atThe Celtics now turn their attention to a Magic team that swept their first two series. Of course, they didn't have near as much a challenge as the Celtics had as they played an inexperienced Bobcats team in the first round and a tired and seemingly disinterested Hawks team in the second round while the Celtics faced tough Heat and Cavs teams.
Boston Celtics (0-0, 8-3) at Orlando Magic (0-0, 8-0)
Sunday, May 16
3:30 PM ET
Playoff Game Game #12 , Road Game #6
Today's Referees: Dan Crawford, Ken Mauer, Michael Smith
The Magic had the second best record in the league with 59 wins in the regular season. They finished the season strong winning their last 6 games in the regular season and has won 8 straight in the playoffs for a total of 14 wins in a row. The Celtics had a very so-so and inconsistent regular season but has flipped the proverbial switch in the playoffs to play their best ball of the year.
The Celtics have once again found their defensive roots and their tough team defense simply shut down a very strong Cavs offense. They have to keep that same defensive mindset in this series if they want to win it. If they play the kind of tough team defense they played against the Cavs, they have a great chance of winning this series. It will be most important to defend the perimeter and not allow the Magic's 3 point shooters to get open.
Perk sat out Saturday's practice with a sore knee that stemmed from hyper-extending it before game 2 against the Cavs. Doc said he will play. Hopefully the knee won't affect him in the game because the Celtics will need his tough defense against Howard. Matt Barnes, Orlando's defensive stopper, also sat out Saturday's practice with back spasms and is also expected to play. Barnes will be defending Ray and will need to fight his way through screens to do so. Not the best for a bad back.
If David Stern was smart, he would give the Celtics some fair officiating as his best shot for a big bucks Finals, since the Golden Boy is out, would be another Celtics vs Lakers matchup. Just saying.
Probable Starting Matchups
Rajon Rondo 18.0 PPG 6.3 RPG 11.1 APG 2.1 SPG 3.4 TO/G
Jameer Nelson 20.5 PPG 2.6 RPG 5.3 APG 1.6 SPG 1.4 TO/G
Ray Allen 17.4 PPG 3.0 RPG 2.8 APG ..425 3P%
Vince Carter 16.9 PPG 4.5 RPG 2.4 APG .250 3P%
Paul Pierce 16.3 PPG 5.1 RPG 3.5 APG
Matt Barnes 7.4 PPG 4.8 RPG 1.6 APG
Keven Garnett 17.6 PPG 8.3 RPG 2.3 APG 0.7 BPG
Rashard Lewis 14.7 PPG 4.9 RPG 2.6 APG .5 BPG
Kendrick Perkins 6.3 PPG 7.3 RPG .9 APG 2.3 BPG
Dwight Howard 15.4 PPG 11.3 RPG 1.9 APG 3.9 BPG
Kendrick Perkins vs Dwight Howard
Slowing down Dwight Howard and keeping him off of his favorite spots around the basket is key to slowing down the Magic. Perk is one of the few centers in the league who has been able to cover Howard one on one. Strangely, Sheed also gives Howard problems. The Celtics need Perk to contain Howard with single coverage as the Magic have so many outside threats, it is dangerous to double off of any of them. Perk sat out Saturday's practice with a flare up of the tendonitis that sidelined him earlier as well. He is expected to play.
Kevin Garnett vs Rashard Lewis
Another key matchup between these two teams is at the power forward spot. KG and Lewis both have the ability to play on the perimeter as well as taking the ball inside. If Perk does his job on Howard, the Magic will turn to Lewis for more of it's offense and so the Celtics will need KG to be on his game on the defensive end to keep Lewis from putting up big numbers. In their regular season meetings, KG was still struggling to come back from his injuries. KG is now playing better than he has all season and this should be a matchup that favors the Celtics.
Rajon Rondo vs Jameer Nelson
Rondo has been playing at an All Star level in the playoffs and has been the Celtics best player. Nelson has also been playing very well, but hasn't faced a challenge of the caliber that Rondo will present him. Rondo must continue to play aggressively on both ends of the court for the Celtics to win this series.
Keys to the Game
Focus - The one game that the Cavs won, the Celtics seemed to have completely lost focus, especially on defense. When the Celtics put their mind to it and kept their focus, especially on the defensive end, they were able to dominate the Cavs, even when they had to play 5 on 8 in a couple games. The Celtics need to come out focused and keep their focus for 48 minutes. They can't afford a sluggish start or to have a lapse of focus down the stretch.
Defense - Defense is the key to winning. Period. In the Cavs series, the Celtics proved that they still have the ability to play shut down defense as a team. Perk's defense inside will be especially important in this game to keep Howard from having a big game. They also must defend the perimeter because the Magic are a very good 3 point shooting team and can kill you from beyond the arc if left open.
Rebound - Dwight Howard can take over a game on rebounds and putbacks alone The Celtics must box out and crash the boards as a team. They have to commit as a team to crashing the boards and going after every single rebound. Rebounding takes effort and desire and the Celtics must show both if they want to win this game.
Ball Movement - The Celtics need to move the ball and find the open man. When they have their passing game going, they are hard to beat. If they resort to too much dribbling and too many iso's, it will allow the Magic defenses to set up and the Celtics will struggle to score.
Bench Play - The Celtics got some key contributions from their bench in the Cavs series, especially from Tony, Big Baby and Sheed. The Celtics must continue to get help from their bench in this series especially since the Magic have a very strong bench with Pietrus, Redick, Anderson, Gortat and Williams.
Rust vs Rest
The Magic have been sitting since Monday while the Celtics have only had 2 days rest. The Magic faced very little resistance in their first two rounds while the Celtics faced two very tough teams. The Celtics come into this game in stride, while the Magic have been sitting and waiting after two fairly easy opponents. If the Celtics catch the Magic a bit rusty, this could be a great opportunity to steal a game in Orlando.
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