The Orlando Magic avoided being swept by the Boston Celtics Monday night in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics have made it a little harder on themselves after failing to close out the series at home. The series shifts back to Orlando now, and the Magic should be feeling a renewed sense of confidence after displaying a defensive performance worthy of the playoffs.
The Magic used the same dressing room the Philadelphia Flyers used to celebrate their comeback over the Boston Bruins. The locker room had the same feel after Game 4. The Bruins also suffered an overtime loss in the game played there.
Dwight Howard led his team with 32 points, 16 rebounds, and four blocks. The Magic center had critical points in the extra period, grabbing an offensive rebound off a Jameer Nelson miss and converting to make it 96-92 with 53 seconds left.
Magic fans are happy to see their shooters finally making shots in pressure situations in the post season. Nelson led the team in assists with nine, and also made clutch shots when the Magic needed it the most. Six of his 23 points came in overtime from two huge threes that seemed like prayers.
“We know that we were down 3-0, and we didn’t want to go home [for the season],” Howard said. “It starts with me and Jameer. Me and Jameer showed our leadership by playing hard. We’ve got to be the leaders for this team. It’s not about points, but just showing everybody, ‘Hey, follow us and we’ll lead the way.’”
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy still believes that one day a team will come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series in basketball. He knew that if his team is to be the first, Game 4 was a must win.
“At some point, somebody is going to come from 3-0 down and win a series. The only thing I knew for sure was it would start by winning Game 4,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I figured that one out. You have to win Game 4.”
Boston’s big-three came up big in the game, but it wasn’t enough to beat the Magic that were motivated by poor performances in the last two games. Paul Pierce was the top scoring Celtic with 32 points. Kevin Garnett provided support with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Ray Allen seemed to be eliminating the Magic, shooting bombs from behind the three-point line. He made 5-7, including two that helped the Celtics push it to overtime. Then he made two consecutive in overtime to keep the Celtics within striking range. Pierce missed two threes, and the Celtics chances of a sweep vanished.
NBA Sportsbooks still have the Boston Celtics slated as one of the favorites to win the 2010 NBA Finals at +150. The Orlando Magic are the underdogs at +1600.