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Orlando Magic News & Notes: Season On The Line

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Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel compares Saturday night’s Game 3 to a Game 7.

"The Magic were on such a roll about a week ago that another title shot seemed imminent. Now they are playing to save their season.“Most definitely,” power forward Rashard Lewis said. “This is a must-win game. The pressure is on us already. If we go down zero-3, I mean how tough would that be? We’re not giving up. We feel like we can still win the series.“We have to make a stand now.”That’s what it’s quickly come to for a team that couldn’t wait for the playoffs to start."

You can find that story here.

Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel lists eight improvements the Magic must make to win Game 3.

"1. Start quickly: All series long, it seems like Orlando has had to play catch-up against Boston. In Game 1’s first quarter, the Magic trailed by as many as 10 points. In Game 2’s first quarter, the Magic trailed by as many as 11 points. Stan Van Gundy thinks his team didn’t have enough energy to start Game 1. He thinks they played frantically to start Game 2.The Magic need to start Game 3 with energy and focus."

You can read that story here.

Orlando will focus on transition defense in Game 3.

"Down 0-2 to a team with one of the quickest point guards they’ve faced, the Orlando Magic have spent the last three days in practice focusing on transition defense.“That’s what [Celtics point guard Rajon] Rondo does,” Magic guard Vince Carter said. “He gets up and down the floor in transition. It’s important for us to kind of limit that. In game one it really got the best of us with his penetration in transition, as well as the early post-ups for KG. If we defend, we can create some easy opportunities, which are needed.”The Magic committed 14 turnovers, one fewer than the Celtics in Game two of the Eastern Conference Finals. But while Boston scored 22 points off Magic turnovers, the Magic scored 17 points off 15 Boston turnovers. That’s not the only situation, though, in which the Celtics’ game excels."

Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel has that story here.

The Magic have remained confident.

"With each step taking me closer to the Magic’s locker room, I feared I’d see a room with heads held low and the look of utter defeat.But upon my arrival, I witnessed the near antithesis of my worries. The team’s facial expressions and body language still reflected determination and a complete belief that they could turn this series around.And that’s the moment that initiated my metamorphosis from a sullen disbeliever to an all-biases-aside-writer who sincerely thinks that Orlando’s Finals run is far from over."

Dan Savage of OrlandoMagic.com has that story here.

Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy will consider this season a failure without a championship.

"As he prepared his team for Game 3 of tonight’s Eastern Conference finals with the Boston Celtics, Van Gundy said earlier this week that he fully expects his team to get a failing grade if the Magic don’t rally back from the 2-0 deficit and at least make a repeat appearance in the Finals. “I think all of us understand that we will be judged as not having had a successful season if we don’t win a championship, and certainly if we don’t go to the Finals,” Van Gundy said. Added forward Matt Barnes: “The season is on the line right how, but to win a championship, you have to win games like this next one. This team was in the Finals last year, and brought in all these new pieces. It’s a failure if we don’t get back.” I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I don’t think you can say the Magic have had a bad season if they don’t make it back to the Finals."

Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel has that story here.

The Magic are trying to stay in control.

"Their approach will be simple and straightforward. The task of winning in Boston will be hard enough without complicating it.“We know we have to go up there and win this first game,’’ said star center Dwight Howard, who had 30 points in a 95-92 Game 2 loss. “From then on it’s about winning one game at a time. We’re not looking at it as being down, 2-0. We see the series as 0-0 and we have to win this first game.“All we have to do is play basketball. There’s no need to say ‘this is it.’ Like coach and I have been saying, you don’t want to think about going down fighting, you keep fighting. Our [objective] is not to go down and say we fought real hard, that’s weak. We’re fighting to win.’’Focusing on Game 3 — and nothing more — is essential to the Magic."

Jarrod Rudolph of the Boston Globe has that story here.

Doc Rivers is a little nervous about what all the praise the Celtics have received over the last few days could do.

"With the Celtics leading the Magic, two games to none, in the Eastern Conference finals, Rivers’s fear was the team would hear continuous praise for three days. Instead, there was talk about overconfidence and the potential for a letdown, considering what hap pened two weeks ago. In the Celtics’ second-round series, they split the first two games on Cleveland’s home court and came back to Boston with three days off before Game 3.Rivers had described the practices as “lousy,’’ and the Cavaliers dealt the Celtics their worst home playoff loss in team history, with LeBron James exploding for 38 points in a 124-95 decision.Rivers said there was no need to show the team tape of that game again. The lesson was obvious.“That’s something they should remember,’’ he said."

Julian Benbow of the Boston Globe has that story here.

The Celtics vow to avoid a letdown.

"The Celtics, who head into tonight’s Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against Orlando not having played since Tuesday, appear to have passed the sniff test this time.“We had good practices, so we can’t use that as an excuse,” Rivers said after yesterday’s practice. “We had short practice yesterday, little longer today. We’ll be ready. This is better (than last series). I thought our guys had a lot better focus, and I thought we handled it better, too.”Nor was there much need for a pep talk, or a reminder of where they went wrong in preparing for their Game 3 loss to Cleveland at the Garden – a result that gave the Cavs a 2-1 series lead."

Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald has that story here.

Kendrick Perkins has come a long way maturity-wise.

"Perkins, who is now in his seventh season, has developed as the Celtics fortunes have improved. He’s started every game he’s played during the last three seasons and has shown continued, incremental improvement.“Obviously you got a bigger role now,” Perkins said of the difference from the 2008 championship team. “Guys have different roles; not major, but you might have a little bit more than that one year we won it. Other than that, nothing really. It’s the same thing.”"

Dan Duggan of the Boston Herald has 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).