Celtics Hoping 3rd Closeout Game's the Charm

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Orlando Magic (2-3,10-3) at Boston Celtics (3-2,11-5)
Friday, May 28
8:30 PM ET
Post Season Game #16, Home Game #8
TD Garden
Referees:   Monty McCutchen,  Mike Callahan,  Ken Mauer  

Celtics once again have a chance to close out this series. After going up 3-0 and looking invincible, the Celtics have lost their defensive intensity and they have given the Magic confidence. Now, the lack of focus and intensity in game 4 is coming back to haunt them.

They are coming into game 6 bruised and beaten. Big Baby will play but may be suffering after effects from the Dwight Howard elbow that gave him a concussion.    Rasheed is a game time decision with back spasms. Rondo has been battling back spasms. Tony Allen is still battling an ankle injury.   Marquis Daniels is probably out with a concussion.     KG was reportedly walking off the court gingerly after game 5. And Perk is precariously perched on the edge of a suspension should he get one more technical.

The Celtics are on their home court, but that hasn't always been a good thing this season, although they blew out the Magic in their first game at home in this series. Maybe the Celtics will get a little better treatment from the refs in this one. The Celtics will need to leave it all out on the court in this one because this is their game 7. They just can't think that they have one more chance after this one. This is it, because the longer the series goes, playing every other night, the more the chance that the Magic will win it.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
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Rajon Rondo vs Jameer Nelson

Shooting Guard
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Ray Allen vs Vince Carter

Small Forward
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Paul Pierce vs Matt Barnes

Power Forward
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Keven Garnett vs Rashard Lewis

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Kendrick Perkins vs Dwight "the Elbow" Howard

Key Matchups
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Kendrick Perkins vs Dwight Howard
Howard has dominated in the past two games because of Perk being limited by foul trouble or ejected. Perk has got to play Howard tough but smart and keep him from getting to his spots in the paint. Hopefully the refs will let Perk play in this one. The way I see it, they owe him one.

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Rajon Rondo vs Jameer Nelson
Rondo was incredible in games 1-3 and the Celtics won them. He has been tentative and out played by Jameer Nelson in games 4 and 5 and not surprisingly, the Magic won. Like Perk, Rondo has been plagued with foul trouble right from the start of games. Rondo has to be aggressive on both ends of the court but without picking up early fouls. He also must set the pace of the game and keep the Celtics offense moving.

Honorable Mention
The Celtics bench has been great in this series but now there is a major question mark there. Sheed and Big Baby are both game time decisions and Tony Allen has been struggling with a sprained ankle. Doc has had to go deeper into his bench with all the injuries and foul trouble and the results haven't been all that successful. The Celtics reserves must come through for the team to have a chance to win. The starters can't do it by themselves.

Keys to the Game

Defense - Defense wins championships isn't just a saying. It is an absolute fact. The Celtics' defense was amazing in games 1-3. But in games 4 and 5, they allowed the Magic way too many open and easy shots. They seemed to lose their defensive focus. Terrible officiating may have something to do with it. But, the Celtics must find a way to deal with the refs and win anyway. Defense is the key. They have to get back to playing the tough in your face defense that won the first 3 games.

Rebounding - Second to defense is rebounding. The team that is more aggressive on the boards will get more second chance baskets and more fast break points. So much of rebounding is effort and desire as is evident when the shortest guy on the court can come up with a lot of rebounds. In game 5, the Magic out rebounded the Celtics 43-26. The Celtics can't win when they give up that many rebounds. The team that wants it more will show it in their rebounding numbers.

Hustle and Intensity - The Celtics must go after every loose ball and every rebound. They have to set the tone with their hustle and their intensity. If they do that, they can take the Magic out of the game early as they did in the first 3 games. In games 4 and 5, it was the Magic who got all the hustle plays and if the Celtics want to win this game they have to turn that around. The team that wants it more and gets the hustle plays will get the game.

Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics must come out with focus early and get the jump on the Magic right from the start. They can't let the Magic get off to a fast start or to build a lead. The Celtics must also not let up. They have a habit of fading in the 4th quarter, whether from fatigue or lack of focus, but they can't afford to do that. They have to put out the effort from the opening tip until the final buzzer.

Run the Offense - The Celtics must run their offense and move the ball and find the open man. In games 4 and 5, the ball was getting stuck and there was too much dribbling around and too many iso's and too many players trying to do it themselves. They have to trust the offense and play as a team. They can only win this if they play as a team. No hero ball.

Officiating and Injuries
As we saw in game 5, the officials can have a huge effect on a game. Let's hope that after the way the Celtics were absolutely taken out of the game by the refs in game 5, they owe us one and they will call it fairly. Maybe even give the Celtics the benefit of a few calls.  The Celtics also have to wonder if they can overcome all the injuries suffered from the assault and battery that has been allowed by the refs in the previous games. 

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