA playoffs, just a 1-0 series lead for the Magic, just an immense burden on Boston on Wednesday night.
For everything that Boston had hoped it exposed on Orlando in those frantic, final minutes, there was still the illumination that the Magic can be a matchup nightmare for the Celtics. When the Magic were under siege, they never turned to Howard on offense the way that they should’ve – the way that they will – and still beat the Celtics. The All-Star center took only five second-half shots, but his 22 rebounds and three blocks ultimately doomed the Celtics.
UPDATE 3: Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don't Lie offers his thoughts on the game:
Not going to freak out over a Magic collapse. Refuse to do it. This is a team that plays over its head offensively, with a lot of parts that can go cold, and they were going up against a desperate team. It's hard to ably stay in front of a team that was taking as many chances as Boston was, with those passes and all the three-pointers. Chances like that can result in a 16-point lead jumping up to 30, it happens all the time, but it can also result in the desperate team nearly coming all the way back. You know what you saw.
UPDATE 4: Dwight Howard keeps things in persepctive on his official blog today about last night's proceedings. Cue in Superman:
Regardless of what happened in the second half, a win is a win. We still got a big road win to go up 1-0 in the series and that’s what matters most. Boston is a great team and they’re going to keep fighting, so we just have to figure out how to keep leads. [...]
We know this is going to be a long, tough series, and we just have to keep fighting every game. Boston will be tough to put away because they are the defen ding champs, but we believe more than ever now that we can win this series.
UPDATE 5: David Thorpe takes his time to praise J.J. Redick for a defensive play that occurred in the second half of the game yesterday:
Last night, Thorpe says he saw the Magic's J.J. Redick do something uncommon. As soon as it was clear that Boston had secured an offensive rebound, Redick sprinted to find his man, shooter Eddie House, who was wide-open and spotted up at the 3-point line. The Celtics weren't even looking for House yet. Redick made sure they would not find him open.
"A lot of defenders would consider it their job to get to House as fast as possible once he caught the ball," says Thorpe. "But Orlando had the best-rated defense in the regular season because they do smart things like getting out there before he could even catch the pass."
- For a Celtics perspective on Game 1, drop by CelticsBlog and Celtics Hub.
Make sure to check out this post every few hours for updates.