It took the Orlando Magic three games to figure it out.
The Boston Celtics made them look bad in taking a 3-0 Eastern Conference finals series lead, but the Magic won Monday night in overtime, 96-92, to force a Game 5 Wednesday in Orlando.
Now let’s be honest here.
With no NBA team having ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series, the odds are not in the Magic’s favor.
This is what is in their favor.
1. The Magic just need to win one more game in Boston to win the series. Game 5 is in Orlando and Game 7 would be in Orlando if the Magic can win Game 5 at home and Game 6 in Boston. Tough task, but not impossible.
2. Dwight Howard really showed why he’s the NBA Defensive Player of the Year. Just controlled the paint. The Magic have to rebound better, but he really got after it in Game 4 with 32 points and 16 rebounds. Just played harder, stronger and smarter in the paint.
3. The offense looked much better and Jameer Nelson woke up. The biggest thing he did early was go at Rajon Rondo. At this point, the only way to slow Rondo down is to go at him and get him in foul trouble. Then late, Nelson hit two huge treys with one going off the glass in lucky fashion. Now he did handle the ball too much down the stretch and turned it over, but he made plenty of plays as well
4. Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy played Brandon Bass and he gave the Magic solid play and a physical presence inside other than Howard. Rashard Lewis had his best game of the series with 13 points and Matt Barnes added 10.
5. The Magic won without Vince Carter doing much offensively. He had only three points on 1-of-9 shooting. Now Van Gundy knows he can sit down Carter down the stretch and still beat Boston. You can’t trust the guy to deliver offensively in the crunch. So what the Magic did was say, ‘hey Vince, play defense’ and he did that pretty good. Orlando would love Carter to catch fire on offense, but if he doesn’t, the Magic know they can get it done without him doing so.