Just when we thought the NBA Playoffs would disappoint with two sweeps in the Conference Finals, Orlando and Phoenix rise from their graves to win two straight games and keep their Title hopes alive.
Orlando has faced elimination for two straight games now, and for two straight games they’ve been able to win, including an Overtime victory in Boston in Game 4.
Now I know it’s a bit premature to say that Boston is done and Orlando is going to win this series, but I think its appropriate to start discussing the possibility, especially with the way Orlando won last night.
First off, I think it’s important to remind everyone who the better team really is in this series. Some of you with short memories who’s opinions are swayed by the mood of the media and the flavor of the week will say Boston is the better team.
Those of you who have been paying attention all season will know that Orlando is actually the better team. This statement is a lot harder to sell today than it was when the Playoffs started, but it’s true.
Orlando has the better record, Orlando owns the Season series 3 games to 1, including two road victories that I’ll talk about later, and Orlando has the best player.
Who has the best player could probably be debated pretty effectively from both sides, but that’s for another time. Dwight Howard is the best player in this series, he’s been largely ineffective the first 3 games of the series, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s one of the most dominant players in the league on both sides of the ball.
Unlike a lot of people in the media I’m not swayed by a couple bad games, or good games. Dwight Howard’s body of work speaks for itself.
If Orlando is the better team then why did they allow themselves to go down 3-0 to Boston with a berth in the NBA Championships on the line.
Well, I think it’s a combination of a couple things. For one, Boston is a really good team. I don’t want to take any credit away from them. What they did against Cleveland was awesome, they stole that series with incredibly impressive play.
Even though I think Orlando is the better team it never occurred to me that the Magic would steam roll the Celtics, with the type of defense both teams are capable of playing I figured this series would be close.
Also, Orlando is largely a jump shooting team, with the exception of Dwight Howard of course. This team’s offense relies heavily on penetration and kicking the ball out to open shooters. Orlando has a lot of good shooters on this team, and for the most part when someone is cold, the other players are able to pick him up.
The problem was that Boston was able to play disciplined defense, avoid double teaming Howard, which makes finding open shooters a lot more difficult for Howard and Jameer Nelson. To make matters worse the Magic have shot worse in the first 3 games then in any 3 game stretch the entire season. A stretch where Orlando shot an abysmal 29% from the field.
Really this is an example of one team playing at the top of their game and another playing at the bottom of theirs. Again we have to give Boston a lot of credit here, it’s been their play on defense that caused Orlando to play so poorly.
We also have to consider Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis. Vince Carter, is and always has been the type of player that just doesn’t show up in crucial situations like this one. Even last night he only had 8 points. He got to the basket a couple times which were a good sign but he never built on it.
Vince Carter is not mentally tough, anyone who knows anything about NBA basketball knows this to be true. Fortunately for the Magic they don’t need Carter to play well to win. It has to be a concern though if you are an Orlando fan the effect someone like Carter can have on the Locker Room.
Rashard Lewis is a lot like Vince Carter in the way that if he doesn’t hit his shot or get to the basket early he tends to fade away as the game goes on and sometimes disappears. For the first 3 games Lewis failed to score more than 6 points in any game and went a combined 1 for 13 from three, far from the 39.7% mark for the regular season.
Last night however was a different story. Only 3 of his 11 shots were from long range and he went 6 for 11 from the field with 14 points. I know 14 points won’t light the world on fire but it’s a start, and some of those shots were huge, especially in the 2nd half.
What I’m trying to say is that for the first 3 games of the series the core of the Orlando Magic was MIA, but after Games 4 and 5 they have some momentum going back to Boston, and most importantly, confidence.
Not only do the Magic know they can beat this team, but they know they can beat this team on the road, which they’ve already done once this series and twice during the regular season. One thing Boston hasn’t done well this Postseason is protect their home floor.
That is exactly what they have to do Game 6.
It’s a bit early to say that Boston is going to lose, in fact history is on their side, never in the NBA has a team come back from an 0-3 deficit in the playoffs. In Hockey, it’s happened 3 times, and in Baseball we saw Boston do it to the Yankees in 2004 on their way to the World Series.
Actually, is it possible that if the Boston Celtics lose this series its nature’s way of restoring balance to the universe? The city of Boston has enjoyed so much success the past few years in practically every sport that perhaps it’s time to take some of that glory back.
If Boston loses this series, has there ever been a worse loss in the history of Boston sports? I don’t know you tell me. I can’t think of worse collapse in the past twenty years.
Even the Patriots losing the Super Bowl during their perfect season won’t be as bad as this. They just lost one game, a close game that took a circus catch off of David Tyree’s helmet to keep the game winning drive alive. But that was just one game.
We will find out after Game 6 in Boston if Orlando will have a chance to make history. If they win Game 6, a big if, Orlando will have a chance to do something that none of us thought possible, win this Playoff Series.
About the Author
Written by Danny Shapiro
Danny Shapiro is 26 years old, married and a father to 2 boys, who he hopes one day to play MLB and support him and his wife in their old age. Danny's second love, mistress even, is sports and Danny is living his dream of being a sports writer right now, thanks to Prosportsblogging.com.