Magic Don’t Give Up, Pull Within One Game In the Series
The Magic have looked like a different team with their backs against the wall these past two games. They came out playing on all cylinders last night and are now just one game away from tying this series. Boston on the other hand is reeling after winning the first 3 games of the series with relative ease. Not only did the Celtics lose the game last night and potentially the momentum, but their front court is potentially in shambles.
The Magic took an early lead in the game and never looked back. Orlando held an 8 point lead at halftime, and ended up winning the game by 21 points. The Magic didn’t do anything too creative, getting a combined 45 points from stars Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson. Orlando also got a strong performance from their bench to lead the charge over the Celtics stars. Howard also did what he does best and dominated the paint the entire game. He blocked one more shot (5) than the entire Celtics team. He also lead both teams in rebounds (10) helping the Magic out rebound Boston 43-26.
Howard had an advantage in the game and it will likely be one that could haunt Boston this entire series. The Celtics suffered some major losses to their front court, as three of their big men went down with injury/were ejected. Rasheed Wallace, who led the Celtics in points, left the game early do to back spasms. While he should return for Game 6, he might not be 100%. Without Wallace, the Celtics lose one of their best offensive big men, and one of their better 3-point shooters. Glen Davis suffered a minor concussion from an inadvertent elbow, and had to leave the game early. While it is listed as a minor concussion, there is really no such thing when it comes to a head injury like that. While Davis could be back for Game 6 there are no guarantees, and I’d be really concerned with Davis playing physical and getting hit in the head again. While I think there is little chance of Wallace or Davis being 100% for Game 6, they will at least have a chance to be in the game unlike center Kendrick Perkins.
Perkins, who had done a decent job of holding Howard in check this series, and was a vital (though unheralded) part of Boston’s success, was ejected in the 2nd quarter after receiving his 2nd technical foul of the game. That 2nd foul meant an automatic ejection from Game 5, but it was also his 7th technical of the postseason. Which means he will be suspended for the next game. While there is a chance the NBA ‘knocks down’ the foul penalty, I think it is likely to be upheld. Which means that Boston will be without their starting center for the last game they have at home in this series.
Wallace is the primary backup and Davis gets solid minutes inside as well. With both of them on the mend, and Perkins gone for Game 6, Boston is in a bad position. Perkins has been by far Boston’s best option to counter Dwight Howard. He doesn’t help much on the offensive end, but gets his rebounds and keeps Howard’s impact minimal. Without Perkins, the Celtics have had trouble defending Howard, and if he can have a big game again this series could be even, and heading back to Orlando. As long as the Magic don’t get ahead of themselves, they are in a great position to come back from a 3-0 series deficit and return to the NBA Finals.