Celtics Take Down Magic, Head to NBA Finals

All of those out there wishing for the Celtics to follow the lead of the Bruins and lose a 3-0 series lead were sorely disappointed last night, as the Celtics dispatched Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic 96-84 in game six of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics are headed back to the NBA Finals for the 21st time in franchise history.

Paul Pierce led the way with 31 points and 13 rebounds for the Celtics. Nate Robinson was the spark in this one, coming off the bench to score 13 points and play tough defense on Jameer Nelson. Get every bit of coverage on this one over at CelticsLinks.com.

In the end, the Celtics were nothing like the Bruins, except in the minds and hopes of a collective media that in the words of a friend, “gleefully anticipated” a historic collapse and hoped for a one-two punch of misery for the Boston fans and a plethora of storylines and lame jokes with which to torment their readers endlessly with.

Mike Breen on the ESPN telecast could hardly mask his disappointment, and held out hope for a Magic comeback pretty much to the end. If the Celtics play the Lakers in the finals (no sure thing) Breen can at least take solace in the fact that he’ll be able to fawn over Kobe Bryant for a minimum of four games.

Guess who’s headed back to the Finals … The Celtics, that’s who – Paul Flannery says that the Celtics were not supposed to end up here.

With their pedigree, it was matter of time – Bob Ryan says that there is a reason no team has ever come back from an 0-3 in the NBA playoffs.

Celtics finally done kidding around – Steve Bulpett has the Celtics once again becoming a force of nature.

Rivers’ savings plan pays dividends – Peter May has Doc Rivers’ plan of using the regular season to get his team healthy paying dividends.

A bruising victory and a shot at banner 18 – Yes, yes, Dan Shaughnessy may have been leading the cheers in hoping for the 3-0 choke, but I still enjoyed his column today that tells us why the Celtics would never let down their fans in that way.

‘Big 15’ prove anything is possible – Tim Weisberg has the Celtics viewing this as a team victory.

Robinson’s patience pays off – Chris Forsberg has Nate Robinson finally getting his chance – and making the most of it.

Despite pains, gains made – Julian Benbow’s notebook has the Celtics walking wounded making a contribution.

A day, and a friend, David Ortiz will never forget – Rob Bradford looks at a tough day for the Red Sox DH yesterday, having attended the wake of his friend, Jose Lima.

Second coming for Bruins  – Kevin Paul Dupont has the Bruins getting close-up looks at Tyler Seguin and Taylor Hall at the combine.

RedSoxLinks.comhas all the stories from last night’s Red Sox loss to the Royals.

Time For The Friday Not-So-Mega Links

Let’s give you the Friday megalinks while I can. Not as many links as the usual Friday, but the Memorial Day weekend has a lot to do with that.

Getting ready for the three day weekend and you can find the sports and the entertainment viewing for Saturday and Sunday right here.

On to the links.

National

USA Today’s Michael Hiestand and Michael McCarthy debate the pros and cons of holding Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey.

William Cooper of Sports Business Daily says the first ad promoting the US World Cup bid for the 2018 or 2022 games will air Saturday. 

Neil Hayes writing for NBC Sports.com says the Stanley Cup Finals could be a ratings boon for the NHL. Don’t forget NBC is a rightsholder for the NHL.

Michael Lombardi of the National Football Post announces that he’s leaving to join NFL Network and NFL.com full-time.

CNBC’s Darren Rovell writes that sports apparel brand Crons is entering the nutrition game.

Milton Kent of Fanhouse says Danica Patrick may have lost some fans in IndyCar.

The Sports Media Watch says Thursday’s thrilling Game 5 between the Lakers and Suns got its highest ratings of the NBA Western Conference Finals, but they’re still down from last year.

SMW also has news and notes on various sports TV personalities.

Steve Lepore at Puck The Media discovers that Dan Patrick will not host NBC’s coverage of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals from the beginning.

Steve also has NHL Network’s coverage plans for the Stanley Cup Finals.

Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo’s Puck Daddy tells NHL fans what they can do to help increase the ratings for the Stanley Cup Finals. 

World Cup Buzz critiques ESPN’s practice run for the World Cup.

World Cup Buzz shows us ESPN’s World Cup murals.

Deadspin has the video of YES reporter Kimberly Jones having her pork chop eaten by an overzealous and extremely creepy Yankees fan in Minnesota.

Emmett Jones at Sports Business Digest asks if an outdoors cold weather Super Bowl makes sense.

East and Mid-Atlantic

Chad Finn of the Boston Globe profiles ESPN/ABC main NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy.

Bob Raissman in the New York Daily News wants the New Jersey Super Bowl talk to stop now.

Phil Mushnick of the New York Post puts his vitriol aside for one day and remembers a former New York Football Giant who fought bravely for his country in Iwo Jima during World War II.

Pete Dougherty at the Albany Times Union wonders if ESPN/ABC should focus on Danica Patrick during this Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.

Peter Van Allen of the Philadelphia Business Journal says the Flyers have brought record ratings to the local Comcast SportsNet affiliate.  

Jim Williams of the Washington Examiner says Nationals fans as well as baseball fans across the country will have their eyes focused on the Junior College World Series and potential 1st round draft pick Bryce Harper tonight.

Jim notes that it will be a hockey weekend on NBC.

South

Adam Fisher of the Naples (FL) Daily News says Dick Vitale was a big hit as the keynote speaker for a local event.

David Barron of the Houston Chronicle says all signs point to the Astros and Rockets leaving Fox Sports and signing with Comcast or another entity for their TV rights.

Midwest

Michael Zuidema of the Grand Rapids (MI) Press writes that soccer games can draw ratings as the numbers show us.

Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star wonders when the local blackouts of the Indianapolis 500 will end. 

Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says Fox Sports is putting out an all points bulletin for younger male viewers for NASCAR.

Ed Sherman in Crain’s Chicago Business has CBC’s Don Cherry being bullish on the Flyers-Blackhawks Stanley Cup Finals.

Ed says the Blackhawks are the big winners in sports business this week.

Paul Christian of the Rochester Post-Bulletin looks at ESPN/ABC’s coverage of this Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.

Dan Caesar in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Cardinals might be making changes to their TV and radio deals for next season.

West

Scott D. Pierce of the Deseret (UT) News writes that BYU fans will be able to watch the women’s softball team in action this weekend on the ESPN family of networks.

Jay Posner of the San Diego Union-Tribune tells Padres fans that Dick Enberg prefers to call games straight down the middle.

To John Maffei of the North County Times who tells us that the Padres, Cox 4 and a local sports radio station have agreed to pull a spot that depended on bathroom humor.

Jim Carlisle of the Ventura County Star writes that Danica Patrick may be losing her status as IndyCar sweetheart.

And Jim has some sports media news and notes today.

Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News speculates on where Erin Andrews may land after her ESPN contract expires later this year.

Tom also has his extensive media news and notes in his blog.

Canada

Bruce Dowbiggin of the Toronto Globe and Mail wonders if CBC will broach the subject of match fixing during the World Cup. Dowbiggin apparently thinks every soccer game is fixed based on this extremely biased column.

TSN announces that TSN2 will carry an early afternoon NFL game during the regular season.

As mentioned, not as many links on this Friday as many writers took the weekend off. I hope you enjoy your Memorial Day weekend.

Sox Streak Ended, Celtics To Try Again To Close Out Magic

As good as Daisuke Matsuzaka was in his last start against the Phillies, he was almost as bad last night against the Royals. He didn’t even make it through the fifth inning last night, walking eight Royals in 4 2/3 innings in the Red Sox 4-3loss to Kansas City at Fenway. Get the full coverage at RedSoxLinks.com.

The Matsuzaka mystery won’t go away – Alex Speier says that the Japanese righty  remains the source of absolute befuddlement.

There’s nothing worse than ‘Bad Dice-K’ – Joe Haggerty notes that even Matsuzaka was puzzled by his outing.

He’ll call the shots – Peter Abraham’s minor league notebook has former internet project manager Amiel Sawdaye set to direct his first draft for the Red Sox.

At Big Papi’s, Ortiz takes a moment to thank those who stuck by him – Daniel Barbarisi has the Red Sox slugger reaching out to thank those who supported him during his horid April. Needless to say, media members weren’t among those receiving thanks.

Bill Hall doing it all and Manny Delcarmen in groove – Rich Thompson with a pair of secondary articles on guys who have been big contributors to the Red Sox in supporting roles.

V-Mart ready for Friday return – CSN’s notebook has Victor Martinez set to return to the lineup tonight.

The Celtics will try tonight for the third time to close out the Orlando Magic and return to the NBA finals. Game six will be held at the TD Garden (ESPN, 8:30) and crows will no doubt look to fire up the Celtics early.

Beat ’em to punch, Celtics – Is it alright to say that I absolutely love this column from RON BORGES? I do, this excerpt puts this perfectly:

At the time, Cedric Maxwell explained what resulted when he said, “Before Kevin McHale hit Kurt Rambis, the Lakers were just running across the street whenever they wanted. Now they stop at the corner, push the button, wait for the light and look both ways.”

Now it’s Howard’s turn to learn physical play is a two-way street. It’s time for him to eat some bloody chicklets.

And he brought it on himself. Not by scoring and rebounding. Not by pushing and shoving. But by acting as if he has carte blanche to hurt people in the guise of “playing hard.”

It is exactly what needs to happen tonight.

Tommy Heinsohn’s points at refs – Gotta love it. I really would’ve loved to have been there when Steve Bulpett talked to Tommy about this series. The ending is classic too.

Ex-coach Van Gundy turns new career into a no-lose situation – Chad Finn’s media column has Jeff Van Gundy talking about his new career as an in-game analyst, his desire to get back into coaching, but only when he can handle losing better, and why Orlando fans much more negative feedback in this series than Celtics fans have.

Celts, a bit banged up, looking to recover – Bill Doyle looks at the Celtics concerned heading into tonight’s game six, along with injury updates for Glen Davis, Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels.

Celtics can blame themselves – Steve Bulpett says that yes, the Celtics were hosed by the officials in game five, but they still have only themselves to blame for the loss.

Rondo is taking his shots – Julian Benbow’s Globe notebook has the Celtics point guard taking some big hits from Dwight Howard in the last few games.

So let’s see, both Dan Shaughnessy and Jim Donaldson wrote columns today about the possibility of a Celtics choke and joining the Bruins in the 3-0 infamy club? Shocking. Pass and Pass.

Glenn Ordway pretty much guaranteed a double-digit Celtics win tonight, (health of Rondo and others the only qualifier) and that the Celtics would go on to win the NBA title. It’d be nice if he was right.

Headed to Boston? Seguin talks Bruins, scoring, and chasing a cup as a rookie – DJ Bean talks to potential Bruin Tyler Seguin about the possibility of coming to Boston.

Derrick Burgess: Veteran voice – Ian Rapoport has the Patriots officially announcing the signing of Derrick Burgess, and a few other Patriots notes.