Sunday, May 23, 2010

Magic's Weaknesses Unveil Anything But Magical Touch in Legitimate Test

In a postseason with dull routs and lopsided finishes, the Orlando Magic, once regarded as the emerging franchise with the next dominant big man in one of the largest cities, all of a sudden has been deprived of creating a magical sequence, similar to the one a year ago, when the Magic earned a bid to the NBA Finals.

In Orlando, a beautiful vacationing spot, the population believed in a magical shooting touch, a category the Magic is usually proficient in compiling points.

It’s no longer unfathomable to realize that Orlando was untested and slightly deeper than Charlotte and Atlanta.

What exactly symbolized fate of the Magic, a heartless and harmless match against the Boston, is a team completely lost on defense and bewildered in finding the weaknesses of the aging Celtics.

And really, it’s hard to imagine Orlando avoiding a humiliating sweep in a series in which they never demoralized the pesky nemesis, now one win away from returning to the NBA Finals for the first time in two years, setting up a potential rematch against their foes the Los Angeles Lakers.

In a raucous arena, the crowd shouted continuously as the Celtics overpowered the Magic embarrassingly as if they were little kids without a clear understanding of basic fundamentals.

From the start, they were done, they were doomed, and they were badly dismantled without even attempting a comeback. The nightmares were uninspiring, lacking heart and fortitude in a game the Magic needed to avoid a possible sweep.

There’s proof that Orlando is clearly no match against Boston, even if some Celtics are barely standing on wobbly legs and knees.

With the Magic untested in the first two rounds of the uncompetitive postseason, we finally found out the truth about a mystified Orlando, unlike a year ago when it rose to new heights and encountered a one-sided match with the Lakers to suffer the loss when a surreal playoff run ended sorely.

All of which we now know the Magic’s true identity in a series the Celtics defied logic and tested the wills.

Judging by the first two series, they were deemed as the invincible Magicians of the East, but were mistakenly favored to return to the finals with depth, size and athleticism.

What? If this team was supposed to transcend, grasped a clear sense of what it takes to sustain felicity and validate the franchise’s history by winning its first championship, then why isn’t Dwight Howard dominating like Superman vanquished the evildoers? Of course, he’s not the only one to blame.

Why isn’t Vince Carter...the Vinsanity we once were accustomed to playing like he’s a revived megastar, but instead playing like an aging guard with no swagger? Why isn’t Rashard Lewis firing in three-pointers, but instead misfiring on nearly each shot attempt.

Suddenly, what happened? The Magic never recovered and had no response Saturday, but suffered the flimsiest playoff defeat in NBA history.

Sure, the Celtics' sumptuous defense is making every team it has faced look awful. Before, Boston made LeBron James seem like the most inferior player ever in the year he won the NBA Most Valuable Player award.

And now it seems Howard isn’t a physique or gigantic center, but a whiny baby easily teased and frustrated underneath the basket.

The pounding of Orlando, summarized an ugly night and shocked the entire team when the scoreboard inside the Garden posted the final outcome, 94-71, in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals.

After an effortless performance in the first two rounds, totaling an 8-0 record, the Magic encountered the biggest test in the postseason.

The Celtics have quickly become archenemies, retaliating and bouncing back from an unimaginable letdown a year ago, of course, when the Magic wasn’t bemused and dominated the East without even fiercely bulldozing its opponents.

In the series, Orlando has unraveled completely, losing composure, heart and firepower it once had to win. In short, the Magic are incapable of beating Boston.

It’s that very obvious trailing 3-0 on the brink of elimination as the Celtics aims towards dispatching the Magic, when everyone predicted they’ll return to the finals.

And some even forecast that Orlando would win its first-ever championship. It’s impossible to even suggest that they’ll win one game in this series.

In each game, the lack of urgency and consciousness revealed the flukiest postseason competitors.

Throughout the series, the Magic were outplayed on defense, missed an array of shots and heard shouts from coach Stan Van Gundy that went through one ear and out the other.

By halftime, the night was over as the score extended to embarrass Orlando, inspiring an electrifying crowd that started chanting “Beat L.A.!” “Beat L.A.!”

Early on, the Magic never found its magic touch and trailed 7-0. Shortly after, the night turned uglier and the Celtics maintained control the rest of the way, ending Howard’s and his lifeless teammates’ probable season and mitigated probability.

As time runs out on the Magic's season, Howard wasted much valuable time weeping over pity fouls in the series. He’s a 24-year old who hasn’t fully developed into a dominant force, with his incredible size advantage and wingspan.

He’s not Superman after all, a name given to him when he became the tallest man to win the dunk contest during NBA All-Star weekend not long ago. Maybe Shaq is still the man of steel.

With championship hopes on the line, Howard wasn’t the toughest man on the floor, but the most vulnerable only scoring seven points with seven rebounds.

It’s disappointing that the Magic played with no intensity, no guts, not even a suitable game plan to cut down a large deficit.

Well, when a team falls apart, you cannot point the finger at one individual, which means Howard isn’t the only one to blame.

He wasn’t wearing his comical smile, but disappointing expressions after struggling mightily, at one point down 21-6. Because of a lousy defensive approach, all defenders were manhandled, allowing Boston to possess a double-digit lead.

“They just riddled us,” Van Gundy said, blaming himself for not having his team prepared in a must-needed win.

The difference in such a one-sided contest, the Celtics outhustled and had the most intensity as the aggressors, controlling the dynamics of the game, while the Magic struggled to find the nets and failed to hustle or match the aggressiveness of Boston. It’s obvious that Van Gundy takes most of the blame.

He’s didn’t have his team prepared in an onslaught that eventually turned brutal, which is why he admittedly blamed himself for Orlando’s poor performance.

“The most disappointing to me was that I didn’t have our team better ready to play,” Van Gundy said. “That was what was disappointing to me was my job.”

The Celtics were crafty on the floor, particularly on the breathtaking moment involving Boston’s explosive guard Rajon Rondo. He outran Jason Williams to a loose ball in the backcourt, diving on the floor and picked it up to score.

This night really brought out the true colors of the Magic, when there were no signs of toughness or awareness, but a confused and discouraged group.

Lewis scored four points on 2-for-8 shooting, missing all four three-point attempts. The two biggest non-factors were Carter and Jameer Nelson, who had 15 points apiece.

And maybe the only thing exciting about this game was Kevin Garnett getting pushed into the Orlando bench, knocking over Van Gundy, or the diving play by Rondo to score the layup.

Other than that, there was nothing else to see. There was no magic whatsoever.