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Celtics Eliminate Magic 96-84

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The Orlando Magic couldn’t bring the series back to Orlando for Game 7, falling to the Boston Celtics 96-84 Friday night. It was a disappointing end to what was an excellent season. Boston built an 11-point lead by the end of the first quarter and never looked back. Dwight Howard led the Magic with 28 points and 12 rebounds while Paul Pierce led all scorers with 31 points for the Celtics.

NBA Stats

NBA

NBA Stats

Early on, the Celtics road Rajon Rondo but after he hit the ground hard after being fouled on a drive to the basket, Celtics Coach Doc Rivers inserted seldom-used Nate Robinson into the lineup and he made the most of his opportunity, scoring 13 second quarter points. The Magic just couldn’t contain Robinson and the Celtics led by as many as 21 before Vince Carter helped the Magic bring it back down to 13 at the half. It looked like the Magic could get back in the game but Ray Allen started the second half with two quick three-pointers to push the lead back to 19 and all but put the game away.

Orlando made a few more runs but Boston had an answer for all of them.

If you look at the numbers, it isn’t hard to see why Boston won the game. The Celtics were much efficient than Orlando (109.1-to-95.5), shot better (Boston had an effective field goal percentage of 49.3% to Orlando’s 47.2%), shot better from the free throw line (22-of-27 for Boston, 16-of-27 for Orlando) and outrebounded the Magic (45-to-35). Aside from that, the Celtics had much better ball movement than the Magic and Orlando continued to struggle on defensive rotations, which helped the Celtics bury 10 three-pointers to the Magic’s six.

Jameer Nelson was off Friday night. Not just because he shot 5-of-14 but because after he did a good job of getting into the lane, he seemed a little hesitant. He got into early foul trouble and wasn’t as aggressive as he was in the last two games. He finished with just 11 points, 4 assists and 5 turnovers.

Nelson, Carter, Rashard Lewis and J.J. Redick combined to shoot just 3-of-17 from beyond the arc. A lot of the credit has to go the excellent Boston defense but Orlando got some good looks for the perimeter and just couldn’t knock them down.

Down low, it was a different story. Well, for Dwight Howard at least. He had another excellent game. The big man, who was booed throughout the game and even heard chants of “Dwight sucks” didn’t let get it to him. Instead, he tried to be Boston’s villain (although it’s impossible to picture him as the bad guy) and poured in 28 points on 11-of-17 shooting. He also grabbed 12 rebounds. Despite underwhelming performances in both games 1 and 3, Howard seems to have figured out a way to better attack opponents with different styles of defense, a sure sign of his continued growth and maturity.

Unfortunately on Friday, Howard’s teammates didn’t follow his lead.

And now their season is over.

Game Notes:

  • Orlando actually outscored Boston in the paint 40-26.
  • Only Nate Robinson and Glen Davis scored points off the bench for the Celtics, but their starters combined for 77 points.
  • Only Howard and Mickael Pietrus (2-of-3) shot better than 50% from the field.
  • This is now the 94th time a team has fallen behind 3-0 and failed to come back.

Next Up: It shouldn’t be as busy of an offseason as last year but at least the Magic currently have a draft pick (29th overall). They didn’t make a pick last season.

Final Thought: It was a lot of fun covering the Magic for the first time this season. I want to thank the entire Magic organization, all of my readers, those who have helped me learn the ropes of being a member of the media and everyone else who has helped make this site possible.

(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).