On the Celtics first possession, Pierce drove straight for Dwight Howard. Howard went straight up, arms up, and blocked the shot. Hedo Turkoglu flipped it to Anthony Johnson, who streaked up the floor and flipped a pass in between Rondo and Big Baby Davis to a slashing Rashard Lewis. It was a footrace between the Celtics X-Factor, Glen Davis, and Rashard Lewis. Big Boned Lost. And that was the Celtics night.
Absolutely phenomenal job by Anthony Johnson. He didn’t force the issue very often at all. He wasn’t trying to shut down Rondo, he was overplaying the strong side to force him into the trap or the baseline. He wasn’t trying to create his own shot, he was taking what the Celtics gave him. It was a weird comparison. There’s Rondo, settling for jumpers or passing up opportunities, and there was Anthonhy Johnson, just playing within his abilities and getting the job done. Way to go, old timer.
Pierce took the ball in the first half up court off a Courtney Lee Miss, and you could tell he was going to just drive. No passing. No motion, just trying to go at it. Unfortunately, Dwight Howard was trailing and saw it from a mile away. Howard tracked him from one end of the floor to the other, and when Pierce managed to maneuver free of Rashard Lewis, Howard erased him. Not a pretty highlight, off the backboard rejection. He bent back Pierce’s hand. Sideline to sideline, rejection.
We talked about this on the FanHouse Roundcast, but Pierce had 27 points. That indicates a good night. 6 of 15 from the field. That’s not good at all. Pierce especially struggles when driving at this point. He can draw the foul (14-14) but you’re still relying on an outside variable you can’t control (officiating) to get you points.
Glen Davis is either starting to revert to the statistical mode, or getting worn out.Â He finally started missing those partially blocked follow throughs he’s been banking through. He was frustrated, worn out, and outmuscled. Lewis ran him ragged, Howard out muscled him, it was the Glen Davis you’d expect without a Garnett safety blanket.
The Celtics shoudl not put Eddie House on Courtney Lee. Lee ran him ragged with athleticism, and while House got his buckets, the biggest advantage for the Magic?Â Lee isn’t a fiery rookie. He kept his head down and just worked.
I haven’t run the numbers, but on intuition, I’d expect a high positive correlation between Rondo’s teardrop and his jumper. When his teardrop is going, he can hit a few Js. When it’s frozen, he’s got icicles on his jumper.
Marcin Gortat seems like the guy who stays late at the office to help you with your project, then brings in doughnuts the next day.
Stephon Marbury: 15 minutes, 2 points, 3 assists, 2 turnovers, 3 fouls. And the legend… continues.
As much as Celtics fans hated it, I really liked the announcing call tonight. Barry can be good when Bryant isn’t on the floor. And Pasch’s “Howard… LOOK OUT!” was awesome in the 2nd. The best thing about this combo is that they don’t just prepopulate storylines. The story was Anthony Johnson and the Magic’s defense. That’s what they talked about. Very refreshing.
Orlando knows the formula. Pierce will get his. The rest of the players are going to shoot about 45%. If you throw players at Ray Allen, fight through screen and contest everything, you can limit Allen. He is solvable, sometimes. When he’s not, you’re screwed anyway, so be ready to keep him from being insolvable for as long as possible, if that makes sense.
The third quarter was basically Howard being taller, faster, stronger, better than the Celtics.
Rondo. Seriously. The ball fake? Not necessary every time you drive.
Celtics WILL respond in Game 4. That’s the problem with the Magic winning any game by a convincing fashion. It just provides Boston evidence that they can play better, but they didnt’.
Matt Moore is a Senior NBA Blogger for CBSSports.com's Eye on Basketball blog, weekend editor of Pro Basketball Talk on NBCSports.com, and co-editor of Voice on the Floor. He lives in Kansas City due to an unbelievably complex set of circumstances and enjoys mid-90's pop rock, long walks on the beach and the novels of Tim Sandlin.