J.J. Redick nearly led the Magic to a miraculous come back in Game 1 on Sunday. Having been down by as much as 20, Redick led the charge that brought Orlando within one possession of stealing a victory from Boston. He was +5 for the night and scored 9 crucial points. However, it wasn't enough. The Celtics held off the run, taking Game 1 and home court. After rolling through the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Magic suddenly find themselves on their heels. And, at least Redick doesn't sound overly convinced that the team can bounce back.
Yesterday, the Orlando Guard appeared on Bill Simmons' podcast, The BS Report, and had some favorable things to say about Boston. When talking about a plausible rematch with the Lakers, Redick felt the need to say, "Are we gonna get back to the Finals? I don't know 'cause Boston's playing well right now". It's not unusual for athletes to say something like this about their opponents. They usually try to stay as politically correct as possible with the media. Just watch any Bill Belichick press conference. He'll compliment any team whether it's the Lions or the Saints. However, one can detect a diffident tone in Redick's voice. Boston really shook them on Sunday.
Game 1 marked the first time the Magic had lost since March 24th. Until two days ago, Orlando had been cruising through the NBA. Last round, they beat the Eastern Conference's third seed Hawks by as much as 43 - the most lopsided victory in playoff history. Then, Boston came into their arena and brought them back down to earth. Even though the Magic pulled within reach at the end, it didn't seem like Redick thought there was anything to take from that. The C's utter domination of the majority of the game spoke louder. Redick points out:
"This is basically the same team that won it two years ago. The team we beat last year in the playoffs didn't have KG and then going back to most of this regular season there were all sorts of things going on with the Celtics where they weren't at their best. But right now, they're at their best. They're at the championship level they were two years ago."
The Celtics have been able to hone their energy since the playoffs began. They handled Dwyane Wade and the Heat with relative ease and then surprised the world (or atleast the media) by knocking off the top seeded Cavaliers in convincing fashion. With all of the attention being directed towards LeBron's free-agency, the Celtics' championship caliber play has gotten lost in the shuffle. Ask Cleveland or Miami, the Celtics are not someone a team wants to face right now. When asked how much talking the notoriously-chatty Celtics did on Sunday, Redick's reponse was, "Surprisingly, not a lot...In our series last year, there was a lot of talk...But there wasn't a lot yesterday, I'm telling you those guys are very very locked in right now".
Redick paints the Celtics as a very forboding opponent. While this doesn't necessarily mean he lacks the confidence in his team to pull of a win, he didn't sound like he'd be surprised if they didn't. Boston has now won four straight playoff games and are beaming with confidence. On the other hand, the Magic just suffered a devastating loss at home. A place in which they were 34-7 in the regular season. The balance could be turning in the Celtics' favor. Tonight we'll see.