What a great game for the Celtics last night. Paul Pierce absolutely looked like The Truth out there and Rondo, Garnett, Big Baby, Perk, TA all had fantastic performances. The Celtics deserved to win, but Orlando definitely had multiple chances to win this thing. They led 90-89 after Vinsanity made a huge 20-foot jumper (not exactly choke material).
Looking back at last night, sports media will jump all over Vince Carter for missing two free throws with his team trailing by one with :31 left in the game. Free throws are aptly named because they are fairly easy to make for the majority of players, mainly because you don’t have someone in your face trying to block you. Even if VC made one free throw, it’s a two-point game and a much more significant amount of pressure is put on Boston to either make a free throw or to give Orlando an opportunity to tie or even take the lead if they trailed by two.
Carter has to make those free throws. It’s my gut take that he thought about those shots. Winners make those shots and they think about what they’re doing after they make it. (*This is one of the main reasons why sports is such an entertaining form of human theatre. Guys remember they’re mortal, even if they can dunk over 7’3″ guys.) It’s too bad because Vince Carter has played a solid series so far. In Game 1, he was fantastic getting all those buckets. In Game 2, he didn’t have a great shooting night. But still, he hit the clutch 20-footer to give the Magic a lead and he drew that foul from Pierce, fouling him out of the game. People should remember these facts.
My bigger beef is with Orlando’s inexplicable brain fart that cost them four and a half seconds on a possible game-tying shot. If you’re J.J. Redick, don’t you freeze immediately when you grab that rebound? And if you’re any one of his four teammates, aren’t you suppose to be getting in front of the ref to call that timeout as soon as the ball comes off the rim? What about SVG yelling timeout? It’s hard to lay blame on Van Gundy and the coaching staff here. However, a little bit of blame goes to the other four Magic players on the court, though you can see Vince and Howard calling for the TO immediately. Still, Redick screwed up and he cost his team four and a half seconds and about 10-15 feet of real estate on the sidelines for the last play. It’s impossible to expect Jameer Nelson to hit a half-court shot for the win.
Granted, there are big differences in the timeout rule between college and the NBA. If JJ Redick were still at Duke, he absolutely tried to do the right thing by advancing the ball to half-court. However, last night’s game was an NBA game and all timeouts have the opportunity (you can choose to go full-court if you do not advance the ball, see Game 4 of last year’s finals when Derek Fisher hit the GW 3 versus Orlando) to advance the ball to half-court, prior to a player advancing the ball. Redick followed his basketball instincts. Yet, his instincts betrayed him. It sucks for him, but it’s indefensible in many ways. Redick should know the rule.
Also, this ‘minor’ point will probably slip under the radar, but why didn’t Jameer Nelson pass to Rashard Lewis or Redick on the last play? Lewis was open on the wing. A Rashard 3 from the wing would have been a much better scoring chance than Nelson’s runner from around half-court. But Redick really was open. If Nelson had made a pass to him with :02, Redick would have an uncontested three to send it to overtime. Funny to mention, but Redick was the inbounder. Crazy to think that the inbounder would be open. The inbounder. Bears repeating. (Potential brain fart by the C’s averted). An open 3 from Redick is a really good look. Celtics got a little bit o’ luck there. Nevertheless, they’re coming back to BOS 2-0 and J.J. Redick’s failure to understand a rule about timeouts and advancing the ball helped Boston out big time.