If the championship window is closing on the Boston Celtics, they’re surely making the most out of it. Boston stands just two wins away from their second NBA Finals appearance in three seasons after knocking off the Orlando Magic 95-92 on Tuesday night to take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals. With four of their top players over 30-years-old, the Celtics continue to play like a team with rejuvenated legs this postseason.

After taking a vicious swipe from Orlando center Dwight Howard in the second quarter, Paul Pierce remained in the game to lead Boston with 28 points, five assists and five rebounds. Rajon Rondo was also instrumental in dissecting the Magic, adding 25 points and eight assists. Howard bounced back from a poor Game 1 to post 30 points and eight rebounds but he didn’t receive much help from two of his best wing mates.

Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis combined for 14 points on 6-of-18 shooting. Vince Carter added 16 points but his two missed free throws with 31 seconds remained erased a chance for Orlando to cut the lead to one.

The Celtics survived another near fourth quarter collapse after they pushed their lead to 11 at the top of the period. The Magic battled back to take a 90-89 lead after Carter’s jumpshot fell with 3:35 minutes remaining. But Pierce, Rondo and Kevin Garnett scored the next six points for Boston to close the game and put the Magic in a difficult position. Only three teams in NBA history have battled back to win a playoff series after losing the first two games at home.

Game 3 is Saturday in Boston.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO