- John Hollinger of ESPN.com was in Orlando covering the game and here's a few choice quotes from him.
The game was a carbon copy of the last meeting between the teams March 8 -- when Orlando nearly blew a 22-point edge in Boston before winning 86-79 -- right down to the way it ended. Howard sealed that game with a spectacular defensive play as well, closing out hard to bother a Ray Allen 3-point attempt that would have given Boston the lead; Wednesday he made a similar play on Pierce's final, desperation 3-point attempt at the buzzer.
Garnett didn't play in that game either, so Orlando knows its hairs-breadth victories aren't necessarily a great portent for the postseason.
"[...] while the nail-biting fashion in which they won, along with the absence of Garnett in crunch time, don't exactly inspire confidence in Orlando's ability to defeat Boston in a playoff series, the fact is this win goes a long way toward getting the Magic in position to make the conference finals."
In response to the Magic's victory over the Celtics, Mike Bianchi thinks the city of Orlando should be more appreciative of the fact the franchise has such a dynamic personality in Dwight Howard.
Sometimes, I think, we take it for granted how good we have it here. How many NBA cities — dead-end, broken-down franchises like Memphis and Minnesota — would sell their souls for an embraceable young star like Dwight?
Said Rivers, the former Magic coach: "After my second year in Orlando, my wife and I said to each other, 'Even when I'm not coaching here, this is where we're going to live for the rest of our lives."
Doc smiles and then says something we should all remember from time to time.
"This," he said, "is a terrific place."
- Kyle Hightower gives some quick post-game analysis surrounding the Orlando's win over Boston.
Where the perception came from is debatable.
But somewhere along the line this season the Orlando Magic, even with all their on-court successes, got the reputation as a soft team. A team that just wouldn’t show its might and muscle in crunch time against good teams.
Wednesday night’s 84-82 when over Boston won’t completely erase make all the Magic’s naysayers instantly change their minds. Though the Magic did go a long way in helping change what has probably been an unfair characterization.
- UPDATE 3: Brian Schmitz offers his take and observations on the match-up that pitted two East powers.
- For a Celtics-centric view, CelticsBlog and Celtics Hub each provide their takes on the game. I highly suggest checking each site out to get a pulse of the Boston faithful.
- Tim Povtak (remember him Orlando Sentinel readers?) writes a lengthy piece for Yahoo! Sports after the dust settled in Magic Kingdom. Here's a snippet of his article:
- Of course, we can't end a post without collecting a plethora of quotes from head coach Stan Van Gundy. Enjoy.
"The last 18 minutes we really slowed down. They got into us, got into our bodies. I didn't think our ball movement was good and we struggled to score."
"When we sit down and look at the film, we can see that we can get quality shots against very good defenses if we move the ball. It shows you something when you have to gut out a win like that. It gives you more confidence. ... and yet people continue to question the toughness of our team."
“All I know is, we’ve beaten a lot of the teams that everyone thinks are better than us. The perception of us does not always match up with reality. We’re not feared defensively, but I’ll put us up against anyone in the league when it comes to being ready to play night in and night out.”
“I don’t think this team lacks for confidence. People can say what they want about us, but this isn’t the BCS. People aren’t voting to see who plays for the championship. That’s decided on the court. And I like that."
UPDATE: Dwight Howard shared his post-game thoughts today on his blog after leading the Magic to a win over the Celtics. Here's a snippet of what Superman had to say about the game:
When I woke up Wednesday morning the first thing I thought about was how physical Boston was going to be and what I could do to not get involved with all the pushing and fighting. I tried to keep a level head, smile everything off and it actually felt good to play that way.
Marcin Gortat and I had an inside bet that if I talked to the refs more than five times in the game that I had to take him out to dinner. I only got to four with the refs, so it was a pretty good job by me.
I wasn’t fighting with the refs and I was just focused on playing basketball. The game is not always going to go the way that I want it to, so I’m just focusing on playing basketball and having fun out there. I’m happy with the way we played as a team, and the way I kept my cool.
We got a big, big win against the Celtics and we really needed it. It allowed us to win the Southeast Division and it helps us get closer to possibly getting the No. 2 seed and winning 60 games. We’re getting another banner for winning the division, but it’s that big championship banner that I want so bad.
UPDATE 2: More from Hollinger, who posted his daily PER Diem article today and the subject matter was, of course, the aftermath of Orlando v. Boston:
In the end, the Magic's defensive ascendancy is likely to result in honors for both Howard and Stan Van Gundy. Howard has the inside track on the league's Defensive Player of the Year award, and with good reason -- a team full of perimeter players is challenging for the league's No. 1 defensive ranking thanks to his efforts.
As for Van Gundy, he has to be considered the front-runner for Coach of the Year. Not one living soul expected the Magic to win 61 games this season, but that's what they're on pace to accomplish. If they should pull it off, it would be more wins in a season than the franchise had ever won with Shaquille O'Neal.
And contra ry to popular belief, it wouldn't be because of their 3-point shooting. Orlando does that well, too, of course, but at the core this is an elite defensive team … and one that's still seriously misunderstood.
UPDATE 4: David Steele provided his thoughts on the Magic/Celtics affair on his blog earlier today; here's what he had to say:
The game itself was everything fans and media types could’ve hoped for, capped off by a down to the wire finish which had the sellout crowd on their feet, holding their breath as Paul Pierce’s potential game winning shot went awry. The Magic made only three field goals in the 4th quarter, but they were all threes, two by Rashard Lewis and one by Mickael Pietrus. Lewis, by the way, has played four terrific games against the Celtics, averaging over 22 points per game, and shooting 50 percent from the field.
- UPDATE 5: Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don't Lie gave his analysis and opinion on the battle between Orlando & Boston. PLUS, in today's episode of the Basketball Jones, J.E. Skeets & Tas Melas touch on the ramifications of the Magic's victory over the Celtics, and more. I suggest giving the video a look.
Howard has been unbelievably good all season, even though he won’t finish even among the top three in the MVP balloting. Like the Magic, his accla im has been slow to come. This was his eighth game this season with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds. The rest of the league combined has totaled only six 20-20 games. No other player has done it more than once.
Howard also has 10 games in which he had at least 15 rebounds and five blocked shots, which explains why he’s close to becoming just the fifth player ever to lead the league in both categories in the same season.
“When he first came into the league, he beat people with pure athleticism. Then he started beating them with skill,” former Magic coach Doc Rivers said.
“When he gets the whole package together I hope I’ll be doing television.”
More stories will, presumably, trickle in as the day rolls along so don't forget to check this post periodically for updates. Thanks.