|Are the Magic unraveling?||05.14.09 at 10:32 am ET|
After the Orlando Magic lost Game 4, coach Stan Van Gundy walked into the post-game press conference and accepted any and all blame for his strategy in the final seconds.
Van Gundy had told his players to switch one-through-four and Dwight Howard did exactly that when Paul Pierce came off the pick and roll. That left Glen Davis open in the corner and after his shot went through it was all over but the apologies. After Van Gundy’s mea culpa Howard absolved the coach of blame saying that the Magic win as a team and lose as a team. “We can’t blame Stan,” Howard said.
Howard was singing a different tune after Game 5 when he questioned the coach’s strategy and substitution pattern. Stuff like this happens all the time in the NBA, but what makes this situation unique is that this is the first time Howard publicly second-guessed his coach as Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi pointed out.
Van Gundy’s attempted to play down the situation yesterday, saying that he and Howard had a long talk and everything was copacetic, but Howard wasn’t the only one who questioned Van Gundy’s decision to try to burn the clock.
“We kind of played stall ball and you can’t really do that with a 24-second shot clock,” J.J. Redick said.
“We just stopped,” said Hedo Turkoglu. “They’re an experienced team. They’ve been here before. They know how to make decisions, especially in that kind of a game.”
Orlando has all kinds of questions heading into Game 6 beyond whether or not the coach and players are still on the same page. Courtney Lee has been more effective than Redick; does he start in his place?
Rafer Alston finally had a decent game, but his production has been spotty at best. If he falters does Van Gundy go with Anthony Johnson who has played well–but who also had a blowup with the coach during Game 3–or use Turkoglu at the point?
Tony Battie gave the Magic good minutes in the fourth quarter and Howard seemed to indicate that he wanted him on the floor instead of Rashard Lewis, who has been Orlando’s most effective player.
If the Magic can get themselves straightened out they have a very good chance of sending this series back to Boston for Game 7 because they do have several matchup advantages, particularly with Lewis. But on the other hand, they haven’t been able to maximize those advantages.
The Celtics know they got away with one Tuesday night, but they also have complete confidence in what they are doing.
“They say a team that has the most luck is the one that works the hardest,” Ray Allen said. “We end up looking lucky because of that.”
On the floor these teams are evenly matched, but the last 48 hours have brought all of the Magic’s internal issues out into the forefront. Whether they can get their act together could have as big an impact as any strategic decisions Van Gundy makes tonight.
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