Lots of Orland Magic blame can be poured out in many different directions in regards to Game 3 of the NBA Eastern Conference Championship.
It might be unfair but tonight, I need to be unfair. I could pick on many different Orlando players or their coaching staff, but I do not have the time.
Stan Van Gundy needed to be unfair at his press conference after the game but he chooses to play the role of a martyr. He needed to attack Vince Carter publicly but will choose to challenge him privately. Shame on Van Gundy because that was the easy way out—and I do respect him a lot as a coach.
This was by far the biggest game in Carter's career. It was a chance to put the missed free throws in Game 2 to bed. Everyone gets nervous and certainly you could tell in Game 2 he was at the end of the game. Everyone chokes, even the greatest do. But it is how they respond to adversity that defines their greatness.
The Magic lost this game in the first five minutes and Carter played a major role. He could have came out firing defiantly with no regard to his image. Go out like Al Pacino in "Scarface" if you must. Take a chance and not be afraid to fail. But if you watch the replay of the first five minutes when the Magic fell behind and could not score, please take a look at Carter's play.
The Magic put the ball in his hands, which was the correct thing to do early in the game. He had something to prove and he also has the skill to get it done. Time and time again he was free by breaking down the defense or coming off screens. He should have had eight shots at the basket during the first part of the game. Instead, he made passes that did not make any sense. Not passes to open teammates or passes that gained an advantage, his passes actually caused the team to lose any rhythm they might have had.
One might say that he played scared. And please do not tell me he was trying to get is teammates involved. Instead, he was trying to get himself less involved.
I wish Van Gundy would have said as much publicly because he would have forced Carters hand. He can not come along for the ride. He must go down fighting.
Hopefully in Game 4 he chooses to fight from the beginning where the game will be won or lost.
I could have picked on others but sometimes you have to make a choice just like he does in Game 4.
And you know what? I really think Carter will man up in Game 4. I just do not know why I feel that way. Shame on me.