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The Celtics seemed to have every element needed to pull off a game seven victory last night except for the appropriate amount of energy remaining in their tired legs.
It was a 62-20 injury-filled season pulled together solely by heart and determination. By game seven, it was obvious that the Orlando Magic were younger and faster.
I do not buy into the concept on ESPN that the Magic "played like they wanted it more." This Celtics team was reminiscent of the 1987 Celtics that played with a six man rotation due to injuries. Heart, determination, and Larry Bird pushed this team to the NBA Finals where they lost to the LA Lakers
in six games.
Last night's 101-82 stomping at the Garden showed how overmatched we are without Kevin Garnett, but it also displayed just how tough our undermanned team was in these playoffs. The Celtics could have easily laid down to the younger and more athletic Chicago Bulls
, which pushed them to a record seven overtimes in the first round. Most predicted Boston would lose this series in five or six games. We pushed Orlando
to seven games.
Ray Allen, as expected, found his shooting touch in game seven, scoring 23 points. Ray's emergence was not enough, as the rest of the team looked flat, tired, and dejected.
Rafer Alston, whose stat line does not reflect it, set the tone and pace for Orlando and outplayed Rajon Rondo. Kendrick Perkins held Dwight Howard to 12 points, but Hedu Turkaglu proved to be the driving force behind Orlando's crushing victory. Turkaglu (25 points, 12 assists) had an answer to every Celtics feeble run and scored improbable shot after shot.
With last night's loss, Boston fell to 32-1 in a series that they have led 3-2 and 20-6 in franchise games sevens. This was also the first game seven that that they have dropped in the current Big Three Era.
Ubunto was last year's credo. In an unlucky year for the Celtics, Ubunto came into play more this year and was barely mentioned. The cliche phrase "heart of a champion" seems to have taken it's place.
I prefer returning to Ubunto as our credo next season. We all know now that this team, despite losing in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, does possess the "heart of a champion" and it does not need to be said.