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Orlando Magic News & Notes: Celtics’ Defense Dominates The Postgame Chatter


The Orlando Magic fell behind 1-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals after losing Game 1 92-88.

The Magic did not look ready for the Celtics.

"Off the past five days after dominating Atlanta in the most lopsided four-game series in playoff history, the Magic looked to be shocked at times on Sunday with the white-hot intensity with which the Celtics defended. The magic trailed by as many as 20 points and failed to lead in the game at any point for just the second time all season. And when a furious fourth-quarter rally fell short, the Magic were left to search for answers as to the impetus of their sluggish start.“I don’t think we were prepared for the level that they were ready to play,’’ said Magic guard Vince Carter, who scored 23 points and relentlessly attacked the rim to keep the Magic close. “They were ready to go from the jump. And we weren’t on their level from the beginning more than anything.’’When the Magic struggled through a 41.6 percent shooting night, made just five of 22 3-pointers and got repeatedly burned on the defensive end by Ray Allen (25 points) and Paul Pierce (22 points), it was reminiscent of Boston’s only other defeat of Orlando this season. Back on Christmas Day, Boston won in Orlando by holding the Magic to 77 points and a just five 3-pointers in 26 tries."

John Denton offers his postgame analysis here.

The Magic got off to a very slow start but they way they finished is a cause for optimism.

"“We were anxious,” said Howard, who struggled to a 3-for-10 night and was responsible for seven of the Magic’s 18 turnovers. “I don’t think we moved the ball like we needed to get them off our bodies. That’s what we have to do to beat this team.”From the middle of the second quarter on, the Magic looked more like the Orlando Magic team that had contested the previous 90 games, but so great was their deficit that they couldn’t come back despite exploding for 41 points in the final 14 minutes — including an incredible intentional free-throw miss and layup connection by Carter and Jameer Nelson."

John Hollinger of has that story here.

Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk also thinks the Magic got caught off guard.

"Orlando looked caught off-guard. Like a boxer dazed after a good punch. The time off amplified that, but they simply had not had to go up against a team playing at this level of defense all year.What Orlando does on offense is not complex — they go inside to Dwight Howard, and expect you to double team him. He may power through your guys and score anyway, or he will kick out to a deadly perimeter shooter. Secondly, they will run the pick-and-roll (multiple ones on one play) until the defense is out of its shape, and the Magic attack. They want their shots to be threes or in the paint.The Celtics didn’t have to double or bend out of shape. They have Kendrick Perkins in the middle guarding Dwight Howard one-on-one, and that allows Celtics defenders to stay with guys on the perimeter. Perkins was pushing Howard off the spots he wanted to shoot, being physical with him. Kevin Garnett was helping and recovering like he was 10 years younger. The Celtics played one-on-one and gave up shots to the Magic in the paint, then just tried to contest them."

You can find that story here.

Most of the Magic players said rust had nothing to do with the loss, but J.J. Redick thought otherwise.

"Idle for five days, Orlando looked like a team for the most part that hadn’t been challenged beyond intra-squad scrimmages. Nobody has pushed them around for a long time like the Celtics pushed them.“You don’t want to make excuses,” J.J. Redick said. “When you don’t do it for a few days, you forget how much you have to put into it, and we didn’t put enough into this game.”If the Magic felt as if they were in Club Med their last six unbeaten weeks, particularly after sweeps against the Charlotte Bobcats and the Atlanta Hawks, they were jolted out of the good life by Boston."

Brian Schmitz has that story here.

Mike Bianchi thinks we will now see if the Magic are truly championship material.

"It was bound to happen sooner or later. They had to lose eventually. Come on, you knew they weren’t going to go through the playoffs with a perfect 16-0 record, right? These guys are good, but they’re not the ’72 Dolphins.“Our team doesn’t have to prove it can bounce back from adversity and all that crap,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said, obviously annoyed when I asked how his team would respond to a loss.Au contraire, mon frere. Of course Van Gundy and his team have something to prove now. They just got manhandled on their home court in Game 1 of the conference finals. They are no longer playoff perfect. The Celtics came into the Am Sunday and punched a hole in the Magic’s bulletproof postseason armor."

You can read that story here.

Boston’s big men really bothered Dwight Howard.

"Indeed, the Celtics’ big men made certain to hammer Howard when he received the ball in position for an easy dunk or a layup. Howard didn’t record a single dunk Sunday.Heading into the game, Howard said he wanted to use his quickness to force Perkins to move his feet. That rarely occurred in Game 1. Celtics players barely gave Howard any room to maneuver."

Josh Robbins has that story here.

Boston was very good defensively, but the basketball community is overreacting to Howard’s performance.

"Despite what you may hear or read, Howard does have a post game but it is tougher for him to execute in the paint against Perkins and Wallace because of their abilities to use their strength to push Howard away from the basket and take him out of his comfort zone. Howard has had success against Perkins and Wallace in the past, but it was when he was using his finesse rather than his strength to score on the low block. Also, it is imperative to utilize Howard’s athleticism and speed in pick and rolls, that way he’s constantly on the move and isn’t stationary against slower-footed defenders like Perkins and Wallace."

Eddy Rivera of Magic Basketball has that story here.

Sunday’s game was all about Boston’s defense.

"A suffocating, squeeze the life out of you, stomp on you ’til your head hurts kind of scrum that leaves the Orlando Magic looking like the school-yard bully who got sucker-punched."

George Diaz has that story here.

Ben Q. Rock thinks the Magic just need to make a few adjustments.

"Going forward, the Magic have to get Howard involved as a pick-and-roll finisher, and he can help himself by creating opportunities on the offensive glass. Expecting him to score consistently and efficiently against Boston’s bigs isn’t realistic. It simply baffled me to watch the Magic consistently clear out for Howard.Likewise, it’s unrealistic to expect Rashard Lewis and Carter to miss all 7 of their treys, as they did today. Tom Haberstroh of HoopData pointed out that the pair combined for no three-pointers for just the fourth time this season today. Part of that is great defense, and I don’t mean to take anything from Boston here. But those two won’t shoot 0.000% from deep over the course of an entire series."

You can read that story here.

Rashard Lewis couldn’t hit the big shot Tuesday.

"Rashard Lewis has come up with countless number of big shots for the Magic. Even when his 3-point shot is not falling, it seems like he makes the one shot that matters.As Orlando frantically tried to erase an 18-point deficit in the closing moments and needing a big shot the team turned to Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis. But today was just not Lewis’ day."

Phillip Rossman-Reich of Orlando Magic Daily has that story here.

Alex Kennedy has some notes on injuries in the series.

"Rashard Lewis and Matt Barnes were both shaken up in tonight’s game. Barnes, whose back has been troubling him since Game 3 of the Atlanta series, sat out for much of the second half because he was feeling sore and he felt that someone else could step in and contribute more. He received some treatment after the game but said he’ll be ready for Game 2. Rashard, who seemed to be holding his left arm during the game, said that he was sore and cramping following the game. He also spent some time with a trainer but the injury doesn’t appear to be too serious. Kendrick Perkins was receiving treatment on his knee following the game and then had it wrapped up with an ice pack as he was walking out but also seems ready to go for Game 2."

You can read his courtside blog here.

The Celtics got what they wanted on the defensive end in Game 1.

"Boston’s defense strangled the Magic and Dwight Howard from the start of a 92-88 win over Orlando, smothering a team that hadn’t lost since April 2.The extent of the Magic’s first-quarter offense was a Rashard Lewis putback, a hanging bank shot from Vince Carter, a Howard hook shot, an explosive drive and flush by Carter, and six free throws — only 14 points.The team that was shooting a playoff-best 48.8 percent entering the series missed 16 of its first 20 shots, the Magic digging an early ditch the Celtics kept them in the rest of the afternoon."

Julian Benbow of the Boston Globe has that story here.

Adrian Wojnarowski says the Celtics’ defense never rests.

"After dispatching the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games, the validation of Danny Ainge’s and Doc Rivers’ vision is simple to see. With an endless bench of physical big men, the Celtics were constructed to overtake the Magic in the East. This was the plan, and they watched it unfold perfectly in Game 1.Once more, the Celtics inspire fear and loathing on the floor.Once more, they’re championship contenders again.“They’re relentless,” Orlando’s Vince Carter allowed."

You can read that story here.

Chris Sheridan of thinks this defensive performance set the tone for the series.

"Through three quarters, as Boston was building a 20-point lead, the Magic were making less than 38 percent of their shots. Yes, they recovered and made a late run at the end as the Celtics went more than five minutes without scoring a single point, but it was a quintessential case of having too little, too late.“It was a defensive game, and we like those. That was fine with us,” said Boston coach Doc Rivers, whose team clearly benefited from going up against an opponent that hadn’t played a game in a week and hadn’t played a tough team in more than a month.And these Celtics were tough, frustrating Howard not only with their fouls, but also with their ability to push him away from the basket and take him away from his low-post comfort zone."

You can find that story here.

Van Gundy credited Boston’s defense rather than blaming the loss on rest.

"“No, I don’t think it had anything to do with that,” Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I think it had more to do with their defense. I’m not going to take that as an excuse. Their defense was really good.”Better than that, really.The Celtics [team stats] took Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals with yesterday’s 92-88 win against the previously flawless Magic, and in one sense not much had changed from their previous series against Cleveland."

Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald has that story here.

Paul Pierce had a big game for the Celtics .

"Making a clean break from a mutually abusive relationship with LeBron James had to help, but this was a different Pierce altogether.He finished with 22 points on 6-for-8 shooting from the floor (8-of-10 free throws) in the 92-88 series-opening win over the Magic.Maybe just as important were his nine rebounds, as he and Ray Allen (seven boards) came in to clean up after the Celtics [team stats] bigs had kept bodies on their Orlando counterparts."

Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald has that story here.

Brendan Jackson of Celtics Hub explains Rajon Rondo’s night.

"Rajon Rondo had a solid game overall tonight but it’s evident that he is still trying to feel out th beneficial way to play on both ends of the floor. Should he go over screens and defend Nelson’s three point shot (which proved to be potentially deadly) or should he go under screens and roam the open floor looking for errant passes? He is great at defending both so there may not be a right and wrong answer. This may even be a situation where Rondo has to feel it out and switch strategies throughout specific games. Rondo also has to do this same type of “figuring out” on the offensive end. Rondo is not going to enjoy the same amount drive-time he did against Cleveland and Dwight Howard has almost eliminated the chance for three point plays on tear-drops and lay up attempts."

You can find that story here.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, a contributor on the Fansided Front Page and on Sir Charles In Charge. Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here).