Dwight Drives Magic Past Cavs Into Finals
Posted by r1zzo23 on May 30, 2009
Looks like Nike will have to put the MVPuppet commercials on hold until next season. Either that or they better come up with a new commercial where LeBron James’ puppet is watching Kobe Bryant play in the NBA Finals against the Orlando Magic.
After going up 3-1 in the series, the Orlando Magic dropped Game 5 in Cleveland and all the pressure was squarely on Dwight Howard and the Magic to seal the deal at home rather than face a do-or-die Game 7 in Cleveland. Game 6 belonged to Dwight Howard and the Magic right from the beginning.
Dwight Howard showed the world in this series that maybe he belongs to be mentioned in the same breathe as Kobe and LeBron for best player in the league. This is a very different outlook on Dwight coming off a sub-par series against Boston. The fact is that Cleveland doesn’t have a big man like Kendrick Perkins that can hold his ground and can almost keep up with Dwight athletically in the post. This weakness of the Cavaliers was exploited all series and was a huge reason why the Magic will be playing for an NBA title.
The main offensive play for the Eastern Conference champions on this night was to get the rock to Dwight on the post. From there, he would go to work in the paint if he was single-teamed. If the double-team came, he would kick to the open shooter. If the Cavs were closing out on the first shooter, the ball movement was impeccable around the perimeter and ended up with either an open three from the corner or a huge lane to the rim. Funny to think that the NBA’s Coach of the Year couldn’t figure out a way to stop it. Perhaps the only way to stop that sort of offense is for the Magic shooters to miss their jumpers. Fortunately for the team in blue, that wasn’t the case tonight.
Orlando finished the game 12-29 from deep, four of which came from super-sub Mickael Pietrus. Pietrus finished the game with 14 points, once again out-scoring Cleveland’s entire bench. Rafter Alston, Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu knocked down the other eight three-pointers to keep the defense honest on the man of the night, Dwight Howard.
Starting from the first minutes of the game, Howard was too much for the Cavaliers to handle. This was the first game where I really saw the fire and desire from the Defensive Player of the Year to put the Magic on his back and will the team to a huge win. Howard poured in a career playoff-high 40 points on 14-21 shooting (edited for Dwight’s three at the end of the game). On top of that, he hauled in 14 rebounds and also dished out four assists. Although he only had one block, he deterred many other shots and his height and length was enough to bother Cleveland’s drives to the hoop.
LeBron James, the second best player in the league, failed to reach the NBA Finals once again after leading the Cavs to the league’s best regular season record as well as series sweeps against Detroit and Atlanta. Other than the Boston Celtics, it seems like Cleveland and Orlando will be on a collision course to meet in the Eastern Conference Finals on a yearly basis, assuming James stays in Cleveland in 2010.