EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS, GAME 5
Boston Celtics (3-1) @ Orlando Magic (1-3)
Time: Wednesday, May 26th, 8:30PM EST
Venue: Amway Arena
TV: ESPN Radio: WEEI Legal Streaming: ESPN 3 (LINK)
Officials: Joe Crawford, Eddie Rush, Tom Washington (Full Report)
The Line: The Celtics' loss on Monday was the Green's first
loss in six games. No NBA team has even won a best of 7 playoff
series after being down three games to none.
"Sometimes, dead is better", Jud Crandall
When Jud Crandall spoke those words in Pet Semetary I doubt he thought it could be applied to the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals, but here we are. No team in the history of the NBA has ever came back from a 3-0 deficit in a 7 game series. Heck, only three teams have ever come back to make it 3-3, but not a single one of them has won game 7. Being down 3-0 in the NBA Playoffs might as well be a death sentence.
But, just like any decent Zombie, the Magic stood back up after taking the Celtcs' best shot. How many times did Bernie get run over or dropped out of a window or drowned in a hot tub or whatever? He kept on coming. What do you learn in every single zombie movie? Aim for the head. Allow me to introduce you to Rule #2:
Rule #2, The Double Tap: You think it's dead. One more, makes 100% sure.
Game three was brilliant by the Celtics. It was demoralizing. It was disheartening. If this were any old conference semi-finals or opening round series, it would have ended things. But this is the Conference Finals, baby. Teams dig deep when they're on the brink. They see the shiny bright light that is the NBA Finals on one end of the tunnel, and on the other end they see the horrible existence that is a NBA player on vacation. They know, deep down, that they will probably lose, but somewhere in the back of their head some jerk is saying things like this:
"At some point," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said, "somebody is going to come from 3-0 down and win a series." - via ESPN
But don't be fooled. It is not like the Magic handed the Celtics a one sided loss in Game 4. The Magic played tough, resilient basketball in Game 4. They played the best basketball we've seen from them all series. They did all that, and STILL barely won in overtime.
The Celtics need to act quickly though. No series in which the Celtics Franchise has led 3 games to none has ever gone beyond game 5. The Celtics also have not lost consecutive playoff games in 2010. They're flying high now, they're on top of the world. Emotionally there is probably not a more confident team left in the playoffs. However even with all that going for them, this team is still a bit of an unknown commodity.
It could all change if this series goes on longer. Each game the Magic hang around is another blow to the Celtics' momentum. While all that matters at the end of the day is moving on, it would be preferable that the Celtics no limp into the finals, either mentally or physically.
To bring it back to zombies...the game 4 win was like the first zombie that jumps out at you in the beginning of the movie. Alone and by its self, its not scary...but if you let it hang around and don't take care of business, more will come, and the more you let hang around, the better the chance they'll overwhelm you and eat your brains. Double tap baby. Finish the job, Celtics!
Actual game analysis and less talk about Zombieland (now available on Blu-Ray and DVD) after the jump!
Probable Starting Line-ups
Injuries and Stuff: Tony Allen (PROBABLE, ankle) Kendrick Perkins (PROBABLE, wrist) Rajon Rondo (PROBABLE, leg spasms)
Injuries and Stuff: There is probably something wrong with Vince Carter, he's still Vince Carter. And apparently Rashard Lewis has a case of the sniffles.
Match-up Of The Night: Rajon Rondo V Jameer Nelson
Statistically speaking, nothing in particular stands out from Rondo's stat line on Monday when compared against his stat line for the previous 3 games.He's only scored prolifically in one game (game 2), and that game was won by a paltry 3 points.
The thing about Rajon Rondo is that his impact on a game is not contingent on a stat line. The Celtics had opportunities to close the game in the 1st and 2nd quarters, but in both situations they suffered without Rondo on the floor. When Rondo is not out there, especially against the Magic, the Celtics seem to lack leadership on the offensive end.The reason why Rondo was not on the floor was because fundamentally 1 minute during the 1st quarter in which he managed to acquire 2 personal (reaching/blocking) fouls in 1 minute, effectively handicapping him for the rest of the half.
Tonight the Celtics do not need Rondo to score 20+ points. The game in which he did, Game 2, the Celtics only won by three. However, in the game which Rondo scored 10+ points with 10+ assists, the Celtics took by 33 points. Surely not all of that is on Rondo's shoulders, but the young man is the catalyst for pretty much everything on the Celtics' offensive end.
The other critical role Rondo plays is his defense of Jameer Nelson. In game 4 Nelson went off for 23 points and 9 assists. However, if you subtract the 5 overtime minutes where Nelson simply hit two clutch three pointers in 5 minutes, Rondo actually did a pretty decent job on him. If you take only the time in which Rondo was in the game when Jameer was in the game (assuming they're guarding each other), Rondo held him to 12 points over 35 minutes of play. That is below both Nelson's playoff averages as well as his regular season averages.
If the Celtics want to close out the series tonight, Rondo needs absolutely to be focused for the 40+ minutes he will be out there. He doesn't need to set records, he just needs to play to his own level and stay focused.
Three Keys To The Game For The Good Guys:
1) Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace Need To Be The Bash Bros- Do you remember these guys? We need those guys. One of the only times I felt comfortable with the Celtics play during Game 4 was when Kevin Garnett was 'having an episode' and being physical. The reason why he was freaking out was because Dwight Howard pimp slapped him in the face.
What the Celtics need to do is preempt that physical play on Howard. He is being allowed time in the lane, which gives him rebounds, put backs, and those fancy dunks that Mike Breen seems to be turned on by.
Kendrick Perkins is tough minded, but he is not the kind of vet savvy that Rasheed and Kevin are. Rasheed Wallace made Dwight Howard cry during game one. That kind of tone is the tone that needs to be set immediately in this game tonight.
2) Paul Pierce Needs To Give As Good As He Gets- I know the 'harp on Pierce' ship sailed some time ago, and I know he played well for 90% of the game on Monday. But the Celtics thrive most when they are moving the ball, and Paul Pierce, while he has been scoring very well lately, is one heck of a play-maker. Paul Pierce needs to start getting his teammates better looks when the defense goes all 5-1 on him. And by "good looks" I don't mean finding Kendrick Perkins in the triple threat position 25 feet from the hoop.
3) Screens Are Like Food, Its a Bad Thing If They're Moving- Dear Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis, It is the request of this humble Celtics fan that you make one minor adjustment to your game; please stop with the moving screens. I know, your screens are no different than anyone else's. You've been saying that all season, and I don't doubt you...in fact, I don't even care. Not anymore. The reality is that if Glen 'Big Baby' Davis or Kendrick 'The Big Sourpuss' Perkins attempt a screen, and are moving in any fashion, they're going to catch a whistle more times than not. So for us, the fans...please boys, if you are going to set a screen, or a pick...STAND STILL!
Game starts at 8:30. Get your rituals and chips ready...get Pedro Cerrano that chicken he needs...and get ready for what should be a heck of a game. Like always, I will be in the War Room overreacting with the rest of the hooligans. Remember Celtics..DOUBLE TAP!