A Daily Babble Production
Good morning, Celtics fans. Feel free to add one more to your growing list of people to blame for the misery we endured last night: me.
From Sunday morning's Ten Truths About the Orlando Magic:
7. Hedo Turkoglu is a fine offensive player mired in a two-rounds-long shooting slump.
Premature indeed. Make that one round and six games (with a temporary exemption in the middle for his buzzer-beater to win Game 4 of the first round in Philadelphia).
That's because after averaging 14.8 points on a miserable 50.3 percent true shooting in the first six games of the conference semifinals, Hedo Turkoglu strolled in and murdered our beloved Celtics in Game 7 on their home floor last night.
He canned open three-pointers when the defense didn't rotate quickly enough. He took another step behind the line and banged a deeper three-pointer when a defender did come out to challenge him outside. When the Celtics did move him off the line, Turkoglu feasted on one-and-two-dribble pull-ups. Those included a fantastic rim-rattling jumper from just beyond the right elbow with Paul Pierce practically inside his jersey.
When the Celtics collapsed on Turkoglu as he drove, he kicked the ball out and found teammates waiting to knock down open jumpers. He passed up decent looks on the outside to make the extra pass to get a teammate an even better look, doing his part to contribute to Orlando's great ball movement for the evening.
If all that wasn't enough, it was Turkoglu who extinguished the 2008-09 Celtics' final gasp for air. After the Celtics scored five in a row to cut the Magic's lead to 12 and force a timeout with 4:20 to play, Turkoglu responded with a contested top-of-the-circles three and a left-wing jumper on consecutive possessions to nail the coffin shut in Orlando's 101-82 win.
The box score line - 9-for-12 from the field, 4-for-5 on threes, 3-for-3 foul shooting, 25 points, 12 assists, plus-27 - tells the story rather accurately this time around: Hedo Turkoglu dominated Game 7 of Celtics-Magic.
Onto the last set of postgame bullet points musings of the green season following a disheartening loss:
- First and foremost, congratulations to the Orlando Magic and their fans. The team played its most complete game of the series with all the marbles on the line and now deservedly progresses to the Eastern Conference Finals.
- Can't say enough about Dwight Howard's impact on this game at the defensive end. His five blocks barely scratch the surface on telling the story. He altered and discouraged attempts in the paint all night, and it's no coincidence that the Celtics struggled as much as they did around the bucket even on the shots that made it all the way to the rim. At the other end, it didn't help the Celtics' cause that Howard dunked three times in the first seven minutes of this game.
- Also related to Howard's defense, Kendrick Perkins picked a bad night for his worst around-the-rim offensive performance in recent memory. His evening was epitomized in the last minute of the third quarter: After having a lay-up attempt swatted by Howard, Perk picked up the board and got off a clean lay-up attempt that rimmed out, got another offensive board and had another lay-up attempt rim out. A tidy 0-for-3 possession contributed to his 3-for-11 evening. We'll be talking a lot about Perk in the days to come as he made incredible progress through the season and especially the postseason. For the most part, I couldn't be happier about the work he did this season. But Sunday wasn't his night.
- The Celtics' defensive rotations were brutal, both on the perimeter and against basket cuts.
- In tandem with those poor defensive rotations, the Magic did a terrific job moving the ball. Everyone in blue made quick decisions and showed no qualms in snapping off crisp extra passes to turn good looks into better ones.
- Paul Pierce continued to attack the rim, which was a good thing. But he finally ran out of gas and couldn't get the ball to fall for most of the night. Three fourth-quarter misses at the foul line didn't help. So it goes. This season proved a fine demonstration of grit and effort on the part of the captain aaaaand The Truth.
- Ray Allen came to shoot the ball like Ray Allen does. A rare bright spot.
- Perhaps the biggest bummer about Rajon Rondo's rough night overall is that we would be able to remember his insane facial of Dwight Howard more fondly if it had happened in a win.
- Time to quote my buddy Acks, who stole a line from Bill Simmons and Jay Leno, originally used by the Sports Guy regarding Rip Hamilton and Bruce Bowen in the 2005 Finals: "Did you hear about the clothing deal Eddie House signed for the 2009 conference semifinals? He's wearing Courtney Lee."
- Tally on two more foot-on-the-line twos, one each from Rondo and Brian Scalabrine. Despite only going two rounds, I would be shocked if this team didn't crack the top five in single-postseason FOtLTs.
- I'm struggling to remember a single time over the course of the entire series when the Celtics so much as made contact with Marcin Gortat while the ball was coming off the rim.
- Two minutes apiece for Bill Walker and Mikki Moore result in matching plus-4 ratings. Do the Celtics win by 192 if these two go the full 48 minutes? They were certainly well-rested enough to go the distance for one game. Let the second-guessing begin!*
- Tough night for the Infuriated Infant. He rattled in a couple of buckets but also made a few baffling mental mistakes at the defensive end (as Hardwood Paroxysm's Matt Moore reminds me, leaving Rashard Lewis for an open three so he could swipe at Hedo Turkoglu on a drive might have been most egregious).
- I kept hoping Rafer Alston would shoot, and to my chagrin, he knocked down three more three-pointers in seven attempts. Well done.
- Just like last year, I said from the start of the postseason that I wanted at least a chance to watch one playoff game with The Guru. We got to see two this year. While I wish those games had gone differently, the results didn't affect the invaluable nature of sharing a game-watching experience with The Guru in the slightest. Thanks for a great season, Dad.
Programming note: As I write this in the wee hours of Monday morning, it is clear to me that the fact that the post-championship season is officially over is still hitting home little by little. So we're going to exercise some restraint and let head and heart recover a bit by taking tomorrow and Wednesday at the Daily Babble to take some rest from the Celts and preview the respective conference finals series. There is no doubt a ton of green-related business to take care of, from some end-of-year thoughts to eventually looking ahead to what should be a decision-filled offseason. We promise to begin addressing those subjects toward the end of this week once a bit more contemplation time has passed.
For now, we depart with a thank you to everyone involved with this Celtics organization for another fantastically exciting season and playoff run. Despite the fact that it ended earlier than we would have liked, I enjoyed every day of it and can say with certainty that the worst part of these next few months will be the seemingly interminable wait for the next Celts game.
*Alert: Sarcasm. Sarcasm. Sarcasm. This bullet point is absolutely, positively not (yep, bold and italics for this one) to be taken seriously under any circumstances. We clear on this?