After the Magic swept through the first two rounds of the Eastern Conference playoffs against Charlotte and Atlanta, Orlando looked like a team that was determined to defend their Eastern Conference crown and make a return to the NBA Finals. However, the Celtics, fresh off their upset over the Cavs, look healthy and rejuvenated and have put the Magic in a 2-0 hole despite the first two games being played in Orlando. Now the Magic have their backs up against it and will be facing a steep test to overcome two poor shooting games to start the series. Not only have the Celtics taken home court away from the second best team in the eastern conference, but now they have a chance to make sure that the series doesn’t have to return to Disney World.
Pat Williams, Senior Vice President of the Magic joined ESPN 850 WKNR in Cleveland with Tony Rizzo to talk about whether or not it is panic time in Orlando, what has gone wrong in the first two games, and what their goal is as the series shifts to Boston.
On whether or not it is panic time yet:
“I don’t think so. I think the games could’ve gone either way. As it turns out, if we had a play here or a play there it’s a different series. Give the Celtics credit. You know what’s interesting, I think the nation has felt ‘boy what an upset, Boston upset Cleveland.’ You know what, as I watch this Boston club I don’t think that’s an upset. The Celtics are good, they’re experienced, and they have three Hall-Of-Famers in their starting lineup and maybe a fourth on the way. They’re the real deal and they came in here and did what they had to do under great pressure. I was impressed with Boston. Very impressed.”
On what has gone wrong so far in the first two games:
“We’re not shooting well. We shot 41 percent Sunday and we shot 39 percent last night. At the end of the day, basketball is not very complicated. You gotta put the ball in the hoop and we just have not shot well. Now I would say a lot of that is attributed to Boston defensively. They’re guarding Dwight (Howard) single coverage and that means that everybody stays home on our other four and that means it’s hard to get open shots and that’s basically our mode. Move the ball around the horn as fast as you can and beat the coverage for an open three pointer. That’s a huge part of our offense and we’re having trouble getting open looks at the basket and defensively Boston has done a good job.”
On what they are looking to accomplish in Boston:
“You hope that human nature being what it is that Boston went home last night saying ‘we got it, we got it. We took care of business down there and came out beyond anything we could’ve dreamed and now were going home.’ You’re hoping that psychologically that they’re thinking the series is over. We gotta go in there and repeat in Boston what they did to us in Orlando. Is it doable? Yes. Is it hard? Yeah it’s really hard. But maybe there’s something in the water in Boston this spring. We’ve seen this incredible hockey series with the Flyers and the Bruins and who would’ve ever guessed that? 3-0 Boston and then they force a game seven and Boston’s up three to nothing in game seven? (Host: And then they lose.) Uhhh, it’s unbelievable. So I think the message in sports is you keep playing, you don’t let up, you keep grinding every day, you don’t look back at what went on in the past, you don’t worry about the last game, you go out and max it out right now, today. That’s the message here. If I was doing a pregame pep talk, that’s how I would focus with our ballclub.”
On whether or not he has heard the rumors about LeBron James in free agency and his thoughts on that:
“Nobody is gonna hear anything and of course as you know Tony, NBA people are prohibited from talking about it and it’s a very sensitive issue with the league. All I know is the summer of 2010 is finally here just about. Teams have been anticipating this for years, they’ve been rearranging their rosters, they’ve been moving salaries, they’ve been moving contracts, and they’ve been doing everything to get ready for this giant game of musical chairs that’s gonna take place in the summer of 2010 all over America. And we’ll see how the landscape changes or if nothing changes. All these great players may just stay right where they are. We don’t know anything. But after July 1st it will all start unfolding. Up until then Tony it’s all guess work, it’s all rumor, and it’s all innuendo. My counsel is pay attention to none of it.”