Record it and put it on sale. An instructional video on how to lose in the playoffs. Orlando has given you all the info you need to choke in the 4th quarter. Is there any other way to describe what it was the Orlando Magic did last night in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Semi-Final with the Boston Celtics? Up 14 with 9 minutes to go, up 10 with under 6 minutes to go, the Magic completely and utterly collapsed, losing 92-88.
We are obvously watching this series with interest, since the winner will face the Cavaliers with a trip to the NBA FInals on the line. From what I have seen, both in this series, and the series prior, the Cavaliers have to be the heavy favorite. Boston has shown one thing, however, and that's guts. 3 of their 7 playoff wins have come after the team has fallen behind by double-digits. Last night, they relied on Stephon Marbury to bring them back. His 12-fourth-quarter points were the catalyst the Celtics needed when their starters once again struggled to get anything going.
Boston needed help, however, and they got it from the Magic, who have proven time and time again that they will self-destruct if you put a little pressure on them. Hell, even their fans know it, judging by the name of the SBNation-Orlando Magic Site.
Orlando should have won the series last night. A Glen Davis buzzer-beater in Game 4, followed by last night's meltdown means the Celtics can finish the series on Thursday Night in Orlando.
It is said that teams become an extension of their Head Coach. You can see it with the Cavs. They seem calm, cool and collected, even when the pressure rises, just like Mike Brown. Orlando embodies their Head Coach as well. Dazed, confused, with that confounded look on their face. That is Stan Van Gundy, and that is the Orlando Magic.
Is there any other way to explain why a team up double-digits, with one of the dominant low-post big men in the game, would not get him the ball ONCE in the final 10 minutes. Well, he did get the ball, with 9 seconds to go, DOWN 3! No, instead the Magic, over the course of the last 6 minutes, scored 3 points, commited 3 turnovers, gave up 2 offensive rebounds, and ran nothing but high-screen, isolation plays for everyone other than Dwight Howard. It just doesn't make any sense!
That has been the big question about Orlando. They have the talent, but they live and die from the perimeter. As fun as it is watchin 3-pointers rain down, they can disappear just as fast. Sure, if they are hot they can blow anyone out of the building. Get cold, however, and no lead is big enough. It is hard to maintain the hot hand for an entire half, let alone a 7-game series.
Perhaps that is why, despite the fact they are outmanned, the Celtics will likely win this series. Over 80% of you want the Cavs to face Boston. I do as well. Even with rumors swirling that the Kevin Garnett could find a way to get on the floor I think the Cavaliers match-up better with Boston and besides, Boston can't win in Cleveland, and Game 7 would be at The Q.
I wouldn't mind seeing Orlando win tomorrow to face another Game 7 for the 'Chowds. Having Boston play 14 games, while the Cavs blazed through 8 wins would be a big advantage for Cleveland. Same thing out West, where I'd like to see LA and Denver have to play a couple more games before squaring off against each other.
No matter who it is, or when, from what I have seen so far, I have to like the Cavaliers' chances.