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The Orlando Magic took another step toward making NBA history on Wednesday night by blowing away the Boston Celtics 113-92 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Magic are trying to become the first team to come back from a 3-0 series deficit, and with the Series now standing at 3-2, they may have a legitimate chance of pulling it off.
The Magic certainly didn’t play like a team ready to pack it in and head home for the summer. Dwight Howard led the way with 21 points, 10 rebounds, and five blocks, while his teammates connected on 13/25 three-point baskets. Jameer Nelson shot 4/5 from beyond the arc, finishing with 24 points, five assists, and five rebounds. The Magic point guard was also a cool 8/8 at the free-throw line. As a team, Orlando shot a red hot 52 percent from the field.
A 20-8 run helped Orlando build a comfortable double-digit lead midway through the second quarter, and Boston never really challenged them after that. The Magic out-rebounded Boston 43-26, shot 52 percent from the field to the Celtics’ 43 percent, and dominated them in nearly every phase of the game.
Not only were the Celtics blown out of Amway Arena on Wednesday night, they lost Glen Davis, Marquis Daniels, and Rasheed Wallace to injuries.
Davis was knocked out of the game in the third quarter with a concussion after being smashed in the face by an inadvertent elbow from Dwight Howard. Both players went up for a rebound and Howard’s elbow came down on Davis’s face leaving him woozy to the extent that he was unable to jog down to the other end of the court without falling over. He nearly fell flat on his face before referee Joey Crawford came to the rescue. Inadvertent or not, Howard’s elbow could cause Davis to miss Game 6 in Boston on Friday.
Marquis Daniels, who has seen very little time in this series, also suffered a concussion, forcing him to leave the game. Daniels sustained the concussion after running face-first into the chest of Magic forward Marcin Gortat.
Rasheed Wallace, who scored 21 points filling in for an ejected Kendrick Perkins (I’ll get to that later), tweaked his back, causing him to head to the locker room after fouling out late in the fourth quarter.
The Celtics are now facing the possibility of playing Game 6 without starting center Kendrick Perkins, who received his seventh technical foul of the playoffs in the second quarter. Players who commit seven technical fouls are hit with a mandatory suspension. Perk’s only hope is that at least one of the two technicals that led to his ejection from Game 5 will be rescinded by the league upon further review.
Perk shared a double-technical foul with Marcin Gortat after the two players got tangled up in the first half, and he was hit with a second technical for arguing with officials.
“I didn’t think he deserved either one. But he got them,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.
I think Boston fans now have the right to push the panic button with these Celtics, especially after all of the fallout from Game 5.
The team’s Conference Finals Series with the Orlando Magic is starting to look eerily similar to the Boston Bruins Conference Semi-Finals Series with the Philadelphia Flyers. Like the Celtics, the Bruins took a 3-0 lead, then lost Game 4 in overtime, before going on to lose the remaining three games of the series.
The city of Boston is still recovering from the Bruins’ monumental collapse, and it would be awfully cruel if the Celtics suffered the same fate. Oddly enough, the city of Boston has directly experienced two of the four times a team in a North American major pro sports league has won a playoff series after losing the first three games (Flyers over Bruins this year, and the Red Sox over the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS).
Now it’s up to Doc Rivers to rally the troops for what will be an all but must-win Game 6 for the Celtics in Boston. But rest assured, both teams will be feeling the heat come Friday.
“I don’t know if you can say you have momentum when you’re down 3-2 going into their place,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I still look at it like we’re climbing a huge mountain here. But we are playing better.”
Game 6 tips off at 8:30 PM in Boston on Friday night from the TD Garden. You can catch the game on ESPN with pre game coverage beginning at 8:00 PM.