Series review thus far:
To start off the series, Orlando came out firing on all cylinders, opening up a 28-point lead in the third quarter only to see Boston battle back and only lose by five, 95-90. This comeback had the Celtics carrying the momentum on their side into game two.
Game two depicted that momentum in a blowout favoring the Boston Celtics, 112-94. The game featured great performances from Boston's Rajon Rondo and Eddie House, combining for 46 points. Orlando looked to better their defense in game three.
They succeeded in blowing out the Celtics, 117-96 in what Dwight Howard stated as a team effort of improved defensive intensity, holding Rondo and House to 16 fewer combined points in game three.
The Celtics looked for heart in game four to take the series back to Boston 2-2. However, the Magic led most of the way, but were heartbroken with a last-second buzzer beater by the unsung hero, Glen Davis. Boston's heart and Davis' heroics both saved their season and won the game, 95-94.
Boston's heart carried over in game five with yet another amazing comeback. Orlando had the advantage with 8:49 left if the fourth quarter, 77-63. Boston then depicted their will to win and relentless mentality to rally back and win game five, 92-88. The fourth quarter Celtic run was fueled by midseason acquisition, Stephon Marbury and last season's finals MVP, Paul Pierce.
Following game five, Howard expressed his concern about his lack of touches.
In game six, facing elimination, Orlando looked for Howard to carry them to a victory in a low-scoring affair, 83-75. Howard turned his criticism into production, gaining six more field-goal attempts in game six, along with four more made shots. Howard finished the game with 23 points and 22 rebounds, 10 being offensive.
Game Seven Preview
In game seven, Orlando will look to get their stars involved early. In the game six victory, the Magic looked to Howard towards the beginning of the game, scoring the first eight points for Orlando.
However, Hedo Turkoglu struggled early in game six, resulting in a series-low seven points. Turkoglu has been praised as the Magic's go-to player come late in games. Orlando needs to get Turkoglu on the board early for him to have confidence in the clutch.
Rafer Alston also is a key in a must-win game for the Magic. The mid-season acquisition needs to get the offense flowing in transition in order to gain momentum for Orlando. He needs to look for his own shot, as well as making sure the inside-out offensive strategy is executed. He needs to make sure Orlando lacks turnovers, as well as matching Rajon Rondo in productivity.
Last, but certainly not least, Orlando needs to strive on the defensive side of the ball. The Magic are underrated when it comes to defense. Orlando is 6-0 this year in the playoffs when they hold opposing teams to under 90 points.
JJ Redick and Courtney Lee will need to stick to their defensive assignment, Ray Allen, which they have done an outstanding job thus far.
The Celtics will more than likely keep their strategy relatively the same. They will look to Rajon Rondo and Paul pierce for leadership in getting the offense thriving, as they have in previous semifinal games.
Ray Allen has essentially been a non-factor in this series, averaging just 11 points. He needs to step up and be the Ray Allen that the Boston-Chicago series witnessed. Doc Rivers will attempt to get Allen more space to operate in game seven.
"They're playing good defense on him," Rivers said. "They're doing a terrific job. They're top blocking him. We're trying to get him more space and we certainly have to get him more shots. He has to touch the ball more. That's on us, but give them credit. I think they're doing a great job on him."
Possibly the most crucial key for game seven, however, is Kendrick Perkins continuing to play exceptional one-on-one defense against Dwight Howard.
However, following Howard's game six explosion, Boston might look to double Howard more in the post.
The team defense of Boston needs to make sure they do a good job of not turning the ball over. When Orlando gets in the open court, they are hard to beat. Their athleticism in a problem for Boston in the open court.
The Magic have had substantial leads in Boston in this series. However, they need to keep their composure and hold those leads by taking less three-point shots when up by 10 or more points. If Orlando gains a lead of 10 or more, Dwight Howard needs to get the ball every time.
Ray Allen will score over 20 points, however, game seven will be a battle of role players. Glen Davis and Kendrick Perkins need to produce in the paint in order to win this game.
In comparison, Orlando's roster has much more talent than Boston's, which will be exploited in game seven.
Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis will continue to dominate the interior, and get the Celtic big men into foul trouble early.
Rafer Alston and Rajon Rondo will be the most important matchup in game seven, which will feature these two players going back and forth in leading their respective team.
The Hedo Turkoglu and Paul Pierce matchup is another matchup that will be very intriguing. Each player will score over 20 points, Pierce having the advantage.
Courtney Lee will see increased minutes due to JJ Redick's woeful game six shooting night. Lee will continue to smuggle Eddie House, forcing him to take bad shots.
Lee will also be a factor on the offensive side of the ball, going on runs where he will score four to six straight points by himself.
Orlando will finally show heart in game seven and will advance to face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals.