It is all but over.
Orlando had no magic left to stop a rampaging Celtic team.
The Celtics are steam rolling through the best the NBA has to offer. And somehow, someway, NBA history is being made before our very eyes.
The (switch) flipping Boston Celtics are headed to a date with destiny with the L.A. Lakers after just one more win.
Orlando looked old, lifeless and confused in the wake of a tidal wave of energy, a vice grip defense, and purposeful basketball of a veteran Boston Celtic team. The newly awaken Green Machine is intrepid in its march toward another NBA title. Yes, the younger team looks old and the older team looks youthful and filled with boundless energy.
The Celtics’ superb and relentless defensive cohesion is combined with a patient, team first offense orchestrated by the indefatigable Rajon Rondo.
Did the Celtics Rope-a-Dope the NBA?
With all the craftiness and quiet humbleness of Muhammed Ali, they rope-a-doped the NBA during the regular season much like Ali did to big George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle in the Congo, and, after resting since Christmas Day, are now going to work on the head and body of the NBA’s best teams.
First against a stacked and league leading (61 wins) Cleveland team and now against a very deep Orlando team that came into this series with two straight sweeps, sporting an 8-0 playoff record.
Orlando traded for everything they could get their hands on in the off season. The one thing they couldn’t trade for, the Celtics have massed in abundance – gritty, nasty, street tough confidence.
The Celtics beat… no, make that destroyed the Orlando Magic for the 3rd straight game to go up 3-0 and removed any pulse the dying Orlando team might have had. With a vicious burst of combined offense and defense right out of the gate from the surging Celtics, the Magic were DOA.
As Paul Pierce was quoted in his twitter account after seeing the Lakers dismantle the Magic in last year’s championship series – It was a rottweiler against a poodle.
The Celtics, now winners of 6 straight playoff games, including 4 away games, returned home to turn the Boston crowd into a frenzied mass fully aware that they were watching something special unfold right before their very eyes.
Paul Pierce got them started. Rajon Rondo’s boundless energy at both ends of the floor was typified by one incredible hustle play for the ages. Glen Davis was the game’s leading scorer with 17, all the while providing a heart filled, one man assault.
Kendrick Perkins continued to make Dwight Howard look all too human. Rasheed Wallace’s playoff resurrection moved along with 10 points and solid 2-way play for 17 plus minutes. Tony Allen kept on keeping on with solid defense and staying within his role offensively.
All of this was supported by what was previously known as the Big Three. Ray Allen had another rim rocking dunk and all around excellent floor game with 14 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists.
Paul Pierce finished with 15 loud points, 9 important rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and, amazingly, just a single turnover.
But behind it all was the smothering, game changing Celtic defense, led by the eternally intense Kevin Garnett. You must understand that it is KG’s presence and revitalized abilities firing up that defense that proved to be the murder weapon in this spectacle.
It was a total team effort as Boston’s 8 man rotation outplayed what could be called the league’s deepest bench. And yet, Orlando’s starting 5 is being completely exposed and rendered harmless by a Celtic team that knew the Magic only have 2 players that can create their own shot – Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter.
Orlando’s offense was scattered and on a continual retreat from the very start of this contest. They looked lost and beat from early on. Such a deconstruction of what was such a good team on such a great roll appears to be a singularly unique event in NBA history. I can’t think of any comparable experience.
Rajon Rondo finished with 12 assists, but that hardly belies his relentless and focused energy that contributes to so much of what the Celtics do. He has the energy of Havlicek, a Larry Bird-like confidence and aversion to media, and a brashness reminiscent of Pierce and Garnett.
Ubuntu lives. 6 Celtic players scored in double figures, but no one had more 17 and one starter wasn’t among them. Kendrick Perkins embraces ubuntu by being the only starter not in double figures scoring with just 6 points, but a yeoman’s job once again by keeping Dwight Howard ineffective.
Glen Davis was ‘on’ offensively for his best game of the playoffs this season. But he was also great defensively on Dwight Howard, as was Rasheed Wallace, who, along Perkins, made Howard go 3 for 10 for just 7 points on the evening.
The Celtics are rewriting or breaking most of the rules of what it takes to be a championship team. Only a team with the magnitude of confidence that these players have could pull such a thing off.
The next game and probably last one before the Finals start is Monday night in Boston. Orlando has been so shut down that there appears little hope and even less will that they get beyond Monday.