If there ever were a time for the Orlando Magic to catch a break, now would be the time. Falling behind three games to none to the Boston Celtics, the Eastern Conference Semifinals looked all but over, that is, until "Superman" put on his cape.
Dwight Howard went off on Boston for 32 points and 16 boards to lift the Magic over the Celtics for a Game Four victory. But as if Monday’s overtime win wasn’t enough of a statement, Orlando not only climbed back into the series Wednesday night, they set themselves up to win it in seven games.
You didn’t misread that, it said Orlando’s going to win in seven games.
While Boston’s Big Three—plus Rajon Rondo—might be the headliners in Beantown, it’s the Celtics frontcourt that had been keeping Howard and the Orlando offense in check. But the Cs are about to play a Game Six without Glen "Big Baby" Davis, and possibly Kendrick Perkins as well.
Perkins was ejected from Wednesday’s game after picking up his second technical foul of the contest. More importantly, it was his seventh in the postseason, which warrants an automatic one-game suspension—provided that the NBA doesn’t rescind the second technical, which is quite possible.
Davis, on the other hand, received a concussion courtesy of Howard’s soon-to-be-infamous elbows. A disoriented Davis could not stand up after the blow, and it would be hard to see how he recovers in 48 hours. Even if he does feel better, there’s no possible way he can effectively guard the best big man in the NBA.
So here are the facts: Orlando heads back to Boston trailing the series three games to two. Howard is coming off his second monstrous game in a row, finishing last night with 21 points, 10 rebounds, and five blocks. The Magic as a team is on fire from behind the arc, shooting 13-25 from range on Wednesday. Oh yeah, and Boston could be down both its big men for Game Six.
Sounds like the perfect scenario for Orlando to do the improbable and win four games in a row, after dropping the first three. A run like that can be only be described in one way: magical (the pun’s necessary).
Even if league officials clear Perkins to play in Game Six, the animated (and ticked-off) center isn’t going to have a personality change overnight. With the officiating beginning to tighten up as this series progresses, Perkins would need to be conscious of not picking up another technical. The last thing Boston fans want to see is their center in a fancy suit on the sidelines while Howard throws down ally-oops over Rasheed Wallace in Game Seven.
In addition, Howard proved Wallace is not the solution to Boston’s defensive woes, and Perkins would be forced to spend most of the game guarding him. And no, Boston fans, Brian Scalabrine isn’t a viable option either.
It’s pretty clear Orlando is back and firing on all cylinders. Where the Magic disappeared to at the beginning of the series is a very good question. Perhaps Krypto-Nate Robinson scared off Superman in the beginning of the series. Perhaps Orlando just assumed once you win your first eight games of a postseason, you get a pass to the Finals. Or perhaps Stan Van Gundy gave one of his, um, "motivational speeches" and got his team in gear.
Perhaps, above all, Boston’s worst nightmare is about to come true.