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Celtics Aim to Reclaim Home Court Advantage

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gamethreadrd2 by celticsblog.
Boston Celtics (1-1,5-4) at Orlando Magic (1-1,5-3)
Round 2, Game3
Postseason game #10 Road Game #4
Friday, May 8
7:00 PM ET
TV: ESPN
Pre/Post Game: CSN HD 7:00 PM ET, After the Game
Amway Arena


Game Thread l Chat

The Celtics come into Orlando with the series tied 1-1, and need to pick up a game in Orlando to regain their home court advantage. Game 3 could be their best chance to do so as the Magic will be without their starting point guard and their starting 2 guard is just coming back from injury.

Anthony Johnson is expected to start at point guard and won't be able to match up with Rondo's speed. But, with Courtney Lee expected back in the starting lineup, expect to see him guarding Rondo since he has the size and speed to stay with Rondo. However, Lee may not be 100% and also may be bothered by the face mask he will be required to wear. Either way, if Rondo is aggressive and focused, he should be able to dominate this game once again.

The Celtics gained some momentum in game 2 as they played solid Celtics' defense throughout the game, got strong contributions from the bench and got back to moving the ball and finding the open man. But, the best thing about game 2 could be the fact that Paul Pierce only played 15 minutes and should be well rested and ready to have a big game.

The Celtics need to remember what worked for them in game 2 and bring that same mindset and intensity to game 3. They play best with their backs against the wall and they can consider themselves still there because they gave up home court advantage and must win in Orlando now to win the series. If the Celtics come out focused, play strong team defense, and move the ball, they should come away with a win.

Today's Referees are

Scott Foster Joe DeRosa Leon Wood

Probable Starting Matchups

Point Guard
Rajon Rondo vs Anthony Johnson

vs

Shooting Guard
Ray Allen vs JJ Redick
[image] vs
[image]

Small Forward
Paul Pierce vs Hedo Turkoglu
[image] vs[image]

Power Forward
Big Baby Davis vs Rashard Lewis
[image] vs [image]

Center

Kendrick Perkins vs Dwight Howard

vs


[image] Reserves
Stephon Marbury
Mikki Moore
Eddie House
Gabe Pruitt
Bill Walker
JR Giddens
Brian Scalabrine
Tony Allen

Injured
Kevin Garnett (knee) out
Leon Powe (knee) out

[image] Reserves
Courtney Lee
Tony Battie
Marcin Gortat
Adonal Foyle
Jeremy Richardson
Anthony Johnson
Mickael Pietrus
Tyronn Lue

Injured
Jameer Nelson (labrum) out
Courtney Lee (fractured sinus) probable


Suspended

Rafer Alston

Key Matchups vs
Rajon Rondo vs Anthony Johnson
The key matchup in this series remains at point guard. As we have seen from the 2 games so far, when Rondo is aggressive and uses his speed, the Celtics play well. When Rondo is sluggish and tentative, so are the Celtics. Rondo must continue to set the tone and be aggressive on both ends of the floor. With Rafer Alston serving his one game suspension for smacking Eddie House, I am guessing that they will start Anthony Johnson who will have great difficulty staying with Rondo and so it is even more important that Rondo takes the initiative to dominate this matchup.

[image] vs [image]
Kendrick Perkins vs Dwight Howard
Perk has played Howard very well in both games so far. In game 2 he was even more aggressive in going at Howard and kept him from getting comfortable near the basket. Perk held Howard to just 12 points on 5-13 shooting. Perk must continue to avoid foul trouble as much as possible and to continue to play strong defense in single coverage on Howard for the Celtics to win this series.

Honorable Mention
Every matchup continues to be important in this series

Paul Pierce vs Hedo Turkoglu
[image] vs[image]
Paul Pierce spent most of game 2 sitting on the bench in foul trouble and should be well rested for this game as well as motivated to help his team get the win. After Ray Allen sat out much of a game with foul trouble in Round 1, he came back the next game with 51 points. The Captain really hasn't played well yet in these playoffs and it would be a great time for him to break out with a Paul Pierce-like game.

Ray Allen vs Courtney Lee and JJ Redick
[image] vs [image] and
[image]
The Magic expect Lee to return for this game and is expected to be an upgrade over Reddick, even if he isn't 100% and will be wearing a protective face mask. Ray Allen got his bad shooting game out of the way in game 1 and came back with 22 points in game 2. Ray will need to shoot well and to go at Lee, especially if he isn't 100% after the injury. Lee may spend much of his time covering Rondo because he is much more athletic than Anthony Johnson, which would leave Johnson on Ray. Either way, we have a mismatch at one of the positions.

Big Baby Davis vs Rashard Lewis
[image] vs [image]
Lewis wasn't a factor in game 2 because between Big Baby and Scal, they never let him get comfortable and he was forced to put up tough shots and settle for jumpers that just weren't falling. A big key to winning game 3 will continue to be defending Lewis.

Bench vs Bench
[image] [image] [image] vs
[image] [image] [image]
After being ineffective for 6 games of the Bulls series, the Celtics bench is becoming a factor in this series. Scal's defense on Lewis and ability to to spread the floor and Eddie's sharp shooting along with aggressiveness from Marbury has given the Celtics' bench an edge in the 2 games so far. The Celtics need the bench to continue to contribute to allow the starters to get a rest. My favorite line from my local paper's coverage of last night's game was that Doc sent Pierce in to give Eddie House a rest. It would be nice to get a little something from Mikki Moore as well, but as long as Scal, House and Marbury continue to play this well, anything else would be icing on the cake.

Keys to the Game
Energy and Aggressiveness - The Celtics came out flat in game 1 and found themselves in a 28 point hole an played from behind the whole game. In Game 2, they came out with energy and were aggressive and never looked back. The Celtics can't afford another game where they lack focus and come out flat. They must come out with energy and hustly and be the aggressor from beginning to end.

Go Inside
In both games, the team that took the ball to the basket and scored in the paint was the team that won. The key for the Celtics in game 3 is to continue to go inside and get to the basket. They must avoid settling for jumpers. When they go to the basket, good things happen and they need to continue being aggressive in getting inside.

Ball Movement
The Celtics have to continue to move the ball and find the open man. When they make smart passes and keep the ball moving, it throws the Magic defense into disarray. In game 2, the Celtics had 34 assists on 41 baskets and when they move the ball like that, they are very difficult to beat. Hopefully they will remember this and not get stuck with too much dribbling and individual play in game 3.

Rebound
One of the biggest gauges of which team wants the game more is to look at the rebounding numbers. Rebounding takes effort and desire and 9 times out of 10, the team that crashes the boards and hustle for rebounds will the the team that is playing harder. The Celtics need to work on the offensive end to get themselves 2nd chance points and they must work on the defensive end to limit fast breaks and Magic put backs and baskets.

Defense
Defense wins championships. It is an old cliche, but a very true one. The Celtics mounted their comeback in game 1 because they stepped up the defense. They dominated game 2 because they got back to playing the kind of Celtics' defense that has made them successful. They must continue to make team defense a priority.

X-Factor
Focus on the Road
The Celtics lost home court advantage because of a lack of focus and energy in their first home game. Perk called the team out and said that he felt that they lost because they weren't focused on the game. Hopefully they learned from that loss. They must come out in this game with focus and with a purpose in order to get their home court advantage back. They must keep their focus on defense and team play.