Celtics 92, Magic 88
The Boston Celtics didn't just sneak out of Amway Arena with a Game 1 victory under their belts. No, they completely outplayed the Orlando Magic in their own arena and did not trail for a single second of the 48 minutes of basketball played.
It all started with a big first quarter, where the C's limited Orlando to only 14 points, and then the lead grew nine heading into halftime after allowing only 18 points in the second period. The third quarter, however, is where this game began to get out of hand.
The Magic came out of the gates firing, and on the back of eight quick points from Jameer Nelson they cut Boston's lead to three just 2:03 into the second half. Doc Rivers called a timeout to regroup his troops, and that move wound up changing the scope of this game as the rest of the quarter unraveled.
Out of Rivers' timeout, Paul Pierce found Kevin Garnett open for a nice seven-footer that stopped the bleeding and put the C's back up by two possessions. Matt Barnes responded with a quick two points for Orlando, but that would be the last field goal the Magic would see for quite a while.
The Celtics turned up the defensive intensity and prevented Orlando from scoring another basket for another 4:54 of the period. At the other end, numerous Celtics chipped in to help rebuild the double-digit lead they previously held onto in the first half.
Kendrick Perkins scored an easy layup off of a Kevin Garnett pass to put the Celtics up by eight, and just 38 seconds later one of the biggest plays of the game took place.
As Pierce streaked down court with the ball after Rashard Lewis turned it over at Orlando's offensive end, Nelson stepped in his path and committed a foul. At first, it looked like a harmless foul, but Pierce showed his veteran savvy and threw up a shot as Nelson made contact with him. After a brief discussion, the referees ruled that it was a shooting foul and Pierce wound up with three free throw attempts, all of which he sank.
Those free throws put the C's up by 11, and after Rajon Rondo scored a bucket and Ray Allen drilled a 3-pointer, the lead had quickly ballooned to 16. Pierce added in another jumper after an Orlando timeout to cap off a 12-0 run by the Celtics that wound up being enough to outlast the Magic.
Orlando made it interesting down the stretch, cutting the lead to two at one point, but Pierce and Allen each hit two free throws in the final 12 seconds of the game to ice a Game 1 victory for Boston.
Key Box Score Line
Paul Pierce isn't guarding LeBron James anymore, and it looks like he's pretty excited about that.
Pierce went off for 22 points in Boston's Game 1 victory, but the rest of his stat line is what will tell you how great he played this afternoon. He scored those 22 points on only eight shot attempts, of which he made six, and made eight of his 10 free throw attempts. Pierce also attacked the glass -- something Doc Rivers says brings the Celtics to a whole other level -- for nine boards and dished out five assists. He did commit five turnovers in the game, tying Kendrick Perkins for the team-high, but the rest of his game overshadowed that small negative.
It was clear from the get-go that this is going to be a different series for Pierce, one where he will be able to assert himself at both ends of the floor. On one critical three-point play in the third quarter, where Pierce beat Vince Carter off the dribble and made a difficult shot over Marcin Gortat as he was fouled, he turned around after the ball sank through the net and a look of determination was on his face that hadn't been seen in quite some time, as if saying, "We're not losing this game, and I'm going to make sure of that." If he keeps playing like this, the Celtics might not lose this series, either.
Box Score Nuggets
- Boston scored 20 fast break points to Orlando's six.
- The Celtics committed 16 turnovers and the Magic committed 18.
- Paul Pierce scored 22 points on only eight field goal attempts.
- Dwight Howard, defended by a plethora of Celtics, managed only 13 points in the game.
- Ray Allen scored a game-high 25 points and also pulled in seven boards.
- Orlando shot only 5-of-22 from 3-point range.
- Kevin Garnett struggled from the field for the first time in a while, making only four of his 14 shot attempts.
- Garnett did, however, pull in a team-high 11 rebounds and dished out five assists while committing zero turnovers.
- Allen, Pierce and Rasheed Wallace each made two 3-pointers apece to account for Boston's six 3s.
- Howard committed seven turnovers for Orlando, while Pierce and Kendrick Perkins each committed five for Boston.
- Orlando assisted on only 10 of its 32 made field goals.
- Each team took 26 free throws, with Boston making 20 and Orlando making 19.
- Howard grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds and blocked a game-high five shots.
- Jameer Nelson scored 20 points for Orlando and aso grabbed nine boards, four of which were offensive.
- Vince Carter scored a team-high 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting for Orlando.
- Rashard Lewis scored only six points on 2-of-10 shooting.
- Rajon Rondo dished out a game-high eight assists. Not a single Magic player recorded more than two.
- Wallace came off the bench to score 13 points for Boston.
Quote of the Night
Kevin Garnett on Boston's Game 1 performance: "The focus was to obviously get Game 1. I thought defensively we were very sound, very firm. Offensively we moved the ball and we did everything we pretty much wanted to do with our schemes. For the most part, in a hostile environment on the road, you can't ask for anything more."