Pregame notes: Finally ... Game 3
May, 22, 2010
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com
Chris Forsberg/ESPNBoston.comReplica jerseys hang in the window at the TD Garden pro shop. What's Tony Allen gotta do to get some love around here?BOSTON -- A collection of pregame news and notes before the Boston Celtics host the Orlando Magic in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday at TD Garden:
The rundown (a quick look at pregame headlines)
* After three days of hype, it's finally time for Game 3
* Stats suggest Magic need a fast start in Boston
* Williams says back is better, returns to lineup
After three days of hype, it's finally time for Game 3
With the media light on questions during his pregame confab, Celtics coach Doc Rivers scanned the audience and joked, "It's been a month, there can't be any more questions."
Indeed, even the smallest of storylines have been run into the ground over the past 92 hours since Celtics captain Paul Pierce glanced into an ESPN camera and told fans Boston was coming home hoping to close out the Magic.
So Rivers was asked about his son Austin and how many times he got home to watch his high school basketball games after his youngest led Winter Park to a state championship (Rivers estimated about 11 times). And Magic coach Stan Van Gundy was asked whether he got to spend time with his brother Jeff, a commentator for ESPN, during the downtime (Van Gundy said he saw him for about 20 minutes during the lone off-day in Orlando, when he came to his house to visit the kids).
Needless to say, it's good to finally play basketball.
Stats suggest Magic need a fast start
The Magic already know they need to get off to a good start to avoid allowing the Boston crowd to get into the game and making a 2-0 deficit seem even more daunting than it already is. But the stats suggest it's important for Orlando to put together a quality first half after digging itself holes in Games 1 and 2.
The Celtics have dominated the first three quarters of Games 1 and 2. Boston is plus-24 in point differential (152-128), has shot 9.2 percent higher (47-37.8 percent) and committed seven fewer turnovers (28-21). It's a big difference in the fourth quarter, where Orlando has rallied from deficits of 17 (Game 1) and 11 (Game 2) to make things interesting. Orlando is plus-17 in point differential (52-35), has shot 9.9 percent better (46.8-38.7 percent) and committed six fewer turnovers (10-4).
Van Gundy noted the Magic need to be better offensively all around and take advantage of opportunities.
"We need to get quality shots as a team," said Van Gundy. "Defenses can, in a lot of cases, decide things they want to take away or limit, but they've got to open up other things, that's part of it. If [the Celtics] stay home on [Rashard Lewis], there's bigger gaps to drive the ball. But we haven't been efficient at making plays off those drives."
One thing Orlando has been good at is controlling the offensive glass. Orlando boasts a big advantage in second-chance points this series (32-17 in points with a 25-16 advantage in offensive rebounds), but Rivers stressed during the break that his team's focus will always be on getting back on defense to limit transition buckets.
"The only time we do it is if your man helps off you, then get to the glass," said Rivers. "Otherwise get back. ... Even if we didn’t get one [offensive rebound] and we took away every transition bucket, it probably equals what we would have had off offensive rebounds."
Williams says back is better, returns to lineup
Celtics forward Shelden Williams said his back is feeling better and he's back on the active roster for Saturday's game.
Williams was a scratch in Game 2 after mild back spasms led Rivers to activate Brian Scalabrine in his place. Williams participated in practice the past two days and was in full uniform in the locker room, where he said his back is "feeling good, much better."