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Celtics Dominate Magic, Take 3-0 Series Lead


In a must-win Game 3, the Orlando Magic were dominated by the Boston Celtics from start to finish. Boston raced out to a 15-point first quarter lead and never looked back, finishing with a 94-71 victory. Glen Davis led a balanced attack with 17 points off the bench. Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter scored 15 points apiece to lead the Magic.

NBA Stats



Orlando dug themselves into an early hole by continuously turning the ball over – a problem they’ve had all season long – and letting the Celtics get out in transition. The Celtics also got way too many open shots and although they made just 12 field goals in the second half, they shot 51.4% in the first half, building a 17-point lead. The Magic shot an effective field goal percentage of just 43.1% in the game, missed 22 of their 30 three-point attempts and turned the ball over 17 times, which led to 21 Celtics points.

After watching this Magic team play eight preseason games, 82 regular season games and 10 playoff games, there is no way I saw this coming.

The Boston Celtics obviously played great defense and make life difficult against any team but this wasn’t the same Magic team we’ve seen play for 100 or so games this season. Leading up to the game, the Magic said and did all the right things. They claimed they knew what they had to correct and assured the media and their fans they weren’t lacking confidence. It’s not that Orlando doesn’t want to win – they do and in fact, they want it very badly – but all of the confidence they claimed to have seemed to disappear at the tip. The Magic missed a couple of open looks early in the game and then seemed almost scared to shoot, passing up several good looks.

Defensively, the Magic are still having issues with their rotations, giving the Celtics too many open shots. Of course, a lot of that has to do with the ball movement of the Celtics. It’s like night and day watching them move the ball around in comparison with Atlanta and Charlotte. The Celtics have also been able to get into the paint with ease. Boston had 34 points in the paint to Orlando’s 22. Rajon Rondo has consistently gotten to the basket and has brilliantly set his teammates up with easy baskets. Rondo had 11 points and 12 assists Saturday night.

The national media will once again turn on Dwight Howard because outside of a powerful block on a Kevin Garnett dunk attempt, he was a nonfactor. But he wasn’t the only one – every Magic player was a non-factor.  Throughout the game, the Magic looked confused and at times, completely lost. The Magic looked like a team playing in an early season or perhaps even a preseason game, not a team playing for the right to go back to the NBA Finals. I’m baffled by just how bad Orlando was on both ends of the court.

No Magic starter short over 42.0% besides Matt Barnes, who was only 1-of-2 from the field. With Orlando’s starters struggling so bad, it was surprising to see Van Gundy wait so long to change things up, not putting Redick into the game until the 1:23 mark.  At the point, Orlando had just six points. With it being such a struggle to score, you’d figure Van Gundy would have gone to Redick, who has played very well in this series a little earlier in the game. Redick finished with 9 points on 3-of-5 shooting in the game.

After the game, Van Gundy told Orlando Sentinel writer Brian Schmitz he didn’t have his team ready to play, taking the blame for the loss.

Game Notes:

  • Don’t get me wrong, the Celtics have been fantastic.
  • Boston had six players in double figures.
  • Orlando’s front court combined for 13 points on 6-of-20 shooting.
  • Boston seemed to outrace the Magic to nearly every loose ball and every rebound that was up for grabs.
  • As everybody probably knows, no team in NBA history has ever rallied to win after falling behind three games-to-nothing.
  • Stan Van Gundy is not getting fired, nor should he.

Next Up: The Magic will look to stay alive on Monday night in Game 4.

Final Thought: This was extremely disappointing.

(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).