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A week ago the Boston Celtics had a 3-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals to a team most probably thought they could not compete with. They had a 3-0 series lead with Game 4 on their own home turf. How could one not possibly expect the Celtics to be able to close the series out nice and easy?
Unfortunately, Boston had other plans and allowed the Orlando Magic to creep back into it. After suffering a frustrating Game 4 loss in Boston, the Celtics traveled back down to Orlando to put a stop to the Magic and close the doors on the Amway Arena for good, but they could not do that either. The Celtics suffered not just a loss of a playoff game, but also the potential loss of some key players that could spell disaster for the C’s through the rest of the playoffs.
Lets start with some of the good news, that will sound bad at first. Kendrick Perkins was issued two technical fouls on Wednesday night, not only leading to his immediate ejection from Game 5, but also earning him an automatic one-game suspension for his seventh technical this postseason.
First of all, neither one of these calls should have been technical fouls. The first one came as a double technical on Perkins and Marcin Gortat. Perk’s part in the technical was for elbowing Gortat in the chest. Upon further review, one can see that Perkins was helping a teammate up off the floor when his hand slipped, causing his elbow to be thrown back into the chest of Gortat, who was standing behind him. I call that an accident. Even Gortat himself admitted that he felt the technical was unwarranted. In the second “T,” Perk was called for a personal foul that also looked a little ticky-tack, and then was given a technical for arguing the call. He was not arguing the call with the referee however. He immediately turned around and argued to himself as to avoid getting another technical, and what happens? He gets one anyway. Just like that, Perkins was ejected with two technical fouls and suspended for one game.
Here’s the good news: the NBA has rescinded the second of the two technical fouls issued on Perkins, bringing his total down to six. This means that Perkins will be able to play in Game 6 on Friday night. However, he has got to be careful and keep his emotions in check because he could once again be facing a suspension.
More big men fell down to the ground for the Celtics in Game 5. Glen Davis suffered a concussion after taking a Dwight Howard elbow to the face in the second half of the game. Davis was slow to get up off the floor and ran out of control before heading back to the locker room, where he was diagnosed with a concussion. Davis said after the game that he was fine and would be back for Game 6, but we’ll see how team doctors and trainers feel about that.
Speaking of concussions, Marquis Daniels, also suffered one after his head smacked by Marcin Gortat’s chest. Daniels did not seem to be in as rough shape as Davis, but the loss of another player is nothing the Celtics want to see at this point in the playoffs. Both Davis and Daniels’ statuses are up in the air for Game 6.
Finally, Rasheed Wallace, who has been a bright spot off the Celtics bench during the playoffs, tweaked his back and was suffering from back spasms during the game. Despite the problems, he scored a team-high 21 points after filling in for the ejected Kendrick Perkins. Wallace fouled out in the fourth quarter and was seen going back to the locker room to have his back examined. Hopefully, his injuries are minor and that he will be available for Friday’s pivotal game.
These big men woes cast a dim shadow over the Celtics as they head back to Boston to once again try and finish off the Orlando Magic and move onto the NBA Finals for the second time in three years. Can they still win the series? Yes, I believe they can, but will they win the series is an entirely different question. Orlando has completely turned it around. Dwight Howard is getting open looks at the basket again from right underneath it and with the potential lack of depth of big men for the Celtics, he could get real scary. Rashard Lewis seemed to emerge back into his old self towards the end of Game 5, and it seems as if J.J. Redick doesn’t miss. Oh, and don’t forget about Jameer Nelson, because he seems to get wherever he wants to go.
The Celtics need to be better both offensively and defensively. That seems like an obvious statement that John Madden would make if he were calling the game, but its true. The forced turnovers and defensive pressure that was present in Games 1-3 has been lacking in Games 4 and 5. The offense has looked a bit different the last two games as well. The extra passes that always seemed to make the difference are becoming less apparent and players that were scoring can’t even seem to buy a bucket, like Kevin Garnett.
The Celtics need to move the ball well, avoid foul trouble, and get more production from the bench in Game 6. Don’t look now, but you might see Brian Scalabrine suited up and ready to go for Friday’s contest if these injuries don’t resolve themselves quick. Hopefully all that, a strong energy from the home crowd, and a healthy Glen Davis, Rasheed Wallace, and Marquis Daniels, can propel the Celtics to the NBA Finals.
Tags: Brian Scalabrine, Celtics, Dwight Howard, Eastern Conference Finals, J.J. Redick, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Marcin Gortat, Marquis Daniels, NBA Playoffs, Orlando Magic, Patriots, Rashard Lewis, Rasheed Wallace