Despite being down 0-2, the Magic are staying confident.
People descended from the bandwagon that had seemed so crowded after the first and second rounds of the NBA playoffs. Commentators counted the team out. Many fans pronounced the squad’s championship hopes kaput.
But Magic players and coaches sounded hopeful as they faced an 0-2 Eastern Conference finals deficit to the Boston Celtics with a trip to New England looming. They expressed confidence that they can become the fourth team in league history to win a best-of-seven series after it lost the first two games at home.
“I just feel like we know what needs to be done,” guard Vince Carter said. “Right now, it’s not about the whole great motivational speech. I think the first step of overcoming that frustration is that everybody still believes, and that takes you miles and miles and that could put us over the hump right there.”
Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel has that story here.
Robbins also has Vince Carter’s comments on his missed free throw.
After the game ended, a reporter prefaced a question about the misses by saying, “You’re an 84-percent free-throw shooter.”
In his detached-sounding way, Carter cut in politely with a smile and said, “Don’t remind me.”
The reporter followed-up by asking, “Is that just bad luck? Is it just a matter of the ball just not going in and bad luck?”
“Just don’t remind me,” Carter said again, smiling.
You can read the full story here.
Dwight Howard says the Magic must believe they can win.
Howard brazenly said the Magic are far from dead in this series. And he told his teammates as much in the locker room on Wednesday, stressing that total belief was needed in order for the Magic to pull off a stunning turnaround.
“There’s no need to quit. There’s no need to say that we’re going down fighting because we’re not going down,’’ Howard said defiantly. “You just have to think positive and if you think negative you are going to lose. Like I told the guys in the locker room, `If anybody has any doubt, we’re not going to win. But if everybody’s on the same page and believes we’re going to win, then we’re going to win it.’’’
John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com has that story here.
Rashard Lewis has been nearly invisible this series and he has to make an impact for the Magic to challenge the Celtics.
So he can’t hit a layup, get to the line, or make a jumper. And he’s not breaking down the Celtics’ defense off the dribble, because that’s not his role. In the past, Van Gundy has called for Lewis to post up, usually on the left block, if he wants to jump-start his star forward’s offensive game. We see that most often in third quarters, if Lewis has had a rough or invisible first half, and not at the start of games, but we could see it in Game 3 on Saturday. When he gets that fadeaway from the left block going–the one where he posts up, spins over his right shoulder, and lofts the ball into the basket with a smooth stroke–he’s hard to guard. In case you’re curious, data from Synergy Sports Technology show Lewis has shot 11-of-24 on that particular type of play this season.
Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post has that story here.
Kevin Arnovitz of TrueHoop put together another video detailing Game 2.
Alex David of Fansided.com has three simple tweaks for the Magic.
The Magic have been backed into a corner.
The Celtics had gone through the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games, beating them so badly that James is closer to leaving than staying and the coach, Mike Brown, is going to get fired. The Celtics are running roughshod through the Eastern Conference, torching everything in their wake. They’re belligerent and disagreeable, frustrating the Magic in so many ways.
Privately, the Celtics never believed these Magic could match up with them. They knew they could take away so much defensively, and they’ve done it. To think how demoralized the Magic must be to have Howard bust out for 30 points and still lose Game 2. Now, Orlando must withstand the torrent of criticism that’ll come between now and Game 3 on Saturday. Carter had been brought to Orlando in a trade with the New Jersey Nets for these moments, these late-game shots, and even the Celtics privately raised eyebrows over how discombobulated he looked on the line.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports has that story here.
The Celtics have done an excellent job of protecting the 3-point line.
In Game 2, Boston did allow the Magic to shoot 39% from 3pt., but kept the Magic to only 18 3PA, nine below their season average. I’m sure those numbers were a bit too high for Coach Thib’s liking. Can’t imagine he was happy with a wide-open J. Williams 3pt. make because of an ill-advised double onto Howard in the 2nd half of Game 2.
Imagine the Celts will continue to stay attached to Magic shooters and chase them off the line when possible. And continue to guard Dwight one-on-one as much as possible. And send him to line as much as possible. Dwight had 30 on Tuesday but had to earn a lot of those points at FT line.
Wouldn’t you rather the Magic getting the 1 point per possession Howard will likely produce from the line as opposed to letting the deadliest long-range shooting team in league trying to get 3 points per possession?
M. Haubs of The Painted Area has that story here.
Orlando has had a big problem with the “little things,” while Boston has not.
That is how the Celtics win much of the time. They seldom overwhelm you for four quarters. They don’t often run you out of the gym all night long. They don’t beat you the way Mike Tyson used to beat people, knocking you out with one shot. They beat you the way Willie Pep used to do it. They beat you on the sly.
They are not LeBron, but they beat LeBron. They are not Superman, but they beat Superman twice in his own crib. They are that rare commodity that knows what it isn’t and doesn’t fight it.
Ron Borges of the Boston Herald has that story here.
Boston will be looking for the knockout at home.
After snatching two games at Amway Arena and effectively icing a Magic team that had been the hottest in the playoffs, the Celtics like the position they’re in, with Game 3 coming up Saturday night at TD Garden.
“I feel pretty good about it,’’ said Kendrick Perkins. “I think this Game 3 is the most important, though. We can’t give them any hope.’’
Julian Benbow of the Boston Globe has that story here.
The Celtics need rest but hope it doesn’t kill their momentum and their chance for a knockout.
There is a strong urge to play Game 3 immediately.
The Celtics [team stats], with a 2-0 series lead over Orlando in the Eastern Conference finals, can smell blood like never before. But for the second straight round, the Celtics have to wait a postseason eternity – three full off days – before beginning the home leg of the series.
“I would rather play,” said Ray Allen. “When you have two or three off days, you start to think of things like, oh, the closet needs cleaning.”
Mark Murphy 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