The Magic Overcome Adversity, Advance to Eastern Conference Finals

Kyle WilliamsCorrespondent IMay 18, 2009

BOSTON - MAY 17:  Mickael Pietrus #20 of the Orlando Magic celebrates his three point shot in the secodn quarter against the Boston Celtics in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at TD Banknorth Garden on May 17, 2009 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The Orlando Magic were the obvious underdogs coming into game seven.

Matched up against the Boston Celtics, who are 20-5 all-time in game sevens (17-3 at home), Orlando had all the critics rooting against them.

The Magic were 1-1 all-time in game seven coming into this game. The last game seven that Orlando played was 2003 against the Detroit Pistons. Dwight Howard was just a junior in high school.

This only being Orlando's third game seven ever, history was undoubtedly in favor of the Celtics.

It's safe to say that the Magic made history tonight with their 101-82 win over the Celtics.

Orlando came into the game with many goals, one of them being to build intensity early, and also to make the crowd a non-factor.

After missing their first two shots and turning the ball over, the Magic quickly changed their ways by getting their key players involved early.

The Magic had a 19-9 lead with 5:33 left in the first, which was vital in fulfilling their pregame goal.

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Dwight Howard scored six points in the first quarter, all three of his field goals being dunks.

Hedo Turkoglu also got out to a strong start by going two-for-two from downtown for six points. Orlando as a team shot five-for-six from beyond the arc in the quarter.

Rafer Alston also got out to the start he needed, scoring seven points and dishing out three assists.

The Magic had as much as a 13-point lead in the first, ending the quarter with a 27-17 lead.

The Celtic "Big Three", consisting of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo, were very sluggish in the first quarter, combining for only 10 points.

The Celtics continued to look a step slower than the Magic towards the beginning of the second quarter, trailing again by 13 with under 8:00 minutes left in the half.

The Celtic spark plug, Stephon Marbury, came into the game in the second quarter being aggressive, however, he turned ball over three times.

Towards the end of the quarter, the Celtic momentum began to build as Ray Allen began to show signs of life for the first time since game two.

Allen scored nine of his 13 first half points in the second quarter. Dwight Howard also picked up his third personal foul with 2:06 left in the half, benching him until the second half.

The score was 45-38 at the half in favor of Orlando.

The Magic shot 7-for-10 from three point range in the first half fueled by the extraordinary shooting from Hedo Turkoglu and Rafer Alston.

Ray Allen finally got in going in the first half of this game, scoring 13 points. Paul Pierce added nine in the first half for the Celtics.

Coming out of the half, Boston looked to carry over their momentum gained in the first half.

The beginning of the third quarter featured Celtic spurts here and there, cutting the Orlando lead at one time to just three.

Then with 5:27 left in the third quarter, JJ Redick drained a three-pointer to make it a 57-50 Orlando lead.

On the following possession, Hedo Turkoglu made it a 10-point game with a three-pointer of his own, which led to a Boston timeout.

Ray Allen continued his hot shooting, allotting 20 points by the three minute mark of the third quarter.

Rajon Rondo finished the third quarter with a last-second shot that cut the Orlando lead to five points, 66-61.

The Orlando Magic maintained their relentless attack by beginning the fourth quarter with an 11-0 run.

This run was driven by bench player Mickael Pietrus and Courtney Lee.

The Magic also fed off the energy of Hedo Turkoglu and Dwight Howard to extend their lead to 17 points with under nine minutes to play.

Orlando never looked back after that point, leading by as much as 23 in the fourth quarter en route to a 101-82 victory.

Hedo Turkoglu easily had the best game of this year's playoffs, scoring 25 points off of nine-for-12 shooting, four-of-five from beyond the arc.

Rashard Lewis and Rafer Alston also provided 19 and 15 points, respectively.

Mickael Pietrus also sparked the Magic with 17 points off the bench.

Orlando, as a team, shot 62% from distance, shooting 13-for-21.

Boston finally had a breakout game from Ray Allen, who scored 23 points. However, they were unable to find substantial performances from any other player, besides a late surge from Paul Pierce, who finished with 13 points.

Facing adversity, the Magic were able to play their best basketball of the series.

In my game seven preview, I stated that game six was a huge momentum change in the series simply because Orlando made Boston the victim of a comeback, rather than Orlando being the victim.

It was evident that Orlando played much smarter basketball compared to other games where they have had a substantial lead.

The Magic were able to pound the ball inside when they have the advantage, rather than settling for long jump shots.

The Magic also played superb defense fueled by Courtney Lee and Dwight Howard, which made the Boston Celtic offense look like it had little to no energy at all at some points.

Orlando's overall talent was also stressed in their game seven victory. The Magic bench outscored the Celtic bench 25-12.

The Orlando Magic will now face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals.

1996 was the last time Orlando competed for an Eastern Conference Championship.

The Magic won the season series with the Cavaliers, 2-1, which included a 40-point victory by Orlando.


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