…both series are going to at least 5 games.
That was not a really great game for Orlando, but they played with grit and real physicality. They bumped and grabbed on almost every play like a good old Jerry Sloan team, which is how a great defensive team wins playoff games. Howard managed to get under Rasheed’s skin and draw a technical foul (which wound up being the difference between a Celtic win in regulation and going to overtime). I think they have a good chance to take a decisive win in game 5 at home if they can really get on track from the outside and get a big game out of Carter to go with Howard’s tremendous effort on the glass.
I didn’t see a lot of adjustments by Orlando. Rashard was more aggressive. Brandon Bass took a good chunk of bench minutes and produced, and Redick got more floor time. Both nice personnel moves by coach Van Gundy. They did basically abandon trying to isolate Howard in the post and ran nothing but high screen and roll with Howard diving to the basket. The biggest change came from Boston though. Their dedication to staying home on the three point shooters wavered, particularly in the first half. They began to switch screens more often, a great strategy on one screen when it allows Garnett to stifle a guard on the perimeter, a task for which he’s uniquely gifted. It broke down when the second screen came and Perkins switched as well. Garnett was forced to chase Howard back to the paint, leaving Perkins vulnerable to drives to the paint. The rotations inevitably led to an inexcusable number of offensive rebound dunks for Dwight.
I think the switching may have been a product of the foul trouble on Rondo and the very aggressive moving screens that the Magic were setting up top (I’m not complaining. Garnett moves on pretty much every screen he sets, and so does Pierce on the high guard / guard cross screening).
I only have two real complaints about the officiating. First is the technical on Rasheed, which Rasheed could have avoided but the refs could have avoided also if they could fit their egos inside their uniforms. That call literally determined the outcome of the game (in terms of points scored). Pretty lousy way to lose. Then at the other end when Rashard Lewis freaked out about the non-call when Glen Davis and Garnett converged on him to block a driving layup (he had a good point), he screamed and postured and walked away with the ball. I have seen big time stars (Gary Payton comes to mind) kicked out of games for that sort of action. If it had been Wallace that would have been a tech. And a tech would have saved the game for the Celtics, because Ray or Paul would have hit that. So the unevenness of those calls is just a crummy part of the game that bit Boston tonight.
Then the other thing is the Howard three second violations. They called one or two, but they could have called about 15 to 20. Time after time Howard would set the screen and roll to the rim, then a second screen would be set while he planted roots in the green waiting for the play to develop. The Magic would look to send the post feed, drive and lob, or get up layup attempts for him to rebound. The only time the refs thought to blow the whistle was on the late entry passes. The string of offensive rebounds in the 4th quarter and overtime was pretty egregious for a Celtics’ fan to watch. Now since I’m also a Bulls fan and got to watch Rodman camp the weak-side of the paint like he had a permit, I can’t be steaming mad or anything, but I do think it’s the sort of bug that Phil Jackson or Pat Riley would put in the refs’ ears at the post-game press conference.
I think this series is coming back to Boston.