Boston Celtics (53-29 SU, 48-34 ATS) vs. Orlando Magic (59-23 SU, 45-33-4 ATS), 8:30 p.m. EST, Tuesday, May 18, 2010, Amway Arena, Orlando, Fla. TV: ESPN
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Celtics +7.5/Magic -7.5
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The Boston Celtics are looking like the same team that won the NBA Championship in 2008. While many people thought they were old and washed up, the Celtics proved to be experienced and talented. They are playing as well as anyone right now and they proved it once again with a victory in Orlando in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Now, the Magic have to find a way to play much better and win Game 2 to keep it a series going to Boston.
In Game 1, the Celtics dominated defensively for most of the game. They forced Dwight Howard to play one-on-one down low against the likes of Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis, Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace. They didn’t double-team him, but instead stayed on the perimeter players. Therefore, Howard had to make post moves down low himself instead of kicking out to open shooters. This made the Magic offense stagnant and they struggled to score.
On the other end, the Celtics took the Magic defenders off the dribble and got to the basket. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were knocking down jumper and jumper. Even Wallace was burying outside jumpers. The Celtics jumped out to a 22-14 lead after the first quarter and 41-32 at the half. They increased their lead to 16 after the third quarter, 74-58. But the Magic made a run late in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to as close as two. But the Celtics held on for a 92-88 victory to take control of the best-of-seven series.
The Celtics shot 45 percent from the field and 6-of-14 from 3-point range, while the Magic shot 42 percent from the field and 5-for-22 on 3-pointers. The Magic held a 45-38 rebounding advantage and turned the ball over three mfr times than the Celtics. Allen led the Celtics with 25 points, Pierce had 22 points, and Wallace scored 13 off the bench. The three of them each made two 3-pointers. Allen shot 8-for-16 from the field and 2-for-5 on 3-pointers, while Pierce shot 6-for-8 from the field and 2-for-3 on 3-pointers. Pierce also had nine rebounds and five assists. Garnett only scored eight points but grabbed 11 rebounds. Vince Carter led the Magic with 23 points, Jameer Nelson had 20 points and nine rebounds, and Howard had 13 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks. Howard shot just 3-of-10 from the field, missed five free throws, and had seven turnovers. Rashard Lewis shot 2-of-10 from the field and 0-for-6 on 3-pointers. If Howard isn’t dominating, then the Magic need a third scoring option. They can’t afford for Lewis to be a non-factor like that. He and Howard have to step up for the Magic to win this series.
The Magic have to figure out a way to stop the penetration of the Celtics. Rondo, Pierce, Ray Allen and Tony Allen were all getting to the basket way too easily. If the Magic perimeter defenders really can’t stay in front of them, then they are going to have a lot of problems in this series. If they send a help defender, it leaves someone wide open. And the Celtics were knocking down those outside shots most of the time when they were open in Game 1. The Magic need to step up their team defense and they need to each take it upon themselves to stay in front of the players they are defending. If they can’t do that, the Celtics should just continue to penetrate and kick, and they will have no problem controlling the game.
The Celtics are 4-0 ATS in their last four games as an underdog and 5-0 ATS in their last five games on day of rest. The Magic are 7-2-1 ATS in their last seven home games. The under is 8-1 in the last nine meetings between these teams and 4-1 in the last five meetings in Orlando. The Celtics are 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings in Orlando. The underdog and the road team are both 6-0 ATS in the last six meetings between these teams.
Ryno’s Pick: If you watched game 1, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize that this is a really bad matchup for the Magic. I fully expect the Celtics to frustrate Dwight Howard again tonight. I expect the Magic to come prepared and to use their “other” components to score the ball, but despite that, the game should have a close final margin once again, especially if the Celtics dominate on the offense glass again. Take Boston to cover the spread.