Celtics smack Magic in Game 2


If you’re a Magic fan, and you’re sweating bullets after Orlando’s 18-point loss to the Celtics, let me ask you this. Did you really go into Game 2 with the expectation of a victory? Did you really think that Orlando — a team that struggled to put away a .500 team in the first round of these same playoffs — was going to walk into Boston and routinely take not one, but TWO games inside a sold-out Boston arena? In my eyes, the Magic were playing with house money. They already did the hard part by stealing Game 1 and taking away home-court advantage. It’s not that easy to win in Boston, and it’s certainly not easy to win in Boston in the playoffs. But the Magic did it in Game 1. So after losing Game 2, the season’s not over. This is what happens. Momentum shifts. Home teams give a little something extra when their crowd gets involved. Teams have off nights while the other teams have on nights (see: Eddie House, 31 points). And while there’s a lot to learn and lot to improve on after tonight’s demoralizing loss, this one will be long forgotten if the Magic win Game 3. Well, almost forgotten. Rafer Alston will probably be suspended for smacking Eddie House in the back of the head. It still wasn’t worse than Rajon Rondo’s theatrics against Kirk Hinrich, but whatevs, that’s irrelevant. The Magic are going into Game 3 with Anthony Johnson as the starting point guard, and (gulp) Tyronn Lue as the backup. At least Courtney Lee should be back on the floor, meaning he can serve as the backup point guard when AJ needs rest. (We’ll just ignore the fact that Johnson has struggled to even get the ball up the floor against Rondo’s pressure defense.) JJ Redick was ejected, too, after arguing with an official. That’s the second time Redick has been ejected this year – for a quiet guy that doesn’t play that much, he’s sure getting into a lot of trouble. He did make a lot of enemies in his Duke days, I guess. Eddie House played out of his mind tonight, scoring 31 points on 11-of-14 shooting. That’s a once-in-a-career kind of performance for House. He’s one of the streakiest shooters in the league, and this was one of those nights where everything he threw up was finding the bottom of the net. The biggest worry is Rajon Rondo. We saw glimpses of dominance from Rondo in Game 1, and we got a large helping of it tonight. He was the best player on the floor, finishing with 15 points, 18 assists, and 11 rebounds, and the Magic have proven to have no answer for him. Despite the fact that Alston gives zero respect to Rondo’s jumper, Rondo is still able to penetrate the lane at will. His court vision and ability to always get out of a predicament are up there with any veteran point guard in the NBA. He’s amazing, and the Magic better find an answer quick. Maybe Tyronn Lue will be the secret weapon. Really, this was just an all-around fantastic showing by the champion Celtics – that’s what champions do after a tough home loss – and one of Orlando’s worst performances of the season. But the beauty of a seven-game series is that the Magic will get to start all over on Friday night. Here are some things in Orlando’s favor going moving forward. 1. Rashard Lewis has to take advantage of this mismatch, right? Heading into this series, it was all on Rashard Lewis. He was matched up with Glen Davis and Brian Scalabrine, a pair that the all-star forward was supposed to abuse. Well, not counting the first half of Game 1, Lewis is shooting 33 percent against these guys. He’s settling for too many jump shots and allowing Boston’s physical style to get to him. But if there’s anything we know about Lewis, it’s that he always adapts. He struggled in the first few games of round one, but he turned it around and led the Magic to a series win. After feeling these guys out, maybe Lewis can get it going as the series progresses. 2. Not counting Eddie House, Boston didn’t shoot that great. The Celtics made 51.2 percent of their field goals and 45 percent of their 3-pointers, but those numbers drop to 45 percent and 31 percent if you take out House’s ridiculous performance. Orlando’s defense wasn’t good by any means, as the Celtics built an early lead without the help of House. But the Magic turned it on a little bit in the early part of the third quarter, only to see two House jumpers put the lead back up to 17 and keep Orlando out of the game. If we see another game like that from House, I think even House’s mother would be surprised. 3. Courtney Lee is coming back. Last series, Philadelphia raved about Lee joining the ranks of Turkoglu, Lewis and Howard to make the Big Four. His emergence last series has been well-publicized, and Lee’s return will give a much-needed boost on both the offensive and defensive end. He’s the team’s best defensive player, and someone that the Magic will need if they want to win this series and make a run at Cleveland. With Alston likely out for a game, his presence is needed even more. If Lee can’t go in Game 3, I don’t see how the Magic are going to win that game.