After their game 4 victory in Boston, several Orlando Magic players insisted that they didn’t want to just win a game for pride – they thought they had a shot at making history. If their performance in game 5 is any indication, they might be capable of doing just that. In a game that has been described as momentum changing, the Magic defeated the Celtics 113-92 to keep their NBA championship hopes alive.
The tone was set by Magic center Dwight Howard, who as we noted yesterday, needed to continue his high level of play for Orlando to stay alive. Howard poured in 21 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and blocked 5 shots. Guard Jameer Nelson added 24 points of his own, while forward Rashard Lewis, who’s been dealing with flu-like symptoms, contributed 14 points. The biggest factor for the Magic was their first successful night shooting the deep ball in the series, making 13-25 from three point territory.
For the Celtics, the night was a rough one. Particular for their seemingly deep frontcourt. Center Kendrick Perkins was ejected after receiving two technical fouls late in the first half. Forward Glen Davis left the game with a concussion after being on the receiving end of a Dwight Howard elbow late in the third quarter. Rasheed Wallace fouled out with about 5 minutes left to play in the game, and according to head coach Doc Rivers, tweaked his back in the process. In addition to the trouble with their big men, Boston only shot 43% from the field, and the “big three” combination of Pierce, Allen, and Garnett only netted 37 combined points.
Heading into game 6, the status of several Boston players is unclear. It appeared that Perkins may have been suspended for the pivotal game due to reaching the NBA’s technical foul limit, but one of his techs from last night’s game was rescinded earlier today. Glen Davis’ status is still up in the air, though it is believed that he will take the court. Wallace’s back injury isn’t believed to be serious, but his status for game 6 is also unknown. Boston will certainly need as many healthy big bodies as they can suit up to stop a rejuvenated Dwight Howard.
In the history of major American professional sports leagues, there have only been four 3-0 series comebacks. Twice, those comebacks involved a team from Boston. The Red Sox triumph over the rival Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, and of course, the Philadelphia Flyers stunning the Boston Bruins in the NHL playoffs this year. However, no team has ever accomplished the feat in the NBA. That hasn’t stopped the Magic from believing that they can be the team that changes that. “At this point we believe we can win the series,” said Jameer Nelson. “We have to stay humble and keep focused and remember how we won these last two games. I believe they have pressure on them right now, but they have veteran players with Hall of Famers and a great coach.” We’ll see if the Magic can continue their bid to re-write history when they take on the Celtics in Boston on Friday.
images via Yahoo