NBA Playoff Nightcap: May 27th Edition

Half a comeback (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Today is just going to be one of those days where it's incredibly hard to focus on your job (or school), isn't it?  It isn't particularly often that your favorite team in all of sports plays such a large game.  In fact, the last time the Suns were this far along (2-2 in the Western Conference Finals), the year was 2006 and the plucky Stoudemire-less Suns rolled into Dallas looking to take control of the series.  That game ended with Dirk Nowitzki dropping 50 on Phoenix -- please don't get any ideas there, Kobe.

Wednesday May 26th Playoff Result:

Orlando Magicians 113 Boston Celtics 92 (Recap)Hey there, Boston, let me introduce you guys to pressure.  Taking a 3-0 series lead is certainly nice, but the thing about 3 wins is that it isn't 4 wins.  After several late offensive meltdowns in a Game 4 overtime loss, the Celtics took their now 3-1 lead into Orlando for Game 5.  The Magic took control of this game from the very beginning, leading by as many as 7 in the first quarter and holding an 8 point halftime lead.  At the 3:30 mark of the first quarter, the Celtics held a 19-17 lead -- they would never lead again.  The big story of the second quarter was the ejection of Kendrick Perkins.  Perkins received his first technical foul at the 1:17 mark of the second quarter after landing what appeared to be an unintentional elbow to Marcin Gortat and got his second just 51 seconds later when he raised his arms in protest of a personal foul.  Even without Perkins, the Celtics managed to cut the Orlando lead to 6 early in the third, but a lack of depth eventually caught up to Boston.  

Towards the end of the third, the already thin Celtics lost Glen Davis to a somewhat frightening concussion.  After getting a Dwight Howard elbow to the head, Davis stayed stunned on the floor for a few seconds before awkwardly rambling down the court with a complete lack of balance and having to be stopped by referee Joey Crawford.  Forced to play a few guys who hadn't played significant minutes in weeks (Nate Robinson, Shelden Williams, Marquis Daniels), Orlando pulled away in the fourth quarter and won by 21. 

Orlando was led by 24 points from Jameer Nelson, who hit 4 of his 5 three point attempts.  Dwight Howard again performed well, going for 21/10 with 5 blocks, and controlling most of the Boston front line.  The maligned Vince Carter continued to struggle, hitting for just 8 points on 3/10 shooting, but Rashard Lewis was OK for the second straight game (OK is a definite improvement over Games 1-3), scoring 14 on 6/11 from the field.  J.J. Redick was again very big for Orlando off the bench, scoring 14 points on 3/6 shooting and having the highest +/- rating of any player (+18) for the second straight game.  You'd have to expect that Redick continues to steal minutes from Carter in Game 6. 

Rasheed Wallace had by far his best performance of the playoffs in scoring 21 points to lead the Celtics.  Wallace hit 7 of his 9 field goal attempts but played only 18 minutes due to foul trouble (he would eventually foul out).  Rajon Rondo had a solid 19/6 game, but the original Boston Big 3 struggled as Paul Pierce was held to 18 on 3/8 shooting, Ray Allen shot 3/11 and was held to single digits for the second time in the series, and Kevin Garnett struggled from the field (5/14) and scored only 10 points.

The series now shifts back to Boston for Game 6 where it's possible that the Celtics could be without Kendrick Perkins (received his 7th technical of the playoffs which leads to an automatic suspension ... although one or both may be rescinded), Glen Davis (concussion), and Marquis Daniels (concussion).  Boston better treat this as a Game 7 because I cannot see Orlando losing a real Game 7 at home.  Should be interesting, and might be historic.

Conference Finals Series Standings:

(1) Lakers v. (3) Suns: 2-2 tied

(2) Magic v. (4) Celtics: 3-2 Celtics

Thursday May 26th Playoff Game:

Game 5:  Suns @ Lakers:  As everyone reading this site is aware, the Suns took Games 3 and 4 to even their Western Conference Finals series with the Lakers.  But here is the unfortunate reality with not having home court advantage: if the Suns are going to win this series, they have to win a game in Los Angeles.  In case you've forgotten, Phoenix hasn't won a road game against the Lakers since January 17, 2008 -- shortly before the arrival of Pau Gasol.  In fact, 5 of the 6 losses have been by 12 points or more.  Gulp?

90s NBA Flavor - Mitch Richmond - I'm a little bit biased to this high scoring guard as he attended Kansas State University, but it's hard to argue with his sweet jumper.  Richmond played in 6 All-Star games during the 90s and was the MVP of the 1995 All-Star Game held in Phoenix.  Though he never made first team All-NBA, he made the 2nd team 3 times and the third team twice.

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