Orland vs. Boston- 8:30 ET on ESPN
Resident NBA nut Ross Geiger has the day off, so I, Patrick McWeeny, am here to drop some knowledge for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics had it all early in the series. Suffocating defense, a revived Kevin Garnett, a rampant Rajon Rondo, and everything else that came with a dominating and command 3-0 lead. The Magic stole one in overtime in Game 4, as Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson remembered that you are supposed to put the ball in the basket, Vince Carter notwithstanding, and most of us were just waiting for the C’s to come back to Orlando and do the deed. However, something funny happened along the way. Orlando got back to playing nearly as well as they were in their first two series, hitting threes, and getting gargantuan performances out of Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, and extremely solid production out of JJ Redick. The Magic rolled in Game 5 behind some shaky officiating and just general bounces in the Magic’s favor. Could the Magic pull one out of the hat? No team has ever come back from down 3-0 to win a series in the NBA, and the Magic cannot win the series tonight, only lose it, but momentum certainly seems to be on Orlando’s side. Do you go with momentum or experience? The hot hand, or the team that has been better most of these playoffs (The Celtics, despite the Magics two sweeps)?
Personally, I go with experience over the hot hand. All that has to happen for the hot hand to go dead cold are some bad bounces or an unfriendly rim. Experience is there forever, and as long as the players can still execute, it is invaluable. The only thing that can interrupt experience would be injuries, so I will obviously pick the Cel… wait… this just in, the Celtics sustained 50 injuries in Game 5. Glen Davis has been cleared to play but he will not be what he was in Game 5. Rasheed Wallace’s back is not going to help his post defense at all, and Marquis Daniels got a head injury as well. If Kendrick Perkins’ phony technical foul had not been rescinded, it would be Code Red for Boston. They are going to need every big body they can get to defend/foul Dwight Howard.
I cannot believe what I am about to write, and it will probably be the only time is has been written in human history. Brian Scalabrine is a key for the Celtics. (Gasp) Not like that. The Celtics need big man help, and that means that all their big men, everyone from Kevin Garnett to Shelden Williams, must step up, hustle, box out, and defend Dwight Howard with dogged determination. If Scal so happens to play, I will gladly take credit, but he has not been dressing so I cannot put him down for a key role, but the C’s need a big game out of the Scalabrine-esque big men. They don’t need scoring, they need toughness and hustle, which is what Brian Scalabrine can bring. I do not know if he will dress, but I have hunch about Scal, so take it for what it is worth. Regardless, the C’s need big performances down low to slow down the Magic and I urge them to channel their inner Brian Scalabrine.
On the less insane side, you have Rajon Rondo back at home where he hopes pick up his incredible form of Games 1-3, and some home cooking for big-game-beast Paul Pierce. The Magic might be looking to pull a rabbit out of their hat, but Boston knows the Truth will be able to cut through the Magic’s illusions. When you are a little banged up and in a corner, there are two things a team can do: They can band together for a night and man up, or they can roll over and give up. I think the Celtics will do the first of those, at least for tonight. Look for 25 out of Pierce with a solid performance out of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in this pivotal Game 6. I do not think Rondo will run over Magic like they did in the first few games, but he should do a good job of involving his teammates and running the team. Look for something along the lines of 11 points, 6 rebounds and 12 assists out of the Black Leprechaun. Dwight Howard will have his 20 points and Jameer will pitch in almost 20, but I sense a clunker for Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis as the Orlando’s magical run (pun intended) comes to an end.
Of course, if the Celtics have converted to regular season Celtics, the Boston will have the Bruins and Celtics give away 3-0 leads and the teams will never hear the end of it. They will win.
Magic 89, Celtics 94
Ask everyone’s favorite Celtic if Kendrick Perkins is important.