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Celtics Notebook

Marks during the season being erased

Title would be a lasting image

By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / May 30, 2010

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The Magic were one of the teams that seemed to have the Celtics’ number during a turbulent regular season, beating them in three of four meetings, all in the first half of the season.

Orlando point guard Jameer Nelson had a hard time figuring out how the Celtics ripped through the Eastern Conference playoffs after struggling so much in the regular season.

“I don’t know,’’ he said. “I don’t know to talk to you about how they pulled it together. I don’t know how they pulled that together.’’

The last team in franchise history to reach the Finals with fewer wins than the 50 this year’s Celtics had was the 1969 club, which went 48-34 and won the NBA title.

The Celtics have won five playoff games on the road this season, and have clinched three series on their home floor after being eliminated by the Magic at TD Garden last year.

The Celtics went 27-27 to end the season as injuries took a toll. They traded Eddie House, bringing in Nate Robinson from the Knicks, hoping he would provide a spark. They also brought in veteran shooter Michael Finley, adding championship experience to a bench that in the offseason had added Rasheed Wallace, who won a title in 2004.

While they struggled, the Celtics maintained that they could erase their up-and-down regular season with a championship run.

“This is important,’’ said forward Glen Davis. “Not only to me, but to the organization, to the team, to the fans. To go, to do what we did this year, as far as not playing to where we should’ve played, and to be here at this moment feels so good. To go through all those ups and downs, and no matter what persevere.’’

Problem put on ice
When the Celtics let Games 4 and 5 against Orlando slip away after being ahead in the series, three games to none, the thought of the Bruins blowing their 3-0 lead over the Flyers loomed over the series.

Though four teams in professional sports history recovered from 3-0 holes to win a series, no team has ever done it in the NBA. But Paul Pierce said he never thought about the possibility.

“I never really think negative about losing or being up, 3-0, and something tragic happening,’’ Pierce said. “My whole mind-set is coming into here we’re going to win this game no matter what. This team’s going to walk out of this building with a win. That is my whole mind-set.

“As far as what happened with hockey, this is not hockey. It’s basketball.

“I’m pretty sure as long as this game is being played it will happen one day. I’m just glad we were able to prolong it one more year.’’

Show time
As Magic coach Stan Van Gundy walked off the postgame platform Friday night, Celtics coach Doc Rivers was on his way in, with Ray Allen and Pierce scheduled to appear after him. No Celtic came to the news conference after Boston’s Game 5 loss in Orlando, prompting Van Gundy to ask, “They’ll come to the podium when they win?’’ Van Gundy and Rivers greeted each other cordially . . . The total amount of the 2010 playoff pool is $12 million. As the fourth seed in the East, the Celtics were awarded $142,800. Each team in the first round received $179,092. The prize for reaching the second round was $213,095 for each team. The conference finals payout was $352,137. The team that loses the Finals gets $1,408,168, to the winner’s $2,125,137. To put the numbers in perspective, players and coaches split a $50,000 pool in the 1951 playoffs.

Julian Benbow can be reached at jbenbow@globe.com.

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