Magic Classic Wins: Game 1 of 2009 Conference Semifinals Against Celtics

Fox Sports Florida will broadcast this win on Tuesday, May 19 at 7:30 p.m.
by John Denton

ORLANDO - What should have been a glorious, fun-filled Game 1 defeat of the defending NBA champion Boston Celtics in the second round of the 2009 playoffs turned out to be a tense, nail-biter of a victory that somewhat robbed the Orlando Magic of their joy that May night at TD Garden.

However, the Magic ultimately had plenty of time to celebrate later on when they went back to Boston and coolly captured a Game 7 on the Celtics’ home floor to dethrone the reigning champs and reach the Eastern Conference Finals.

Orlando claimed the first edge in the highly anticipated series by winning Game 1, 95-90. What that final score didn’t indicate, however, was the ease with which the Magic dominated in the guts of the game but also struggled to close out late in the night. Once up by as many as 28 points after closing the first half on a 26-6 run and beginning the third quarter with an 11-1 burst, the Magic had to withstand a late Ray Allen 3-point attempt and a Celtics’ surge that inexplicably got them to within three points of Orlando in the final seconds.

``The last 16 minutes was a debacle,’’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said at the time of that thrilling, yet scary victory for Orlando. ``We were sort of trying to run out the clock, and you can't do that in games like this. Especially in the playoffs, teams are going to keep fighting and keep coming back.

``(But) how about the fact that we were up 28? You play these games to win, and that’s it. We won. Right now, the series is 1-0.’’

With the 2019-20 NBA season suspended in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe, Fox Sports Florida has used much of April and May to show select classic games from the Magic’s glorious, 31-year history. After using last week to show Orlando 4-2 defeat of the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the 2009 NBA Finals, Fox Sports Florida is re-airing Orlando’s thrilling, back-and-forth, seven-game defeat of the Celtics in the East semifinals. The re-airing of Game 1 will be tonight at 7:30 p.m., with a replay of Game 1 being shown Saturday at noon. Game 3 (Thursday, 6 p.m.), Game 6 (Thursday, 8:30 p.m.) and Game 7 (Saturday, 7 p.m.) – all Magic victories – will be shown throughout the week.

While Orlando came into the series well rested after having dispatched the 76ers five days earlier, the Celtics had just one day off to prepare for the Magic after needing seven games to outlast the Chicago Bulls. In that first-round series, Boston and Chicago saw four of the seven games go into overtime and in all those two teams played seven OT periods.

That Magic took advantage of the Celtics’ fatigue in the early going, riding the power of Dwight Howard (16 points, 22 rebounds and three blocks) and the hot shooting of forward Rashard Lewis (18 points, three steals), sixth man Mickael Pietrus (17 points and three 3-pointers) and starting guard J.J. Redick (12 points and two 3-pointers). The Magic led by five at the end of the first period and by 18 at the half following a 30-17 second-quarter performance.

However, the Celtics proved that they wouldn’t go without a fight – in Game 1 or the second-round series – even though they were playing without an injured forward Kevin Garnett. Just a year earlier, Boston rallied from 24 points down in Game 4 of the NBA Finals to beat Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers – a series the Celtics eventually won in six games.

Paul Pierce scored 16 of his 23 points in the second half, but the Celtics couldn’t come all the way back for the victory after Allen (nine points) made just two of 12 shots and only one of seven 3-point shots. In the series, the Magic did an excellent job of containing Allen, who shot just 34.4 percent in the seven games and made only eight of 42 3-point shots.

Allen had an open look from 3-point range with 43 seconds remaining, but he missed as the Magic clung to a four-point advantage. Following two free throws by Redick that boosted Orlando’s lead back to six, Pierce cut the deficit in half with a long 3-pointer. However, Redick – who was starting in place of an injured Courtney Lee (fractured nasal cavity) – iced the victory with two more free throws in the final seconds.

Orlando made just five of 20 shots in the faltering fourth period. For the game, it shot 43.2 percent from the floor and connected on nine of 27 3-point shots.

Howard, who was back with the Magic following a one-game suspension that caused him to miss the Game 6 defeat of Philadelphia, returned to action and was dominant down low against Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis. Howard made six of 12 shots and four of five free throws. In addition to grabbing four offensive rebounds, Howard handed out three assists to go with his three blocked shots.

``We got complacent as a team, stopped doing what we did to get the lead and against a good Celtics’ team and you can’t do that,’’ Howard said following that 2009 victory. ``You don’t want to focus on them coming back. We still won the game and we saw what we have to do to win the series.’’

And win the series the Magic did, doing so in seven games after rallying from down 3-2 to capture Games 6 and 7.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors.

FOX SPORTS FLORIDA MAGIC CLASSIC WINS SCHEDULE

DAY

DATE

TIME

MATCHUP

REPLAY

Tue

5/19/20

7:30 PM

Magic at Celtics (2009 Game 1)

Sat, May 23 at 12 PM

Thu

5/21/20

6 PM

Magic vs. Celtics (2009 Game 3)

Sat, May 23 at 2:30 PM

Thu

5/21/20

8:30 PM

Magic vs Celtics (2009 Game 6)

Sat, May 23 at 5 PM

Sat

5/23/20

7:30 PM

Magic at Celtics (2009 Game 7)

Sun, May 24 at 9:30 AM

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