If Celtics Rediscover Urgency, Trip to NBA Finals Within Their Grasp Wednesday Night

If Celtics Rediscover Urgency, Trip to NBA Finals Within Their Grasp Wednesday Night The Celtics suffered a setback Monday night in Game 4, but they've still got their eyes on the prize.

If Paul Pierce keeps scoring, Rajon Rondo keeps running and the C's continue to play their best defense of the season, a trip to the NBA Finals may not be far off.

But this team knows not to take anything for granted. The Magic are playing for their playoff lives, and they proved on Monday they can take their game to another level. The C's will look to match Orlando's intensity for 48 minutes, with a trip to the Finals hanging in the balance.

When and Where

Celtics at Magic
Wednesday, May 26, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Amway Arena, Orlando, Fla.

Head to Head

The Celtics aren't only 3-1 against the Magic in this series; they're also 3-1 this year at Amway Arena, regular season and playoffs included. They went up 2-0 in this series back in Orlando, and back in the regular season, their only win over the Magic came on the road. Even more impressive, that was a Christmas Day victory without Paul Pierce. The road is daunting for some in the NBA, but not for the Celtics, who can hold their own against the best.

Key Matchup

Rajon Rondo vs. Jameer Nelson
In Game 4 on Monday night, we saw a complete role reversal in the point-guard matchup in this series. Rondo, who dominated Games 1 through 3, was feeble and a bit tentative on Monday while Nelson, who had taken some time to get going, became a hero for the Magic in Game 4. If the Celtics want to close things out, it would behoove them to get Rondo going again. He's got to be aggressive on offense but also know when to defer to his teammates and let them take over. And defensively, he's got to make the game-changing hustle plays that put the Celtics up 3-0 in the first place.

Starting Lineups

Celtics
Point guard: Rajon Rondo
Shooting guard: Ray Allen
Small forward: Paul Pierce
Power forward: Kevin Garnett
Center: Kendrick Perkins

Magic
Point guard: Jameer Nelson
Shooting guard: Vince Carter
Small forward: Matt Barnes
Power forward: Rashard Lewis
Center: Dwight Howard

Stat Sheet

Celtics

  • Paul Pierce had 32 points and 11 rebounds in the Celtics' Game 4 loss. It was his second game this postseason with 30-plus points and his second with 10-plus boards.
  • Rajon Rondo has career playoff averages of 13.7 points, 8.5 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game.
  • Ray Allen has made 94 3-pointers in this postseason, tops in the league.

Magic

  • Dwight Howard recorded 32 points and 16 rebounds in Orlando's Game 4 win. It was the second 30-15 game of his career.
  • Vince Carter shot 1-of-9 from the field and finished with just three points in Game 4. He had averaged 18.0 points per game in the first three games of the series.
  • Jameer Nelson has career postseason averages of 15.1 points, 4.3 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game.

Black and Blue

Celtics

  • Rajon Rondo was slowed by muscle spasms toward the end of the first half of Game 4. He returned to finish the game and says he is now fine.
  • Tony Allen twisted his ankle earlier this week but has played through the pain.

Magic

  • Matt Barnes is over the back spasms that plagued him earlier in this series.

Outlook

The Celtics had everything working in the first three games of this series, but they ran into trouble Monday night in Game 4. Back in Orlando, they've got to get the urgency back. They've got to play with the same energy that gave them a 3-0 lead in the first place. Little hustle plays — like Rajon Rondo's diving steal against Jason Williams in Game 3 — add up. The C's need to match the intensity of an Orlando team that's still believing in itself, and that can't be easy. The C's will have to work hard for this.

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