Magic/Celtics Game 2 Recap
Orlando isn’t done yet, but they’re awful close.
by Nada Taha Moslehy
“Pride comes before the fall.”
Right now, the only thing falling is the Orlando Magic’s hopes and dreams of raising a banner in their brand spanking new arena next year.
Dwight Howard didn’t need to head to Twitter to respond to Paul Pierce’s postgame Tweet, “Anybody Got A BROOM,” he turned to the Bible. Maybe that’s a good idea, because it looks like the Magic need a miracle to turn this series around. Especially when the Celts are 32-0 all time when going up 2-0 against a team in the Playoffs.
Their 95-92 win over the Magic Tuesday night doesn’t seem to be that convincing just by looking at the point differential, but the means in which they took home their fifth-straight win in the Playoffs overwhelmed the Magic.
Surprisingly enough, the team of fossils that was too old and too slow to be contenders, is now looking like a reincarnation of the 2008 Celtics and are two wins away from heading back to the Finals (probably in a rematch against the Lakers) for the second time in three seasons. The Big Three of two years ago has shifted and morphed in to the Big Team with Rajon Rondo, who had 25 points, at the helm. Paul Pierce led Boston with 28 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds before fouling out on the play that brought back bitter memories for the Magic.
Vince Carter, Orlando’s off-season acquisition brought to be their Mr. Fourth Quarter, looked more like Nick Anderson in the 1995 Finals – Mr. Choke Artist. Clunking two free throws needed to bring the game within one, Carter winced and slapped his hands together in disgust and frustration. When asked about the free throws in the locker room, he shook his head saying, “Please don’t remind me.”
Despite a major fourth-quarter rally by the Magic – including Howard hitting three of his four clutch free throws and Carter hitting a quick jumper, they couldn’t grab the win for the home crowd. JJ Redick led the Magic’s comeback late in the fourth, but fumbled a time-out situation costing Orlando valuable seconds in the last play.
It looked as though old age and wisdom had the last laugh – at least for now.
“It’s the little things that win games,” Howard said. “My thing is to get this game out of our heads and believe we’re going to win. This series isn’t over. I won’t stop believing that.”
Howard, with a massive offensive game, brought in 30 points and even stole some grittiness from teammate Matt Barnes when he brought Pierce down to the ground with a hard slap to the face earning him a Flagrant 1 foul in the second quarter.
Carter and Redick both added 16 points and a search team was still out on alert looking for Rashard Lewis. Orlando’s “ice” shooter has only hit one, ONE, three pointer the entire series. Not to mention his measly combined 11 points for both games. That’s $10.7 million a point from his $118 million contract.
The Magic came in to the series with 14-straight wins, making them the team to beat. And the Celtics have done just that. Beating their inside-out game, their defensive game and their mental game. The Celtics have a knack for getting under opposing teams’ skins (please reference Round 1 vs. the Chicago Bulls last year).
And the Celtics, well, they look like they can finally breath a sigh of relief knowing their major off-season pickup wasn’t a total bust. They’re peaking. And at the perfect time.
“I think we’re becoming the team that started the season more than the team that played in the middle to the end of the season,” Boston Coach Doc Rivers said. “The team that started the season was pretty good.”
It may seem insurmountable, what with Boston’s 32-0 record when up 2-0, and the fact that only 14 teams in a Playoff best-of-seven series have come back after going down 2-0.
But it seemed impossible last year when Orlando was down 3-2 and Boston, again, had never lost a series after going up with that advantage. It seemed unattainable that the Magic would beat the Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Boston’s home court where they were 17-3 in Game 7s in the Garden.
It seemed to be that way, but everything is not always as it seems.