The Orlando Magic were destroyed on Saturday night, The Orlando Magic were destroyed on Saturday night, The Orlando Magic were destroyed on Saturday night,

Orlando Magic News & Notes: Magic On The Verge Of Elimination

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The Orlando Magic were destroyed on Saturday night, falling to the Boston Celtics 94-71 to fall behind three-games-to-none in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Orlando’s promising season looks like it is about to come to a close.

"Several hours before tipoff at the morning shootaround Saturday, Magic guard J.J. Redick called Game 3, “the definition of a must-win.”Somewhere between the shootaround and the game itself, the Magic must have lost their dictionary. Must win? The Magic came out like a college team playing its first exhibition game against Athletes in Action.“They outplayed us, outhustled and worked harder than us,” Howard said. “Coach has done everything he could. This is not on the coach; this is on the players. … There is no strategy for effort.”"

Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel has that story here.

The Magic weren’t just beat, they were embarrassed.

"When Boston’s run to a 3-0 edge in the Eastern Conference Finals was complete Saturday night, the Magic were left to search for answers as to how things have so suddenly soured on them. An Orlando team that has dreamed for 11 months about making another run back to the NBA Finals to capture the title that eluded it last June is now in a position of merely trying to save face.“Right now we’ve just got to try and find ourselves,’’ said Magic superstar center Dwight Howard, who had just seven points. “These last three games we haven’t played like the Orlando Magic. It seems like our bodies were here, but our minds (weren’t). And our hearts really weren’t either. I don’t know what happened.’’The Magic needed a late scoring burst in garbage time of the fourth quarter to avoid the worst offensive night in team history of the playoffs. Orlando shot 36.9 percent and turned the ball over 17 times, 11 of them coming in a dreadful first half. Boston, meanwhile, hit 46.6 percent and had 70 points before the Magic got to 45."

John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com offers his postgame analysis here.

George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel placed the blame on Dwight Howard.

"It’s all Dwight Howard’s fault. Every stinking bit of it.Unfair? Of course it is, but it’s the nature of the media beast.Howard is about as low as you can go right now. He missed his first five shots and didn’t score a field goal until early in the second quarter. He had problems gathering any offensive momentum unless he was able to break free for dunks. He couldn’t get anything going, much like his Magic teammates who now face having to win four consecutive games against a better team. Good luck with that."

You can read that story here.

Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel writes the Magic couldn’t counter after Boston threw the first blow.

"The Magic were looking to pick themselves — and their teeth — off the canvas after the opening tip.The Celtics held a 24-point lead after a quarter and a half, completely dominating the Magic to go ahead 51-34 at halftime. ‘We got hit early in the game. I just didn’t think we stayed with the fight,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We were a step late on everything. They just riddled us.”Only one team played championship-type defense — and it was the Celtics."

You can read that story here.

Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo’s Ball Don’t Lie makes an interesting point about the Celtics and Magic.

"Doesn’t make them the best, we don’t think. Doesn’t make them the hardest working team, or the smartest. They’re just getting the most out of what they have. They’re what the Magic used to be, and they’re up 3-0 on the Orlando Magic. They’ve one game to win in four tries in order to make the NBA Finals for the second time in three seasons.And the Magic? Something happened. And that “something” wasn’t completely Boston’s doing. Close, but not completely Boston’s workmanship.They don’t execute as well as they used to, it’s that easy. Beyond that? They don’t rotate properly. The initial and extra passes aren’t tossed and quickly and as expertly as demanded by the setting. The Magic pass up shots they should take, and don’t completely run the fundamentals needed to take the shots they do take. Pick a spot on the floor, pick a player, and I’ll point to someone who isn’t executing as well as he used to."

You can read that story here.

The Celtics just keep frustrating the Magic.

"“I just didn’t think we stayed with the fight very well,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I thought there were several hustle plays like [Rondo’s] in the first half that all went their way. I thought they worked harder than we did. I thought they outcompeted us.”The Celtics’ defense suffocated the Magic with their superior effort and physicality. The league’s second-leading offense during the regular season scored only 48 points in the first three quarters, while the Celtics built up a 27-point lead before the Magic added 23 points’ worth of window dressing in an utterly meaningless fourth.The Celtics, a No. 4 seed that won only 50 games during the regular season, are on the verge of topping the two teams (Orlando and Cleveland) that had the best regular-season records with what could be a combined six-game winning streak."

John Hollinger of ESPN.com has that story here.

Orlando has been pushed to the brink.

"If there was one reprieve, perhaps, in Games 1 and 2, it was the fact the Magic at least had a chance to win in the fourth quarter of both games, outscoring the Celtics by the combined margin of 52-35 in the final quarter of those games. After trailing by as many as 20 in Game 1, the Magic pulled within 90-88 only to succumb to a 92-88 final. In Game 2, the Magic trailed by 11 in the first half, but wound up fighting back to take their only lead of the series, by as many as 3 points. But it was shortlived in a 95-92 setback that sent the series back to Boston with the Celtics in control.“No moral victories,’’ said Carter, who combined with Jameer Nelson to lead the Magic with 15 points apiece. “Not when it’s playoff time. It’s victories. That’s what you’re playing for. That’s something you do during the regular season. We’re not getting the job done right now and it’s very disappointing because I think we’re better than that.’"


Michael Vega of the Boston Globe has that story here.

Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel thinks Orlando’s problems go far beyond X’s and O’s.

"Right now, the Magic’s problems extend far beyond X’s and O’s.The team is searching for heart. The team is searching for composure. The team is searching for anything that will help it avoid being swept out of the Eastern Conference finals.“Right now, we’ve got to find ourselves,” Magic center Dwight Howard said. “The last three games we haven’t played like Orlando Magic. Seemed like tonight our bodies was here, but our minds wasn’t. Our hearts weren’t in it. It seemed like we wasn’t into it.“I don’t know what happened. I just think we just got to come out and keep fighting, stay aggressive and not give up. I won’t give up. I want to stay on my teammates and not let them give up either.”"

You can read that story here.

The Boston sports writers went a little pun-crazy after the game.

Julian Benbow of the Boston Globe called it a disappearing act and used Rajon Rondo’s steal to sum up the game.

"“I just wanted it,’’ Rondo said. “I just wanted to make a play on the ball. I think he had the angle on me and I decided to dive for the ball and it just so happened I came up with it and made the play and scored the ball.’’The play was a microcosm of the night. The Celtics were rabid for a win. The Magic never matched their energy."

You can read that story here.

Ron Borges of the Boston Herald says Orlando’s hope disappeared.

"Orlando talked for two days about how they were ready to play and then played like they were ready for summer vacation. They fell behind 7-0, 23-8, 31-15, 43-19, need we continue? Why, the Magic didn’t.One has to give the Celtics credit for this because they came out and refused to repeat the sins of Game 3 against Cleveland, when they entered the game having stolen homecourt from the Cavaliers and then gave it right back to them by underestimating their opponent. Last night it wasn’t possible to underestimate the Magic, because whatever depth you thought they might sink to, they exceeded it."

You can read that story here.

Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe credits Doc Rivers.

"Before the Orlando Magic had the opportunity to gain a sliver of the confidence they’ve never had in this series, the Celtics showed how much they respect the authority of coach Doc Rivers.His influence on this team was questioned several times during the regular season, so much so that he considered walking away following the season. But the Celtics players are now digesting every word from their commander and because of that, they are one win away from a return trip to the NBA Finals."

You can read 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).