Magic-Celtics: Stan Van Gundy Nearly Blows It For Orlando in Game One

The Daily HurtCorrespondent IMay 5, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - APRIL 30:  Head coach of the Orlando Magic, Stan Van Gundy gestures on the sideline against the Philadelphia 76ers during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at Wachovia Center on April 30, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Stan Van Gundy was happy.

His team, the Orlando Magic, had just defeated the Boston Celtics, 95-90.

At a press conference after the game, Van Gundy quite correctly pointed out that the Magic leads the Boston Celtics, 1-0, in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference Semifinals series.

He's right. It will forever be recorded in history as a Magic win, and nothing can ever change that.

However, Van Gundy is fooling himself. The Orlando Magic won through good luck rather than good management.

Van Gundy appears to have two plans as coach of Orlando. Plan “A” is to shoot with free abandon. If you're open, take the shot and worry about defense later. Plan “B” is to refer to plan “A”.

Orlando built up a massive 28-point lead in the third quarter and appeared to be cruising to a comfortable victory.

The Titanic was also cruising once.

The Magic didn't quite strike an iceberg, but certainly they suffered a collective brain cramp, which Van Gundy chose to ignore. It gave the Boston Celtics every chance to erase the large deficit and almost escape with a moral boosting victory.

Early on, Boston was clearly fighting fatigue after their grueling seven game first round series against the Chicago Bulls.

Don't listen to Paul Pierce and Ray Allen saying that they aren't a little bit tired still. We were all exhausted from watching it, so they had to be feeling it.

You only had to see how flat the Celtics were to know otherwise. Credit to them however, for not making it an excuse.

Credit also to the Celtics that when they were in that 28-point hole with 16 minutes remaining, that they didn't quit.

It was only then that they decided to start playing. How they must have been kicking themselves afterwards to know that if they had only began playing that way from the beginning, they might have blown out game one.

Make no mistake. The Celtics got back into this game through a little bit of extra hustle and a lot of careless basketball from Orlando.

The Magic are a good three-point shooting team. They used their strength effectively to build the big lead, but as so often happens in the NBA, a team goes cold.

Ice cold.

When Boston began making their charge, the Magic just kept firing away unconsciously.

Alston, Turkoglu, Pietrus...clank, clank, clank.

The Magic lead was cut down to single digits, but they continued to fire blanks.

A good coach would have reeled his team in and stressed the need to refocus. A good coach would have a back up plan if the first one fails. How Van Gundy didn't notice his team was throwing it away and therefore change his strategy was mind boggling.

The Magic should have dumped the ball into Dwight Howard. He's not too hard to find out on the floor. He's the big guy who wears No. 12.

D12 had a solid night's work. He finished with 16 points and 22 rebounds, but it's hard to overlook the fact that Howard barely touched the ball when the Magic needed him to assert his dominance.

Remember, it's not Kevin Garnett that he's up against. As admirable an effort Glen Davis and Kendrick Perkins are giving in filling the massive void left by KG, but they aren't—and will never be—Garnett.

Howard admitted after the game that his team had gotten complacent and that it wasn't good enough.

Talk is cheap.

Game two is Wednesday night.


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