Can Magic Make Celtics Disappear?
ORLANDO NOW JUST TWO WINS AWAY
FROM WINNING THE EAST
A few days ago, it wouldn't have seemed possible. The Orlando Magic were bringing new definitions to the term 'gutless' while falling behind 3-0 to the Boston Celtics in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference Championship series.
There was no life. There was no fire. Reputations were being ruined up and down the roster.
The Magic did manage to pull a win out of the hat in Game Four on the road, basically staring down match point against them late in a tight game. Orlando snuck out a win in overtime to stay alive. It wasn't pretty...but it was a lifeline.
Wednesday Night in Game Five, ACTUAL LIFE! Orlando finally had the three-point game they've been waiting for, nailing 13 of 25 treys in a runaway victory. They're now just two wins away from turning 'gutless' into one of the guttiest comebacks in basketball history.
And, so far anyway, they're doing it without Vince Carter! He's still been a non-factor despite media criticisms far and wide. Other players have picked up their intensity. The bench was a positive factor in Game Five for the first time all series...possibly inspired by watching the Phoenix bench Tuesday Night in the Western Championships.
Let's run our preview data for tonight's Game Six in Boston...then we'll outline possibilities for either team to advance to the finals. Orlando's far from being in the driver's seat. But, they're riding shotgun after spending several days sound asleep in the trunk.
GAME FIVE: ORLANDO AT BOSTON
BOSTON leads series 3-2
Vegas Line: Boston by 3, total of 189
Vegas is having horrible trouble with this series, starting out with a poor read at the beginning, then chasing perceived momentum incorrectly. Much of that is in reaction to incoming bets of course. The general public and many pundits are having trouble getting a read as well. Boston was -3.5 and -7 in their first two home games. The line is back near three because of injuries, and what seems to be pretty clear fatigue being shown by several Boston players. The old guys are looking old again. Rajon Rondo looks to have run himself out of gas (as high energy players are prone to do over a string of physical games).
We've now seen lines range from 3-7 in Boston...and from 4-7 in Orlando. The winning ATS team has covered by 10, 10, 19.5, 11, and 17 through five games. That's five straight double digit covers!
The total is back up to 189 after the three-point explosion from Orlando in Game Five. Tempo didn't change much. Scoring increased because there were 20 made treys instead of 11, 12, 14, and 11 in regulation the first four games. Add 8-9 treys, and you're adding 24-27 points. Subtract that from the 205 (the final sum Wednesday), and you're back where the series had been before.
ON-COURT TOTALS EXCLUDING TREYS
Game One: 147
Game Two: 151
Game Three: 123
Game Four: 143
Game Five: 145
That midpoint is 145. Add in 11 treys and you get 178. Add in 20 and you get 205. Your pick on the total tonight should incorporate your estimate of how many treys will be made.
Here's how the guys got to 205 back on Wednesday Night...
ORLANDO 113, BOSTON 92
Three-Point Scoring: Boston 21, Orlando 39
Two-Point Scoring: Boston 48, Orlando 46
Free Throw Scoring: Boston 23, Orlando 28
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The Magic look great when the treys are falling, which is at the heart of the illusion they were creating earlier in the playoffs. The team WOULDN'T be an illusion if they could make 10 treys on command. That was their regular season average. They were getting there vs. Charlotte and Atlanta. Versus Boston, they weren't. And they looked very mortal.
Wednesday night the bombs were falling, and there wasn't much Boston could do about it. Normally, that would be okay for Celtics fans. You'd have to assume that Orlando would regress to their series mean and fall back to earth in Game Six. Unfortunately, the Celtics have real concerns of their own.
*Paul Pierce is playing very tired. We've now see five tired quarters from him in a row, and there's only one day between games.
*Rondo was arguably the key difference maker early in the series. A lot of talent on both sides cancelled out. What Rondo brought to the table put the Celtics over the top. Now his back is bothering him. He's lost at least a step. That's a big step in an evenly matched series.
*Two Celtics players suffered concussions Tuesday Night. This isn't a team with a great bench...but it is a team that needs some 'minute munching' from big guys so the aging stars can stay fresh. Remember, Orlando has a GREAT bench, particularly in terms of frontrunning against fading teams. Maybe the Magic backups don't match up well with Boston's starters. They match up fine against tired Boston starters or banged up backups. The longer this series goes, the more it favors Orlando.
*Boston lost its swagger. They played the first three games like a team that wanted to win another championship. Their body language was that of a champion to be sure. Orlando looked like a deer in the headlights for some reason. Boston is heading in the wrong direction just as Orlando is getting its footing. This showed up most dramatically in the rebound category. Orlando won the battle of the boards 43-26 after struggling in earlier games. Defense and rebounding wins championships. Those categories have switched from favoring Boston to favoring Orlando right now.
So, the stage is clearly set for a history-making comeback. Boston is trending down, while Orlando is trending up. That being said...Boston has shown a bigger 'sense of the moment' in the playoffs this year...meaning you're going to get peak intensity in Beantown tonight. Orlando's confidence may be fleeting. The treys stop falling, and they're back to being the lesser of the two teams again.
What a backdrop to a big game!
JIM HURLEY has been all over his SCOUTS and SOURCES, making sure they get the right information about preparation and mindset for this game. All five prior playoff meetings have been double digit covers for somebody. That could easily be the case again tonight based solely on intangibles. He's been working with his STAT HANDICAPPERS to determine the indicators most likely to influence tonight's result. He's had his COMPUTER PROGRAMMERS running simulations with and without the injured players...with Rondo at 100% and Rondo at 80%...with Pierce at 100% and Pierce at 80%. And, he's been in continual contact with his WISE GUY CONNECTIONS in Las Vegas and offshore to see what the smart money is doing.
It will all come together tonight in a HUGE RELEASE that's available at 1-800-323-4453. Be sure to ask about our BLUE RIBBON BOMBSHELL package in baseball and football when you call ($349 gets you the rest of baseball...August Preseason Football...and September Regular Season Football! These early bird rates are only available through the end of May, so act now!).
Game day releases and club packages can also be purchased here at the website with your credit card. A busy Friday awaits in the bases. Among the series of interest we're looking at:
Oakland at Detroit
Texas at Minnesota
LA Dodgers at Colorado
Philadelphia at Florida
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Whether or not Orlando wins tonight, it's going to be A MAGICAL WEEKEND AT JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK! Call 1-800-323-4453 right now to get on board!
This article is part of the VSM MASTERS SERIES presented by VegasSportsMasters.com and JimHurley.com. For more information on JIM HURLEY'S handicapping packages, call 1-800-323-4453.
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