The Celtics slapped Orlando back to reality last night by doing one simple thing: Playing playoff basketball.
Keep this in mind: The Magic had 7 offensive rebounds in the first quarter. They had 5 the rest of the way. They were held to 38% shooting, and to season lows in points and points in a half. And the Celtics did it all without hitting a single 3 pointer and only dishing out 9 assists… VERY atypical of the Celtics.
So Orlando’s problems go beyond Dwight Howard’s lack of polished game and no “go-to” guy. This is a matter of their style. They’re a bombs-away offense that struggles to produce when jump shots aren’t falling. When a good man-to-man defensive team like the Celtics can keep a shooter covered no matter how many picks are set, they’re going to have trouble scoring. That shot is either falling or it isn’t.
Orlando can get hot and hit contested shots. They’re a team full of big-time shooters. But that’s all they are. A team like that is dangerous, but it’s not built to win a title. The playoffs are different, and Orlando got a taste of it last night.
“It felt like a playoff game for a minute,” said Dwight Howard. “But we just have to step up to the challenge when we play a great team like the Celtics. We’ve been watching them play for a long time. They play with a lot of intensity, they play hard and we’ve got to be able to match it.”
Herald: KG going to Phoenix, House isn’t | Loss doesn’t diminish Magic’s positive buzz | Globe: Celtics up to their old tricks | Orlando Sentinel: Magic-Celtics treat TNT audience to sloppy ball | SI: What we learned from last night’s game | Howard sets All Star voting record | Bynum has 23 and 14 against Wiz | Ben’s Suns Blog: Phoenix should be more like Boston