When Will It Stop?
How does the old saying go, “Learn from your mistakes”? Well it seems that someone forgot to get the Orlando Magic the memo. The Magic blew yet another double digit lead in the 4th quarter of Game 5 last night vs. the Boston Celtics, refusing to feed All Star Center Dwight Howard the ball in the post for nearly the whole 4th quarter. The loss gives Boston a 3-2 game lead in their best of seven playoff series leading into Game 6 Thursday night at Orlando. The Magic, who relinquished a 2-1 series lead by losing their last two games, could not hold onto a 14 point lead in the 4th quarter even after being up by 10 points with only 5:36 left to play. It was yet another epic collapse in playoffs full of them for Orlando who blew two double digit 4th quarter leads(including one by 18 points) in their last series alone against Philadelphia.
Head Coach Stan Van Gundy has been put under heavy fire this year, especially as of late by both the media and players for his inability to keep his composure in pressure situations. A trait that seems to be exposed more and more with each game during this year’s playoffs. Earlier in the season the Magic’s Head Coach got into a brief war of words with Shaquille O’Neal of the Phoenix Suns after O’Neal, the vocal center that has complained about players flopping against him his whole career, seemingly flopped against Dwight Howard during a game. Van Gundy blasted O’Neal for the flop after the game and O’Neal quickly responded, calling Van Gundy a “Master of Panic” and noting that “when it gets time for his team to go in the postseason and do certain things, he will let them down because of his panic”. Most players, fans and members of the media wrote Oneal’s comments off, assuming he was just upset at Van Gundy for calling him out on his apparent hypocritical actions. It now seems that the tables have turned and people are starting to pay a lot more attention to Van Gundy’s actions (I can just picture O’Neal saying “I told you so” after reading this).
The fans have had enough and so have the players. Dwight Howard, one of the most even keeled and respectful players in the game recently voiced his displeasure with his coach’s late game play calling stating, “You’ve got a dominant player. Let him be dominant”. A bold statement that Van Gundy might want to try enforcing in his play calling, the worst that can happen is Dwight not be able to deliver in crunch time and the Magic lose the game. Either way something has to be done in order for the Magic to hold onto their 4th quarter leads, nothing is more painful then watching a team outplay their opponent all game only to fail down the stretch. More importantly for Van Gundy something needs to be done to get the target off his back if he hopes to return next season, that is if he doesn’t panic and skip town…