Magic: No time for celebration
MAITLAND, Fla. — There may be many pundits around the country — particularly in New England — comparing the Celtics’ current situation to that of the Bruins, who blew a three-games-to-none lead in the NHL playoffs earlier this month. The Magic however, who once trailed in the Eastern Conference finals by the same margin, won’t spend any time examining the similarities of the two series.
“I would doubt that players would get affected by what happened in another sport,’’ said coach Stan Van Gundy, who watched his Magic play their best game of the series Wednesday, a 113-92 win. “I don’t think most of our guys on any of our teams follow hockey that much.’’
They also won’t take a step back to enjoy the work they’ve done while climbing back into the series. The Magic fully understand they have to win two more games before they’ve accomplished anything.
“They’re not going to get complacent; we’re down, 3-2, in an elimination game,’’ Van Gundy said. “There’s no chance they get complacent, 3-2 on the Celtics’ home floor.
“I think there is a confidence factor and you feel good about what you’re doing. With that said, they know that going in there that Game 6 will be a challenge and we’re going to need to play harder and better than what we’ve played in the last two games.’’
The Magic have always been resilient. This season alone they’ve fought through suspensions, injuries, slumps, and most recently a 3-0 hole. Their ability to move on to the next game without dwelling on previous disappointments has been their trademark and the one of the biggest factors for their charge back into the series.
“The first three games are over,’’ Orlando point guard Jameer Nelson said. “We can’t do anything about them. They’re over with. We can’t go back and get them. So we put them behind us and continue to play basketball the way we know how.’’
The momentum of the series is now clearly with the Magic and the pressure is on the Celtics. That doesn’t mean the basketball gods will gift the series to the Magic and they’re not going to wait around for things to fall in their favor.
Winning the last two games has been huge for the Magic, but the Celtics are still leading the series. Orlando knows being confident and having momentum doesn’t mean anything if its performance isn’t the very best.
“Of course the momentum was back in our favor because we won the last two games,’’ Nelson said. “But I think it all comes down to how hard we’re playing and just how determined we are not to give up.
“I believe they have pressure on them right now. But they’re veteran Hall of Famers with a great coach, and they’re going to be prepared. We’re going to be prepared as well. At this point we believe we can win the series, but we have to stay humble and keep our focus and realize why we won these last two games and continue to do that and force them to make changes like we’ve been doing.’’