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I mean, they couldn’t have gone 82-0. No one ever will. Despite losing to the Magic (9-2) 104-102 Sunday night (NBA.com Box Score), the Celtics (8-1) probably played their most important game of the season to date. This loss will mean more for the rest of the season than any of the previous 8 wins.
First, the Magic were 8-2 entering the game. They are definitely one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. This was the first true test for the Celtics, who have totally dominated in 6 of their 8 wins. The C’s also pulled out nailbiters against Toronto and Miami. This Magic team, however, matches up very well against the C’s
Simply put, Dwight Howard is a beast. He alone is the main reason the Magic are now 9-2. He’s a dominating presence underneath the basket and has the ability to block almost any shot anywhere near the hoop. He matches up well defensively against Garnett because he’s able to muscle him out of the paint due to his size and strength advantage. KG is a quicker player and a much better shooter, but Howard is more physical.
The other main reason the Magic improved to 9-2 is that they have Rashard Lewis, who matches up well against either Paul Pierce or Ray Allen. Lewis is now considered a prolific 3-point shooter, leading the league in that category. He rained two more in this one, scoring 22 points.
I felt it was important for the Celtics to not get too ahead of themselves. Sometimes a team needs a loss to bring them back down to Earth to realize that they are human and not perfect. A loss now gives them even more motivation the next time out to start a new winning streak. They’ll also play that much better next time in their rematch against the Magic.
It’s good to see they were a buzzer-beating shot away from beating a tough Magic team on the road. The C’s will be seeing this team three more times this season, and perhaps deep in the Eastern Conference playoffs in April. Oops, just got ahead of myself there…