Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Magic Put A Choke Hold On Cavaliers, Go Up 3-1

Hold up on producing more of the Kobe/Lebron puppet commercials, as much as I love them. And the Vitamin Water "Great Debate?" Gatorade might want to go after Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony. So far the winner of the advertising sweepstakes might have to be T-Mobile, although I don't know one person who subscribes to T-Mobile as their carrier.

I'll tell you right now why Orlando is so good and have dominated Cleveland in the last 3 plus years. Orlando's game plan is basically playing 4 guards/small forwards and one dominate big guy. The Magic try to work the inside game with Dwight Howard, if he's double teamed, they can kick the ball out to where they seem to have 2 to 3 guys wide open. If you don't double team Howard, Superman will eat you up. See the overtime period in last night's game.

And with Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao, the Cavaliers basically start two centers. On the defensive end, neither Ilgauskas or Varejao can take on Howard one on one. And with Orlando's other 4 players on the floor being so quick and athletic, Ilgauskas or Varejao will caught inside and never make it out to defend the 3. We've seen Varejao in Game 1 get burned by having to come out and try to guard Rashard Lewis's game winning 3.

And with the smaller lineup, the Magic are able to quickly get back down the court and halt any fast break points for the Cavs.

And speaking of Rashard Lewis. Lewis has turned into Robert Horry in this series with his clutch shooting. It was Lewis who hit the dagger 3 in Game 1. And it was Lewis who hit the biggest shot of the game in last night's Game 4. With Orlando down 98-97, Lewis hit a turn around 3 to put the Magic up 2 with 4 seconds left.

The play of the game occurred right before that shot. Mickael Pietrus missed a 3 and Delonte West failed to secure the rebound as both he and Howard fell to the floor and the ball went outbounds giving Lewis and Orlando one more shot.

And Pietrus has been amazing off the bench. If there was a "6th man of the playoffs," it would have to go to Pietrus who had 17 off the bench.

With Shaquille O'Neal sitting courtside, it has been Stan "Master of Panic" Van Gundy who has done a tremendous coaching job. In overtime last night Mike Brown decided to go small and defend Orlando's outside game leaving Varajao guarding Howard one on one. Howard had his way in the overtime with 10 points, 8 of the 10 coming on dunks or layups.

How was Mike Brown the Coach of the Year? He played Lebron James the entire second half and overtime, giving James no rest. Brown never seemed to call a play on the offensive end, giving the ball to Lebron and basically telling Lebron, "Your the coach, you need to do everything. You see Van Gundy running up and down the sideline motivating his team and Brown just stands there looking lost in space, not even breaking a sweat.

Yeah, Lebron carried the team again with 44, but James also had 3 turnovers in the last 3 minutes of regulation and 3 more turnovers in OT. Some one else needs to step up for Cleveland.

All 4 games have been really competitive with 3 of the 4 games coming down to the last shot. Cleveland has lead at halftime in 3 of the four games, but have crumbled in the second half. The Cavaliers have been known for their defense, but have a hard time getting a stop when they need it.

And we all credited the acquisition of Mo Williams, but he's failed to show up in this series and when Cleveland needs him most. After guaranteeing victory last night, Williams went 5-15 from the field and didn't score after the third quarter.

Williams and Delonte West were a combined 0-6 from downtown.

Hey, let's face it. Maybe Cleveland isn't the team we thought they were. They had a dominate regular season, but they beat up on the inferior competition and won the games they were suppose to win. They were 1-2 against Orlando. 0-2 against the Lakers. 1-1 vs. Houston. 2-2 vs. Boston. There's 7 of their 16 losses. They did go 2-0 against Denver but both those games were earlier in the season when the Nuggets hadn't quite gelled yet.

And Cleveland was 2-2 against the Washington Wizards, a team that only won 19 games.

Now Cleveland has their backs to the wall and now must win 3 straight against a team they've only beaten 4 times in the last 3 years. Orlando is a team that lives and dies by the 3. They've definitely been living so you would think there due to cool off. History and stats are greatly against Cleveland, but you can never count out a Lebron James team.

These playoffs may just be the best ever.