- Brian Schmitz points out that Dwight Howard was critical of head coach Stan Van Gundy, after the Magic's defeat, for not getting the ball enough ...
"I would just say it's tough to win all season when you play inside-out with people who got you off to a good season. I think I'm capable of scoring in the post. I don't' want to say it's all about offense. But when you have a dominant player, let him be dominant."
"It's tough to get yourself going and get a lot of shots without a lot of touches. We have to do a better job with that."
... and also, for abandoning a lineup that was working (Johnson/Pietrus/Turkoglu/Battie/Howard) early in the fourth quarter.
"The coaches have to recognize what's working on the floor. Stick to it. Even if it's half your starters on the floor. Not just the guys you have put the most trust in. You have to have trust in everybody. We moved the ball, we ran, got easy shots, and our coach has to recognize when he was a certain group out there and they are getting the job done and we have to leave those guys on the floor. We are going to make mistakes, but I think you have to go with what works."
I bolded the last sentence because I wanted everyone to note that this is exactly what I said two days ago, regarding SVG's coaching mentality.
Basically, Stan Van Gundy needs to go with what works, not what may work.
Better hope SVG opts to go with the former tomorrow night, not the latter.
- Schmitz also gathers some interesting quotes in his post-game recap:
"We were kind of just playing stall-ball and you can't do that," shooting guard J.J. Redick said. "Stan talked about us just wanting to run the clock out instead of going and taking it."
"They didn't do anything — it was all us," forward Hedo Turkoglu said about the collapse. "We had control before the last two minutes and then it just stopped."
- Mike Bianchi notes that Orlando, more than ever, is missing Jameer Nelson:
His team was blowing yet another double-digit playoff lead in the fourth quarter and Jameer Nelson sat on the bench helplessly and hopelessly Tuesday night.
Where's the Magic's composure in the postseason, you ask?
Where's their coolness?
Where's their heart?
Where's their toughness?
I'll tell you where it is.
It's right over there in street clothes, that's where. [...]
Yes, the Celtics do miss Garnett; there's no question. But at this juncture in this playoff series, a case could be made that the Magic might miss Nelson even more.
- Kyle Hightower explains what went wrong in the fourth quarter for Orlando:
The Magic led 85-75 at that point on a layup by Turkoglu and seemed ready to go to 4-0 this postseason following a loss.
But then they went cold from the field, missing seven straight shots.
The Celtics rallied and went on an 11-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer by Ray Allen, to take an 86-85 lead with 1:20 left and they never trailed again.
"It's hard to explain," Turkoglu said. "We had the lead and instead of keeping attacking, we stopped. It just hurts to have a game under control and then lose it in the last few minutes."
Click after the jump to see what the national media had to say about Game 5 .
- Henry Abbott of TrueHoop lists 15 thoughts from last night's proceedings.
Chris Sheridan of ESPN.com states that Boston's Stephon Marbury was key to last night's comeback; Orlando head coach Stan Van Gundy agrees:
"He was the key to the game, really, I thought," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said of Marbury, who checked into the game with 11:22 remaining in the fourth and the Celtics trailing by 10, the new Garden practically silent as the defending champs were looking all but done.
- Tim Povtak of NBA Fanhouse summarizes what occurred in Game 5:
This is a case where championship experience really came into play. One team had it, and the other team didn't know what it was. [...]
The Celtics were cool down the stretch when they made a 13-0 run, sending the Magic into a panic from which they never recovered. The Magic, who haven't been past the second round of the playoffs since 1996, unraveled like a team that never had played in this kind of pressure before.
- Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated chimes in on the Magic after the loss:
Orlando is crumbling. The coach blames the players. After the game, Stan Van Gundy said his team "quit playing" in the final four minutes and said the game was lost when his players stopped running and started walking.
Dwight Howard pointed the finger at the coaches.
"I think you're supposed to play to win," said Howard. "[You are] not supposed to try to lose ... the coaches have to recognize what's working on the floor and stick to it."
And the Magic still have no fourth-quarter scorer.
Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm sums up the following:
I could talk about the Orlando ball movement, about how they didn’t start jacking threes until they were in panic mode following that sequence of events which must not be named, about Lewis being able to abuse Glen Davis every which way but loose, about how Hedo driving to the basket late was a great decision, about Rafer Alston playing huge. But none of it matters, because Glen Davis hit big shots, Ray Allen hit big shots, the Celtics got "turnovers" and "offensive rebounds" and won the game.
Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don't Lie comments on what went wrong for Orlando:
Call me the opposite of old fashioned, but I don't think the Orlando Magic are losing because Dwight Howard(notes) isn't getting enough touches. [...]
Dwight Howard has no moves. He's a dominant force, and well deserving of that Defensive Player of the Year, but his moves are crap. I saw him throw some junk up against Kendrick Perkins(notes) that Brett Szabo would be ashamed of, and those moves are not something I can blame on "well, he hasn't gotten the ball in a while, so he's forcing things with the clock running down." Believe me, I love Dwight, I love it when big men get the rock, and I'm making all the excuses I can for the guy.
But he has no moves. Lefty runners are nice, but the guy has no turnaround jumper, he has no righty jump (or rolling) hook he can continually go to, and his drop step is lousy. It's very early in his career, it's no slam on Dwight, it's just the unfortunate reality (soon to change, I'm sure) in May of 2009.
I agree and disagree with Dwyer.
I agree that Orlando didn't lose because Howard didn't get enough touches -- the reason why the big fella didn't get the ball more on offense was because he was tossing up wild hook shots left and right and killing possessions offensively. I disagree that Howard has no post moves - he does, they just don't work against Perkins. I've been preaching ad nauseam since the series began that SVG needs to utilize Dwight in pick & rolls against Kendrick, to harness his athleticism and speed. The coach has yet to do so. Instead, Howard continues to fruitlessly post up on the low block and try to use his strength against Perkins. Remind me, what's the definition of insanity?
Dwight Howard is struggling against the Celtics because he isn't being utilized properly, not because of the lack of touches. That's been one of the problems for the Magic in this series.
- UPDATE: Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports explains why, in his opinion, Dwight Howard is calling out head coach Stan Van Gundy.
UPDATE 2: Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus, as always, eloquently recaps the Magic's loss against the Celtics last night:
Throughout this postseason, the site AdvancedNFLStats.com has defied its name by running live win probabilities for NBA playoff games. By its calculations, the Orlando Magic's chances of winning Game Five last night in Boston peaked at 94 percent. When Hedo Turkoglu scored to make it 85-75 Magic with 5:39 to play, the Celtics' chances of a comeback stood at a dismal 10 percent. After losing the lead and the game, Orlando will be replaying those fateful final five minutes all offseason long if unable to complete its own comeback from a 3-2 deficit in this series.
I don't think I watched Game Seven of the 2000 Western Conference Finals, probably the most famous NBA choke job in recent memory, but while watching last night I knew what that experience must have felt like. Everything seemed to go wrong so quickly for the Magic, and simply as someone who picked Orlando to win this series and likes what the team stands for, I felt a sinking feeling long before Ray Allen's three-pointer with 1:20 to play gave the Celtics their first lead since 8-6.
The bad Magic--the team that relies on three-pointers too early in the shot clock and fails to convert on the drive--picked the worst possible time to rear its ugly head. Orlando went scoreless on seven straight possessions after Turkoglu's make, a drought interrupted only by Doc Rivers intentionally fouling with the Celtics up three and eight seconds left on the clock. At the other end, Boston continued its scorching offense started by the unlikely tandem of Stephon Marbury and Glen Davis. While the Magic was coming up empty, the Celtics scored on five out of six possessions to take the lead.
The seventh possession, the last real one of the game for either side, was fateful in its own way. Twice, Orlando forced difficult stops. I liked the defensive strategy of using Rafer Alston to trap Paul Pierce, daring Rajon Rondo to beat the defense. Rondo and Allen forced terrible shots, the first of which probably never hit the rim. The Magic was unable to box out, though, so two straight offensive rebounds forced Orlando to foul. From that point, Rivers took control of the game with his strategy to foul. Eight seconds is a lot of time left to to start doing that, but with Boston making its free throws, it meant the Magic never got up a tying three. Stan Van Gundy ultimately decided to have Dwight Howard intentionally miss his second attempt with less than six seconds to play, and when Orlando was unable to corral the rebound, that was that.
Here's the thing about close finishes. While they don't necessarily tell us much about the ability of the respective teams, they have lingering ramifications. In the wake of two straight such losses, the Magic seems to be questioning itself--and Van Gundy. "I don't think you are going to win a lot of games when your post player only gets 10 shots," said Howard. I'm not sure what to make of that. Howard did not get a shot attempt down the stretch, when his teammates faltered. However, he hasn't exactly dominated Kendrick Perkins in this series, and had nearly as many turnovers (four) as field goals (five) in this game.
Van Gundy spread the looks amongst Rafer Alston, Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu, but none of them converted. It wasn't just outside shots, either--Alston and Turkoglu took rushed shots on the drive. At some point, your key players simply have to make plays. I continue to be mystified by the Magic's inability to knock down three-pointers. Orlando shot 6-for-24 (25 percent) from three-point range last night.
UPDATE 3: What's the recipe for a choke job? The Sentinel has the details:
Here's a look at Orlando's eight possessions during the choke:
5:09 — Rafer Alston missed 3-pointer (85-75)
4:47 — Rashard Lewis missed jump shot (85-75)
4:16 — Rashard Lewis missed 3-pointer (85-77)
3:45 — Rashard Lewis turnover (85-79)
3:07 — Rashard Lewis missed 3-pointer (85-81)
2:09 — Hedo Turkoglu missed jump shot (85-83)
1:01 — Rafer Alston missed 3-pointer (85-86)
- UPDATE 4: David Steele provides his post-game assessment of yesterday's affair.
- UPDATE 5: Dwight Howard, on his official blog today, explains what happened last night in the press conference after the game, and more.
- UPDATE 6: Bethlehem Shoals of the Sporting Blog talks about the "developing Dwight Howard-SVG rift", as the title of his post suggests is happening according to him.
- For a Celtics perspective on Game 5, check out CelticsBlog and Celtics Hub.
Make sure to check out this post every few hours for updates.