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by Matt Fargo - 05/12/2009
Game Five was a make or break game for both Orlando and Boston and it was the Magic who were in complete control. That is until the final five minutes of the game. Orlando had a 10-point cushion with 4:55 remaining but what got the Magic that big lead was abandoned the remainder of the game. They were running up the court, driving to the basket and shutting down the Celtics' shooters but they failed to do those three things down the stretch.
"I thought that we were running out the clock. We would not push the ball up the floor," Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. "Four minutes. That's forever in an NBA game. I kept telling them we want to push the ball, but we didn't.
Orlando could have been going home with complete momentum and a win away from heading to the Eastern Conference finals against Cleveland. Instead, it is in a must win spot just to get back to even and force a Game Seven back in Boston. That last five minutes not only doomed the Magic on Tuesday but could provide a big boost of confidence for the Celtics who look to make it three straight wins and the end of the series.
Superman to the Rescue?
Dwight Howard was non-existent in the final minutes of Game Five and he has been a disappointment this entire series. He finished with only 12 points on 10 shots, the second game in this series that he was held to 12 points and the fourth time in the five games he has been held to 17 points or fewer.
Howard is averaging only 16 ppg in this series which is 4.6 ppg less than his season average and that may not seem like a big variance but when you are talking playoffs, the stars need to step up. Instead, Howard didnâ€™t call himself out but instead, blamed the loss on the coaching staff.
â€œIf you have a dominant offensive player, let him dominate,â€쳌 Howard said. â€œCoaches have to recognize what's working on the floor and stick to it.â€쳌
Howard has an advantage over the Celtics no matter who is on the floor so he needs to be more aggressive and take over. Getting him involved inside means more open looks from the outside and Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu can certainly open things up even more with their hot shooting.
To the Point
Point guard play is big in basketball and it isnâ€™t isolated to just the college ranks. The point guard runs the show in the latter stages of the NBA games and Orlando is clearly at a disadvantage in this category. Rafer Alston was a significant pickup for the Magic after starting point guard Jameer Nelson was lost for the season. However he has been a liability in this series.
Before his injury, Nelson was averaging 16.7 ppg, shooting 50.3 percent from the floor, 45.3 percent from three-point range and 88.7 percent from the free throw line. In this series in his four games played, Alston is averaging 9.0 ppg, shooting 29.5 percent from the floor, 16.7 percent from three-point range and 77.8 percent from the three-point line.
Alstonâ€™s counterpart Rajon Rondo is averaging 14.2 ppg and while he is not shooting very well, he is hitting clutch shots when needed. Rondo has had the upper hand but if Nelson were playing, while it wouldnâ€™t be a guarantee, things would likely be different.
â€œJameer is by far our toughest basketball player,â€쳌 Orlando general manager Otis Smith said. â€œYou can't really replace that. He's the big little brother.â€쳌 Hopefully Alston has not heard this as his confidence cannot go much lower at this point.