Posted by John Schuhmann
BOSTON — I blogged about the Magic’s lack of assists after Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, but it’s a note that bears repeating, especially after Game 3. Orlando was held to just 10 assists on 24 field goals on Saturday, the same number they had in Game 1.
The Magic have been held to 10 or fewer assists five times in 93 games this season, and four of those five games have been against the Celtics (Dec. 25, Jan. 28, Game 1 and Game 3).
What’s even more fascinating is that the Celtics have held their opponents to 10 assists or fewer just six times this season. So it’s not like it’s something they do to everybody. The Magic just happen to be a very good matchup for them defensively.
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy explained it like this on Sunday: “They’re playing one-on-one. Right now, we have not been able to force them to help. They’re playing Dwight one-on-one in the post. Pick-and-rolls, if we get a solid screen and are able to turn the corner, they’re just switching it. They’re body-on-body all the time. We can’t, in very many cases, force a second defender in there. And we haven’t had much success in one-on-one situations. So that’s really been the whole thing.
“They have stayed at home on the perimeter. They’ve allowed us to drive the ball, but we’ve got to finish over them. We haven’t been able to blow by guys and break down defenses. And when we have, we haven’t been able to make the play. We just have not been able to find a way to bring a second defender to the ball to create open looks for other people.”
I then asked Jameer Nelson what it’s like to come off a high screen and not have the passing lanes that he’s used to.
“It’s tough,” Nelson said. “For 82 games, that play was there. Now, you’ve got to rely on something else. We’ve just go out and play with our instincts and just go out aggressive.”
John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. Follow him on twitter.