Dwight Howard, this is the Eastern Conference Finals. Calling out for one Dwight Howard. Is Dwight Howard present?
It has been that kind of a feeling through the first three games. Lets face it, this series is over. The series was over after Game One when Rasheed Wallace and Kendrick Perkins were able to disrupt the interior game of Howard.
As we enter tonight on the heels of a sweep in Boston, there are many points of focus that can be tapped on why the Magic are losing this series. There are also reasons that they could still win tonight's game and at least finish the series with respectability. Here are a few:
Vince Carter decides to drive Toronto Style
Vince has been typical Vince for the most part in this series. He still pulls up for a jumper when he has the lane on Paul Pierce every time. He can't break out of his routine of jumpers over dunks. His drives still cost the Celtics in terms of fouls and if he continues to drive, the Celtics bench will be forced to be out on the floor for a larger amount of the game. If Vince decides to stop taking it easy and plays like half man, half amazing for a little bit, the Magic have a chance tonight.
Rashard Lewis has to let people know he's not on the bench
After these first three games, the name Rashard Lewis has been absent in all sectors. The Lewis of this series reminds me of the one in Seattle, who at times could play lackluster. You can get away with that in the regular season, but with your Playoff lives on the line you can't. Rashard needs to pick his game up by at least being more aggressive. I'm not expecting him to hit a barrage of three pointers on the Boston D; but just being a potential threat would be great compared to his current state.
The bench have to be players, not warmers
Jason Williams, Marcin Gortat, Matt Barnes, etc. The bench have all looked like 12th men benchwarmers in this series. With the exception of JJ Redick, and his inspired Game Two play, I have not seen the passion from any of the bench players in this series.
The willingness to knock a Boston player to the floor, to hustle after a loose ball and attempt a steal have all been in Rajon Rondo's deck of cards. There has to be some tough, aggressive play. I want to see Matt Barnes challenging the Boston players the way he challenged Kobe Bryant earlier this season. I want to see Jason Williams playing with the free spirit of his white chocolate days and Gortat taking it hard to the rack.
Dwight Howard just has to play
We all have noted how Howard is just the nice guy who doesn't have the "IT" factor when it comes to playoff intensity. Whether that is true or not, all I want is Howard to go out and play. Don't worry about the refs, don't worry about your stats. Just go out and play hard. Things might work out in Game Four if you do those things. Howard is the leader of the team, and when he puts out that sorry lack of effort in Game Three one cringes.
The rest of the team, including Coach Van Gundy will follow Howard's lead. If he shows any heart tonight we should be looking at a tight, tough series-clinching game for Boston. Otherwise, we could be looking at a detrimental loss for the Magic which might cause more drastic personnel changes.