It’s do-or-die time for the Celtics and Magic after Dwight Howard dominated the game-six victory for Orlando.
With his 23 points and 22 rebounds, Howard put the team on his massive shoulders and carried the Magic to a 83-75 win to even up the Eastern Conference semifinal series at three games a piece.
This is the second time in these playoffs and fourth time in the past two years that the Celtics have been pushed to game seven during the first two rounds. The previous three resulted in a win on home floor.
“We’re comfortable with game sevens,” Celtics captain Paul Pierce said. “ A lot of players in this league have never played in a game seven, knowing that if you lose, you go home. We’re a confident group. But we’re not overconfident.”
“You can’t lean on a game seven being at home. You have to go play. Just because you’re in Boston doesn’t mean you’re going to win the game,” said Celtics coach Doc River.
It sure doesn’t though. The C’s are 17-3 in game sevens on the fabled parquet.
The Magic made sure to get their franchise center involved all game long after his comments following the game five loss. Howard took 16 shots in the game and got to the line 12 times.
“Coach said give all you got tonight, because we’re going to have tomorrow off. I was thinking about that,” a laughing Howard said.
The Celtics held the Magic scoreless for the first five minutes of the third quarter to build a 10-point lead. Then the C’s went cold. The team combined to go 3-18 from three-point land. Ray Allen was 0-7 and the team also had 19 turnovers.
“The offense definitely struggled, but we still played enough defense to win the game. We turned the ball over way to much,” Pierce said.
The Celtics took their last lead of the game at 73-72 with about four minutes to play, but scored just two points the rest of the way. Boston was only able to pour in 29 points after halftime.
Rashard Lewis scored 20 points for the Magic. Rajon Rondo had 19 points and 16 rebounds for the losing squad.
Game seven is Sunday night in Boston. The winner will take on Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals starting next week.