Ramble On Sports

Where sports, pop culture and everything else collide.

Five thoughts from Game 5 of Celtics-Magic

Posted by Bill Koch on May 26, 2010

JJ Redick

Panic can’t be creeping in yet if you’re a Boston Celtics fan, and optimism can’t be creeping in yet if you’re an Orlando Magic fan. What happened Wednesday night was supposed to happen – Orlando won at home, just like it did throughout most of the regular season when it lost just seven games at Amway Arena. The Magic’s 113-92 victory simply gave the Celtics a chance to seal their second trip to The Finals in three years in front of their home fans on Friday night at The Fake Garden. Boston still holds a 3-2 advantage in the Eastern Conference finals, and Causeway Street will be rocking in a little less than 48 hours. Let’s take a look at how Orlando has simply prolonged its execution in our five thoughts from Wednesday night.

— Someone must have convinced J.J. Redick that he’s back banging Cameron Crazies at Duke. The most hated Blue Devils’ player since Dream Team mascot Christian Laettner played his second consecutive strong game against Boston, scoring 14 points in 21 minutes and finishing plus-14 off the bench. Vince Carter (eight points, 3-for-10 from the field) was free to hide in the shadows for another night. Redick’s 3-pointer with 6:12 left in the second quarter gave Orlando a 47-35 advantage, its largest lead of the series to that point, and capped the Magic’s 8-for-12 start from long range.

— Rajon Rondo looks hurt, and we say that even knowing that he led Boston’s starters with 19 points on Wednesday night. He struggled in Game 4, finishing with just nine points and eight assists while being abused in pick-and-roll sets by Orlando point guard Jameer Nelson, and didn’t seem like himself on Wednesday either. Rondo complained of back pain and muscle spasms after Boston’s overtime loss on Monday and started bending over and touching his toes just 3:57 into Game 5 during his first trip to the free throw line. That’s a bad sign if you’re a Celtics fan, because Rondo has clearly been Boston’s catalyst during this postseason. Anything less than Rondo at 100 percent won’t get it done for the Celtics.

— Kendrick Perkins needs to finally learn to STFU. He’s not some ignorant rookie anymore, and NBA referees are wise to his act after six full seasons in the league. Perkins’ 15 technical fouls tied for the league lead this season and he was at it again on Wednesday when he was ejected with 36.1 seconds left in the first half for arguing a cheap foul against Dwight Howard in the low post. Perkins might have been right to protest, but Eddie F. Rush is about the last guy that you want to bitch to about anything. The Celtics can’t have their best post defender watching the game from the locker room with Howard on the floor and both Big Baby Davis and Rasheed Wallace in foul trouble. Perkins and the Celtics will be sweating out a ruling from the league office that could erase his mandatory one-game suspension for picking up his seventh technical of the postseason.

— Boston had better defend with some desperation on Friday, because its intensity at that end of the floor has all but disappeared since moving within one win of capturing the series. Orlando cracked the 30-point mark in the first quarter for the second straight game and has suddenly found its shooting touch from beyond the 3-point arc. The Magic were a dreadful 20-for-70 from long range through the first three games, all losses, but started Game 5 on a 9-for-15 roll in the first half that set the tone for the rest of the night. That trend can’t continue if the Celtics want to close things out in Game 6.

— Doc Rivers waved the white flag pretty early in Game 5, putting Marquise Daniels and Nate Robinson on the floor inside the final 1:20 of the third quarter with Boston facing a double-digit deficit. The pair of disappointing guards had combined for 14 DNP – Coach’s Decisions through Boston’s first 15 postseason games, hardly the sort of players who you would expect to give the Celtics a lift back into Wednesday night’s game. Rivers was finally making a smart decision and conserving minutes for Rondo and Tony Allen in anticipation of a slugfest on Friday.

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