ORLANDO, Fla. — Stan Van Gundy was watching Boston blow past Cleveland in the Eastern Conference semifinals and thought it was some sort of replay from the Celtics' 2008 NBA title run.
There were the familiar scenes: Kevin Garnett pounding his chest, Ray Allen swishing 3-pointers and Paul Pierce pumping his fist. Boston was winning big.
"If you look at them, that's the (same) team," said Magic coach Van Gundy. "What would be the difference?"
These days, it might be hard to tell.
The Celtics are healthy again and looking to take down playoff-perfect Orlando.
The Celtics want to prove that the bullies from Beantown are back. They'll have to do it against a favored Orlando team that's hungry to win its first NBA title
"They're the team that won the East last year, not Cleveland, and I want to make sure our guys focus on that," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said
The motivated Magic, spurred by last year's NBA Finals loss, swept through the first two rounds and have won 14 straight going back to the regular season. They eliminated the Celtics in seven games in the second round a year ago, and went 3-1 against Boston this year. That might not mean much now.
Garnett was out with a right knee injury in last year's playoffs and is now close to full strength. Orlando's starting point guard, Jameer Nelson, was sidelined with a right shoulder last season.
Add some fresh faces — headlined by Vince Carter for the Magic and Rasheed Wallace for the Celtics — and put a conference title at stake, and this year's series is getting a facelift.
Eastern Conference Finals
Game 1: Celtics at Magic
Today, 1:30 p.m.