Cohen Courtside: Magic at Pacers Game 2 (4/30/12)



By Josh Cohen
April 30, 2012


In Cohen Courtside, Josh Cohen examines the state of the Orlando Magic after games this season. He will tackle sidebar storylines and focus on topics that stretch far beyond the box score. There will also be some analysis on league-wide subjects.

STILL IN A GOOD SPOT


INDIANAPOLIS -- It was early on in the third quarter and the Orlando Magic had a slim lead.

Considering the improbability historically of the Magic winning both of the first two games of this series on the road and bearing in mind how absolutely peculiar this season has been in Orlando, you couldn’t help but wonder if something extraordinary, yet destined, was about to happen.

You asked yourself are the Indiana Pacers about to fold? Would the burgeoning pressure be too daunting to overcome for a team with very little playoff experience?

You probably thought about how commanding a 2-0 series advantage is and how electrifying Amway Center would be under those circumstances.

But the Pacers recognized how imperative Game 2 was for them and pressed the emergency button to avoid a complete and epic disaster.

Indiana coasted in the second half to even up the series score, while Orlando – still with a degree of momentum taking into account it already stole away the home court advantage – will bandage up the bruise and get in gear for Game 3.

Losing Game 2 after prevailing in the series opener was expected in many ways. Teams who win Game 1 on the road in a First Round series in the NBA are 6-34 all-time in Game 2. It’s just part the methodical nature of an NBA postseason series.

Playing at home and with desperation is the biggest source of oomph available to a professional sports team. Indiana proved that on Monday, as do just about all playoff-caliber squads in this league.

No team desires to be embarrassed in front of the hometown supporters and coaches and players understand how mentally damaging it is to fall significantly behind in a seven-game series.

All in all, the Magic are in a pretty good spot. Protect the home court and Orlando advances. It’s as simple as that.

There are concerns, naturally. We knew heading into this series that size would be a major hindrance for the Magic with Dwight Howard unavailable.

In Game 2, the Pacers fully benefitted from being taller at nearly every position. While Indiana wasn’t efficient in its offense, it scored often by getting second and sometimes third chance opportunities. It also attacked the hoop regularly, which got Orlando in foul trouble and sent the Pacers habitually to the free throw line.

Now, the Magic have to utilize that indispensable urgency button like the Pacers did on Monday. While Game 3 is in no way a “must-win” considering this is expected to be a long and grueling series, Orlando doesn’t want to be forced to win another game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

It’s always difficult to win once in another building’s hostile environment. Triumphing twice is an intimidating task.

With Howard absent, the Magic have to utilize every possible piece of momentum and assistance available to them. And potentially the biggest component is a boisterous home crowd at Amway Center.

With the support from all the fans, the Magic know energy won’t be a problem in the next two games.

Therefore, it will come down to execution and effectiveness.

Glen Davis, who continues to be sterling as the team’s starting center, must remain relentless inside.

Jameer Nelson needs to be the playmaker that creates a myriad of high percentage shots for his teammates.

Ryan Anderson, Jason Richardson and J.J. Redick must not be hesitant with their perimeter shooting.

And the defense collectively must be smash mouth, up in your face style.

After just two games of this series, it sure feels like this may be a long one. And that makes for a very entertaining battle.

Do you think the Magic will win Game 3?
Do you think the Magic will win Game 3?
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