Beginning today, I'm going to run a three-part series on a few Orlando Magic players and analyze their performances in the playoffs. I'm going to concentrate, mainly, on offense with my posts. Ben and I will be writing up player evaluations in the near future, so I'll reserve analysis on the defense for various individuals later.
The first player I will examine is Hedo Turkoglu.
Minutes Per Game (37.2)
Minutes Per Game (36.9)
Minutes Per Game (41.0)
Minutes Per Game (41.2)
|adj. plus/minus (+3.45)|
|statistical plus/minus (+0.01)|
Hedo Turkoglu started off the postseason slow against the Philadelphia 76ers, mainly due to the fact he had to deal with an excellent defender by the name of Andre Iguodala. Likewise, and on a lesser note, Turkoglu was still dealing with a bum ankle that he injured at the end of the regular season in a game against the New Jersey Nets. However, that inconvenience soon became a non-issue as the playoffs wore on.
It can't be understated how horrid Turkoglu was playing on offense against the Sixers. He was bad. I went so far as point out Hedo's poor stats as the Philadelphia series began to carry steam. When his shot wasn't falling, Turkoglu forced the issue time & again on offense and played out of control at times. Credit should go to Iguodala for effectively defending Turkoglu, but mercy. Of course, this was all before Game 4.
Turkoglu woke up in that game, shooting 8 of 11 (72.7%) from the field, and sinking a game-winning shot for Orlando that helped fuel the team to beat the 76ers in six games. It's worth pointing out, however, that Turkoglu wasn't able to build on his performance in Game 4. Turkoglu went ahead and shot poorly in Game 5, shooting 3 of 14 (21.4%) from the field. Inconsistency. It defined Hedo's postseason, somewhat.
In any case, Turkoglu was able to begin to carry some traction in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Celtics. Turkoglu was still wildly inconsistent against the C's, but he did have a monster game here and there. THE monster game, though, that I'd like to point out is Hedo's Game 7 performance against Boston. In my opinion, it was the Turkish Delight's best game of the year.
To put it simply, the man was filthy, dishing out 12 assists and scoring 25 points on 9 of 12 shooting (75.0%). Given the stakes, Turkoglu stepped his game up. Turkoglu executed the 3/5 pick & roll with Dwight Howard the majority of the game and picked the Celtics apart. Turkoglu played with great balance, knowing when to pass it and shoot it. When he's playing at his absolute best, it's beautiful to watch him go to work.
Turkoglu's offensive performance, especially in the pick & roll game, was a sign of things to come in the Eastern Conference Finals, where the Magic faced off against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Turkoglu really filled up the stat sheet throughout the series. Just take a look at the statistics above, and you see what I mean. Sure, Turkoglu wasn't shooting the ball efficiently, but he was helping Orlando win nonetheless.
Case in point, Game 2. Turkoglu isn't gun-shy. He's willing to go shot for shot with any player in the NBA. In this case, it was LeBron James who was Turkoglu's "nemesis" for the night. While the majority of people will remember 'The Shot' for James, the minority of people will remember Turkoglu scoring 9 points in the fourth quarter and nailing back-to-back jumpers that gave the Magic the lead at the end of the game.
Then the stage was set for James to do his thing. I digress.
Turkoglu always seemed to find a way to make an impact against the Cavaliers. I'd like to refer to Game 3 of the series because even though Turkoglu didn't have the best offensive game by any stretch of the imagination, shooting 1 of 11 from the field (0.91%), he was able to make up for it by hitting his free throws (11-12, 91.7%), passing the ball (10 assists), and rebounding the ball (7 rebounds). And of course, killing the Cavs with the pick & roll.
It wasn't the greatest performance for Turkoglu, but that game epitomized the type of series he had against Cleveland. Overall, Turkoglu was a key cog in defeating the Cavaliers by executing the 3/5 pick & roll with Howard, the 3/4 pick & pop with Rashard Lewis (Game 1 was a perfect example of how dynamic this was, exemplified by Hedo's 14 assists and Rashard's 12 fourth-quarter points), etc.
I'll jump right into the NBA Finals, where the Magic faced off against the Los Angeles Lakers. Statistically, Turkoglu played good, even though he was heavily badgered on offense by Trevor Ariza during the series. Turkoglu had his moments, both good and bad. The good - stepping up in the clutch at the end of regulation in Game 2, tying the game at 88 and blocking Kobe's game-winning attempt thereafter. The bad - missing four free-throws during the fourth quarter in Game 4. I'll be quick to say that Turkoglu wasn't the reason why Orlando lost the latter of the two games. The Magic lost because, everyone in the community should know what I'm going to write, the team didn't execute.
All in all, Hedo Turkoglu was a driving force for the Orlando Magic throughout the playoffs. I've said this time and again, but statistics don't do Turkoglu justice. He's an extremely valuable member of the team because of his skillset, which is perfect for a squad constructed like the Magic. There aren't a ton of 6'10'' small forwards that can handle the point, shoot from the perimeter, and more. Those are rare players.
Which is why the 3/5 pick & roll with Turkoglu and Howard is, arguably, one of the most lethal offensive sets in the league because of the diversity in the end result. It was a play that doomed the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals, for example, and for Orlando fans, many hope it's a play they'll continue to see.
Only time will tell.