Remember when the Boston Celtics had a 3-0 series lead over the Orlando Magic? It seems like that was a completely different series. Games 1 and 2 were close, but then the Celtics blew the Magic out by 23 points at home. This really looked like it was the end of the Magic. They had lost two close games and then got blown out, finding themselves on the brink of being swept. The series was essentially over. But in Game 4 Dwight Howard came alive, going for 32 points and 16 rebounds. Vince Carter disappeared in that game, scoring only 3 points, but point guard Jameer Nelson picked up the slack with 23 points, which included two big threes in over time. Paul Pierce had 32 points of his own to go with 11 rebounds for Boston, but failed to get a shot off that would have won the game at the end of regulation, seemingly dribbling to nowhere in the process. No big deal, right? The series was 3-1. Boston was in control of the series and it seemed that Orlando was just happy to have not gotten swept.
After last night's Game 5, however, things could get out of hand in Boston. This time the Celtics were the ones getting blown out, losing 113-92. Orlando came out and got contributions from just about everyone. 23 from Nelson, 21 from Howard, 14 apiece from Rashard Lewis and J.J. Redick. For Boston, Rasheed Wallace, Rajon Rondo, and Pierce all had nice games-scoring 21, 19, and 18 points each, respectively-but that was about it. To confound matters was Kendrick Perkins being tossed from the game after getting two technical fouls and possibly being out because of it in the next game, Glen Davis getting a concussion, Marquis Daniels getting a concussion of his own after taking Davis' place, and Wallace hurting his back.
So yeah, I think the Boston Celtics are probably in some trouble. However, I don't think they've quit; they still seem to be playing hard to me. The thing is that the Orlando Magic have started playing their game. Really, they were playing pretty well in the first two games; they lost Game 1 92-88 and Game 2 95-92. But after Game 3 it looked like they were finished. Other than Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick, and Matt Barnes, it didn't seem that anyone on the team thought they could win. But they came back in Game 4 and got back to what they're good at doing-establishing Howard in the paint and supporting him with shooting. They're giving the Celtics a fight and now, with the injuries and possible suspension to Kendrick Perkins, it might be more than just a fight. It might become the first 3-0 playoff comeback in NBA history.
This just in: the league has rescinded Kendrick Perkins' second technical foul from last night. In case you don't know, a player is suspended for one game after he gets his 7th technical foul in the playoffs. Had one of them not been taken back, Perkins would have picked up his 6th and 7th of the playoffs, which would have kept him from playing in the important Game 6. To be honest, I don't think he should have gotten two T's last night. Looking at the replays, I don't think he meant to elbow Magic center Marcin Gortat after his hand slipped as he was helping up Paul Pierce. In fact, I don't think anything would have been done about it if Gortat hadn't knocked the ball from Perkins' arm. In general, I think that the NBA referees have gotten a little too attached to the double-technical fouls. It seems to me like it's a cop-out, an easy decision to avoid upsetting either side. I also think it's lame to give a guy a T when he's got his back turned to you. The more pressing matter, I think, is the health of Glen Davis, Marquis Daniels, and Rasheed Wallace. After the way Davis went down like a KO'd boxer after taking an elbow from Dwight Howard, I don't see how anyone could go back in there and play against him. I would also like to add that it was a heads up move by ref Joey Crawford to recognize that Davis was in trouble and make sure that he didn't hit the floor. And while Daniels may not be as important a role player as Davis, having him out will obviously hurt Boston's depth and might force Brian Scalabrine back into action. Concussions are serious issues (I don't have to tell you that), and there's no telling how these two might be affected at this point. And then there's Wallace, whose play has been, at time, erratic throughout the playoffs, and that's without a tweaked back.
And speaking of bench depth, Doc Rivers should consider giving Nate Robinson more playing time.