As I mentioned in this roundup of sorts the other day, Orlando Magic guard Vince Carter has a lot at stake in this postseason, his first ever with a contending team. Fairly or unfairly, he has a reputation for wilting under pressure in big games; ESPN.com's Bill Simmons loves to pile on Carter, and did so most recently in this column.
Carter's played great since February, but his Magic playoff debut could scarcely have gone worse: he shot just 4-of-19 from the field, fouled out, and drew some criticism from coach Stan Van Gundy after Orlando's 98-89 win over the Charlotte Bobcats. "I would still like to see him attacking more. I didn't think he was really in a mindset to attack today," he said of Carter.
I'm not as familiar with Carter's days as a New Jersey Net as John Schuhmann is, so I sought his opinion on Carter's playoff performances there. The New Jersey-based Schuhmann is a regular contributor to NBA.com and covered the Nets' playoff series from press row in 2006 and 2007. Here's what he generously contributed between posts about this year's Boston Celtics / Miami Heat series.
I would say that Carter's postseason performances with the Nets were a mixed bag. It wasn't nearly as bad as Simmons makes it out to be, nor was he Mr. Clutch. He had some good games and he had some bad games.
Basically, he played well against the weaker teams (Indiana in '06, Toronto in '07), and not so well against the better teams (Miami in '05 and '06, Cleveland in '07). Obviously, he didn't have as much help as he has in Orlando, so those better teams were able to focus their defense on him.
The rest of Schuhmann's response follows the jump.
In 2005, he was huge down the stretch of the season to just get the Nets to the playoffs. He was asked to carry the load in the Miami series, because [Richard] Jefferson was banged up and that team had absolutely no depth (their sixth man was Travis Best, who never played in the league again). He took a ton of shots in that series and missed most of them, with Miami loading up on him and keeping him out of the paint. As far as clutchness is concerned, he hit a shot at the buzzer to send Game 3 into a second OT, but it hit the rim and bounced high in the air before it dropped it. He didn't exactly drain it.
I thought he played pretty well in the two series in '06 (six-game win over Indiana, five-game loss to Miami).
[Jason] Kidd was a monster in the '07 postseason (averaged a triple-double over all 12 games) and the Nets gave Cleveland a pretty good series. VC caught some flack for kicking it out to [Bostjan] Nachbar for a game-winner at the end of one of the games in Toronto, but it was the right play if I recall correctly. Of course, the Nets went to Jefferson instead on the final play of Game 6 against Toronto, and he delivered.
VC disappeared in Game 6 against Cleveland in NJ: 11 points, 4-11 shooting, 5 turnovers. It ended up being a 16-point win for the Cavs, but it was a one-point game early in the fourth. In Game 4, he fumbled the ball out of bounds on the final play with the Nets down two. So his last postseason definitely did not end well.