Here's this week's showcased fanpost. With the Orlando Magic's season officially over, 3QC member Lee for three provides his thoughts on the year for the team.
Well unfortunately it's all come to an end. An incredible season, a great post-season run and a heartbreaking finals. Here's how it all shakes down from my end.
Game 5 - as E said a couple days ago, Game 4 was the straw that broke the camel's back. This team has fought through adversity so many times, it just had nothing left tonight. The Lakers went on that 16-0 run and after so many gritty, magical comebacks, Orlando was unable to reach down one more time. Really not too much to say about this game because in my opinion this series was over after Game 4, all that was left was when it would end.
The Finals - Unfortunately, history will look back at this Finals as a 4-1 series...not a series that was highlighted by three incredible games that left fans of both teams without their fingernails. The Lakers came out and won both games in LA, Orlando won Game 3 and then they lost Game 4. Simple as that. It was our game to win, and we gave it away at the free throw line. And that's the series right there. I don't know if we would have won tonight if we won Game 4, but I do know we would have been able to absorb the Laker's run better and our attitude would have been entirely different.
But there are two things in my mind that really stick out throughout the series as a whole. The first is Jameer Nelson. I just want to start by saying, I don't know how many teams can lose an all-star (at the PG position at that) and still make the NBA Finals. That in itself is an incredible accomplishment and something we should all be proud of. I don't know exactly how this series would have turned out if he wasn't hurt, but I'm 100% sure we'd still be playing if he was around. As a guy who shot 45% from deep this year, there's no chance in hell they'd be giving Nelson the looks they gave Alston all series. That means less double teams, specifically on Dwight, and just entirely changes the complexion of the series.
The second one is related and that is three-point shooting. As a whole, we shot 33% in this series. With the looks we were getting, we should have hit well above 40%. Now some people who don't know anything about basketball will say that it all "evened out" from the Cleveland series or whatever. That's idiocy for two reasons. 1) Every shot is independent of each other. This isn't like flipping a coin where it's all chance so if you flip 100 coins and get heads 85 times, you know that will even out. Basketball is a skill and with the looks we were getting, we should have shot better. Overall I thought the Lakers played well on defense, but they did not defend the three-pointer well and we didn't make them pay.
That actually transitions into a bonus point...Dwight Howard. Statistically he didn't have a great series. But I don't know how much more he could have done. When Bynum was out of the game (and even sometimes when he was in) the Lakers swarmed him with double teams. Sure he had turnover problems here and there but for the most part he made the passes he needed to make but his teammates didn't help him out by hitting shots. If they hit those shots, the double teams stop and Howard has a much better series.
This Finals really changed nothing for me. I still like Kobe Bryant. I never bought into the whole "needing Shaq thing." I've said many times Shaq needed Kobe as much as Kobe needed Shaq. I defended Bryant for the bad rap he got. It bugged the hell out of me that the double-standard existed that seperated Garnett's "intensity" from Kobe's "selfishness". So congrats to him for winning the title. That being said, I don't really fear a Lakers dynasty. They may be without Odom or Ariza next year...and they don't win a title this year unless they have both. Kobe, Gasol and Odom have all really plateaued as players so I think there's more room for slight regression than improvement in this team. What scares me the most heading into this offseason is the thought of Lebron getting legitmate help.
But overall, I feel really good about what this team has accomlplished and what is to come. After Nelson went down, I didn't think they had much of a chance of making it this far. After KG got hurt, I thought, OK, we can make it to the ECF this year. Obviously I'm upset we didn't win it all...but I'm proud we got this far with all the adversity we had to overcome. Games 1 and 3 against Philly. Games 4 and 5 against Boston. Game 2 against Cleveland. Any one of those games alone could be enough to completely demoralize a team and make them crumble. We dealt with all 5 in a months stretch, and rebounded every time.
Moving forward, if we can re-sign Turkoglu, I feel great about this team's chance to make it back to the Finals and win it all. With a healthy Jameer Nelson I think we could have won it all this year. So with essentially the same team back next year...plus the experience we got this year, we'd have to be among the favorites. Alston also needs to go. This needs to be Jameer's team, and we can't justify giving Alston $5 mil to play 10-15 mins a night. I thank him for what he's done filling in for Nelson, but I think it's best for him and us if he moved elsewhere. We move that salary and maybe we can get a veteran backup for Dwight who can do similar things to Gortat. But the key is resigning Turkoglu. We bring him back, add a healthy Jameer Nelson and reap the benefits of the way Lee and Pietrus blossomed this season and we're looking good.
I guess just finally, I want to thank everyone on this site...espeically Ben and Eddy. Currently living in South Dakota, I don't get very many opportunites to talk Magic basketball. So in that regard, I'm glad I found this site. And Ben and E do a great job running it. I've visited my fair share of other blogs during the post-season, and not to name names, but there were quite a few others out there that were just "rah, rah, our team is the best" and completely biased. You guys did an excellent job of providing objectivity and running this site professionally. So kudos to you two, but to everyone on the site for making rooting for the Magic an even better experience.