You didn’t even have to look at the score. If you happened to flip by last night’s Celtics/Magic game during the fourth quarter and saw Nate Robinson and Brandon Bass on the court at the same time, you knew somebody was getting smashed … In the one game where they absolutely had to show some fire, Orlando played like it was a mid-January, last-day-of-a-road-trip snoozer against a Lottery team. Magic Johnson put it best at halftime when the Celtics were already working on a 20-piecing: If Orlando was simply getting outplayed it’d be one thing, but they were getting out-hustled. Until further notice, the play where Rajon Rondo dove full-out to snag a loose ball from White Chocolate, then scrambled to his feet to shake J-Will and finish the layup will be the defining play of his career. Meanwhile, the most memorable “hustle play” on Orlando’s side was when Stan Van Gundy took a charge from Kevin Garnett … Big Baby led all scorers with 17 off the bench, while Rondo put up 11 points, 12 assists and 4 steals. Baby even broke out the Thickey Shuffle, which is still only our second-favorite Celtics dance after the Antoine Walker shimmy. Nobody had a crazy stat line for Boston; this game was about their defense, which was a total team effort and a clinic in rotations and playing all 24 seconds of the shot clock … It was no surprise that Rashard Lewis (4 pts, 2-8 FG) was a non-factor, but Dwight Howard (7 pts, 7 rebs) was strangely silent as well. And it wasn’t one of those nights where the Celtics played Hack-a-Beast or had Dwight in foul trouble; he only shot four free throws all game and was just bottled up by Kendrick Perkins, Rasheed Wallace and Big Baby. This was the game where you wanted Vince Carter to take over, but his team-high 15 points (5-12 FG) wasn’t nearly enough … As Jeff Van Gundy likes to say, there’s no reason why any team should need extra motivation in the conference finals, but if nothing else, the Magic should be insulted after hearing the Boston crowd chant “Beat L.A.!” in the third quarter … The 2010 free agent class is about to get even more superstar-studded, as Dirk Nowitzki has reportedly decided to opt out of his deal. (The Mavs still have until the end of June to lock him into an extension.) Seeing as teams like to begin courting their top targets at 12:01 a.m. on July 1, what’s the plan if you’re the Heat or Knicks or one of these squads with a ton of money to burn? Between LeBron, D-Wade, Bosh, Amar’e, Joe Johnson, Rudy Gay and now Dirk, do you even have enough employees to hit those guys early? Is the Knicks’ third-string ball boy gonna draw the Rudy Gay assignment? … Tell us you’ve seen the London 2012 Olympic mascots. Best-case scenario, we’d say they look like a pair of friendly cyclops wearing oven mitts. Worst-case? Well, let’s just say it wouldn’t be a stretch if they worked double duty as the Trojan mascots … We’re out like Orlando …
Smack / May 23, 2010 / 6:10 am
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