Live and Let Die: Orlando Magic Hot Streak Comes to a Screeching Halt
So, that's what happens when a three-point shooting team falls into ice water. Ice water didn't even give the horrendous outing justice. It was flat-out hypothermic.
The Orlando Magic, the Cinderella story of this, the best NBA playoffs in recent memory dethroned the crippled defending champions. They bounced the 2009 MVP and the league's best team en route to their first Finals appearance since Shaq had his first dynamic running mate (Some dude named Penny).
Sure, the 100-75 win was insulting. Really though, even Josh Powell swished home a 3-pointer with less than a second left.
It was that kind of night.
Unfortunately for the Magic, it's the nature of beast—the nature of the experiment. If any NBA resembled a collegiate basketball squad, Orlando's certainly it. A dominating big man down low, surrounded by sharp-shooters. It's a familiar sight, yes.
What wasn't a familiar sight was that loud sound the Magic produced shot-after-shot.
Brick. Clunk. Boink.
The nature of that said beast is simple in basketball. You live by the three and you undoubtedly die by it. As Kobe Bryant began to douse the visiting squad with liquid nitrogen late in the second quarter, it translated over to the Magic's offensive ebb-and-flow.
Come the third quarter, the Magic were six feet under. The hottest team in the league was returned back to earth after reveling up in the clouds for the past week.
The rim, the ball, the shots, basically anything and everything betrayed them. Benedict Arnold was at the forefront for the Magic, but there are some things to certainly take solace in.
As Oscar Wilde once said, "A true friend stabs you in the front." In other words and more simply translated for Orlando is this. It's best to go subzero from behind the arc in the first game of your franchise's first NBA Finals in 15 years in rather than a Game 4, 5 or 6.
It can only get better for the Magic from here on out, but realistically, any basketball enthusiast knew that this was a possibility. Orlando is a talented crew of players, but facing up against the Cavs and then, in turn, seeing the Lakers in your headlights is kind of a good dream gone horribly bad.
Anderson Varejao, Delonte West, and Sasha Pavlovic are not in these Finals.
Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, and Trevor Ariza certainly are.
In layman's terms, the Lakers are crembrule offensively and every other team are Hostess cupcakes.
Yes, you could take a look at the stat sheet and see the one glaring stat that makes the always exuberant Stan Van Gundy wish to gouge his eyes out of his skull. 29.9 percent from the floor wouldn't cut it against the Sacramento Kings.
Rashard Lewis going 2-for-10 from the floor. Ouch.
Hedo Turkoglu goes 3-for-11. Pitiful.
The Magic backcourt of Rafer Alston and Courtney Lee combine for a atrocious 5-of-19.
And the most glaring stat is this. 1-of-6. That's one, count it, one of possible six shots. Superman, along the rest of his teammates were lost at sea, AWOL in this, the most important game of their lives to date.
The most lively shooter on the night was Mickael Pietrus, shooting a so-so 5-of-13 from the field, but couldn't seem to keep Kobe off the box score to save his own life. To his credit, he's faced-up against Andre Igoudala, Paul Pierce, and LeBron James in consecutive series, but still.
It's easy to give the Magic the benefit of the doubt and say something along the lines of, it's ok, it's only one game.
It is. That's the beauty of it.
But when your star center has six shot attempts, and your entire team chock-full of some of the best dead-eye shooters in the game are soaked bone-chilling water on one night, maybe that's a sign.
A sign that maybe it's time to throw something different at the best assassin in the game. Maybe toss something unseen at the best playoff coach to ever grace the hardwood.
Six shot attempts for Dwight Howard will not cut it. Lewis and Turkoglu's awkward Game One clumsiness will not cut it and most of all, 29.9 percent from the floor will not cut it.
With the first game of these Finals stamped and stacked away, there's blood in the water and the sharks are circling. Now, it's just a matter of fight-or-flight for this supposedly overachieving Magic squad.
1-for-6. Really, Dwight? Really, Stan? The only certainty coming from the Orlando side of the bench was this—the Magic's scalding shooting spree turned into the inability to hit water out of a boat.
Welcome to the Finals, guys.
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