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The Orlando Magic Live By The Three, Die By The Four

C.J. MylesContributor IJune 15, 2010

BOSTON - MAY 22: (L-R) Dwight Howard #12 and Rashard Lewis #9 of the Orlando Magic sit on the bench dejected late in the fourth quarter against the Boston Celtics at TD Banknorth Garden in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs on May 22, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts.  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 Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

One of the biggest issues that have plagued the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals has been the "Four" position.

We've all learned by now that Stan Van Gundy loves the three-pointer. However, Otis Smith made it clear he wanted some more inside presence by inviting Brandon Bass to the team.

But what Otis Smith didn't realize was that he created the most awkward situation ever. It was like inviting a Coldplay fan to a hip-hop party, and then abandoning them.

Yes, it's that bad.

The 4-1 setup is starting to get easier to pick apart, especially by elite teams.

The Lakers beat it in '08-'09, and the '10 Celtics did it again; even though Otis brought over Brandon Bass, it stayed the same. Ryan Anderson was the backup, simply because he fit in the system as a three-point shooter.

Lewis is not the kind of power forward you would want to invest time and energy into after his poor postseason play. His lack of rebounding and off-the-ball offense has made things easy for the defense to stay on him.

When lazy, Rashard likes to pick his corner and wait for the kick out. Most of the time, Howard is so menacing that the opponent's "Four" must try to double-team him and the kick out gets there. That didn't work against Lakers in '09, and it didn't work against the Celtics in '10. It's not going to take long for more teams to adapt to the strategy, which may end up in reduced wins next season.

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There seems to be a trend going on, as the last few championships (all but Lakers' '01-'03 and Miami '06) had strong "Fours" that could work the post and hit the often needed mid-ranged shot.

The championship teams that didn't have an All-Star or All-Star caliber power forwards this decade had Shaq. The rest had Gasol, Duncan, or Garnett.

Thanks to 82games.com, there are plenty of stats on Lewis that will help reflect his play in comparison to the other "Fours" on the bench.

The Team Overview

According to this, despite Lewis being on the court the second longest, he has the worst production of all of the starters, and even less than his backups.

Lewis' Detailed Stats

You can see here that he gets 70 percent of his shots from assists, and has never performed a tip-in the entire season. Most of the time when he touches a ball, it's from an assist.

A Brandon Bass Look

I believe this guy is the best fit for the recovering Magic. It has now been proven two times over that the three-point game is being countered by the elite. A strong post game has always dominated.

Bass is the closest thing to Gasol, Duncan, and Garnett. He has a great post game and a mid-range shot. You'll see Bass has tip-ins, dunks, and a decent percent of his shots are close or in the paint. This is the inside man.

Rhino: The New and Improved Lewis

Ryan Anderson is an interesting one. He's a 3-point shooter, but has a well-rounded game. You'll see that his shooting numbers are more spaced out, showing that he's not just an outside shooter, but can go inside, close range, and even perform a tip-in or two. 

It's very easy to see where I'm headed here.

The Eastern Conference Finals were partially killed by Lewis, who monopolized the minutes in the game (60 percent of the minutes, second longest in the game) and making the more efficient bench players fight amongst each other to be in SVG's good graces. Unfortunately for Bass, Anderson has the advantage because he can shoot three-pointers.

Lewis can no longer play his favored SF position; he cannot quickly guard wing players, especially superstar ones. A Lewis at PF, however, is not efficient. I wish he'd get suspended for another 10 games so we can see Anderson and Bass dominate at their positions again.

There are few things that caused the elimination of the Magi: SVG's rotation (Bass should've been up against Garnett from the get-go), Carter's play, etc.

But the most daunting of them all, the one that breaks our heart, is that Lewis' weaknesses caused an aging beast to get all of the shots he wanted, while providing little-to-none in return.

And so the Magic's situation has changed, they live by the "Three," but die by the "Four." Whether that will change is a mystery, but what we do know is that they can't win it all unless they get a more efficient showing from that position.

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