Up 3-0, the Boston Celtics had the brooms in hand and were ready to sweep the Orlando Magic.
Then the Magic got tough and took two games to make it a series.
But on Friday night, the Celtics took care of business at home and beat Orlando, 96-84, in Game 6 to advance to the NBA Finals for the second time in three seasons. In 2008, they won it all and last season, they lost in the Eastern Conference semifinals to who else, the Magic.
Boston will play the winner of the Western Conference Finals series between the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns.
With a 3-2 lead, the Lakers will try to close out that series in tonight’s Game 6 in Phoenix. If the Suns win, there will be a Game 7 Memorial Day in Los Angeles.
Don’t bank on eating hot dogs and watching a Game 7 Monday. Lakers should take care of business to set up a date with the Celtics.
Now back to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Here are three things we learned from this series.
1. The Celtics proved experience and wisdom can beat youth and talent any day. The one thing Doc Rivers always tells his team is to play together. He’s one of the few coaches who can get guys to buy into a system. It’s more than just a guy who played in the NBA who is now a coach. He really has a way of challenging his players.
2. People point to Game 3 when Boston blew the Magic out to when this series was a wrap, but I go back to Game 2. They lost Game 1 at home and Game 2 was a must-win situation for them. So they come out and lose Game 2 to fall down 2-0. That didn’t help Orlando’s cause.
3. Vince Carter failed to deliver when it mattered most. Now I feel bad he got hurt at the end of Game 6, but the reality is the Magic needed him to play well to beat the Celtics. He didn’t. And since he was brought in to replace Hedo Turkoglu, Carter looks even worse because Turkoglu was instrumental in Orlando getting to the NBA Finals. Carter failed to do the same thing this season.