How Doc Rivers enjoyed his return to Orlando (and spoiled mine): Celtics down Magic in Game One

When I received word that the world’s biggest Helen Reddy fan had a spare ticket to Game One of the Magic-Celtics series, I jumped at the opportunity.  In retrospect, listening to “Delta Dawn” and “I Am Woman” for two-and-a-half hours would have been considerably less painful than watching the actual game.

On Sunday, the 17,000 fans inside Amway Arena witnessed Orlando’s most lackluster, uninspired and inconsistent performance of the season.  After sweeping their first two playoff series, the Magic soiled the proverbial bed.  You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille.

Well, at least it gave me something to write about.

Entering this series, Boston’s game plan was no secret.  The Celtics wanted to make Dwight Howard beat them.  Get into his head.  Rattle him.  Play physical, heady basketball, frustrating Orlando and take them out of their game.  For Game One, at least, that plan worked.  The Celtics stormed out to an early lead and never looked back.  Doc Rivers feels his is the better basketball team and after watching Sunday’s game, he might be right.

Orlando played right into Boston’s hands from the outset, making only four baskets in the first quarter.  Four baskets!  The Magic were out of this game before they could spell ‘leprechaun.’  Stan Van Gundy probably could have called some early time outs to 1) remind his team to work the ball inside out and 2) ease some of the tension in the arena.  But he didn’t and his team sputtered.

Not only were the Magic tentative early but oddly enough, so was the crowd.  I’m not sure you could hear it on television, but on one of Dwight Howard’s early trips to the free throw line, an awkward silence washed over the building.  I dropped a pin.  It clanged.  It was as if we were expecting him to miss.  The fans kept waiting for Orlando to get them into the game, instead of the other way around.  Whenever I sense that much nervous energy from the home crowd, the outcome is never good.  And it wasn’t.

When the Magic penetrated the paint, they were successful.  But when lay-ups rimmed out, the Magic threw out the baby with the bathwater, settling for missed jump shots that resulted in transition baskets on the other end.  That’s a sure way to lose this series.

This isn’t rocket science.  The Magic are at their best when their inside game is working.  But when Boston took that away, they also took away the perimeter.  Simple game plan.  Flawless execution.

Orlando had a few, individual flashes of brilliance.  Barnes hustled as he always does, Nelson began the second half with six straight points, J.J. Reddick got hot late, Vince Carter was successful when forcing the action.  But Dwight…. oh Dwight.  3-of-10 from the floor will get you an early seat next to LeBron this summer.

First, Dwight needs to take more than ten (quality) shots a game.  Carter and Nelson combined for nearly four times that many!  Second, he needs to make more than three of them.  Seven Celtic players had three field goals each.  And most importantly, when Howard strays from the game plan, his coaching staff needs to reign him back in, even if it means blowing all your time outs to make your point.

I recently asked whether LeBron James was too nice for his own good.  Dwight might suffer from that same affliction.  All afternoon, I kept waiting for him to dunk on someone’s head, to tear down the rim and get the crowd going…  but it never happened.  Look at the veterans who have won titles lately: Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen.  These guys are business-like and will win at any cost.  There never has been, nor will there ever be, a friendly NBA Champion.  Dwight needs to find that edge.  If Superman doesn’t become Supermean real quick, this series will be over.

Games One are tough to figure out.  Sometimes the more rested team has the advantage.  Other times the first game goes to the more battle-tested.  But it’s always the more prepared team that wins and that was Boston on Sunday.  In the chess match that was Game One, Boston was Bobby Fischer.  Ray Allen said it was important to not give a team like Orlando any light.  They didn’t.

Rivers’ preparation reminded us why he’s one of the only coaches not named Riley, Jackson or Popovich to win a title lately.  After a 92-88 loss in a game that was nowhere near as close as that score indicates, it is now time for Orlando to make adjustments.  Van Gundy knows what needs to be done.  His team just needs to execute.

Over the course of 82 games, the Magic were the better basketball team.  Just because Boston out-banners Orlando seventeen to zero doesn’t mean the Magic have to apologize for being the better team… on paper.  They just need to prove they’re better on the parquet.

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54 Replies to “How Doc Rivers enjoyed his return to Orlando (and spoiled mine): Celtics down Magic in Game One”

  1. Listen “Angie Baby”…Those Orlando fans were so lame that when we cheered, it felt like “You and Me Against the World” (and against Boston) up there on Sunday !

    Thanks again “Monk”

  2. Magic fans have always been lackluster but Sunday’s noise level did increase to its highest of the year…you have to admit that.

    Barnes is injured…hope he gets 100% soon. And yeah, the Celtics have three guys who can foul Dwight 5 times and still remain in the game. It’s tough to get around that but I’m sure they’ll figure it out. Don’t blame it all on him…Lewis had 9 points! Turnovers on everyone’s part will have to get cleaned up. I know they can fix it tonight…Magic in 7.

  3. PJD… I was going to include that line about how Magic fans seemed more interested in their next chardonnay at Dexter’s but I decided to focus on breaking down the game instead.

    Oh, and Monk can’t hear you from blaring the Helen Reddy too loud.

  4. Snake…

    Anyone that brings Rajon Rondo into their home and adopts him has to rank right up there with the most dedicated Celtics fans of all time. Although these days, he could probably help pay the bills.

    Good job in Game One. Very impressive. We’ll see how the Magic respond tonight.

  5. P.S. There are two aspects to a game….offense and defense. DH had a decent defensive game. We just didn’t defend Pierce and Allen well

  6. Elizabeth… hopefully, the Winter Parkies will bring that intensity into the new arena. Trust me when I tell you it won’t ever be that quiet in the Fleet Center.

    You’re right about Barnes’ back and that’s a big blow to the team. We definitely need his energy out there. Hopefully some of the other roster players will match his intensity.

    I have faith that they can adjust but they’re now allowed no more mental slip-ups.

    When Perk and Pierce got into early foul trouble, I felt SVG should have kept going at ’em. Hey, Doc’s going to pull all the stops out to win this series. There’s no reason Stan Van shouldn’t either.

  7. That’s the diff, Elizabeth.

    Boston stayed home and extended their d pretty well. Orlando had too many breakdowns, plus transition baskets for Boston didn’t help. SVG was getting on Pietrus pretty good for not putting a body on his man.

    You’re right. Dwight makes things very difficult for opposing offenses in the half-court set. Hopefully, that will continue.

  8. Lets not forget there was no Magic for the first half of the game and the lay off for a week did not help any. Even that they got close on the 2nd half some of the players did not show up to play. They play a soft game . I am Magic fan but you have to admit That Boston if the better team on the East without a doubt. The Magicsc improved the team this yaer with the addition of Vince but to take Boston they need to play hard and be agressive on defense. They need to play a phisical game ,hard fouls ,fast breaks to wore out the old guys of Boston. Magics do that and is another trip to the finals. Go Macis.

  9. Salsa King…

    I’m not buying the layoff excuse. That’s just more time for Orlando to focus on what they need to do in this series and that’s not fall for Boston’s veteran tricks.

    Sheed checking into the game and immediately extracting a technical on Dwight is not something this team should fall for.

    And Paul Pierce nearly got two calls reversed. Did he borrow those challenge flags from Bill Belichick?

    Orlando CAN win this series. They should win this series. But not if they get taken out of their game.

  10. If you have play any kind sport whether is Bowling, golf ,baseball , basketball etc. a lay off is not good it takes a lot out of you. Thats you can not denied . So I do think it had something to do with it.

  11. Chris

    Rivers is proving to be Van Gundy’s equal if not better ! And it just goes to show how really one dimensional Dwight’s game is ! Put a couple of physical bodies on him and he becomes a shrinking violet. I hear Clay Aiken wants to go “one on one” with him ? The prize being that the loser gets to be the other’s cabana boy for the night.

    Poor old Gentry he’s now so far out of his depth that it doesn’t bear thinking about. This is Phil’s time to shine and that’s the advantage that the Lakers uniquely have over the Suns. The postseason is Phil Jackson’s backyard when it’s all said and done.

    A Good Workman Never Blames His Tools But You Can Be Sure That Others Will ………………..

    Alan Parkins

  12. Chris

    So Delonte’ West may well have been having sex with LeBron’s mom ? Isn’t that a teammate that’s a little too close for home and comfort shall we say ?

    “Hey mom what you doin’ ” ? Don’t worry son I’m breakin’ in the team’s PG That’s it give momma some lovin'” !

    Do you think Gloria James will work her way up to the front office of the Cavs ? That way she can use it as a way of blackmailing them in retaining LeBron. “Wax momma’s va-jay-jay and my son stays in Cleveland. Don’t and he goes elsewhere” !

    Alan Parkins

  13. Salsero… then how to you explain the Lakers coming out after a week off and not missing a beat last night?

    They scored 128 points. Kobe scored 40. I didn’t see any rust there.

    Layoffs can be both good and bad. Good for the team who knows how to take advantage of it and bad for the team that doesn’t.

  14. Al… I was elated to hear that Dwight was starting to work on the cerebral part of his game but that went out the window in Game One.

    I couldn’t believe that he was falling for Boston’s tricks and that SVG was letting him.

    These guys need to be on the same page and like I said in the post, Dwight needs to dunk on somebody tonight.

    Gentry’s done a great coaching job this season but I think this is as far as he’s going to go. If Phil and Alvin switched teams, the Lakers would still win this one.

  15. Thanks. My wife Tammy got the Celtics fabric and made me that shirt. I especially like wearing it during the playoffs.

  16. Chris

    The only thing cerebral Dwight’s done is to get a Magic cheerleader pregnant and then talk ’bout his religious beliefs . What a hypocrite ! Especially someone who’d been talking to kids about celibacy and honesty .

    LOL,LOL,LOL !!!

    Alan Parkins

  17. A coffee colored one would work for me, it would help hide the morning spillage.
    I’ll pass on the giant pecs, I’m going for the slimmed down look. It makes the rest of the equipment appear larger:)

  18. Maybe impregnating cheerleaders is what he’s religious about, Al. isn’t a proponent of celibacy, Al. That’s why Tim Tebow is not a subscriber.

  19. Salsero…

    The Suns beat the Spurs pretty handily, after the Mavs wore them down.

    I don’t think it was rust that led to the Magic losing Game One. These guys all take 500 jump shots a day.

    I just think Boston was better prepared and executed their game plan better.

    Just because you use rust as an excuse when you regularly miss lay-ups in the Indian River parking lot doesn’t mean Stan Van can say the same.

  20. I don’t believe in celibacy once you’re of the age of consent. That being said I think Dwight ought to put more into his game with the same zeal he shows letting loose with his procreative bodily fluids.

    So when Delonte’ and LeGonad sit down have a conversation how awkward is it ? Especially knowing that his teammate has been intimate with his mom and has seen more of her than he should ever be allowed to.

    Hey LeBron did you know that during sex your mom speaks in tongues and uses hers exceptionally well ? Man that has to be embarrassing if true ?

    Does that mean that LeBron calls Delotnte’ uncle rather than Dad to avoid his embarrassment. I mean he can’t call him dad can he ?

    How’s that now play out in the Cavs’ locker room as a topic of conversation ? Do they whisper so the LeGonad doesn’t get angry ?

    Alan Parkins

  21. I hope they bounce back tonight, I don’t want to see another short series, and if they lose tonight that’s pretty much what we are garuanteed…

  22. Dwight’s off to a nice start in Game Two, Al. Hopefully that will continue. As I said in the post, he just needs to start dunking on people. That will get Boston back on their heels. And yes, it is as easy as it sounds. At least for him it is.

    Re: the LeBron’s new step-daddy, it just goes to show you the power of the internet. Hopefully you’ll never see SportsChump stoop to such levels. That rumor went viral with the quickness. I’ll wait for the DVD.

  23. Chap… nice to see they’re off to a nice start.

    Winning an NBA title ain’t easy and if they think Boston is going to bring everything they got, they’re dead wrong.

  24. Can we officially call VC “Glass Joe”? Not sure if you played the old Nintendo game Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, but VC is about as fragile as glass joe. Anytime anyone touches him he’s hurt, and tonight he wasn’t even touched and hurt himself!

  25. Chap… there was one possession down the stretch on a fastbreak where Vince had a clear passing lane to an uncovered Dwight Howard under the basket and he didn’t get it to him.


  26. Chris

    What part of oops ! I don’t want to step into the same piece of dog crap doesn’t Van Gundy and the Magic understand ? The Celtics are running rings around them and make this team seem like a bunch of novices !

    95-92 loss and they’ve now literally played themselves right out of this series ! There’s no way in hell they can now win four of five and take the series. They simply aren’t good enough at this juncture !

    They’ve essentially become style over substance ! There are several guys in Vegas now laughing all the way to the bank because of the action they’ve taken on the Magic .

    Alan Parkins

  27. Chris

    Delonte West is moving on he says …..” LeBron’s momma wasn’t all that to begin with “. Swoosh nothin’ but net or in Gloria James’ case it may well have been nothin’ but a piece of slap-n-tickle ?

    Alan Parkins

  28. True, Al. The Celtics were huge underdogs in both Games One and Two.

    Had I had any smarts (or money), I would have hedged my emotions and bet Boston.

    When I saw that 7.5 point line tonight, I was skeptical, particularly after watching how they lost Game One.


  29. Sometimes, Al, the boxscore doesn’t tell the entire story although I will say this…

    46% to 39% FG percentage is indicative of what’s been wrong in this series. Multiply those numbers by the fact that the Celtics are hitting big shots when they need to and the Magic aren’t and you pretty much have the series in a nutshell.

    I like the fact that Van Gundy is recognizing the problems that exist in the series.

    I DON’T like the fact that he is not coaching the games to elicit those results.

    In short, Games One and Two have been a clinic.

  30. Lets not forget there was no Magic for the first half of the game and the lay off for a week did not help any. Even that they got close on the 2nd half some of the players did not show up to play. They play a soft game . I am Magic fan but you have to admit That Boston if the better team on the East without a doubt. The Magicsc improved the team this yaer with the addition of Vince but to take Boston they need to play hard and be agressive on defense. They need to play a phisical game ,hard fouls ,fast breaks to wore out the old guys of Boston. Magics do that and is another trip to the finals. Go Macis.

  31. Sorry man, I didn’t mean to pour salt on the wound! You didn’t want to keep Hedo anyways. He was already on the decline, and just wanted one last big contract!

  32. Dy….

    Thanks for chiming in.

    I’m still suffering from the hangover of last night’s ballgame.

    In retrospect, if you go position by position, Boston is the better team. Even at center where Dwight is better, but neutralized by Perkins’ defense.

    Additionally, Rivers is the better coach.

    That’s not to say this series couldn’t be won but to do so Orlando would have to exploit the advantages they do have and not fall into the traps that Boston has set for them.

    So far, Boston has entirely owned this series, I dare say even more than Orlando owned Atlanta in the last series.

  33. I know what Hedo brought to the table, Chap.

    I heard Wilbon on the radio say that the trade is hurting Orlando now, so now that Orlando’s losing, it’s almost fashionable to look back at that trade and point to that as the reason for Orlando’s demise… but I’m not buying it.

    I was a proponent of the trade and as you suggest, Hedo was going to ask for big bucks.

    That being said, Vince HAS to be more consistent. There were two possessions last night that stick out in my mind. One where he just took an ill-advised jumper instead of working through the flow of the offense and another where he actually drives the lane, then pulls away at the last second . Even Jeff Van Gundy said “What’s he doing? He could have gone right to the rim?”


  34. Post game #2….Magic suck!

    Very disappointing…looks like HS kids v. seasoned pros!

    When is Van Gundy going to do something other than putting his head in his hands!

    When is Howard going to grow up emotionally and play smarter!

    Let’s hope that Magic can get it together and make a series out of it…embarrasing right now!


  35. Yeah, hindsight is always 20/20. I guess it’s like people asking me if I regretted the A’s trading Ethier away for Milton Bradley. I don’t because he was key to the 2006 playoffs for us, and at the time it was a good move. Trading ethier might look bad now, but who’s to say Ethier would be as good as he is if he stayed in Oakland…

    Yeah, I remember that play when Van Gundy was wondering why Vince did the fade away shot instead of going to the rim. It was pretty obvious the lane was open for a layup. VC and T-Mac obviously have the same bloodline, because neither of them can get it done when it counts…

  36. From the looks of it, PJD, we very well may have seen Orlando’s second to last game of the season.

    I’m trying to look at it in a glass half full sort of way. For example, they’ve played as horribly as possible and only lost the two games by 4 and 3 points respectively.

    However, the realist in me says that Boston has absolutely dominated this series in every aspect of the game, giving me no reason to think Orlando can even win a game.

    I say they win one in Boston, bring it back to Orlando, blow them out in Game Five only to lose another heartbreaking Game Six in Boston.

  37. Hey, Chap… at least you didn’t trade him for Hanley Ramirez.

    Ooooooh, nice double slam on Vince and T-Mac. I think their grandmomma felt that one.

  38. Chris

    Hanly Ramirez is just like any other immature primadona athlete ! Give him his due at least he didn’t want to kick Fredi Gonzalez’s a_s . Well considering Fredi has at least 40 lbs on him that wasn’t about to happen . LOL,LOL !!

    I hear the French are prepared to paint Le Tricoleur white and offer it to the Magic as the white flag of surrender ?

    I’m not saying that Magic are lying down like a wounded dog. But Michael Vick was salivating at the mouth simply just watching the game .

    He’s Got Game …………. The Magic Are Who We Thought They Were It’s Just That Now They’re Proving To Us That They’re Simply Just Not That Good !

    Series resumes in Boston the question now being asked is will the Magic be swept and how embarrassing would that be for them ?

    Alan Parkins

  39. Al….

    I haven’t caught the Hanley apology yet. Was he groveling?

    For a second, I almost liked the French for giving us Mickael Pietrus. But he’s been a non-factor in this series.

    Wounded dog? Orlando Magic? Michael Vick salivating? Very nicely done.

    I want to say the Magic will win a game in Beantown but first they need to convince me they’re capable of doing so.

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