Can the Magic come back; History says yes!
by Zak Kertesz,
written on 06/08/09
—-The series is over, right? The 2009 NBA season has untheatrically ended as the Lakers have taken a commanding 2-0 lead, right? Stan the Man should bury himself as he panicked once again by using multiple lineup changes, all while playing the Dukie for 27 minutes (J.J. went 2/9, hitting one three point shot, his supposed specialty), right? Kobe can’t be stopped, right? Lamar Odom is killing them with his efficiency and versatility, right? The Master of Panic is overmatched by the Zen Master, right? Wroaang.
It’s been done before (in the NBA finals). I’ve seen it before. I was there when Dwyane Wade took his team down from 0-2 (basically down 0-3, as the Heat were trailing by 14 with under eight minutes to play in the fourth) to eventually trounce the Mavericks by winning four straight. No, I wasn’t there when the ’77 Trail Blazers were down 0-2, only to come back and beat the 76ers 4-2. And no, I wasn’t there when the ’69 Celtics beat the Lakers after being down 0-2 either. But that’s not the point. The point is this: It’s happened before, it can happen again.
This Magic team lives and dies by the 3-point shot. That’s what gotten them this far and that’s what could get them even further. So why isn’t it working in this series? Phil Jackson must have outsmarted Van Gundy with his defensive schemes. Something Mike Brown couldn’t figure out. And the Lakers wing players are tall and long. Something Cleveland lacked. Or maybe, just maybe, Orlando’s player’s were distracted by ZZ Top’s beard (sorry, couldn’t tell you if that was Billy Gibbons or Dusty Hill under all that getup). Yea, some of that may be true, but the underlying truth is something that every whippersnapper practices from the get-go: making shots.
Orlando’s perimeter players are getting great looks. As Van Gundy stated during the post game interviews, fully aired on NBATV (what a fabulous network, by the by) “They’re only guarding three guys:” Turkoglu, Lewis and Superman. Thus, Courtney Lee is wide open, Mickael Pietrus is wide open, Skip (Rafer Alston) and Jameer Nelson are wide open (if Stan actually decides to play a point guard) and most significantly, J.J. Redick is wide open. These guys need to hit shots, period.
Orlando was the best 3-point shooting team all year, as displayed just last series against The King and his noble men. This series they are shooting a woeful 18/54 from beyond the arc. Yes, Orlando lives and dies by the 3-point shot. Well, for two games they’ve been dying. It’s time to live. Live!
Stan’s squad is already down 0-2, so they have nothing to lose. They can basically just let it fly, which certainly fits the mold of his team. Even Kobe himself said that Orlando is becoming a “loosey goosey” team.
Furthermore, the three guys who Phil has actually decided to guard, played extremely well in Game 2. With Rashard Lewis breaking out in the second quarter and Hedo-He does, the fourth quarter-man, not only coming up big on the offensive end, but defensively as well: He swatted Kobe’s attempt to end the game in regulation (which of course, Kobe whined about, expecting a foul; as he does after every missed shot, or even made shot, for that matter). And as for Superman, he wasn’t quite super, but still the most dominant big man on the court.
Not to mention, actually I am (expletive) mentioning it! This series was just a Courtney Lee missed layup attempt (albeit, a rather difficult attempt) from being tied up. Moreover, Pau Gasol goaltended on that very same play. No, it did not actually affect the shot, however, according to the NBA rule book: “A player shall not touch the ball or the basket ring when the ball is using the basket ring as its lower base.” For the layman’s, that’s goaltending! Which means that the series should be tied. But that’s all hearsay now. Unless David Stern grows a pair and actually does something about it (sure, and have Kobe not win it all, after he already lost out on LeBron winning it all).
“You know never know, [a]series can change,” Stan stated. That’s right Stan, and history has proven that. The only difference here is, those three teams which stand alone in the glory of 0-2 comebacks, didn’t have to face Kobe Bean Bryant. The Heat’s toughest opponent was a soft German (now that’s an oxymoron), not the Kobester.
But hold on. That ’77 Portland team had to contend with Daryl Dawkins and some Doctor guy (you know who I’m talking about). And while Kobe is one of the best to ever play the game, he is not the logo of the league. That my readers, is Mr. Jerry West, who also had Wilt Chamberlin on his side (thought the Stilt was worth mentioning). And yes, the ’69 Celtics not only came back from 0-2, but they defeated the legendary Laker mystique as well.
With Stan the Man guiding the likes of Hedo and Rashard and the new Superman, anything can happen.
Will it happen, probably not. But it’s possible. Indeed, it’s possible.