Magic need answers in Game 2
The Magic lost to the Celtics 92-88 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals
Dwight Howard must score inside, force double teams to create perimeter space
Boston looks to extend its playoff streak to five games against top East teams
ORLANDO -- They watched themselves on video and didn't like how they behaved. They weren't running hard. They weren't playing smart.
"We're usually the team that's out running, getting easy baskets -- they were doing it," said Magic center Dwight Howard on Monday after reviewing his 3-for-10 shooting, seven-turnover performance in a Game 1 loss to Boston in the Eastern Conference finals. "It's about effort. These types of games, the closer you get to the NBA Finals, it's more about effort than anything."
There can be no chicken-or-egg rationale when the Magic enter Game 2 here Tuesday following the 92-88 opening win by the Celtics. After going 5-for-22 from beyond the arc, do they need to shoot threes at a better rate in order to open the paint for Howard? The answer: Yes.
Doesn't Howard also need to score inside to force double teams that create space for Orlando's three-point shooters? Another yes.
"They made a real concerted effort to stay home, to take that away," said Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy of Boston's defense on the three-point line. "Anything you take away, there are other things there. Because of them staying home, we got more drives to the basket. But at the same time we didn't convert on a high enough percentage. We were able to get the ball to Dwight, but we did not convert on those opportunities. If you don't do that [in the paint] and they're staying home on the perimeter guys, you clearly have a problem."
Rashard Lewis reported having a good day of practice at the three-point line the day after he went 0-for-6 from there in Game 1. "I have to do my part,'' he said. "I have to find the open three-pointers in order to bring the defense out, make Kevin Garnett come out to the perimeter, and that opens up the paint for me to drive to the basket or get somebody else open shots.
"We have to execute the pick-and-roll, get to the rim. Dwight has to roll, get the ball to him. Make the defense collapse."
Following their upset of LeBron James' Cavaliers, the Celtics are now seeking to extend their postseason winning streak to five games against the East's top two contenders. Another victory here threatens to turn the conference race upside down. The heretofore steady Magic, having gone undefeated for six weeks entering this series, would suddenly find themselves down 0-2 as they head to Boston for potentially the final two games of their season. The Celtics, who were a .500 team over the last four months of the regular season, would be looking forward to a potential Finals rematch with the Lakers.
They drew strength from watching Ray Allen and Paul Pierce combine for 47 points on 24 shots in Game 1. "We feel like we got a great matchup with Paul," said Celtics center Kendrick Perkins. "Feel like nobody can guard him in this series, so we're going to go at him. We're going to have Ray go off screens and keep attacking."
Perkins has his own formula against Howard. "You have to hit him first, hit him second," said Perkins. "You just got to hit him. You have to go in there and play physical with him, try to limit his dunks. Anytime he has a chance to dunk, you want to wrap him up, send him to the foul line."
The Magic know what they're up against. Now they have to raise their play inside and out.
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