As many of you already know, the Boston Celtics made a thrilling comeback in their Game 5 playoff game against the Orlando Magic to take a 3-2 series lead this past Tuesday. Bloggers and the sports media have had a field day with the collapse by the Magic and the post game conflict between Head Coach Stan Van Gundy and their all-star center Dwight, "Superman", Howard.
Lack of Leadership
After the game, coach Van Gundy insisted that the players did not listen to him when he repeatedly told them they had to keep attacking and running up the court. Instead, the Magic seemed to walk the ball up the court waiting for the clock to run out. Their lackadaisical attitude led to poor shot selection, which led to crucial misses that allowed the Celtics to come back from a ten point deficit to eventually win the game.
Dwight Howard also blamed Van Gundy for not ensuring that Howard got touches down the stretch. They were odd comments, as Howard has not been a force this entire series thanks to stellar defensive efforts from Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis. Further, Howard was not a major scoring threat the entire game and the other Magic players were the reason they had a lead for nearly the entire game. Perhaps if Dwight got more touches in the last five minutes the outcome may have been different. But, I was at the Garden for Game 5 and saw a different reason for the Magic collapse.
Loud Noises Emanating from The Jungle
As many Bostonians know, the new Boston Garden has a new nickname too. During the Boston Celtics 2002 playoff run, the Celtics players started calling the Garden "The Jungle", due to all the fans sporting green and making tons of noise. The team now plays the Guns n Roses hit song "Welcome to the Jungle" during the 4th quarter in most games.
Upon first getting to the arena Tuesday, I noted that "The Gahden is LOUD tonight." As the game went on the fans quieted down due to the Magic holding a double digit lead the whole game. But you keep feel that all the fans were sitting on the edge of their seats just waiting for the Celtics to mount their comeback so they could once again unleash the roar of The Jungle. Each time we got the lead to within single digits the fans would rise and yell and raise the decibel level to near deafening levels. But each time, the Magic would come back on the other end and score and quiet us down again.
That is, until the fourth quarter. Once the Boston Celtics started making their final push, the fans did not relent. With each basket diminishing our lead and each defensive stop protecting the previous basket the crowd got louder and louder. When Ray Allen swished home a three to finally give the Celtics a one point lead the fans went nuts. I tweeted after the shot:
Holy crap is it loud in the gahden right now. Ray Allen for threeeeee! Let's go Celtics!
Indeed it was. What many of the sports media writing about the game missed is that the crowd noise and the Magic's tentative attitude on offense seemed to coincide. As the crowd grew louder and louder, the Magic seemed more and more hesitant, as if they were peering into the entrance of a dark, gloomy jungle which had scary, dangerous noises emanating from it.
Are the Magic out of tricks?
The collapse was obviously disheartening for the Magic. The post game finger pointing by the head coach and superstar center made that point abundantly clear. I don't think the Magic have enough confidence left at this point to win Game 6. Further, I don't think they even want to force a Game 7, as it would mean having to once again step into The Jungle.
Time will tell, but my personal opinion is we will not see the Magic back in the Garden to play the Celtics for a decisive game 7. Instead, we'll see the Boston Celtics put away the Orlando Magic tonight and head to the Eastern Conference Finals to take on Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Do you agree? Are the Magic done after their Game 5 collapse?