Ramble On Sports

Where sports, pop culture and everything else collide.

Five thoughts from Game 1 of Celtics-Magic

Posted by Bill Koch on May 17, 2010

Ray Allen

Close your eyes for a second and you might think it’s 1987 all over again after watching this particular group of Boston Celtics. They’re old. They’re hobbling. They’re not the favorites to win the NBA title.

They also clearly don’t give a damn what the rest of the basketball world thinks, and this stubborn group of veterans is three wins away from a second trip to the NBA Finals in three years after a 92-88 win over Orlando on Sunday. The Celtics stole Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals by pulling ahead early and hanging on late, something that they couldn’t do in the opener of their previous serious with fraudulent Cleveland.

No, I’m not going to start bashing the Cavaliers – we’ve done enough of that already here at Ramble On. I’m going to turn the page to our five points.

— Ray Allen looks like a guy who’s playing for a new contract. Sugar Ray continued his dip in the Fountain of Youth on Sunday by pouring in a game-high 25 points and is bettering his regular season averages in points per game (18.0 to 16.3), 3-point field goal percentage (42.3 to 36.3) and minutes per game (37.3 to 35.2). Allen was a team-best plus-11 during his 40 minutes on the floor and a perfect 7-for-7 at the foul line, including a pair of foul shots in the dying second that clinched the win. Jump on his back, fellas.

— Dwight Howard looked more like Underdog than Superman on Sunday, and we don’t quite understand why anyone is all that surprised. Kendrick Perkins, Big Baby Davis and the rest of the Boston front line shackled Jermaine O’Neal and made Shaquille O’Neal look like he was ready for home hospice care during the Celtics’ first two series of this postseason. Now they get to play Howard, a guy with no jump shot and a complete lack of a go-to move in the low post. He struggles when defenses are physical with him and when his transition opportunities are limited. Last we checked those are the two main areas of emphasis for playoff defenses. Orlando has no chance if Boston keeps making Howard look like Clark Kent.

— Marcin Gortat needs to play more in this series than the 14 minutes he logged on Sunday. He killed the Celtics in the post during last year’s Orlando victory over Boston, helping the Magic reach The Finals and earning himself a fat new contract in the process. There will be plenty of questions about why Gortat spent so much time on the bench despite shooting 3-for-3 and grabbing five rebounds in limited action. Cleveland never figured out that playing J.J. Hickson and Anderson Vaginajao together, two young, athletic forwards, would disturb Perkins and Kevin Garnett. Let’s see if the Magic realize this before it’s too late.

— This game is even more of a steal when you consider that Rajon Rondo looked mortal. He has just four rebounds and eight assists in 46 minutes and the Celtics still managed to win. Would Boston have won a single game against Miami or Cleveland if Rondo had been so ineffective? Yes, that’s a rhetorical question.

Stan Van Gundy looks like Ron Jeremy. Yes, it’s obvious, and yes, everyone has made this point before, but it’s pure comedy gold. We just had to get it out of the way early so that we can try to focus on basketball for the rest of the series.

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