The Celtics are 32-0 when leading a playoff series 3-2. The Magic have lost the last 6 games where they faced elimination.
The Magic have all the traits of a team ready to implode. They've given up two 14 point leads in the playoffs and almost gave up a 28 point lead earlier this series. They have squandered 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the series. Their coach is complaining about the officials and blaming his players. Their star player is blaming the coach. They have no go-to guy in the clutch and their best player has no go-to moves on block (and is normally a liability from the line).
And you know what? None of that matters.
The Magic still out played the Celtics for much of the series. They have jumped out to first quarter leads in 4 of the 5 games. If you build a big enough lead, you don't have to worry much about who will score in clutch time.
History has shown that history means nothing in the present (except as a learning tool). Records are made to be broken and streaks are defined by when they end. This team has already given us a ton of memories this postseason. I just don't want the lasting one being that they were the first Boston team to lose a series in which they had a 3-2 lead.
I wish I could say with certainty that this team will rise to the occasion. But as Bulpett points out, this team has given us nothing to be certain about.
If there's anything we've learned through 12 Celtics playoff games, it's that we haven't learned anything.
Expectations seem to exist only so they can be mocked.
To wit: Ray Allen's going to light up J.J. Redick in this series. Try again. Allen is shooting .328 from the floor overall and has made just 5-of-29 treys. The Celtics will come out hard and fast in Game 5 and establish early and complete control. Sorry. They needed to score 13 straight points in crunch time to survive on their own floor.
You get the idea.
Now that isn't to say I'm not optimistic about our chances.
For all the reasons stated above, I don't think the Orlando Magic have what it takes to beat this Celtics team. I think we haven't seen the best out of the Celtics yet and if/when they put it together, look out.
I think Ray Allen's jumper is finally going to start falling tonight. I think Paul Pierce is going to get to the line and get their guys into foul trouble. I think Perkins is going to remind Howard why the Magic aren't getting him the ball on the low post more. I think Baby is going to keep making them pay for leaving him open for that midrange shot. I think, ...but I don't know.
Dwight Howard thinks he knows what is going to happen:
"We're in this series to win it," Howard said. "We are going to win this series."
The Magic are a good, hungry, desperate team. They are going to put everything they have into winning this game because they have to. Which means the Celtics need to play the same way.
"Confidence comes from experience. How many Game 7s have we been to? How many times have our backs been against the wall?"
Still, the Celtics might be better off if they didn't have to be frightened into greatness.
"Yeah," said Scalabrine, "it'd be great if we could play like that when our back isn't against the wall."
This team needs to (figuratively) punch the Magic in the neck early on. Don't let them get up early. Don't give them a foothold. Keep them at arms length and eventually they'll fold.
I'm tired of Game 7's. I'd like a nice, easy game 6 win tonight. We'll know early on if the Celtics are going to take advantage of a team that is realing or if we are going to need another late game comeback attempt. Here's hoping they come out strong. Stay thirsty my friends.