Led by the electric point guard play of Nate Robinson–yes, Nate Robinson–Boston silenced the doubters after game 4 and 5 losses, closing out the series 96-84 on their home court in Game 6.
Robinson has been used sparingly in the playoffs, averaging just 5 minutes per game, but when Rondo was shaken up at the end of the first quarter, Nate Robinson started the second quarter.
And what a quarter it was.
Robinson forced Jameer Nelson out of his game with chest-to-chest pressure defense and sparked the offense with 13 second quarter points. Robinson opened the quarter with a three-pointer at 9:49, then followed with another three with 8:21 remaining. The Celtics stretched the lead to 21 points during the second quarter, before a late surge by Vince Carter (13 second quarter points) cut the halftime lead to 13, 55-42.
After losses in Games 4 and 5, the Boston Celtics heard all the comparisons to the Boston Bruins–who lost a 3-0 playoff lead to the Philadelphia Flyers. But the Celtics proved–once and for all- that they are NOT the Bruins.
Boston opened the game shooting very well, but for the first six minutes, their defense was lacking. Howard had three dunks in the first five minutes of play and the Orlando Magic took advantage of open driving lanes.
In the last six minutes of the first quarter, however, Boston locked in defensively, allowing just five Magic points, extending the lead from 17-14 to 30-19. Rondo led Boston with 12 first quarter points, before being hurt with 32.7 seconds left in the quarter. Rondo was injured on one of his many forays into the lane, when he made contact in the air with Dwight Howard, and fell hard on his hip and back.
As Rondo lay on his back, The Garden chanted “Rondo! Rondo!” but it was Nasty Nate Robinson–not Rondo– who answered the call.
To start the second half, Ray Allen hit back-to-back three-pointers , followed closely by a Paul Pierce three–stretching the lead to 22 points– and the rout was on. Ray Allen nailed three three-pointers and scored 20 points. Celtic captain Paul Pierce hit timely shots all night, finishing with 31 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 assists.
The second half was a glorified victory lap for the Boston Celtics, who were heartily cheered on by the faithful fans of the TD Garden. Late in the fourth quarter, as the win became inevitable, “Beat LA” chants echoed throughout the Garden.
Though the game was in hand for Boston, credit to Dwight Howard for playing all-out until the final horn sounded. While the rest of the Magic appeared defeated sometime in the middle of the third quarter, Howard continued to play with passion and energy. Howard finished the game with 28 points and 12 rebounds.
Now, the Boston Celtics await their next and final challenge, either the Los Angeles Lakers, or the Phoenix Suns, whomever emerges from the Western Conference Finals. Most Celtics fans would welcome a rematch of the 2008 Celtics-Lakers Finals, but it’s hard to root against Phoenix Suns fan favorite, Steve Nash.
Boston split the season series with Los Angeles, 1-1. Boston lost both games they played against the Phoenix Suns this season.