Author Archives: Gethin

NBA Finals: Boston 103, Los Angeles 94: Ray-n out; Allen sets Finals record as Celtics win, even series

Celtics guard Ray Allen set an NBA Finals record by making eight three-pointers, seven of which came in the first quarter, as he scored a game-high 32 points en route to Boston's 103-94 Game 2 victory at Staples Center on Sunday night. (Christian Peterson/Getty Images)

Celtics guard Ray Allen set an NBA Finals record by making eight three-pointers, seven of which came in the first quarter, as he scored a game-high 32 points en route to Boston's 103-94 Game 2 victory at Staples Center on Sunday night. (Christian Peterson/Getty Images)

By Gethin Coolbaugh

LOS ANGELES – A lot had been said about Ray Allen’s lackluster performance in the Celtic’s loss in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

Apparently, Allen was listening, and he responded in a big way.

Allen set an NBA Finals record with 8 three-pointers and had a game-high 32 points as Boston toppled Los Angeles 103-94 in Game 2 of the NBA Finals at Staples Center on Sunday night.

In addition to his spectacular perimeter shooting (8-of-11), which will go down as one of the best in Finals history, Allen made 11-of-20 field goals and had three rebounds and two assists in 43 and a half minutes.

“Tonight, I just was focused on adjustments,” said Allen. “I try not to turn a shot down when I’m open for sure. Early in the game, we were able to get in transition and I got a couple threes early. Nothing was rushed, and I was the recipient of good passes.”

Allen tied the Finals record before halftime, making his first seven three-point attempts and finishing the half having made 7-of-8.

Boston took a 29-22 led after the first quarter behind Allen’s strong offensive performance. The Celtics built their lead to 14 midway through the second quarter, but the Lakers came back to cut Boston’s lead to 54-48 at halftime.

Los Angeles used a 5-0 run in the start of the third quarter to cut the deficit to one, and the two teams would trade leads all throughout the third quarter, which ended in a 72-72 tie.

Boston shut the door on the Lakers’ hopes of a 2-0 series lead in the fourth, outscoring Los Angeles 31-22 to preserve the series-tying victory.

Four Celtics scored in double digits and all 15 players on the roster played in the game. Rajon Rondo notched his second triple-double of the playoffs, scoring 19 points with 12 rebounds and 10 assists.

“Rondo pushed the ball in transition and we got a lot more transition opportunities than we did in Game 1,” Allen said.

Kendrick Perkins, who was a non-factor in Game 1, totaled 12 points and six rebounds. Paul Pierce added 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting, four rebounds and four assists in 40 minutes.

Kevin Garnett made only 2-of-5 shots to score six points and also had six assists and four rebounds.

Glen Davis led the Celtics’ bench in scoring with eight points on 4-of-13 shooting. In addition, Davis had seven rebounds (five offensive), one assist and one steal in 18 minutes.

Both Rasheed Wallace and Nate Robinson had seven points, and Wallace added seven rebounds.

Tony Allen scored two points in 12 minutes and Sheldon Williams did not score in 4 minutes.

Fouls plagued the Celtics for the second straight game as they amassed 29 fouls, as did the Lakers.

Los Angeles had three starters score in double digits, led by Pau Gasol’s team-high 25 points and eight rebounds.

Kobe Bryant scored 21 points with six assists and five rebounds and Andrew Bynum added 21 points and six rebounds.

Derek Fisher totaled six points and seven rebounds and Ron Artest added six points and five rebounds. Jordan Farmar scored seven points to lead the bench scoring, followed by three-point outings from Lamar Odom and Sashe Vujacic.

Shannon Brown was the low man on the team, scoring two points.

Boston made 36-of-84 shots to shoot 42.9% and hit 11-of-16 three-pointers (68.8%) and 20-of-26 free throws (76.9%).

Los Angeles connected on 29-of-71 shots to shoot 40.8% and made a dismal 5-of-22 three pointers (22.7%) and 31-of-41 free throws (75.6%).

The Celtics totaled 44 rebounds, 28 assists, 13 turnovers, six steals and three blocks while the Lakers had 29 rebounds, 18 assists, 15 turnovers, eight steals and 14 blocks.

The series shifts back to Boston for the next three games. The Celtics host the Lakers in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night at 9 p.m. EST (TV/Radio: ABC, TSN/WEEI).

Gethin Coolbaugh is the Associate Editor of Boston Sports U18. He can be reached at 774-279-1995 or at gethin.coolbaugh@bostonsportsu18.com. You can also visit Gethin Coolbaugh’s official website and follow Gethin Coolbaugh on Twitter.

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Celtics Journal: Celtics walking a dangerous line heading into Sunday’s Game 2 against Lakers

Celtics forwards Paul Pierce (bottom left) and Kevin Garnett have their work cut out for them as Boston looks to avenge its 102-89 Game 1 loss to Los Angeles in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night (8 p.m. EST, TV/Radio: ABC/WEEI)

Celtics forwards Paul Pierce (bottom left) and Kevin Garnett have their work cut out for them as Boston looks to avenge its 102-89 Game 1 loss to Los Angeles in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night (8 p.m. EST, TV/Radio: ABC/WEEI)

By Gethin Coolbaugh

It’s too early in the series for desperation games, but Sunday night’s match-up is as close as it gets to a must-win situation for the Celtics.

After dropping the opening game of the 2010 NBA Finals to the Lakers 102-89 on Thursday night, Boston faces a predicament that may very well define their season.

Should the Celtics drop Game 2 at Staples center tonight, they would most likely be forcing themselves down a road where the Lakers would be up 3–2 heading back to Los Angeles for games six and seven.

The concept of winning three in a row at home is not foreign to this Celtics team, but the odds of doing so against the Lakers is slim.

The general consensus seems to be that, if Boston is unable to tie the series on Sunday night, the Celtics will be able to win at least two of three at home. However, that might be wishful thinking at best.

Los Angeles is inarguably the toughest opponent Boston has had to face this postseason. The combination of superstars Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol with proven veterans such as Ron Artest, Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher may prove to be too much for the Celtics to handle down 0-2 in the series.

Discounting Boston’s veteran experience is a rookie move, as this current Celtics roster has had its fair share of tough opponents.

Nonetheless, they are still human and would certainly still feel pressure from an 0-2 hole.

Especially Kevin Garnett, who received criticism from Gasol after Boston’s Game 1 loss. Gasol, who has had his toughness questioned in years past, criticized Garnett, saying that he has lost some of his explosiveness from back when the two teams met in the Finals.

Many Boston fans felt that Gasol was adding fuel to the fire, but when analyzing the situation, his comments are completely founded in truth.

Garnet is two years older and has gone through right knee surgery from which he hasn’t fully recovered. It’s only natural that Garnett has lost a bit of his edge. Everyone ages at their own rate, and that includes athletes like Garnett.

After Gasol’s 23-point, 14-rebound performance in Game 1 and Garnett’s 16-point, four-rebound performance, it’s clear that Gasol has surpassed Garnett in talent level.

Garnett’s career on the whole has been much more fruitful than Gasol’s and always will be, but it was only a matter of time until Gasol overtook Garnett in the talent department.

But don’t be fooled, Garnett is no slouch. In his mind, Game 1 was a flop that won’t happen again this series.

Let’s hope he’s right, or the Celtics will find themselves in a hole that may be too deep to dig out of come Monday morning.

Gethin Coolbaugh is the Associate Editor of Boston Sports U18. He can be reached at 774-279-1995 or at gethin.coolbaugh@bostonsportsu18.com. You can also visit Gethin Coolbaugh’s official website and follow Gethin Coolbaugh on Twitter.

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Coolbaugh: Same teams, same rivalry, new pieces

Celtics forward Paul Pierce (left) and Lakers forward Ron Artest are both critical components to their team's success in the NBA Finals. Pierce scored a team-high 24 points in Game 1, but Artest proved to be the difference in the game with his 15 points and four rebounds in addition to Kobe Bryant's 30 points and Pau Gasol's 23 points in Los Angeles' 102-89 win on Thursday night. (Robyn Beck/AFP Photo)

Celtics forward Paul Pierce (left) and Lakers forward Ron Artest are both critical components to their team's success in the NBA Finals. Pierce scored a team-high 24 points in Game 1, but Artest proved to be the difference in the game with his 15 points and four rebounds in addition to Kobe Bryant's 30 points and Pau Gasol's 23 points in Los Angeles' 102-89 win on Thursday night. (Robyn Beck/AFP Photo)

By Gethin Coolbaugh

Make no mistake, this is still a series between the two most storied franchises in NBA history: the Celtics and Lakers.

But both are completely different teams than they were when they met in the Finals back in 2008.

The Lakers are much better off now, while the Celtics, lets face it, have gone downhill.

There’s no question that Boston was the better team in 2008, having the better starting rotation and a strong bench.

At that point, the Lakers boasted only two stars in Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. They still had Derek Fisher and Andrew Bynum, though Bynum missed the Finals, but they didn’t have a major impact.

Now, only two years later, the Lakers are primed for another mini-dynasty like that of the Lakers teams of 2000-2002.

They’ve already been in three Finals in a row including this year’s. The defeated the Magic in five games last year and lost to the Celtics back in ’08. And with their 102-89 Game 1 win against the Celtics on Thursday night, they are in good shape to make it two championship titles in three seasons.

But let’s not jump ahead of ourselves.

As for the Celtics, after winning in 2008, they cooled off. Last season started with a bang as Boston jumped out to a 27-3 start, but they fell back to Earth in the final half of the season.

Being an old team, the Celtics were hit hard by the injury bug. Kevin Garnett was hit particularly hard after he was sidelined for the remainder of the season after suffering a right knee injury against Houston.

Boston made some noise in the playoffs after topping the Chicago Bulls in seven games in the most eventful first-round series in league history.

Their bid for a repeat was ended by the Orlando Magic, who ousted the Celtics in Game 7 at TD Garden en route to their second appearance in the NBA Finals.

This season, the Celtics again started out hot, but they finished the regular season with a 50-32 record and in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. In its final 54 games, Boston posted a lackluster 27-27 record.

Miami proved to be a pushover in the first round of the playoffs after the Celtics bulldozed Dwayne Wade and the Heat in five games.

And then, the now historic flip of the switch.

Boston went from a team that finished its season in the middle of the pack to a team that played like it was 2008 all over again.

After winning one of the first three games against Cleveland in the conference semifinals, the C’s rattled off three straight wins to eliminate King James and the Cavs.

Then they made mince meat of the Orlando Magic, despite a two-game scare that pushed the series to six games.

But no one ever doubted that the Celtics would return to the Finals after putting up a commanding 3-0 series lead against the Magic.

And then, it was a rematch of the ’08 Finals.

But stop right there. That’s the last time that I’ll mention the 2008 Finals.

This series features two teams that resemble that of their meeting two years ago in name only. To borrow the overused adage, it’s a whole new ballgame now.

Kobe Bryant scored 30 points to lead all scorers and Pau Gasol added 23 points and 14 rebounds in the Lakers’ 102-89 Game 1 victory on Thursday night, but neither was the difference in the game.

While Bryant and Gasol provided the scoring, it was Ron Artest who proved to be the game’s X factor.

Artest scored 15 points and had four rebounds in 32 minutes. In the plus/minus category, Artest was an astonishing plus 26.

The closest Laker to Artest in plus/minus was point guard Derek Fisher, who was plus 18.

In perspective, the closest Celtic was Nate Robinson at plus 10.

The Celtics lost by 13, meaning that if Artest didn’t come up big in Game 1, we might be looking at a different situation heading into Game 2 at Staples Center on Sunday night (8 p.m. EST, TV/Radio: ABC/WEEI).

It’s imperative for the Celtics to find a way to contain the former NBA Defensive Player of the Year offensively.

Entering the series, the prominent concern was Artest’s defense. But now, the Celtics will have to consider him as an offensive threat.

If they can’t find a way to keep Artest from scoring, the Lakers may very well be just one championship away from tying the Celtics for most in league history.

That’s a scary though.

Gethin Coolbaugh is the Associate Editor of Boston Sports U18. He can be reached at 774-279-1995 or at gethin.coolbaugh@bostonsportsu18.com. You can also visit Gethin Coolbaugh’s official website and follow Gethin Coolbaugh on Twitter.

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NBA Finals: Los Angeles 102, Boston 89: Pau-er Play; Lakers pull away in third quarter, draw first blood

Lakers forward Pau Gasol totaled -- points and 14 rebounds as the Lakers defeated the Celtics 102-89 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals at Staples Center on Thursday night. (Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

Lakers forward Pau Gasol totaled 23 points and 14 rebounds as the Lakers defeated the Celtics 102-89 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals at Staples Center on Thursday night. (Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

By Gethin Coolbaugh

LOS ANGELES – The statistics say that over 70% of the teams who win Game 1 of the NBA Finals go on to win the series.

If that holds true, the Celtics are in trouble.

Kobe Bryant amassed 30 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists and Pau Gasol added 23 points and 14 rebounds as the Lakers triumphed over the Celtics with a 102-89 win in Game 1 of the NBA Finals at Staples Center on Thursday night.

Los Angeles, which holds a 1-0 series lead, jumped out to a 26-21first quarter lead and outscored the Celtics 24-20 in the second quarter to take a 50-41 halftime lead.

The Lakers pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring Boston 34-23. The Celtics opened the fourth quarter on an 8-1 run and outscored Los Angeles 25-18, but it was too little, too late.

Ron Artest added 15 points and four rebounds and Derek Fisher chipped in with nine points, three rebounds and three assists.

Shannon Brown scored six points off the bench, Lamar Odom added five and Jordan Farmar scored four points.

Paul Pierce paced the Celtics offense, finishing with 24 points, nine rebounds and four assists in 45 minutes. He struggled from the floor early but finished the game having made 6-of-13 field goals. Despite the sub-par shooting performance, Pierce made 12-of-13 free throws.

Kevin Garnett, who played with visible fatigue throughout the game, totaled 16 points and four rebounds in 34 minutes.

Rajon Rondo had 13 points, six rebounds and eight assists and Ray Allen scored 12 points but did not have a rebound or steal.

Kendrick Perkins, who is still one technical foul away from an automatic one-game suspension, scored eight points and had three rebounds.

Rasheed Wallace led the Celtics bench in scoring with nine points in 18 minutes. Tony Allen had four points and Glen Davis scored three points and had three rebounds.

Nate Robinson, who was coming off of a spectacular performance in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against Orlando, did not score and had two rebounds and four assists in 13 minutes.

Celtics captain Paul Pierce led the team with 24 points but also had five fouls in Boston's Game 1 loss against Los Angeles. (Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

Celtics captain Paul Pierce led the team with 24 points but also had five fouls in Boston's Game 1 loss against Los Angeles. (Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

The Celtics were plagued by fouls through the entirety of the game, as they totaled 28 team fouls. Ray Allen and Pierce both had five fouls, Tony Allen had four,  Garnett, Perkins and Wallace had three a piece, Rondo and Robinson had two and Davis had one.

The Lakers had 26 team fouls and were led by Odom’s five fouls. Bryant, Fisher and Gasol had three fouls and Farmar, Sasha Vujacic and Luke Walton each had one.

Boston made 29-of-67 shots to shoot 43.3% for the game and hit 30-of-36 free throws (83.3%).

Despite having two of the games best three-point shooters in Ray Allen and Pierce, the Celtics made a dismal 1-of-10 shots (10%) from beyond the arch.

Los Angeles connected on 37-of-76 shots to shoot 48.7% and made 4-of-10 three pointers (40%) and 24-of-32 free throws (77.4%).

The Celtics collected 31 rebounds (eight offensive) and had 19 assists, 13 turnovers, five steals and five blocks while the Lakers amassed 42 rebounds (12 offensive), 18 assists, 12 turnovers, six steals and seven blocks.

Los Angeles hosts Boston in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday evening at Staples Center (8 p.m. EST, TV/Radio: ABC, TSN/WEEI).

Gethin Coolbaugh is the Associate Editor of Boston Sports U18. He can be reached at 774-279-1995 or at gethin.coolbaugh@bostonsportsu18.com. You can also visit Gethin Coolbaugh’s official website and follow Gethin Coolbaugh on Twitter.

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Celtics Journal: The moment of truth has arrived

Celtics captain Paul Pierce leads his troops to battle with the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night at Staples Center at 9 p.m. EST (TV/Radio: ABC/WEEI)

Celtics captain Paul Pierce leads his troops to battle with the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night at Staples Center at 9 p.m. EST (TV/Radio: ABC/WEEI). (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

By Gethin Coolbaugh

Somewhere, Walter Brown has a smile on his face.

Brown, the Celtics original owner, went through financial hardship during his days at the helm of the team. There was a point he even had to take out a second mortgage on his house just to make sure that his players got paid.

But through his hard work and love for his team, he created the single greatest franchise in sports history.

A franchise that is on the cusp of its second NBA Championship title in three years and it’s league-leading 18th overall.

My oh my, how far Brown’s efforts have gone.

Boston and archrival Los Angeles square off in the NBA Finals for the 12th time in league history as the two teams tipped off the series Thursday night at Staples Center in L.A.

Los Angeles rolled to a 102-89 victory behind Kobe Bryant’s game-high 30 points and Pau Gasol’s 23 points and 14 rebounds.

The Lakers waltzed into their third straight Finals appearance after having disbanded Oklahoma City in six games, Utah in four and Phoenix in six. Superstar Kobe Bryant is looking to add his fifth championship title to his resume while coach Phil Jackson hopes to gain his 11th.

Despite trouble with the Thunder in the first round and the Suns in the Western Conference Finals, the road to the Finals has been smooth sailing for the Lakers.

But for Doc Rivers’ Celtics, it’s been anything but.

Boston’s path to the Finals was all but conventional. After defeating Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat in five games, the Celtics took on the Eastern Conference’s top-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers. Oh, and the King, LeBron James, too.

Many Celtics fans, myself included, figured that Boston didn’t stand a chance against the King and his troops. After all, like 2008 was seen as the Celtics’ year, the 2010 NBA title was supposed to go to the Cavaliers.

But miraculously, the Celtics did something that we all didn’t believe was possible, even though they had hinted to it in the regular season.

They flipped the switch.

The very same team that posted a middle-of-the-road 50-32 regular season record and a 27-27 mark in their final 54 games turned themselves around.

Boston eliminated the Cavaliers in a stunning five games. After Splitting the first two games, Boston steam-rolled the Cavaliers in the next three to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

And that was where many fans drew the line, again, myself included.

It’s one thing to beat Cleveland, but entering the conference finals, Orlando was the hottest team in basketball having rolled off eight consecutive victories, four against the Charlotte Bobcats and four against the Atlanta Hawks.

The Magic were assured to have their way with this aging Celtics roster and would happily trot back to the NBA Finals for the second straight season.

Not so fast Superman, the Celtics proved to be your Kryptonite.

The Celtics stormed out to a 3-0 series lead as the Magic played like a team dazed and confused in the first three games. Orlando won games four and five, leading Boston sports fans to begin to question  if the Celtics could shut the door.

By that point, I had no doubt in my mind as to who would be going to the NBA Finals.  Once the Celtics got into that championship groove, there’s no stopping them.

I could tell by that friendly wink in Paul Pierce’s eyes after Game 2 in Orlando. You just knew that the Celtics were going to the Finals for the 21st time.

The Celtics ultimately closed out the Magic with a 96-84 win in Game 6 at TD Garden, punching their ticket to the Finals.

Celtics reserve Tony Allen stands in reverence of the Eastern Conference Championship trophy after the Celtics elimiated the Magic in Game 6 at TD Garden. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Celtics reserve Tony Allen stands in reverence of the Eastern Conference Championship trophy after the Celtics eliminated the Magic in Game 6 at TD Garden. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Despite their triumphant return to the top, there’s still four more games to win. And wouldn’t you know it, against the archrival Lakers. How could the story play out any better than this?

For Boston, there are several key match-ups to focus on if they want to defeat the Lakers.

First and foremost, the match-up featuring Celtics forward Kevin Garnett and Lakers forward Pau Gasol.

Garnett’s critics maintain that Garnett is too small and thin to body up against Gasol. And, quite frankly, they might be right.

Gasol plays a similar style of basketball to that of the a younger Kevin Garnett. He’s not afraid to step back and take a jump shot but can also dominate in the post. In order to contain Gasol, Garnett will have to play lockdown defense in the post.

Which, for a former Defensive Player of the Year, shouldn’t be too hard.

But where Garnett excels in this series is his ability to spread the defense. The Big Ticket is just as capable of shooting a jump shot from the top of the key as he is playing in the low post.

No doubt, Garnett’s offense will be a critical factor in the Celtics’ success this series. Boston won’t always need Garnett to score, but they will need him to contain Gasol in the post. Based on the fact that Garnett was karate chopping Dwight Howard, expect to see similar displays of affection between him and Gasol.

The next key for a Celtics championship banner is also my favorite. And it should be for purist basketball fans nation-wide.

The match up between former conference rivals Paul Pierce and Ron Srtest may turn out to be the most physical of the entire series. And it’s certainly the one that I’m looking forward to the most.

As a lifelong Celtics fan, one that didn’t jump on the bandwagon in 2008, I have fond memories of the Pierce-Artest battles in the Playoffs of the early 2000′s.

When Artest was a member of the Pacers, he was widely considered the league’s best defender. Pierce, who was the Celtics’ only superstar at the time, was know as one of the league’s best scorers. Put the two together, and you’ve got a dogfight.

Both are a little older, but don’t be mistaken, the animosity is still there.

But one of them has to give. Pierce was the X factor in Boston’s win over Orlando in the conference finals. Artest, on the other hand, was supposed to be the factor in the Lakers winning it all this year.

My money is on Pierce’s scoring trumping Artest’s defense, as Pierce has been more consistent throughout the years.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson (left) and Kobe Bryant are both looking to add to their championship total against the Celtics in the 2010 NBA Finals. (Jae C. Hong/AP Photo)

Lakers coach Phil Jackson (left) and Kobe Bryant are both looking to add to their championship total against the Celtics in the 2010 NBA Finals. (Jae C. Hong/AP Photo)

And then, there’s the best scorer on the floor this series: Kobe Bryant.

In the same way that the Celtics knew they weren’t going to have a chance at stopping Dwayne Wade, LeBron James or Dwight Howard from lighting up the scoreboard, they do not have a shot at silencing Bryant.

With four championship rings on his fingers, Bryant knows what it takes to win, and you can guarantee that he will put up 30 points a night in nearly every game of the series.

Ray Allen will most likely be give the task of defending Bryant, which may turn into more of a mop up roll for Allen. Don’t hurt yourself trying to stop him, just keep it from getting out of hand.

That isn’t said as a slight to Allen’s defense, but more of a compliment to Kobe’s game. Bryant will go down as one of the best ever to play the game of basketball. There’s a reason he’s earned that title.

On the flip side, Allen has a chance to exploit his match-up on the other end. Bryant is a skilled defender, but Allen’s jump shots are lightning fast and on-target 9.5 out of 10 times.

Allen doesn’t not appear to be an X factor going into the series, but he’s more than capable of having a few big series-altering games.

The glaring mismatch in the series is at the point guard position, where Boston’s Rajon Rondo has emerged as a star this postseason.

Lakers guard Derek Fisher will be give the task of containing Rondo’ but like Allen on Bryant, it may be a mop up roll.

Expect Rondo to have his way in the match-up, as his quickness and explosiveness will wear out the aging Fisher. Not to discredit Fisher, who was been a very solid NBA player in his career, but we all get old eventually.

The last battle to watch will be one that we didn’t see in 2008 when the two teams met in the Finals. Celtics center Kendrick Perkins will take on Lakers big man Andrew Bynum in what appears to be an even match.

Perkins has emerged as a top-cut center in the league while Bynum is still up and coming. Entering the Finals, Bynum is suffering setbacks, including an excess amount of fluid in his knee.

On the other hand, Perkins is just one technical foul away from a one-game suspension. Given his style of play, one is not led to believe that Perkins can hold his tongue for a possible seven game series.

On the bench, it would appear as if the Celtics have the advantage. Led by veteran Rasheed Wallace and rising star Glen “Big Baby” Davis, the Celtics have a group capable of maintaining the pressure and tempo on the court while giving the starters some much-needed rest.

Wallace has also made the switch from his disappointing regular season play, coming on in a big way several points throughout the conference semifinals and finals.

Davis has continued to progress and develop his talent, and will unquestionably be the most energetic player on the court when Garnett is on the bench.

After back up point guard Nate Robinson’s 13-point outburst in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics have a solid Plan B when Rondo needs a break or, God forbid, suffers an injury.

For the Lakers, Lamar Odom is their bench stud. A former starter with Miami and Los Angeles, Odom has found a comfort zone coming off the bench and was a big factor in the Lakers championshgip run a season ago.

Aside from Odom, Shannon Brown Luke Walton, Sasha Vujacic and Adam Morrison may be able to provide flashes off the bench, but no more than that.

In the end, the Celtics have the advantage on the bench, and ultimately, in the series.

The view outside of TD Garden before Game 5 of the NBA Finals in 2008. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The view outside of TD Garden before Game 5 of the NBA Finals in 2008. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

PREDICTION

We’ve seen the Celtics top the Lakers in the NBA Finals once already. Kobe Bryant is geared up to face the Celtics in Round 2, and he knows what on the line for his legacy. You’re only a true Lakers great when you beat the Celtics in the Finals.

Unfortunately for Kobe, the Celtics know what’s on the line too.

Pierce, Garnett and Allen all know that this is it. Barring another miraculous run, this is most likely the last time that they will ever be able to reach the NBA Finals as the Big Three.

And from the intensity that they displayed back in 2008 and so far this postseason, I don’t see any reason to discount that.

The 15 men on the Boston Celtics roster are hungry for their second title in tow years, and none more than Doc Rivers and the Big Three.

Los Angeles will be Boston’s biggest challenge yet, but everything that we’ve seen this postseason has led me to believe that the are up to it.

And again, what I’ve learned from watching the Big Three is that, when they want something, there is no stopping them.

That’s what has led me to pick the Boston Celtics to win their 18th NBA Championship title in seven games over the Los Angeles Lakers.

It will be a fitting end to the careers of Rivers, the Big Three, and more importantly, this chapter in Celtics history.

Gethin Coolbaugh is the Associate Editor of Boston Sports U18. He can be reached at 774-279-1995 or at gethin.coolbaugh@bostonsportsu18.com. You can also visit Gethin Coolbaugh’s official website and follow Gethin Coolbaugh on Twitter.

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Serocki: Remembering Boston’s decade of dominance

Boston's championship trophies are put on display at Fenway Park. From 2000-2010, the Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics have all won championship titles, with the Patriots winning three times, the Red Sox two times and the Celtics once. (4SportBoston.com Photo)

Boston's championship trophies are put on display at Fenway Park. From 2000-2010, the Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics have all won championship titles, with the Patriots winning three times, the Red Sox two times and the Celtics once. (4SportBoston.com Photo)

By Matt Serocki

If you were a sports fan in Boston from 2000-2010, you were spoiled.

Heading into a new decade, Bostonians are left wondering if the next ten years will be able to come close to the past ten.

Living up to the 2000′s will be a hard task for the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and even Bruins to achieve.

The Patriots were the first Boston-based pro sports team to hit paydirt when they upset the St. Louis Rams 20-17 in Super Bowl XXXVI.  The Rams set offensive records with “the Greatest Show on Turf” and were the hands down favorite to win their second title in three years.

Instead, the Patriots beat the Oakland Raiders in the infamous “Tuck Rule” game en route to the Super Bowl upset.  After that win, analysts, NFL players, owners and fans alike began to take New England seriously as one of the preeminent NFL franchises.

The 2003 season would mark the start of a then NFL-record 18-game winning streak for New England as the Patriots won 18 consecutive regular season games.  The season culminated with the heavily-favored Patriots edging the upstart Carolina Panthers 32-29 in a game highlighted by a second-half scorefest.  The difference once again was an Adam Vinatieri field goal.

2004 put Boston sports in the limelight even moreso when the Red Sox beat their bitter rivals, the New York Yankees, in the ALCS after trailing 3-0.  The series victory was also highlighted by Curt Schilling taking the mound in Game 6 with his now infamous bloody sock.

After exacting revenge on the Yankees, Boston swept the National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals for the city’s first World Series title since 1918.  The innate sense of “we never win a championship” subsided in many Bostonians but others still felt as if the Red Sox were always cursed.

The Patriots returned to the Super Bowl after the 2004 season, this time topping Donovan McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles by a field goal.  While the final score wasn’t indicative of the dominance, the talk of a dynasty in New England began to cross every NFL prognosticator’s path.

In 2007, the Patriots and Red Sox shared the spotlight again, as the Red Sox swept the Colorado Rockies in the World Series while the Patriots made history once again by becoming the first team in NFL history to go 16-0 during the regular season.

While Tom Brady, Wes Welker and Randy Moss helped set numerous offensive records league-wide, the stress of an undefeated season took its toll.  Many thought that the Pats should have lost a game before the playoffs while others felt doing so would be a cop out.

New England beat the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Divisional round and then the San Diego Chargers in the AFC Championship Game that season to go to 18-0.

In Super Bowl XLII, New England was heavily favored over the NFC Champion New York Giants.  Giants’ Quarterback Eli Manning was clearly the greenhorn as Tom Brady was making his fourth career Super Bowl start.

What started as a historic run (the Pats broke their own record for regular season games in a row won during the 2007 season with 19 games, dating back to a 40-7 win over the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 17, 2006) ended in shock as the Giants pulled off quite possibly the biggest upset in Super Bowl history with a 17-14 victory.

The Giants provided a “blueprint” on how to offset the Patriots’ high octane offensive assault with its pass rush led by Michael Strahan, Osi Umeyiora and Justin Tuck. The plan was simple – if Tom Brady is on his backside, he cannot hit receivers in stride or over the middle.

After years mired in mediocrity or worse, the Boston Celtics made national headlines when they acquired veterans Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.  Pairing the two perennial all-stars with incumbent Celtics’ star Paul Pierce led the media to dub the trio “the Big Three.”

“The Big Three” went 66-16 that year and faced the long-time rival Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.  The Celtics moves paid off as Boston won the series 4-2.  It re-energized a franchise that had made forgettable postseason appearances when they had made it to the playoffs.

The days of Antoine Walker, Tony Battie, Walter McCarty, Dana Barros and early Paul Pierce were soon a distant memory.

After the Patriots’ record-setting 2007 season, Tom Brady injured his ankle in the 2008 season opener against Kansas City. Chiefs’ safety Bernard Pollard hit Brady at his legs and knocked the future Hall-of-Famer out for the entire 2008 season.  The hit made an overnight star of quarterback Matt Cassel, who was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs the next season.

Now it is 2010, and the Boston Celtics look to kick off the new decade as the first Boston-area team to win a championship.  Although facing the Lakers again, the chances are just as good to win a title.

While we have been spoiled over the last ten years, we must remember that cities like Cleveland and Seattle haven’t won any major championships in a great while.

Matt Serocki is a Blogger for Boston Sports U18. He is also a Sports Correspondent for The MetroWest Daily News. He can be reached at mattser82@yahoo.com.

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Coolbaugh: In the Finals, Celtics aren’t done yet

Celtics captain Paul Pierce joins in the celebration after Boston defeated Orlando 96-84 to advance to the NBA Finals in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden on Friday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Celtics captain Paul Pierce joins in the celebration after Boston defeated Orlando 96-84 to advance to the NBA Finals in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden on Friday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

By Gethin Coolbaugh

The reality of the situation is just starting to set in.

The Boston Celtics are the Eastern Conference Champions and are headed back to the NBA Finals.

Has a nice ring to it, no?

But things weren’t always this positive for the Celtics, even as late as, well, yesterday.

Entering Friday night’s Game 6 against the Orlando magic, Boston was taking heat nation wide after dropping two straight to the Magic after taking a commanding 3-0 series lead.

Celtics fans began to stick their heads into the ground, exclaiming that Boston’s season was over and it would lose four straight like the Bruins.

It seemed as if most fans felt like the Magic already had the series in the bag, even though they had only won two games.

Now, if you ask around the streets of Boston, fans have been struck with sudden amnesia about anything that happened to the Celtics before Friday.

What concerns? We didn’t blow a 3-0 lead? We steam-rolled the Magic, right?

You can’t take away the fact that the Celtics are the conference champions and are in the Finals for the second time in three seasons.

But as Celtics coach Doc Rivers has been quick to point out all season long,`their goal was to win a championship, not to be the runner up.

That’s not to take a way from their accomplishments. For a middle-of-the-road team to eliminate the Heat in five games and then send both Cleveland and Orlando home is not small feat. Their success should be celebrated by both players and fans, but remember who we are.

The 17-time World Champions, to be exact.

Last time I checked, the Celtics don’t hang Atlantic Division or Eastern Conference title banners in the rafters. The only thing that hangs in TD Garden is white championship banners.

And the only way to get that coveted 18th banner is to best the Lakers in seven games.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers pumps his fist after the Celtics' win over the Magic in Game 6 on Friday night. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Celtics coach Doc Rivers pumps his fist after the Celtics' win over the Magic in Game 6 on Friday night. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Yes, I just slighted the Suns. Come on, does anyone really think that Los Angeles won’t close out Phoenix in Game 6 or 7? It’s practically a foregone conclusion.

For all the Celtics problems this year, from injuries to lackluster play, it all comes down to one seven game series against archrival Los Angeles.

I’m sure that David Stern and other league officials are licking their chops at a Celtics-Lakers rematch in the Finals. After all, it’s where amazing happens.

Where as teams like Orlando went wild and crazy when they advance to face the Lakers in the 2009 NBA Finals, it’s business as usual for the Celtics.

In fairness, the Magic deserved to celebrate after making the Finals last season. After all, it was only the second time and franchise history.

But it’s different for a team that has been there 21 times. This is a town where second place is met with a disappointed shun.

In the meantime, go ahead and celebrate your Eastern Conference Champions.

Buy the NBA Finals hat and t-shirt, smoke a victory cigar for Red (if you’re old enough, of course) and emulate Paul Pierce’s trademark fadeaway.

Just remember that the job isn’t done until the Celtics win four more games.

Gethin Coolbaugh is the Associate Editor of Boston Sports U18. He can be reached at 774-279-1995 or at gethin.coolbaugh@bostonsportsu18.com. You can also visit Gethin Coolbaugh’s official website and follow Gethin Coolbaugh on Twitter.

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Boston 96, Orlando 84: Robinson, Celtics eliminate Magic in Game 6; Boston headed back to NBA Finals

Celtics guard Nate Robinson celebrates as Boston defeated Orlando 96-84 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden on Friday night to eliminate the Magic and advance to the NBA Finals for the 21st time in franchise history. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Celtics guard Nate Robinson celebrates during Boston's 96-84 victory over Orlando in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden on Friday night. With the win, Boston eliminated the Magic and advanced to the NBA Finals for the 21st time in franchise history. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

By Gethin Coolbaugh

BOSTON – It seemed that nothing was going right for the Celtics this past week.

After taking a 3-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals, Boston dropped two straight and seemed to be destined for elimination.

Nate Robinson and the Celtics turned the tables on Orlando, dealing the Magic a 96-84 defeat in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden on Friday night.

With their victory, the Celtics eliminated the Magic, winning the series 4-2 and advancing to the NBA Finals for the 21st time in franchise history.

Robinson, who entered the game in the second quarter after point guard Rajon Rondo suffered a back injury, provided the Celtics with a much-needed spark off the bench, finishing with 13 points in 13 minutes.

“Nate Robinson was huge in the first half,” said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. “That was a huge, huge lift for them.”

While Robinson provided the spark, captain Paul Pierce put in the game’s best performance, totaling a game-high 31 points on 9-of-15 shooting, 13 rebounds and five assists in 44 and a half minutes.

Boston and Orlando traded baskets early on in the first quarter, but Robinson’s spark spurred the Celtics to a 30-19.

Both teams played even through the second quarter, as Boston outscored Orlando 25-23 to take a 55-42 halftime lead.

The Magic outscored the Celtics 23-14 in the fourth quarter and 42-41 in the second half, but the damage had already been done.

Celtics president Danny Ainge hoists the Eastern Conference Championship trophy after the Celtics defeated the Magic in Game 6. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Celtics president Danny Ainge hoists the Eastern Conference Championship trophy after the Celtics defeated the Magic in Game 6. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Boston had five players score in double-digits. Ray Allen added 20 points, Rondo had 14 points and six assists and Kevin Garnett totaled 10 points and five rebounds for the Celtics.

“This starting five has never lost a series, ever,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers told the media. “We believed that coming into the season, and we just kept believing.”

Kendrick Perkins, who had his second technical foul rescinded by the NBA prior to Friday night’s Game 6, had a lackluster performance, scoring two points with seven rebounds and two assists.

Glen Davis scored six points and had seven rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench. Rasheed Wallace and Tony Allen did not score, but Wallace (12 minutes) had three rebounds and Allen (13 minutes) added one rebound and one assist.

Orlando had three players score in double-digits and was led by center Dwight Howard’s 28 points, 12 rebounds, two steals and one black.

“Those guys played like they wanted to win the championship the whole series,” said Howard. “That’s why they’re in the position they’re in now.”

Vince Carter added 17 points and seven rebounds, Jameer Nelson totaled 11 points and four assists and Rashard Lewis had seven points and eight rebounds.

Matt Barnes, seen by many as a difference maker in the series, scored one point on a free throw and did not attempt a shot from the field in 21 minutes.

J.J. Redick and Mikael Pietrus paced the Magic bench, scoring seven points apiece. Jason Williams scored five points and Marcin Gortat had one point.

Boston made 32-of-75 shots to shoot 42.7% and connected on 10-of-22 three pointers (45.5%) and 22-of-27 free throws (81.5%).

Orlando hit 31-of-72 shots to shoot 43.1% from the field and made 6-of-22 three point shots (27.3%) and 16-of-27 free throws (59.3%).

Celtics captain Paul Pierce celebrates after Boston's series-clinching victory on Friday night. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Celtics captain Paul Pierce celebrates after Boston's series-clinching victory on Friday night. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The Celtics amassed 45 rebounds, 19 assists, 13 turnovers and seven steals while the Magic totaled 35 rebounds, 14 assists, 12 turnovers and eight steals.

Boston had 25 fouls and Orlando had 21 and both teams had three steals each.

The Celtics will face the winner of the Lakers/Suns series in Game 1 of the NBA Finals next Thursday night.

While the Celtics won a title in 2008, they aren’t satisfied with the status quo.

“Obviously, one is special,” said Rivers. “But the other groups have a couple, and we would love to join that club. No one can ever take away that first one, but we want to join the other club, too.”

Los Angeles leads the series against Phoenix 3-2, and whichever team advances to the Finals will have home court advantage.

Gethin Coolbaugh is the Associate Editor of Boston Sports U18. He can be reached at 774-279-1995 or at gethin.coolbaugh@bostonsportsu18.com. You can also visit Gethin Coolbaugh’s official website and follow Gethin Coolbaugh on Twitter.

*Quotes in this story were used from AP Sports Writer Jimmy Golen’s game story, which can be read on Yahoo! Sports by clicking this link.

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Celtics Journal: Tough times for Celtics, but don’t count them out yet; Perkins’ technical rescinded

Celtics forward Kevin Garnett (left) and captain Paul Pierce sit on the bench during the Celtics 113-92 loss to the Orlando Magic in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday night. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Celtics forward Kevin Garnett (left) and captain Paul Pierce sit on the bench during the Celtics 113-92 loss to the Orlando Magic in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday night. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

By Gethin Coolbaugh

As the old adage goes, whatever can go wrong will go wrong.

The Boston Celtics know that all too well after Wednesday night’s debacle against Orlando in Game 5.

Everything from technical fouls, lackluster play and devastating injuries plagued the Celtics all game long, eventually resulting in a 113-92 loss that forced Game 6 back at TD Garden on Friday night at 8:30 p.m. (TV/Radio: ESPN/WEEI).

Now the pressure has transitioned from the Magic bench to the Celtics’. Boston has two chances to close out the series with their chances waning after each loss.

If the Magic pull off a victory in Game 6, they will be the third team ever to tie a seven-game series at three after trailing 0-3. Then, it’s truly a win-or-go-home situation.

A 4-3 loss after leading 3-0 is the last thing the city of Boston needs following a similar collapse by the Bruins.

But not to worry Celtics fans, that won’t happen to Boston twice in the same year.

What the Boston Bruins lacked was experience and fortitude, which is exactly what the Boston Celtics have.

The veteran leadership provided by Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rasheed Wallace is the one factor that will keep the Celtics from elimination. At least in this round.

No doubt Howard, Jameer Nelson and Co. will come out with the guns blazing, but the Big THree won’t allow Game 6 to get out of hand.

Look for a close game through three quarters, but expect the Celtics to take command in the fourth and send the Magic home for good.

It’s certainly possible for the Celtics to lose in Game 6, and that would change the opinions of many supportive Celtics fans.

Even still, Boston will advance to the NBA Finals. They are too experienced not to.

Celtics center Kendrick Perkins exits the court after receiving his second technical foul in Game 5 on Wednesday night. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Celtics center Kendrick Perkins exits the court after receiving his second technical foul in Game 5 on Wednesday night. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

PERKINS’ TECHNICALS RESCINDED

After official review, the league offices have rescinded the second technical foul against Celtics center Kendrick Perkins from Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday night.

Perkins was called for a technical after complaining to official Eddie T. Rush after he called an offensive foul on him while guarding Dwight Howard.

However, Perkins initially turned to Rush to complain, but quickly turned and walked away to avoid the technical but Rush called him for it anyways.

It was Perkins second technical of the game, resulting in automatic ejection.

More importantly, it was Perkins seventh technical foul of the 2010 postseason, which results in a one-game suspension.

Since the league decided to rescind the second technical foul, Perkins will not be suspended for Friday night’s Game 6 in Boston.

However, with his technical foul total back at six, Perkins is still one technical foul away from a mandatory suspension.

The Celtics can not afford to lose Perkins for a potential Game 7 against the Magic and Dwight Howard, meaning that Perkins will need to keep the on-court reactions to a minimum.

Gethin Coolbaugh is the Associate Editor of Boston Sports U18. He can be reached at 774-279-1995 or at gethin.coolbaugh@bostonsportsu18.com. You can also visit Gethin Coolbaugh’s official website and follow Gethin Coolbaugh on Twitter.

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Orlando 113, Boston 92: Magic light up perimeter, hand Celtics disheartening defeat in Game 5

Celtics captain Paul Pierce led all scorers with 16 points at halftime, but only managed to score two points in the second half as Orlando toppled Boston 113-92 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Amway Arena on Wednesday night. (Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Celtics captain Paul Pierce led all scorers with 16 points at halftime, but only managed to score two points in the second half as Orlando toppled Boston 113-92 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Amway Arena on Wednesday night. (Doug Benc/Getty Images)

By Gethin Coolbaugh

ORLANDO – If ever there was a forgettable game for the Boston Celtics, Wednesday night’s was it.

Jameer Nelson scored a game-high 24 points, five rebounds and five assists and Dwight Howard added 21 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks as Orlando toppled Boston 109-90 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Amway Arena on Wednesday night.

The Celtics suffered countless setbacks throughout the game, the first of which came when center Kendrick Perkins (2 points and 4 rebounds in 16 minutes) was ejected after picking up his second technical foul in the second quarter, both of which will be reviewed by the NBA on Thursday.

With the second technical foul, Perkins has seven technical fouls this postseason, and unless any are rescinded by the league, he will face a mandatory one-game suspension in Game 6.

In the second half, Glen Davis was hit in the face by Dwight Howard and left the game.

It was later determined that he had a concussion and lost a tooth. In addition, Marquis Daniels (0 points) left the game in the third quarter and was diagnosed with a concussion.

To make matters worse, Rasheed Wallace, who scored a team-high 21 points in 18 minutes, left the game in the fourth quarter with back spasms.

Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte certainly earned his paycheck Wednesday night.

Orlando stormed out to a 31-27 first quarter lead, making 5-of-9 three point shots. For the game, the Magic shot 52% from three-point range, making 13-of-25 shots from beyond the arch.

The Magic outscored the Celtics 26-22 in the second quarter and 56-43 in the second half. Orlando blew the celtics’ doors off in the fourth quarter, scoring 29 points compared to Boston’s 17.

Boston got into foul trouble early, as both Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett had two fouls early in the first quarter. The Celtics finished 30 fouls while Orlando had 24.

Celtics center Kendrick Perkins exits in disgust after being ejected following his second technical foul in Boston's Game 5 loss. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Celtics center Kendrick Perkins exits in disgust after being ejected following his second technical foul in Boston's Game 5 loss. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Wallace fouled out with six fouls, Paul Pierce, Rondo and Davis all had four fouls and Perkins and Ray Allen had three fouls. Garnett finished with just the two fouls, Nate Robinson had one and Shelden Williams and Marquis Daniels each had one.

Paul Pierce scored 18 points, 16 of which came in the first half, and made 10-of-10 free throws but only hit 3-of-8 field goals.

Rajon Rondo finished with 19 points and six assists and Garnett had 10 points and five rebounds. Ray Allen totaled nine points, seven assists and four rebounds. Nate Robinson had five points, Davis scored four and both Tony Allen and Shelden Williams had two points.

Rashard Lewis totaled 14 points and seven rebounds and Matt Barnes added nine points and seven boards for Orlando.

Vince Carter, who was quoted as saying that he owed his team one after his lackluster performance in Game 5, scored 8 points and had three rebounds and three assists in 25 minutes.

J.J. Redick paced the Magic bench, scoring 14 points on 3-of-6 shooting. Redick made was 2-for-3 from three-point range and hit 6-of-7 free throws.

Both Michael Pietrus and Brandon Bass scored eight points, Jason Williams totaled five points and five assists and Marcin Gortat added two points.

Boston connected on 31-of-72 shots to shoot 43.1% and made 7-of-16 three pointers (43.8%) and 23-of-30 free throws (76.7%).

Orlando made 36-of-69 shots to shoot 52.2% and hit 28-of-35 free throws (80%).

The Celtics totaled 26 rebounds, 19 assists, 10 turnovers and five steals while the Magic amassed 43 rebounds, 16 assists, 13 turnovers, six steals and seven blocks.

The series returns to Boston as the Celtics host the Magic at 8:30 p.m. EST on Friday night at TD Garden in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Gethin Coolbaugh is the Associate Editor of Boston Sports U18. He can be reached at 774-279-1995 or at gethin.coolbaugh@bostonsportsu18.com. You can also visit Gethin Coolbaugh’s official website and follow Gethin Coolbaugh on Twitter.

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