The Celtics continued their winning streak by beating the Magic 94-71 in Game Three last Saturday. Boston has now won six games in a row and is up 3-0 on the Magic. Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals tips off Monday at 8:30 ET at the Boston Garden.
It looks like the Celtics will get a few days of extra rest before playing either the Phoenix Suns or the favorite Los Angels Lakers for the NBA Championship. No NBA team has ever comeback from a 3-0 deficit in the playoffs. Even though there was a historic 3-0 comeback in Boston this month by the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers, such a comeback by the Orlando Magic against the Celtics is astronomically slim.
Boston is one win away from their second trip to the championship in three years. This will be their twenty-first as a team.
Last post-season Orlando (59-23) took out Boston (62-20) in seven games in the second round. After beating the Celtics, the Magic with the same regular season record in 2009 as in 2010 went on to become the Eastern Conference champions. Game Seven in Orlando ended 82-101, and Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo remember. The Celtics’ top performers will be looking to crush Orlando in Game Four to ensure they get the sweep and end the series at home.
So what have the Celtics been doing so well? They have found a way to make Orlando ineffective. Rashard Lewis averaged 14.1 points during the regular season. He has averaged five against the Celtics this series. That isn’t a mistake; Lewis scored six points in Game One in 43 minutes of play, five points in Game Two in 41 minutes, and four points in Game Three in 28 minutes of play.
In Game Two the Celtics slowed down Magic point guard Jameer Nelson. Nelson, who averaged 12.6 points per game during the regular season and had 20 points in Game One, was taken away at home and scored only nine points in Game Two.
Right away Boston was able to take away Mickael Pietrus, a solid bench player for the Magic who averaged 8.7 points per game in an average of 22.5 minutes during the regular season. In Orlando’s second round series sweep against Atlanta, Pietrus averaged 11.5 points in an average of 25.5 minutes of play. After 21 minutes in Game One and 16 minutes in Game Two Pietrus had a total of nine points versus Boston.
While Boston is committed to winning a championship, Orlando’s spirit is dwindling. The Magic don’t appear to have the drive or desire to comeback in this series. Since they have a disembodied spirit, they can’t find the energy and concentration needed to win Game Four.
Odds makers opened the line giving the Magic six points. Sharp money has moved the line to seven. The total stands at 188. The money line on the Celtics is -350 at Pinnacle, and this might move more as tip off time gets closer. Other books with more juice have a slightly better number on the Celtics money line but they will catch up with Pinnacle.