Magic/Celtics Game 5 Recap
Not so fast, Boston.
by Nada Taha Moslehy
The tables seemed to turn drastically Wednesday night.
Watching the Magic whoop on the Celtics in their 113-92 Game 5 win was déjà vu.
Was I watching Game 3 in Boston where the Magic looked like a team of U-10 girls players who wanted to just finish the game to go shopping?
Instead of Rajon Rondo diving for a loose ball, it was Jameer Nelson jumping over players in the paint to grab the rebound. Rather than Ray Allen knocking down threes with his look-alike mom cheering on the sidelines, it was JJ Redick bringing back to life his Duke reincarnation.
The biggest turnaround? Usually composed players like Allen and Paul Pierce were visibly flustered. While they were busy being frustrated, Dwight Howard was able to post 21 points, 10 rebounds and 5x blocked shots. It certainly did help that the Celtics’ bigs, who were once thought to be an endless stream of gutsy guys, were dropping like flies.
First, it was Kendrick Perkins. Two technical fouls sent him out of the game at the end of the first half and could possibly keep him at home for Game 6 if the League doesn’t decide to rescind at least one of those (which should be the case considering walking away from a ref doesn’t really constitute a T). Then, it was Glen “Baby” Davis, who stumbled to his feet in an attempt to get back in to the game after a strong, inadvertent elbow to the face from Howard. Davis was knocked out cold, suffered a concussion and had to be taken off the court. Finally, it was Marquis Daniels, who was knocked out embarrassingly for running in to Marcin Gortat as if he was a brick wall.
At that point, Brian Scalabrine looked mighty appeasing.
It was demoralizing. The Celtics, who had built a 3-0 lead early in the series, Tweeted about brooms and talked in their locker room about finishing off the Magic quick, are now under pressure. They’re going back home to try and close out Orlando in Game 6 – a first for the franchise. Boston has never had to take a series to six games after going up 3-0.
But they have to now after Nelson lead the Magic with 24 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. The Magic’s box score was evenly laid out with each player scoring at least 5 points and shooting both 52 percent from the field and from beyond the arc.
They were hungry. They were angry. They were passionate. They were everything they weren’t in Games 1-3.
“At this point we believe we can win the series,” Nelson said. “We have to stay humble and keep focused and remember how we won these last two games. I believe they have pressure on them right now, but they have veteran players with Hall of Famers and a great coach.”
Those veterans didn’t disappoint statistically. Rasheed Wallace, who fouled out late in the fourth and complained of back spasms, led the Celts with 21 points – including a big three in the fourth that just wasn’t enough to mount a comeback. Rondo and Pierce followed with 19 and 18, respectively, but it was the mental game Boston lost.
But when the Magic shoot over 50 percent from the field, hit 13 threes, and have a big game from Redick (14 points), they usually don’t lose. They’re playing the way they did to end the season and to start the Playoffs. They’re connecting on shots, tightening their defense and moving the ball.
The Magic finally looked like they wanted it more. Even Rashard Lewis made an appearance scoring 14 and grabbing seven rebounds after going missing the first four games. They looked like rabid dogs on the hunt for blood and Boston was pouring it out on the other side of the court.
No NBA team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in a Playoffs series. The Magic widened their chances but they still have a long way to go.
“I don’t know if you can say you have momentum when you’re down 3-2 going in to their place,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I still look at it like we’re climbing a huge mountain here.”
But the series has been flipped. The Celtics are going to have to regroup. They’re going to have overcome potential roster shakeups.
They’re going to have to shamefully put their brooms back in the closet.