|Those weren’t baby teeth that Glen Davis lost last night, courtesy of a Dwight Howard elbow. However, Davis does have something to show the tooth fairy, courtesy of a Magic staffer, who retrieved the teeth after the heavyweights collided. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)|
These blows shifted the momentum
ORLANDO, Fla. — So we haven’t seen everything there is to see in Celtics playoff history. Last night was not only Boston’s second consecutive loss in the Eastern Conference finals, extending the series to at least six games, it was one of the strangest and most emotional postseason games in the franchise’s storied history.
The Celtics not only were buried, 113-92, at Amway Arena by the suddenly rejuvenated Magic, but they watched as two players left with concussions, and another because of technical fouls.
And now the Green have to respond or risk the fate of their hockey counterparts, those Bruins, who won the first three games against the Flyers and then dropped Game 4 in overtime and Game 5 by blowout. Hmmm.
If the Celtics are indeed the championship-caliber team they have told all who would listen, then they have to respond to last night’s damage. And it was perhaps the most damaging Celtics playoff game in several years.
It will take a great deal of strength and togetherness for the Celtics to recover from this stunning turn of events in less than 48 hours. A team so confident and sure of itself after its Game 3 win, was beaten by not only a motivated Magic squad but by its own emotions and aggression.
“Today was a tough day,’’ Kevin Garnett said. “Just a lot of different things going on. It’s not like something we haven’t seen before. We’ve been handed some different situations in our runs in the past. None of this is going to be easy.’’
Their confidence has been battered and the burning memory will be Glen “Big Baby’’ Davis attempting to run down court with no idea of his whereabouts and lunging into the arms of official Joe Crawford. Davis was effective in the series before he took a Dwight Howard third-quarter elbow to the mouth, losing two teeth; his status for Game 6 tomorrow at TD Garden is uncertain.
Moments later, Marquis Daniels left with a concussion after his head struck the shoulder of Orlando center Marcin Gortat. Daniels said he doesn’t remember anything about the play.
And finally, Kendrick Perkins picked up two shaky technical fouls, the final one after making his normal gyrations following a ticky-tac foul on Howard. It was his seventh technical and unless it’s rescinded, which the NBA will review today, he will be suspended for Game 6.
The Celtics have been virtually injury-free in the postseason, riding the wave of luck after a tumultuous regular season. But now they may need to call on Brian Scalabrine and Shelden Williams for key minutes.
Adversity has been a coherent theme for the Celtics this season and just when they were riding high, they have been beset a series of setbacks from which they may not recover. Not only do the Magic have all the momentum, they are the healthier and fresher team.
Paul Pierce followed his wobbly-legged Game 4 with zero field goals over the final three quarters. Ray Allen was stymied as he attempted to get free for jumpers and missed 8 of 11 shots from the field. Garnett hasn’t been the same since Game 3, going 10 for 26 from the field in the past two games.
The Celtics are going to have to find some type of salve for their issues because Orlando isn’t going to back down. A team that won 28 of its final 31 now just needs to win two in a row, and the Magic know they can win in Boston.
Perhaps the Celtics were caught prematurely looking ahead to a trip to Los Angeles for the NBA Finals, but you knew somehow, with the emotional turns this season has taken, the Orlando series would not be easy, or even close to easy.
“They really have [stolen the momentum],’’ coach Doc Rivers said. “They stole [Game 4] in Boston, which we had a chance to close out but didn’t do it. They played better than us tonight, no excuses. We’re just going to get on the plane and hopefully everybody gets their rest, and we’ll show up and be ready at our place. We need to win one game. And let’s hope it’s the next one.’’
But it won’t be up to Rivers. The fate of this season is on the players. The Magic weren’t as mentally weak as they appeared in Game 3, and maybe the Celtics weren’t as strong. Their strength will be further tested with how they respond from this jarring turn of events.
A lot will be determined today. Davis and Daniels will have to pass neurological tests in order to be cleared to play. The NBA will review Perkins’s technicals — both called by much-maligned Eddie F. Rush — and could rescind one or both, allowing Perkins to play.
Full complement of players or not, the Celtics will receive little sympathy from a fan base that just endured the Bruins’ meltdown. Boston fans are putting all their confidence in the Celtics, and not even the events of Game 5 will be tolerated as excuses for not producing their best game of the series.
“You know what? We gotta just come play,’’ Garnett said. “We have to be defensively more minded than usual vs. being the one to retaliate. We gotta be the ones who sort of hit first. We gotta be firm. We’re upset. We don’t take losing lightly around here and that’s not something we like to adopt around here. So I think each guy is going to look himself in the mirror and figure this thing out.’’
Gary Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.