While it is tempting to consider what Sixers fans are setting on fire after securing the #2 overall pick in the NBA draft, or pondering how Flyers fans are planning to top their celebration from game 1 after yet another shutout of the Habs (possibly planning some sort of Canadian Bacon-esque raid I would guess), tonight I am going to discuss the Celtics. From what I have seen from the C's so far this playoffs, they look like the most mentally composed team out there. This has been made even more evident by how many stupid plays Orlando is making and how the Celtics are just picking them apart because of it.
The Magic may not have come into the Eastern Conference Finals as heavy favorite, but I would certainly argue that they were the favorites. They had not lost a game in the playoffs and had absolutely annihilated the Hawks in the previous series. The Celtics meanwhile beat the Heat in 5 and the Cavs in 6. Now though, it is the Celtics who look like the far superior team. They are firing on all cylinders on offense, playing great team defense, and not making stupid mistakes. Meanwhile, the Magic are way off their game.
Perhaps the perfect example to highlight what I mean occurred in the second quarter of tonight's game. As the Magic were pushing the ball up the court on offense, Dwight Howard buried Kevin Garnett with a shoulder trying to set up in the lane and drew an offensive foul. The Magic hadn't even gotten the ball past half court and Howard stupidly shoved Garnett out of the way for no reason at all. Moreover, it was Howard's third foul of the game. It may seem like a minor point to dwell on, but it is mental lapses like these that add up. Couple Howard's shenanigans with the fact that by halftime of tonight's game the rest of the Magic players seemed more caught up in yapping at the refs than actually focusing on the Celtics and you've got the beginnings of a snowball effect. That is disrespectful to the other team on the floor and a pretty damn good way to lose a game.
As this is going on, the Celtics are keeping their mouths shut and simply playing the game hard. They have made it to the top of the mountain before, and now that they are fully healthy again can sense that it is in reach once more. The best example of this might be Rasheed Wallace. Wallace was a complete bum all season; drawing technicals, playing horrible defense and just being generally lazy. In the playoffs though, he has been playing inspired basketball and has kept his mouth shut for the most part. Throw him in the mix with a healthy KG, Jesus Shuttlesworth, Pierce and the playoff MVP so far Rajon Rondo and you've got a dangerous mix.
This game and the series are far from over, but it is things like this that can cause a team to completely unravel. If the Magic can't calm down, play smart, and focus on the other team, then they will have no chance against the veteran C's. Oh yeah, one more thing; CANADIAN BEER SUCKS!!