Orlando Takes Commanding 3-1 Series Lead

May 27, 2009

The NBA's dream Finals matchup of "Kobe vs. LeBron" is in serious jeopardy thanks to Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic's 116-114 overtime victory on Tuesday night. The win put Orlando ahead 3-1 in the best of 7 series.

Howard was solid once again scoring 27 points (10-16 FG's) and grabbing 14 rebounds. He was also steady from the free throw line, going 7 of 9. In the critical overtime period he scored 10 points. It was further evidence of how good the 23-year old center has become while most of the world was sleeping.

Yet it was the impressive 3-point shooting of Orlando that proved the difference as they made 17 of 38 attempts from beyond the arc. Cleveland shot just 6 of 22.

Was it proven shooters like Turkoglu or Lewis again for the Magic? No. This time it was Rafer Alston and Mickael Pietrus who combined for 11 3-pointers between them alone. Sometimes it seems like everyone on the roster can shoot from distance.

For his part, LeBron James valiantly tried to carry his team but fell short despite finishing with 44 points (13-29), 12 rebounds, and 7 assists. Mo "Mr. Guarantee" Williams provided 18 points, but 12 of those came before halftime. The Cavs held a 58-50 lead at the intermission but quickly lost the lead early in the 3rd quarter.

Despite his 8 turnovers, James never stopped attacking and also showed mental strength when he hit two clutch free throws with 0.5 seconds left in regulation and Cleveland trailing 100-98. However, his final shot at the buzzer from 35-feet bounced off the rim to end the game.

James is averaging an absurd 42.25 points per game this series and yet it hasn't been enough. What does that tell us? Orlando is just a much deeper, more balanced, and better team.

The Magic, Not The Lakers, Should Be The Favorites To Win It All

The success of the Magic in these playoffs was unexpected by many, but anyone who has watched them play has to be impressed. In fact what has been so striking for me is how clearly better they have looked against both Boston and Cleveland. This is no underdog team who appears to be playing over its head. If the Magic don't win this series and eventually the NBA Championship they probably will have only themselves to blame.

Of course, this is what people were saying about the Lakers not too long ago. That a failure to win the Championship would mean they underachieved. However, the Lakers are in fact not playing "below their potential" as many have suggested.

The Lakers are struggling with the Nuggets because there is not a tremendous talent deficit between the two teams. With an injured Lamar Odom and an inconsistent post-injury Andrew Bynum, it's basically an even series. Should the Lakers survive to the next round, the Magic should be favored.

Will that guarantee them a championship? No, and one shouldn't even guarantee this series yet. However, unless we see a total mental collapse, the Magic at least should be in the Finals. If they do meet the Lakers they will likely have a tough challenge simply based on the matchups and the home court disadvantage. But nothing we have seen so far suggests that we should be surprised by them anymore.

By Manish Pandya
Staff Editor for TheDailySportsHerald.com

1 comment:

  1. Howard is the truth! He has the fire and leadership of the great ones. If bynum don't get right, howard's gonna have a field day against LA . . .


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