Top Five Reasons the Orlando Magic Lost the Finals

David ArreolaSenior Analyst IJune 16, 2009

The NBA finals came to a close Sunday night when the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic 99-86 in Game Five. The Lakers won the series 4-1.

The Magic were not dominated in any way, despite the series record. There were a few key things the Magic did not do to beat the Lakers, and also a few things the Lakers did to keep the Magic from claiming the title.

Here are my top five reasons the Orlando Magic lost four of the five games that were played.


5. J.J. Redick and Courtney Lee did not have balanced minutes

Of all the reasons, this is probably the least obvious. Going into The Finals, everyone knew the massive mismatch between Kobe Bryant and Courtney Lee.

This mismatch was exploited in Game One when Kobe made Lee look like the dazed and confused rookie he really was.

In the Boston Celtics series, J.J. Redick had successfully defended Ray Allen and kept him from having big games, something Allen had managed regularly in the previous series against the Chicago Bulls.

Redick did not play any significant time in the Cleveland series—though Redick rarely plays against the Cavaliers, for unknown reasons.

Stan Van Gundy knew that Kobe would not be able to be contained, and therefore had to give him different defenders so he couldn't get comfortable. This is something he did not do all series.

When Redick was in against the Lakers, he was an effective offensive player, but even better on defense. If he had played maybe 10 more minutes in each game, I am sure the Magic would have had both better ball movement on offense and better defense.


4. Jameer Nelson played too many minutes

Yes, that's right, I believe Jameer Nelson played too many minutes. Rather, he played too many crucial minutes. I think it was a mistake in general for him to play in this series, as he made no impact in the outcome.

Alston had been playing brilliantly throughout the playoffs, as well as Anthony Johnson, so there really was no need for him to play.

Nelson's rhythm was off, and it took him until around game four to get in real sync with the rest of his team. That's four games too late if you want to win a championship.


3. The Magic did not shoot three-pointers well

This is obvious. The Magic have a reputation of being a strong three-point shooting team. They always have at least four shooters on the court at all times. Many of them are top class shooters.

The Lakers did not defend the three-point line particularly well, which gave the Magic between seven to 10 good looks in each game. The Magic really failed to hit their threes.

Mikael Pietrus was the glaring failure in the series. He was such a dominant outside shooter in the Eastern Conference Finals, that it baffled me to see him shoot so poorly in the NBA Finals.

Hedo Turkoglu shot about average from the three-point line. Rashard Lewis, shot below his high standard, besides his amazing performance in game two.


2. Hedo Turkoglu did not move the ball

Of all the things the Magic did wrong in this series, this is probably the most annoying and frustrating mistake of them all.

Hedo Turkoglu simply does not move the ball well, in any sense of the word. Whenever he becomes the ball handler on offense, the entire Magic offense slows down.

He works off of only pick and rolls. This usually works well for the Magic, but the Lakers completely shut these down and forced Turkoglu to either A) take bad shots, or B) turn the ball over.

A lot of people try to pin this on Van Gundy, but Turkoglu has to realize when the game plan isn't working and needs to change it on the court.


1. Phil Jackson knew exactly how to beat Dwight Howard

I really feel like going into the series, Phil Jackson knew exactly how to stop Dwight Howard, therefore did not worry about him very much.

We all know Dwight Howard is the best defensive big man on the planet, nothing you can do about that. But, we all know that offensively, Dwight Howard is limited to dunks and put backs.

What did Jackson do about this? He had his players literally swarm to Dwight Howard whenever he got the ball. Because Howard always puts the ball on the floor before making a move to the basket, Howard was always harassed on his way up and was either sent to the foul line or stripped of the ball. Unfortunately for the Magic, it was usually the latter.

Jackson also counted on Howard trying to dominate inside, and instead, let Howard beat his own team by constantly turning the ball over.

If Dwight Howard had passed back out on more than half of the touches he got, I am certain that I would be writing a preview for Game Six, instead of an article on why the Magic lost.


Final words

In the end the Lakers were always the superior team. The Magic had the talent and ability to win two more games and possibly the whole series, but the Lakers had better coaching (not just Phil Jackson) and smarter players.

The Magic really went away from their team oriented approach as a lot of the Magic star players seemed to try and win it all by themselves. The Magic allowed the Lakers control every aspect of the game.

The Magic have a promising future as long as Dwight Howard commits himself to becoming a better offensive player and the Magic keep some key players. Hedo Turkoglu has already decided to become a free agent, which is a pretty good blow to the Magic, but not a fatal one.

As long as Mikael Pietrus stays, he can replace Turkoglu. Courtney Lee is a rookie with a ton of upside to him. Rashard Lewis is still in his prime, and Jameer Nelson will be healthy next year.

Congratulations to the Los Angeles Lakers on a great series and even better season. Keep the trophy clean for us, will you?