The biggest plus to this game was that Rondo didn't play huge. He was the reason they'd been winning up to this point and he didn't fill the stat sheet, yet Boston had a commanding lead for most of the game. If the rest of the team can deliver the same, Rondo's big games could be big Celtic wins.
As Doc Rivers said in his post game press conference, this was a defensive game. Offense was not great either way, but the Celtics clearly had the right strategy on team defense: single coverage. No doubling in the post, staying with the shooters and the Magic's inside-out game was no more. The offense did begin to turn up for the Magic in the fourth quarter, but it was too late, the C's executed enough to survive.
The bright spots for the Magic were Vince Carter (circa first half especially) and J.J. Reddick (Gortat was also solid). Carter was aggressive, he didn't settle for jump shots and that's the formula for his success. He must continue with that mentality if the Magic are going to win this series. Reddick never really fills up the stat sheet, but his overall play and defense on Ray Allen proves his value. He's a guy who can shoot the three when called upon, and has acquired an aptitude for the intangibles. Reddick's experience as a shooter also gives him the ability to chase Ray Allen better than others. If Allen remains this hot, Reddick could be the best neutralizer of his outside shooting onslaught.
Here is @misterjpmanahan's thoughts on the game:
I agree with his thoughts on Sheed. If he plays with this type of focus and can withstand the desire to fight Dwight, he'll prove to be a big plus in this series. The big factor is can he be consistent.
@rubthemtogether also chimed in:
The good news for the Magic is this is only one game. The scary part is they played pretty bad, but they only lost narrowly in the end. Game two will be a totally different story if Orlando can execute offensively. One thing to look for is how Boston will respond to which type offense really flows for the Magic (whether it be the outside game, or the post game with Dwight, or both). Single coverage worked today, but will it work for this whole series? Time will answer these questions.
Also, check out this post on the game from NBA Fanhouse.
Photo by: Fernando Medina
Photo from: Yahoo!