Sunday, February 7, 2010

Close look at Magic-Celtics

Second Halftime Magic-Celtics

Okay, I missed the first half of the game because I was travelling but I wanna try covering the second half. I caught the last 2 minutes and I can say Rajon Rondo continues to impress me a lot and with Chris Paul being injured right now, I feel comfortable calling him the best pure young Point Guard of the NBA. Even though I’m focused on the Pistons I am curious seeing those two teams and therefore decided to take a closer look at this game! It’s also at a convenient time for me, since its only 10pm! So the second half starts in a few minutes I’ll get right to it!

3rd Quarter:
Howard needs to stay out of foul trouble and the Magic need to take care of the ball then they should be fine to win this thing and turn it around.
This is a very winnable game for the Magic. They are still within reach although Howard has only played 7 minutes in the first half. It looked like Stan van Gundy told his team to go into Howard early and he delivered connecting on a righty-hook, a 15-foot jumper off-glass and several free throws he got because Kendrick Perkins decided to respect his new-found jumper.
Rajon Rondo had a nice assist for an alley-oop and a rare three-pointer, but Vince Carter answered right back with a three of his own when KG got lost defending a pick-and-roll play guarding Rashard Lewis. Howard just committed his 4th foul and I really think he should’ve let Rondo go and get the lay-in. What good does it do to have him sit on the bench in foul trouble. He has to learn to control his defense and just foul when it’s appropriate. He has the quickness but really needs to work on his decision-making. Stan van Gundy decides to still play him, deciding to get him a rhythm. Let’s see if it pays off.
Howard just blocked a dunk attempt by Kendrick Perkins, I’m sure SVGs hard just stopped looking at that, but it was a clean one and Rashard ties the game at 60 causing Doc Rivers to take a time-out. So the Magic barely needed a few minutes to erase a 10-point deficit. Nice work!

Ok, I wrote down the last 4 minutes and most of the possession and jotted them down after Rasheed Wallace entered the game because I had heard he makes the C’s worse defensively and since I’ve only known him as good defender from Pistons times I was curious. Here is what happened when he entered the game.

Open 3-pointer made, open 3-pointer made, wide open lay-up due to slow help by Sheed, 2 FTM by Lewis fouled by Sheed, Lewis misses wide-open 12-foot jump shot and Sheed misses a three badly on the other side, another wide open lay-up this time by Jason Williams and to close it a stupid foul by Eddie House with time winding down … So 60-60 turns into 76-62.

So the announcers said that the Cs starters were the reason for the deficit. Well, the starters surrendered the lead but when Wallace entered the game so he could provide a spark offensively and defensively, nothing really happened. He missed rotations and rotated slow in most of the other cases. I can’t help but to think that he’s not the player he used to be and that the effort he gave Detroit might not have been because he wasn’t motivated, he’s just not that good anymore and relying too much on long jumpers and three pointers.

4th Quarter:
So the Magic started the fourth period just like the had played in the third. They knocked down two threes continuing to push the lead. Rivers kept his starters out for an extended time, I think about until there were five minutes to go and the defense improved for Boston, but to be frank, it couldn’t get a lot worse. Pierce, KG and Rondo re-entered the game when the score was 89-76, and they almost crawled their way back into this one, only trailing by 5 at one point.

Howard picked up his 5th foul on a bonehead foul. It was a clear path for KG on a fast break and instead of letting him dunk it and just move on he decided to foul him and give him the bucket. If he fouls he can’t let him score, if he fouls him that hard, he’ll get a flagrant so not fouling would look like the best choice also because the Magic need him on the floor and he would’ve had one more foul to give before fouling out and that late in the game an extra foul is a very valuable asset, right?

Matt Barnes gave the perfect example for a good foul. With about 40 seconds to play, Garnett had a wide open dunk but Barnes recovered and fouled him hard sending him to the line. KG knocked down both but it could’ve been a game-changing play. If KG slams it home the crowd gets into it and the Magic didn’t want that happening. Also the Magic had time to calm down. Garnett knocked down both and Orlando could bring the ball up very slowly and take a last second shot which Lewis knocked down in the face of the D. I’m sure SVG didn’t design the play as it was executed but JJ Redick did a hell of a job passing the ball out of the double team and Orlando in general did a good job running the shot clock down. That play was the absolute dagger and the Magic went on to win it 96-89.

So, the watching both teams a little more up-close gave me a few hints. I focused on the Magic a little more but I can see were both teams will struggle and won’t struggle. The announce said they think in a seven-game series the Celtics will win over the Magic easily, I strongly disagree. The Celtics have an aging cast and, KG might come back to his old self but the Cs offense depends on Rondo running the show and Pierce chipping in at the end of games. Their bench is not as strong as one would’ve tought before the season and the wear and tear is only going to increase during the rest of the season and the playoffs and the Magic have a deeper and younger roster.

As for Orlando. I think they are the team to beat! Period. You can talk about Cleveland and Lebron all you want, but if Dwight Howard keeps on getting at hitting those 15-footers off-glass รก la Tim Duncan, there’s no way in hell Shaq or Big Z will be able to stop him down low. Lebron was bothered by Howard’s size down low during last years playoffs and although his jumper is really going right now, he won’t be knocking down those 40-foot three-pointers in the playoffs, I just don’t see it. The Cavs were really good around this time last year too and during the first round of the playoffs, they are going to have to prove themselves against a team like the Magic or the Hawks in a seven-game series. I’m sorry Cleveland, but I just don’t see it.

Alright, that’s it for me, thanks for reading!

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