Cohen: Magic-Cavaliers Storylines
By Josh Cohen
March 21, 2011
PLAYER PERFORMANCE BREAKDOWN
Dwight Howard: Just absolutely dominant with several ferocious dunks and more relentless rebounding (18 total). He also went an impressive 10-of-12 from the free throw line
Jameer Nelson: Didn’t have one of his better shooting nights (3-of-9), but did accumulate eight assists
Hedo Turkoglu: Similar to Nelson, didn’t have a productive shooting night overall (3-of-10). But Turk did drain a pair of critical outside shots to halt Cleveland’s furious rally late in the fourth and he dished out nine assists.
Brandon Bass: Was sensational at powering his way to the hoop and also was proficient at knocking down his jumpers. He shot 9-of-10 from the field, but just 4-of-8 from the free throw line
Jason Richardson: Shot just 4-of-12 from the field, but did collect three steals and was a central figure in Orlando’s stifling first half defense
Gilbert Arenas: Still looks out of rhythm. He had been dealing with a sore left knee, but was declared fine for action. He shot just 2-of-8 and committed four turnovers in 17 minutes
Ryan Anderson: Was solid throughout; he battled hard for rebounds and played well defensively
NOT THE SAME IN CLEVELAND
It still just doesn’t feel right in Cleveland without the powder toss, all the hometown hero chants and all the electrifying plays that astounded the city for seven seasons.
There is a very incomplete feeling at The Q – even though we are approaching the conclusion of the first season following LeBron James’ departure.
No longer a championship contender and still trying to overcome LBJ’s infamous decision, the Cavaliers are in a rebuilding stage.
Formerly one of the Orlando Magic’s rivals, Cleveland is now hoping its young players develop into formidable competitors and that lottery luck will be on its side in a couple of months.
It’s hard to not sympathize with the franchise. Having to deal with all the controversy and disappointment that surrounded James when he opted to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami and immediately going from best to worst is something no professional sports organization wants to ever contend with.
Even though they are always competition, we all should root for the Cavs to restore some success on the court sooner rather than later. The fans of that city, which have dealt with all kinds of exasperating sports moments, deserve a speedy recovery back to hardwood success.
REMEMBERING A CLASSIC
There were plenty of breathtaking moments and outstanding victories during each of the Orlando Magic’s two NBA Finals runs in 1995 and 2009.
The unforgettable Nick Anderson steal on Michael Jordan, the improbable Game 7 Boston massacre where the Magic thrashed the Celtics and the first ever NBA Finals victory in Game 3 against the Lakers are three of the more noteworthy plays and wins.
But I still believe the most astounding triumph in franchise history was Game 1 of the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals against the Cavaliers.
Given almost no chance of winning the series by critics against the Cavs, who had won a league-best 66 games during the regular season and had swept their first two opponents in the previous rounds, the Magic overcame a 15-point halftime deficit on the road to pull out a stunning triumph.
Dwight Howard collected 30 points and Rashard Lewis scored 22 and buried a game-winning 3-pointer with 14.7 seconds remaining.
By prevailing in Game 1, it shocked Cleveland and allowed Orlando to gain confidence and ultimately win the series and advance to the NBA Finals.