Don’t crowd around White Chocolate’s locker [video]

“Don’t get smart!”

You know that the Celtics are watching this video laughing their asses off.

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What did the Magic do right in Game 6?

On Wednesday, after two straight narrow defeats at the hands of the Celtics, I asked, “Why can’t the Magic finish games?” I referenced an article by John Carroll, where he said the problem was four-fold:

1. The Magic don’t fully commit at the defensive end.
2. They refuse to pound the ball inside.
3. They fall in love with the three-point shot.
4. They don’t trust their coach the way the Celtics do.

I focused on #2, and threw in a couple of other problems:

5. Poor late-game play from Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis.
6. They don’t have a guy who can consistently get to the hole.

So what was the difference in the Magic’s win in Game 6?

1. Check…they held the Celtics to just 75 points, 13 in the fourth quarter.
2. Check…Dwight Howard attempted 16 shots and 12 free throws; both are series highs.
3. No change…the Magic were just 6 of 26 for the game.
4. It’s hard to gauge how much they trust Stan Van Gundy on a game-to-game basis. They responded with good defense and a strong game plan to feed Howard the ball, so they must trust his instruction to a certain extent.

5. What about Turkoglu and Lewis? Here are their fourth quarter stats:

Lewis: 2-5 (0-1 3PT), 8 points, 3 rebounds, steal, assist
Turkoglu: 1-5 (1-3 3PT), 3 points, 2 rebounds

So Lewis and Turkoglu went a combined 3 of 10 for 11 points and five rebounds in Game 6. They shot 3 of 15 for a total of 11 points (combined) in Game 4 and Game 5. Turkoglu didn’t play particularly well, but the one shot he hit in the fourth quarter was HUGE. It came with 1:23 remaining and the Magic clinging to a three-point lead. Lewis clearly played well. He shot just 40% in the quarter, but he got to the line twice for four more points, had an assist, a steal and drew an offensive foul on Kendrick Perkins.

6. Check…Courtney Lee and Rafer Alston each had key driving layups in the fourth quarter. To win close games down the wire, you have to have a player (or two) that are effective at getting into the lane and finishing. Alston and Lee stepped up in the fourth quarter for the Magic.

On the whole, the Magic did a better job across the board, save for some very suspect three-point shooting. But can they post a repeat performance in Game 7 in front of a very hostile crowd?

Celtics’ gamble on Marbury pays off…finally

I missed the start of the fourth quarter of Game 5 of the Celtics/Magic series, but apparently there was a Stephon Marbury sighting. Check out this series from the play-by-play log:

11:22 Stephon Marbury enters the game for Ray Allen
11:04 Stephon Marbury makes 19-foot jumper (Paul Pierce assists)
10:26 Stephon Marbury makes 21-foot jumper (Paul Pierce assists)
8:30 Stephon Marbury makes 24-foot three pointer (Brian Scalabrine assists)
7:56 Stephon Marbury makes 21-foot two point shot
7:16 Glen Davis makes 6-foot hook shot (Stephon Marbury assists)
5:54 Stephon Marbury makes 6-foot two point shot
5:54 Stephon Marbury makes free throw 1 of 1
5:26 Stephon Marbury misses layup
4:54 Rajon Rondo enters the game for Stephon Marbury

That’s 12 points on 5 of 6 shooting, with an assist to Davis. The Celtics didn’t make up any ground during Marbury’s six-and-a-half minute stint — when he entered and exited the game, the C’s were down by the same margin, 10 — but his hot shooting helped Boston avoid disaster. The Magic built a 14-point lead with 8:48 to play, but Marbury’s play helped whittle it down to eight with just under six minutes remaining.

Keep in mind that prior to this hot streak, Marbury had played a total of 138 playoff minutes in 11-and-a-half games, shooting 14 of 55 (25%) from the field and scoring just 36 points. So, yes, his 12-point stint in the fourth quarter was shocking, and the Celtics probably wouldn’t have been able to pull out Game 5 without it.

Why can’t the Magic finish games?

In Game 4, Orlando was down six going into the fourth quarter and rallied, only to lose on Glen Davis’ game-winning jumper. In Game 5, they were up by 14 with 8:48 to play and were outscored 29-11 over the next nine minutes en route to a four-point loss.

Why can’t Orlando finish?

After Game 4, John Carroll wrote that the cause is four-fold. (ESPN Insider subscription required.)

1. The Magic don’t fully commit at the defensive end.
2. They refuse to pound the ball inside.
3. They fall in love with the three-point shot.
4. They don’t trust their coach the way the Celtics do.

No arguments with #1. In Game 4, the Magic allowed the Celtics to shoot almost 53% from the field. In the fourth quarter of Game 5, the C’s shot 11 of 19 (58%) during their tremendous comeback. That is not championship-caliber defense.

Likewise, #3 makes sense as well. For a team that takes a ton of threes — almost 31% of the Magic’s field goal attempts come from long range in the last two games — they have been terribly inaccurate (11 of 51, or 22%).

I can’t get in the minds of the Orlando players, so I don’t know how much trust they have in Stan Van Gundy.

But I can speak to #2…

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2009 NBA Playoff Power Rankings v4.0

Now that we’re knee-deep in the conference semifinals, let’s take another look at how the playoff teams stack up.

R.I.P.

Click on the team name to read a short offseason blueprint.

16. Pistons
15. Sixers
14. Heat
13. Hornets
12. Bulls
11. Jazz
10. Blazers
9. Spurs

ON LIFE SUPPORT

8. Hawks
7. Mavericks
The NBA released a statement that the officials blew the intentional foul call at the end of regulation (which allowed for Carmelo Anthony’s game-winner), but I blame the Mavs for not forewarning the officials that they were going to try to foul immediately. (Mind you, I have no proof that they failed to warn the refs, but if they did, the call would have no doubt been made.) Regardless, the Mavs and the Hawks are down 3-0 and we all know what happens to teams that are down 3-0. (They go home for the summer.)

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