It was bound to happen sooner or later, the Magic were actually going to show up for a game. The Magic won their first game of the series 96-92 in overtime. They had control of the game right from the start and ended up holding on for the win. The Celtics had a chance to steal the game in regulation, but Pierce turned the ball over on a poorly executed play. Even though the Celtics didn’t play their best game, a couple of positive takeaways are they had a chance to win at the end of regulation and they somehow forced overtime. The way the Celtics played, the game shouldn’t have been close at the end of the game.
I’m not surprised the Celtics lost this game. I didn’t like the overconfidence going into the game. In pregame interviews, the players were already talking about the NBA Finals, forgetting they still had to win a 4th game. The Big Three agreed to do interviews together talking about this playoff run and making it to the Finals for the 2nd time in 3 years, giving plenty of bulletin material for Coach Van Gundy to use for motivation. The Magic were not ready for game 3 and they were annihilated at the Garden. I expected the Magic to come into game 4 focused and ready to do whatever it would take to win a game. Turned out only Jameer Nelson and Dwight Howard were ready to give it their all, but it was enough to win. Nelson was spectacular and willed his team to victory.
The Celtics were caught off guard and never had an answer for Nelson. Rondo was suffering from back spasms and the injury prevented him from taking over the game. With Rondo not himself, the Celtics offense looked out of sync, proving they’ve become too reliant on their young point guard. Pierce was their only offensive weapon for most of the game, but fatigue was a factor down the stretch as Pierce turned the ball over or couldn’t fire off a quality shot.
Boston fans will start drawing parallels to this series and the Bruins series. Bruins were up 3-0 to the Flyers and ended up losing 4 straight and the series. Here is my advice for Boston – RELAX. Hockey and basketball are two completely different games and the Celtics are not the Bruins. They will not collapse in this series.
Boston will close out the series in game 5. Boston made a lot of mistakes in game 4 defensively and they will not have a repeat performance. It’s time for “Hack a Howard” defensive approach. Send Howard to the line as much as possible. Celtics have plenty of Bigs to spread the fouls around and they can’t allow him to get easy dunks. Make him earn two points from the line.
Defense will be the key in game 5. The Celtics win games when they play well defensively. The offense will be there, it’s more important for them to get defensive stops on the other end. Obviously, they can’t let Jameer Nelson beat them. Do not let Nelson drive the lane. Force Nelson to give the ball up early to a guy around the perimeter. Rondo will be responsible for stopping Nelson and hopefully his health will allow him to be the same dynamic player he’s been all season long.
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Written by johnw