The Boston Celtics: Isn't it funny -- and I mean "an elderly couple trapped under their own hoarded trash for three weeks" funny -- that the Celtics looked like championship shoe-ins two short games ago? Now they look like a bunch of creaky old guys who could end up being the first NBA team to ever lose a playoff series after going up 3-0.
Call it the Curse of the Bruins.
So what happened? Well, for starters, Boston's offense has started to fall apart, which is due in no small part to Orlando's defense. The Celts shot 43 percent, with Kevin Garnett (5-for-14), Paul Pierce (3-for-8) and Ray Allen (3-for-10) providing lead vocals, bass guitar and drums for this Brick-a-Palooza.
What a way to waste a 21-point night from Rasheed Wallace.
That said, the main problem was that the Magic owned Boston's vaunted defense: Orlando scored 113 points while shooting 52 percent from the field and beyond the arc (13-for-25). They also outrebounded the C's 43-26 (including 10-4 on the offensive glass) and outscored them 40-28 in the paint. To me, those are always the two big "effort" stats. Well, the Magic dominated in those areas...
...and won by 21 points.
The Celtics made lot of mistakes both early and late, like giving up an offensive rebound in the third quarter that eventually found it's way to Matt Barnes for an uncontested three. Before that shot got drilled, Boston had cut the lead to 5 points. But that field goal -- which Doc Rivers called the biggest shot of the game -- swung momentum Orlando's way.
Of course, it might never have gotten to that if the Celtics had been able to contain J.J. Redick in the first half. Think I'm kidding? I'm not. As ESPN's Chris Sheridan pointed out: "It was Redick who keyed the early surge that put Orlando ahead for good, scoring 11 of his 14 points from the moment when he first checked in with the score 16-16 until he was subbed out with the Magic ahead 49-37."
I don't know if the Celtics don't respect Redick or what, but they don't smother him the way they try to smother other Magic players. And they could end up regretting it when they're watching the NBA Finals on their big-screen TVs.
Dwight Howard: Okay, let's see here. I already posted video of how he tagged KG with an elbow to the face in Game 4 (although the refs missed it and there was no call). How did he follow that up? Well, let's see...
During the second quarter, he tagged Big Baby in the face with an "inadvertent" elbow:
Was is funny watching a woozy Davis stagger around the court (at least at first)? Yeah, a little. But Baby had a concussion, which is significantly less funny. As for whether it was intentional...maybe, I guess. Although I've played enough basketball to know that players usually have a pretty good idea of where their various body parts are in relation to the guys they're playing against. With hits like that, it's not necessarily a case of trying to hit somebody...bu they aren't trying to not hit them either. If you get my drift.
But more than that, watch the replay again. You'll notice that after making first contact, instead of yanking the elbow away from Baby's head, Howard's elbow actually pushes toward it. Again, in my personal experience, that's doesn't happen by accident.
Was Dwight trying to concuss Davis? Of course not. But IMHO, that hit wasn't some unintentional, inadvertent oopsie.
In the third quarter, Howard fouled Pierce. Check it out:
Howard's arm comes down on Paulie's face. Again, I don't buy that it was accidental. He knew where his arm was and he knew where Pierce was. Now, he was called for he foul, as he should have been, but if you watched closely enough, you'll notice that there was a wee bit of follow through by Dwight, just a little extra mustard used to send Pierce to the floor.
These aren't accidents. They're trends. Look, I get that Dwight's a nice guy and a good Christian and all that, so people find it hard to believe that he would be doing any of this on purpose. And while I'm not saying he's trying to hurt other players necessarily, the fact is his elbows keep hitting people and people keep getting hurt. This has been going on for years, by the way. Howard has wiped out other players (like Sammy Dalembert) with elbows and he's even concussed his own teammates!
Can we honestly be expected to believe these are accidents when they keep happening over and over and over? Doesn't that strain credulity?
Anyway, all this talk about Pumaman's elbows inspired me to post a video tribute to "Macho Man" Randy Savage. OOOOOOOOOHHHH YEEEEEEEAAAAH!!
Kendrick Perkins' second technical foul: On the other end of the spectrum from Dwight, we have Perkins, who -- considering how physical this series has been not to mention the fact that Howard had thrown another little elbow at Perk while trying to get position -- got called for a true ticky-tac foul. Kendrick reacted, but he did so while walking away from the refs, and it's hardly the worst reaction I've seen this season or even in this series. And yet, his unhappiness earned him his second tech of the game (the first one he deserved for giving Marcin Gortat a little post-foul bump in the chest) and therefore an automatic ejection.
Can you blame Perk for getting testy about being called for a touch foul? As Basketbawful reader DKH said: "I didn't see a whole lot of the game, but Perkins getting ejected for what he did is laughable. I also love the replay they show of Howard's block of a Rondo layup, which he follows up by landing on Rondo and pretty much annihilating him, with no foul called. That is, I saw what Howard got away with (egregiously tackling someone), and then saw what Perkins got away with (he touched Howard). Did I need to see more of the game?"
No, you didn't. That's just the kind of night it was. By the way, here's Howard's play on Rondo, which was named the NBA.com Block of the Night:
Anyway...two bad calls on Perkins...and they could have serious ramifications for Game 6:
But his penalty might have implications beyond Wednesday's game. After entering the game with five postseason technical fouls, Perkins would be at the limit of seven -- provided both technicals stand upon league review -- and will be suspended for Boston's next playoff game.Amazing, isn't it, that Howard gave not one but two players concussions with his atomic elbow but Perkins is the guy who might have to sit out a game. Way to go, NBA.
"I didn't think he deserved either one. But he got them," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.
By game's end, all three of Boston's primary centers were gone, a variety of reasons sending them away before the conclusion of Orlando's 113-92 season-saving win.
Question is, when Game 6 rolls around, who will Boston have to match up with Howard?
"Well, it's not a pleasant thought," Rivers said.
Perkins, who didn't earn his first technical until Game 5 of a first-round triumph over the Miami Heat, has now been part of five double technicals, the first three coming in the conference semifinals when he was frequently covering Cleveland's Shaquille O'Neal.
"I have talked to him," Rivers said before Wednesday's game. "The double technical is what's getting most guys in trouble. The flagrants, I can understand, if you had a ton of glaring flagrants, at some point, you should get suspended. Or if you have a ton of techs for arguing with the refs, just plain back-and-forth with the refs. But the double-technical thing has to be resolved. That's where two players, getting physical, and officials are just trying to clean the game up. The easier way is the double technical, it calms the game down.
"If you look at Kendrick, four of them are [double-technicals]. Those are the ones we have to figure out a better way. I'm a typical guy -- I don't have a solution, but I can point out the problem."
The NBA said it would have an answer Thursday about Perkins' status for Game 6.
By the way, Basketbawful reader JR e-mailed me about the officiating -- he called it The Boston "T" Party -- and provided the following video to "honor" last night's officating crew of Joe Crawford, Tom Washington and Eddie F. Rush.
Physical play: I'll leave this one to the readers.
Holy Shit! Big Baby's gone insane, get the fucking tranq gun and the bear net!From Dooj:
People are getting fucked up in this game. I'm pretty sure someone from boston is going to get decapitated by an atomic elbow.
Wow... How many concussions? 2?From Adam:
I'll take a Celtics loss any time and I hate them all minus Doc, but the Magic were getting away with some heavy duty home cookin' roughhousing. Forget elbows. This was karate chopping, full body contact take-down play.From an anonymous commenter:
That game is why the "Admiral Elbows" nickname for Dwight Howard is so appropriate.From SirGirthNasty:
The big question: will friday night's UFC fight or game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals be the more savage beating?
Jesus, what happened? I think paid heed to all the press coverage questioning their toughness and decided full-on assault and battery was the only logical response.From Czernobog:
Holy shit. Every team playing Orlando from now on should come out wearing Rugby helmets.From Barry:
Seriously, wtf? How many atomic elbows is Dwight going to get away with in his career?
Well, I AM a Celtics fan and I know my team is in for some physical play, but there was some home-cooking going on like there was nobody watching outside of Orlando.Vince Carter: Again from DKH: "All of Orlando's players shot 50% or better from the field except Carter, who couldn't even manage to reach the one point per shot threshold." Carter went 3-for-10 and finished with 8 points, 3 boards and 4 fouls.
Basketbawful reader and Magic fan Mario -- no, not Mario West -- prepared this awesome pic:
J.J. Redick, quote machine: "We've pretty much figured out what works against them and what doesn't, so that makes a huge difference."
Glen Davis, quote machine: "Point blank, I ain't speaking. I'm all right. I'll be back next game. That's all you need to print."
Doc Rivers, quote machine: "I don't know what kind of test they're going to do with Davis because he's a little delirious half the time anyway, so I don't know how he's going to pass a test. I'm worried about that. But I guess he's going to have to do something for them to clear him."
Jeff Van Gundy, quote machine: Submitted by Heretic: "The NBA...where soft happens".
Zach Randolph: Uh oh...
According to the affidavit, the Cadillac Escalade that Boyd was driving was registered to [the Grizzlies' Zach] Randolph, and police found marijuana and ammunition stowed inside.Mini Lacktion Report: From Chris: "Michael Finley found enough time in 7:44 to bake two bricks for a +2 suck differential."
"One of his vehicles had what we call hidden compartments that contained suspected narcotics, that being marijuana," said Lt. Jeff Duhamell. Based on information found in the Escalade, police later raided a northeast side storage facility, where they said Randolph rents four lockers.
According to the affidavit, a police K-9 alerted to controlled substances in two of the four units, and police found more cars with secret compartments inside.