The Boston Celtics, who looked as if they were too old to make a deep run in the playoffs have stunned fans by taking a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Orlando Magic made a late game run for the second time in the series, but a late game error by J.J. Reddick cost the Magic the game.
Paul Pierce looked ageless Tuesday night scoring 28 points, pulling down five rebounds, and added five assists. The Boston forward has increased his offensive production from the conference semi-finals to the conference finals.
In the conference semis, Pierce averaged 13.5 points, shot 34.5 percent from the floor, and had 4.7 rebounds-per-game. Since advancing to the conference final Pierce has almost doubled those numbers. He is averaging 25 points-per-game, posting a 58.3 field goal percentage, and seven rebounds.
Pierce is an experienced playoff veteran, and knows his team needs to stay focused for a Orlando team that will carry some motivation into Boston after losing two games at home.
“Just think our mindset was to be ready for the type of intensity they would bring after losing at home,” Pierce said. “We know the Magic are a talented team and we won’t take these two wins for granted.”
The Celtics have also had outstanding point guard play from Rajon Rondo. In Game 2, Rondo scored 25 points, eight assists, and five rebounds. Rondo has been having a stellar post-season leading the team in points-per-game, assists, and minutes played.
The Magic just can’t seem to continue the winning form they displayed through the first two rounds of the playoffs. Their offensive game has disappeared, and center Dwight Howard seems to be the only player producing.
Howard scored 30, had eight rebounds, but didn’t register any blocks. If the Orlando Magic are to keep up with the Celtics, they will have to play better defense. Howard says he won’t let his team lose the dream.
“I won’t stop believing,” Howard said. “And I won’t let my teammates stop believing.”
Every time the Magic would get some momentum going on offense, they struggled to get back on defense to stop the Celtics from answering. In transition offense, the Celtics outscored the Magic 17-11. The difference ended up being a tragic mistake by J.J. Reddick with three seconds left in the game.
After Kevin Garnett missed a 20-foot jumper, Reddick made the defensive rebound. He took the ball to half-court, but failed to cross the line and called time-out in the back-court.
This forced Orlando to inbound the ball from the back-court with three second left in the game. The Magic inbounded the ball to Jameer Nelson, who launched a desperation three-pointer that fell short.
“It would have made a big difference,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We said in the thing to call a timeout. We didn’t make the right play there at the end.”
Online Sportsbooks have the set the Orlando Magic’s chances of winning the 2010 NBA Finals at 17/2 after their Game 2 defeat. The series now returns to Boston, and the Celtic’s odds of winning the title are 2/1.