A few games ago I couldn’t have imagined the Orlando Magic winning even one game, let alone two games, and now three? Yikes, I’m teetering like a kindergartner here. But it’s impossible for me to ignore what I’ve seen – two teams that completely flipped for real, Orlando taking on the confident, unbeatable, and aggressive persona that Boston used to run out to a 3-0 lead in this series. And it’s that switch that has me on the move, taking Orlando to win Game 6 and wiggle one game closer to history.
Somewhere along the line (I’m thinking between Game 3 and Game 4) the Magic decided to test the Celtics where Boston struggles most, attacking the basket. Boston’s rotations are really good, they move to the open shooter well, but with guys running out recklessly they are relatively easy to drive past. Orlando has attacked, and thus they are winning.
This game will be closer, no doubt about it, Boston isn’t going to just give up in a big time must win Game 6 at home. And they might very well win this game – I give it almost 50-50 here. But with Rasheed Wallace hurting, Big Baby in limbo, and Rajon Rondo not playing that elite basketball that skyrocketed his name to “The Best Point Guard in the NBA” lists everywhere – the 0-3 to 4-3 no chance in hell might just get Boston in the gotcha… I’ll take the points, as few as they may be.
Orlando Magic (+3.5) @ Boston Celtics
Like I said in my weekly newsletter, the Magic are lucky to be here. They fended off the broom with a whole lot of luck and dining on the worst game Boston has played since the Cavaliers blew them out early in their series with the Cavs. They needed some big time shots by JJ Redick, a bank three by Jameer Nelson (from the wing, meaning it was both off line and way long), a stagnant offense from the Celtics, and mediocre defense from a Boston team that has stopped everyone during these playoffs. Oh, and they needed overtime and all those things to come out victorious. Seriously.
If that’s not enough, how about the fact that Boston is better than Orlando. If this series hasn’t shown that, it’s shown nothing at all. Boston may be older, but they are so much wiser. Everybody is playing at the top of their games, and offensively they are too tough for Orlando to deal with.
Dwight Howard won’t go off for 30+ points against in Game 5, I can all but guarantee that. Rajon Rondo won’t play his worst game of the post-season, and the Celtics will play with more precision on both sides of the ball. If Orlando can stick out the Celtics’ best shot – then they might have a chance to pull a Boston Red Sox comeback on the Boston Celtics – the first time ever.
However, I don’t see any of those things happening. It all ends tonight in Orlando. The Celtics are a 4-point dog against a team they’ve beaten twice at home. Boston is a better road team than they are at home. Boston is better. After a Game 4 win got them out of sweep-mode, you can bet the Magic will slow down a little in Game 5. Take the easy win here, Boston by 8 to 12 points is my guess.
Boston Celtics (+4) @ Orlando Magic (5-26: 8:30 PM ET – ESPN)
Well, the Orlando Magic had absolutely no trouble with the Atlanta Hawks, making quick work of Joe Johnson and company to the point where the Hawks looked like a JV squad. Sweep. Boston had a handful of solid games against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and might single handily be to blame for LeBron James’ absence from the Cavs’ roster next season. Awesome – they won in 6. This all comes down to one hell of a match-up in the Eastern Conference, right? Easy, now…..
Boston Celtics (+7) @ Orlando Magic: This is a tough one for me, but I’m going with my eyes, and what I see with those emerald greens is a color reflection – Green indeed. There’s one team playing better basketball than anyone else in the Eastern Conference, and that’s Boston. Sometimes a team can play tricks, but Boston isn’t kidding around, they are playing some elite basketball.
Rajon Rondo is playing as well as he’s ever played and KG is looking healthier and healthier every game. Rasheed Wallace and his cups are even making a showing, and the rest of the guys are doing work as well.
Orlando may have dominated the Hawks, but I promise Boston will come out with a little more fire than that Atlanta squad. The match-up isn’t in the Celtics favor like it was against Cleveland. They really don’t have a post that will drive and draw fouls on Dwight Howard – and that’s a big deal against Orlando. But what Boston will do is have tough defenders on Dwight (Perkins, KG, Wallace) and not give up too much room to the shooters out wide. They also have enough bench players to keep the Orlando Magic from running them out of the building.
This series is going to be close, and I assume the game scores will be as well. Boston has lost 5 of their last 6 games to Orlando, but only one of those losses were by more than 8 points. You add that fact to the truth that Boston is playing as well as they have since their title run – and yeah, the Celtics and a touchdown seems like a solid option to me.