Celtics Looking to Go Up 3-0 As Series Shifts Home

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Orlando Magic (0-2,8-2) at Boston Celtics (2-0,10-3)
Saturday, May 22
8:30 PM ET
Post Season Game #13, Home Game #6
TD Garden
Referees:  Bennett Salvatore,  Greg Willard, Bill Spooner 
The series now shifts back to Boston for game 3 with the Celtics in position to sweep the Magic and move on to the Finals once again.  The Magic are a team with their backs against the wall and will be playing with desperation.   The Magic are talking about making changes, especially on the defensive end, where Matt Barnes is expected to cover Paul Pierce who has been on fire in this series. 

With 3 days off between games, it seems like an eternity since these two teams last played.  While the Celtics could use the time off to heal some bumps and bruises, especially Perk's creaky knees.  they haven't always come out focused after a break.   This season, when playing with 3 days rest, the Celtics are just 5-4 and 0-2 in the playoffs.   The Magic, on the other hand, are 6-1 when playing with 3 days rest and 2-1 in the playoffs, with their one loss coming in game 1 of this series.   

Against the Cavs, the Celtics gave away game 3 as they played with no focus,  urgency or defense.   But, the Celtics haven't lost again since that game and hopefully we won't see a repeat of the poor effort we saw in that game again.  They simply allowed the officiating to destroy their focus early and they never regained it. 

The Celtics are playing the best ball of the playoffs right now.  Their defense rivals that of their 2008 championship team.  They are healthy and they are motivated to hang Banner 18.  The tweets about a sweep have been proven to be from a hacker, but in his post game interview after game 2, Pierce all but promised that they were going to close the Magic out in 4.   Dwight Howard and the Magic are using this as added motivation to win this game. 

If the Celtics let their success in the last two games go to their heads and they come out expecting the Magic to lie down and let them win, the Magic may just come out with a win.  The Magic had the second best record in the NBA this season and they swept their first two opponents for a reason.  They are a good team.   The Celtics must play as though they are the ones down 2 games.  They can't let the Magic think they can get back in this series. 

The Celtics must come out with intensity and look at this as game 7 because that is certainly how the Magic are going to be looking at it.   The Celtics can't give the Magic any hope that they can beat them or they may be in trouble. 

Probable Starters

PG:  Rajon Rondo PPG 17,8  RPG 6.0   APG 10.6   SPG 2.0  +24.92
SG:  Ray Allen    PPG 16.9   RPG 3.2   APG 2.8   3P% .398  +15.08

C:  Kendrick Perkins  PPG 6.4  RPG 6.7  APG 0.9   BPG 2.0  +11.08

SF:  Paul Pierce   PPG 17.6   RPG 5.4    APG 3.7  +16.08
PF:  Kevin Garnett   PPG 16.2    RPG 8.6  APG  2.5    +20.00

Key Player
Rajon Rondo  When Rondo is aggressive and setting the pace for the game, the Celtics are a completely different team than when he is tentative.  As goes Rondo, so go the Celtics.  He must continue to be aggressive in running the offense and setting the pace of the game. 

Probable Starters

PG:  Jameer Nelson   PPG 19.3  RPG 3.5  APG 4.8   SPG 1.4  +19.5
SG:  Vince Carter   PPG 17.4  RPG  4.2   APG 2.2   3P% ..257 +14.50

C:  Dwight Howard  PPG 16.6  RPG 11.0  APG 1.8  BPG 3.6  +21.20

SF: Matt Barnes   PPG 6.7    RPG 4.8    APG  1.5 +9.6
PF:  Rashard Lewis   PPG 14.2   RPG 5.5  APG 2.7  +17.10

Key Player
Dwight Howard    Howard is the leader on this team and controlling him goes a long way toward controlling the Magic.  The Celtics bigs must play him one on one and try to avoid foul trouble. 

Key Matchups
Kendrick Perkins vs Dwight Howard 
Perk, Big Baby and Sheed must continue to play Howard one on one and keep him from getting position under the basket.  Perk spent much of game 2 in foul trouble, allowing Howard to have a better game than he did in game 1. All 3 must continue to play him tough and get into his head.

Rajon Rondo vs Jameer Nelson
In the two previous series, Nelson was taking over games and putting up big numbers.  He is capable of hitting big 3's if left open.  So far in the two games in Orlando, Rondo has been able to keep him from putting up big numbers and taking over the games.  Rondo must continue to control Nelson while also continuing to run the Celtics offense and looking to be aggressive himself. 

Honorable Mention
Paul Pierce vs Matt Barnes
Pierce got going early in game 2 and has been a different player in this series now that he is free of LeBron James on both ends of the court.    Matt Barnes has indicated that he wants the chance to slow Pierce down.  He also called Pierce a flopper.   The Celtics need Pierce to continue to come up big for them and hopefully he will no matter who is covering him.   .   

Bench vs Bench
Tony, Sheed and Big Baby came up big for the Celtics once again in game 2.  The Celtics need them to continue to play tough and smart so that they don't lose ground when the starters have to go to the bench for a rest. 

Keys to the Game
The most important key to this game is for the Celtics to continue to play the tough lock down defense we saw in games 1 and 2.  They have to defend Howard with single coverage and stay home on the Magic 3 point shooters. 

 Crashing the boards is very important in this game because of how dominant Howard is with put backs once he gets the rebounds.  The Celtics must limit Magic second chance baskets by boxing out and grabbing the rebounds.  There were a couple of possessions in game 2 where the Celtics gave up 3rd and 4th chance basket.  That can't happen.   Effort, energy, and desire will show up in the rebounding stats.  The team that wants the game more will win the rebounding battle.  Hopefully, it will be the Celtics that want it more. 

Run the Offense
The Celtics must run their offense.  They have to move the ball and find the open man.  They have to run their set plays  and make their shots when they are open.  If they are up, they can't play the score or the clock.  They must continue to attack and get good shots on every possession. 


The Celtics need to come out focused from the start.  If they come out sluggish, they will find themselves in a hole that they may not be able to dig out of, as they did in game 3 vs the Cavs.  In the first two games in Orlando, they had double digit leads in the 4th quarter and allowed the Magic to come back.  They must keep their focus for 48 minutes because the Magic will be ready to pounce on any lapses. They will be desperate and the Celtics have to have a killer instinct to put them away.

X -Factors
Defense and Officiating
The Celtics must keep their defensive focus and continue to keep Howard off his game as well as staying on the Magic's 3 point shooters and not allow them to get going.  The Celtics still haven't had a really good game from Ray or from KG and this would be a good time for all 4 of their big guns to get going.     If the game is called fairly, the Celtics have a good chance of winning it.  With Bennett Salvatore as the crew chief, the Celtics are fighting an up hill battle.  The Celtics have lost just 3 games so far in the playoffs and one of the 3 refs we have today were on duty in each of those losses.   The Celtics must keep their focus play their best today in spite of the bad calls that are sure to come.  .  
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