Celtics Destroy Magic in Game 3 of Eastern Conference Finals


May 22, 2010

Celtics Destroy Magic in Game 3 of Eastern Conference Finals Final: Celtics 94, Magic 71. It's official — when the Celtics take the floor at the TD Garden on Monday night, they'll be playing for a sweep and a trip to the NBA Finals.

The starters watch from the bench as the Celtics' garbage-time unit finishes the deal. It's a 23-point win for the C's on their home floor, and it pushes the Orlando Magic's backs to the wall.

Five Celtics finish in double figures, led by Glen Davis with 17 points. Rajon Rondo has a double-double, 11 points and 12 assists.

When the Celtics are this good, and this balanced, they are mighty tough to beat.

Fourth quarter, 5:34, Celtics 87-56: Dwight, meet Gino. Gino, Dwight.

Boston's favorite victory celebration is playing on the Jumbotron, and there are 18,624 fans at the TD Garden looking forward to Game 4 on Monday night. Looks like the C's will have a chance for a sweep and another crack at the NBA Finals.

Fourth quarter, 8:13, Celtics 85-53: It's official — the "Beat L.A." chants are under way at the TD Garden. This town is already thinking NBA Finals.

That's both a blessing and a curse. It's good to have a fan base brimming with confidence, but you never want to look past a Magic team that's played better than anyone over the past two months.

Also, there's the small matter of a Phoenix Suns team that is technically still alive in the Western Conference playoffs. Just saying.

But what can you do? The Celtics' fans are passionate, and they're hungry for another title.

End of third quarter, Celtics 75-47: Celtics by 28. Unbelievable.

The Magic continue to chuck up 3s in a desperate attempt at making this game look respectable. It's not working. As a team, they're now 6-of-22 from long distance. That's downright terrible.

The other telling team stat in this game for Orlando? Eight assists, 14 turnovers. Rashard Lewis alone has coughed it up four times.

There are high school teams that could put up a better fight than this.

Third quarter, 3:34, Celtics 68-43: The Celtics have their largest lead of the series at 25. Stick a fork in the Magic — they're done.

You can tell Orlando's demoralized when Kevin Garnett gets into the paint and throws down a two-handed dunk completely uncontested. It looks like everyone in a blue uniform has lost the will to compete.

I know they're down 25, but it's the playoffs. It's hard to excuse this kind of play. And knowing the constant state of apocalyptic panic in Stan Van Gundy's mind, you know this game isn't going to sit well with him.

Third quarter, 6:02, Celtics 62-43: Glen Davis hits two free throws to bring the Celtics' lead back to 19. What a night for Big Baby — he's got 14 points and five rebounds off the bench.

The Magic are having trouble matching up with Baby in the post — Dwight Howard has the ability to stop one low-post scorer, but when faced with two, he runs into trouble. KG and Baby are enough to overwhelm pretty much anyone down low.

The Magic will need a miracle to come back in this one.

Third quarter, 9:12, Celtics 56-36: Kendrick Perkins is sitting on the bench with four fouls, steaming mad as Glen Davis fills his place on the floor. But with his team up 20 in the third quarter, how can he be unhappy?

The men on the floor for Boston, namely Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, are on fire. The Celtics don't look ready to let up anytime soon.

Pierce now has 13 points to lead all scorers in tonight's game.

Halftime, Celtics 51-34: The Magic finish the first half with 12 field goals and 11 turnovers. It doesn't look good for the men in blue.

Rajon Rondo is on his way to yet another dominating all-around performance, piling up 10 points, five assists and two steals.

The Celtics are outshooting the Magic 51.2 percent to 38.7. That's not just a matter of lucky bounces — the C's stifling defense has been the story of the night.

Looks like we're awfully close to a 3-0 Boston lead in these Eastern Conference finals.

Second quarter, 3:19, Celtics 49-29: Paul Pierce said earlier this week that it really didn't matter to him who stepped up for the Magic to guard him. He wasn't kidding.

Whether it's Matt Barnes, Vince Carter or J.J. Redick keeping a hand in Pierce's face, the Celtics' captain doesn't seem to notice or care. He just gets to his sweet spot on the elbow and hits his shots. He can't be stopped.

The Celtics' lead is back to 20. Orlando's shooters are starting to turn it on, but it really hasn't mattered. This one's all Boston.

Second quarter, 6:12, Celtics 43-22: Jameer Nelson hits a 3 to cut the Celtics' lead from 24 points back to 21. Do you think he's got seven more of those left in him?

It's obviously still early, but the way this one's shaping up, it looks like the Magic are going to need to get desperate early and rely on the outside shot to give them a glimmer of hope in this game.

Nelson, Rashard Lewis, Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus — they're all going to have to step up. So far, the only guy hitting his 3's in this series for Orlando has been J.J. Redick. They'll need more.

Second quarter, 8:32, Celtics 36-17: Both teams have dipped deep into their bench at the start of the second quarter, but Rajon Rondo and Dwight Howard remain on the floor. Guess which one's dominating the game.

Rondo has just been dazzling for the Celtics on both ends of the floor, using his speed and his agility to completely outwork the Magic. His acrobatic play has been the difference — there's no one in a blue uniform that can put the ball in the hole the way Rondo does.

Nine points, five assists and two steals for Rondo. It's still very, very, very early.

End of first quarter, Celtics 27-12: Here's everything you need to know about the Magic in the first quarter: four field goals, six turnovers.

It's not all them. Credit the Celtics' defense with an absolutely dominating effort — they're taking over the game defensively with their ball pressure and their relentless drive to contest every single shot.

Four different Celtics each have one steal. That's just one less than the number of Magic players that have scored so far.

Paul Pierce leads the way with eight points for the Celtics, and Ray Allen has added seven.

First quarter, 3:18, Celtics 16-6: Superman can leap tall buildings in a single bound, but the Celtics' guards can weave right around him with a few steps.

Dwight Howard's presence in the middle has been a non-factor for the Magic in this game. Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo are penetrating with ease, using their quickness to generate good looks inside. The C's are doing the unthinkable — beating Orlando with points in the paint.

Meanwhile, Howard and Lewis are a combined 1-of-6 from the floor.

This one's all Boston.

First quarter, 6:14, Celtics 7-6: As quickly as the Celtics grabbed the early lead, they promptly give up a large chunk of it.

This might be the night that Rashard Lewis, who slept through the first two games of this series, wakes up for the Magic. He's got a bucket, two rebounds and even a block on Pierce early. The Magic need Lewis to be a factor in this series to have a chance, and tonight, it looks like he will be.

Neither team has established a presence inside yet tonight. If Kendrick Perkins can fight Dwight Howard to a draw all night, he'll certainly be happy.

First quarter, 8:48, Celtics 7-0: Seems like no matter what the Magic try on the perimeter defensively, nothing's going to work.

Whether Matt Barnes is on Paul Pierce, or Vince Carter is on Ray Allen, or what, it just doesn't seem to matter. When the C's wing guys are hitting their shots, they can't be stopped.

That's the case early, and the C's are rolling. Certainly doesn't help Orlando's cause that Dwight Howard just missed two free throws.

7:47 p.m.: When you get down 2-0, you've got to start making adjustments. That's sort of the way it works.

For Stan Van Gundy and the Magic, that means tweaking the approach they've taken defensively against Paul Pierce. Logically, the first tactic they'll try in Game 3 is putting defensive stopper Matt Barnes on the Celtics' captain.

When asked before Game 3 if Barnes was forward with him about taking Pierce on, Van Gundy was candid and perfectly direct.

"Yeah," the coach said. "He said, 'Let me guard Pierce.' So there you go."

Simple as that. We can expect the Magic to bust out all the stops against the Truth, who's regained both his shot and his swagger in the first two games of this series.

9:43 a.m.: All is well for the Celtics so far in this series. They've played Dwight Howard straight up, they've kept Jameer Nelson at bay, and they've fought off the Orlando Magic's relentless army of 3-point shooters through two games in these Eastern Conference finals.

But this is no time for the Celtics to rest on their laurels. This is a time to return home and take care of business.

The Celtics and Magic take the floor Saturday night for at the TD Garden for Game 3, and the C's have a chance in this one to push the Magic's backs up against the wall with a 3-0 series edge.

The Celtics have yet to beat the Magic in Boston this season. So far, they're 0-2 against Orlando at the Garden. But if they reverse that trend, the C's will be well on their way to a series sweep and a trip to the NBA Finals.

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