Though Orlando has the advantage against the reigning NBA champion Boston Celtics, owing to the absence of the green-and-white squad’s key forwards—All-Star Kevin Garnett and Leon Powe—the Magic aren’t guaranteed a safe passage to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Just look at Game 4’s result.
Following the Magic’s monstrous effort that produced a resounding 117-96 destruction of the Celtics, Orlando failed to shake off Boston’s spirited efforts in the fourth game of the series, while Glen Davis, subbing for Garnett in the forward slot, nailed the game-winning, buzzer-beating three-pointer that sealed the win. The score, 95-94 for Boston.
What I liked about Magic was what coach Stan Van Gundy said about the game.
While we usually hear coaches blame other people for their loss, player’s lack of aggressiveness, referee’s bum call or so-called bum call, Van Gundy took the blame for Davis’ buzzer-beater.
“The only guy who made a mistake in the last play was me,” the Magic coach told the media after the game that knotted the series at two wins apiece.
With the series shifting back to Boston at the TD Banknorth, Orlando finds itself in a tight situation.
Though Boston is a walking-wounded team with its two injured key players, the Celtics are playing with pride and passion.
Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, two physically-drained All-Stars, had been playing extended minutes since the playoffs started. But both are dishing their A-Games whatever type of defense they face.
And that’s what’s make the Celtics more dangerous.
Dwight Howard could get his usual double-double efforts since no one among the Celtics can put the clamps on him. But if the Celtics could make Howard go into early foul-trouble like what happened in Game 4, the Magic will be into for a difficult ride.
With three games left in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals series, the slot of the East’s Finals berth is a real toss-up.
Take you pick: Will the Celtics be able to keep their title retention bid alive?
Or will the Magic return to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since the All-Star tandem of Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway took them to the NBA Finals in 1995?