Oh yeah…the Bulls series was only the first round. It took the Boston Celtics everything they had to defeat the Chicago Bulls in 7 games and it showed tonight. The Celtics hosted the Orlando Magic for game 1 of the 2nd round after only 1 day of rest. The big question going into tonight's game; would the Celtics have enough in the tank? Apparently, the tank was empty with no gas station in sight.
Both teams started the game slow. However, the Magic started to establish a defensive presence inside led by the Defensive Player of the Year, Dwight Howard. Howard had two blocks to start the game, one on Ray Allen where he flew out of nowhere and sent the ball into the bleachers. Helping Howard on the offensive end were the forwards, Rashard Lewis and Hugo Turkoglu, who combined for 23 points in the first half.
Orlando went on a 26-6 run in the second quarter as the Celtics struggled to find any offense. The Celtics refused to drive it to the lane in fear of the looming Howard. Instead, Boston settled for jumpers from the outside, missing most of them. The Celtics for the first time this season had zero free throw attempts in the first half. Quite frankly, Boston looked tired. Understandable considering what they had to go through in order to defeat the Bulls. The Magic entered half time with a commanding 18 point lead, Boston 36 – Orlando – 54.
For the first 4 minutes of the 3rd quarter, the Magic extended their lead to 28 points by doing what they do best, shooting from beyond the arc. Coach Doc Rivers pleaded with his team to take it to the hoop. After two missed tear drop shots from Rondo, Coach Rivers got in his PG's ear. Drive to the basket. And that's exactly what Rondo started to do. The more Rondo drove to the basket, the more open looks his teammates received. Half way through the 3rd quarter, the luck for the men in green began to change.
As Coach Rivers likes to say “Multiple stops equals multiple scores.” The Celtics started to play good team defense, forcing Orlando to take poor shots and the Celtics capitalized. Boston came alive in the 4th quarter showing tremendous heart. Boston made a run with contributions from Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Glen Davis. Even Brian Scalabrine and Eddie House got into the action, both making huge shots during Boston's run. After two free throws by Paul Pierce, the lead was cut to 4 points, with a 1:36 left in the game. Ray Allen had a chance to make it a one point game with a good shot from 3 point land but the Celtics' magic ran out. The ball rolled around the rim instead of dropping in. Boston's run fell short. Orlando held on for the win, the final score was Boston 90 – Orlando 95.
Though Orlando jumped all over Boston for most of game; Boston only lost by 5 points after a poor night shooting. They reminded Orlando they will not go without a fight. This Celtic team has an incredible will to win. Hopefully, their physicality will match their heart for game 2. There is no time to rest. Game 2 will be at Boston Wednesday night, 8PM.
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Written by johnw