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Defending Champs Go Down
Posted By johnw On May 18 2009 @ 8:12 pm In Boston Celtics | 4 Comments
The Boston Celtics can hold their heads up high today. They played like a Champion but in the end their battered bodies could fight no more. The Celtics lost game 7 last night to the Orlando Magic. The Celtics were behind right from the start and never really recovered.
The 2008-2009 Boston Celtics played with a heart of a Champion. I can't remember one game this season where they gave up. Okay…maybe the game against the Cavs on Easter Sunday. They lost Kevin Garnett months ago and everyone wondered how they would respond. They finished the regular season strong. At the end of the regular season, we all waited anxiously for the return of KG. Unfortunately, KG's health kept him off the court during the postseason. And in the first round, Leon Powe suffered a season ending injury (torn ACL) which could have been devastating to the team. This Boston Celtic team still didn't back down. They refused to use the injuries as an excuse. Boston played 7 games against the Chicago Bulls in the first round, 4 of the games went into overtime. In the second round, Boston played 7 games against Orlando for a total of 14 games (With OT, more like 15 ½ games). Sooner or later, exhaustion would be a factor. Turns out it came sooner.
Boston looked tired all night long and the fatigue showed on the defensive end. The Celtics were a step behind, failing to rotate to guard the open man or run full speed at the shooters. Offensively, the Celtics moved the ball from side to side at times but never really got into a good rhythm. Ray Allen was their only consistent offense, finishing with 23 points. Despite the poor play for three quarters, the Celtics were only down by 5 points to start the 4th quarter, 66-61. During the commercial timeout, I was still hopeful about the outcome. The Celts will find a way to win because they always do. Says a lot about their will to win. However, the Magic came out of the timeout on fire and there was nothing the Celtics could do about it. The game was over early in the fourth.
I give a lot of credit to the Orlando Magic. They played great basketball and saved their best for last. The Magic seemed to do everything right. They drove the lane, they hit open jumpers, they hit every big 3 pointer and they found a way to get the ball to Dwight Howard 3 feet away from the basket. Every time the Celtics went on a little run, the Magic would answer with a three pointer. The Orlando Magic played a fantastic game, hitting 13 three pointers in the game. Hedo Turkoglu finished with 25 points. Rashard Lewis – 19 points, Dwight Howard – 12 points, Rafer Alston set the tone in the first half and he finished with 15 points. Mickael Pietrus came off the bench and dropped 17 points on the Celtics, all of them daggers in the hearts of the Boston fans. On the defensive end, the Magic held Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce in check. Eddie House couldn't separate himself from his defender. Howard was a force inside finishing with 5 blocks.
The Magic are a really good team and they finally proved they can finish a game. The Magic will face Lebron James and Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals. I'm not counting the Magic out, not with Howard waiting inside for Lebron. I'm hoping for a good series.
I'm usually upset after a game 7 loss, but this year I'm not. I'm disappointed of course, but I'm proud of this team and their accomplishments. The Celtics basically had an 8 man rotation and still gave themselves a chance to win and move on to the Eastern Finals. Coach Doc Rivers proved a lot to his detractors last season by winning a championship, but he proved even more this playoff season. Coach Rivers did an excellent job getting his team ready to play.
The Celtics have some decisions to make in terms of personnel. Glen Davis, Stephon Marbury and Leon Powe are free agents. Davis proved he can play in the NBA. He would be a perfect 6th man. Leon Powe had successful knee surgery and will be back on the court next season. The Celtics might want to keep the young Powe in a Celtic uniform. The Marbury experiment didn't go well this season, but I'm not willing to give up on it. If Marbury is willing to make much less money to stay with the team, and he might, he would be a great option off the bench. He looked rusty this year but showed flashes of his formal self in the playoffs. The most important player of course is Kevin Garnett. When KG returns, the Celtics are instantly a contender again. I'm looking forward to seeing number 5 back on the court.
Thank you Celtics for a great ride; it was a lot fun to watch.
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