The Orlando Magic have gunned their way to a 53-41 halftime lead over the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals thanks to a combination of porous Celtic defense and superb ball movement. Although the Magic have only 7 assists on 19 field goals, they've nonetheless done an exemplary job of finding the open man, who has then in turn been able to get into the paint and put the ball into the basket. Orlando did not make a shot outside the painted area until well into the second quarter, but it didn't matter. The Celtics have, for most of the night, looked a step slow on defense. Rashard Lewis and Anthony Johnson lead all scorers with 11 points apiece, while Courtney Lee has added 10 in his first game since sustaining a fractured sinus over a week ago. Rajon Rondo leads Boston, which is shooting a mere 40.9% from the field, with 9 points.
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Although the Magic have looked sharp offensively, there's still some cause for concern. There's no reason to think the Celtics won't improve their defense in the second half, which means fewer layups and dunks will be available. Orlando has struggled shooting from the perimeter the whole night, and a cold-shooting spell could let Boston back into the game. Additionally, Dwight Howard has not been a factor offensively. He has 8 points on 4-of-5 shooting, but Boston has defended him well on 4 of his 5 shot attempts.
Orlando may need to lean on its defense in the second half. So far, it's been solid. Other than some lapses on out-of-bounds plays under their own basket, Orlando has mostly kept Boston out of the paint. Rondo continues to take silly teardrops from 15 feet, which is obviously not what Boston wants. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce 5-of-16 for 12 points. One of the two will likely get it going.
With Rafer Alston suspended, Johnson has done a fantastic job on Rondo. As expected, though the Magic have gone to a no-point guard lineup, with Hedo Turkoglu as a point-forward, in order to check Rondo with Lee. It's working so far.
The second half is about to get underway.