Welcome allto day two of the SBN Traveling Game Thread tonight. We had a pretty decent showing at Motown String Music last night. We should see some more action tonight.
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On tap are the Magic/Celtics & the Rockets/Lakers. Here are some of the previews from around SBN (make sure to check out their sites to paarticipate in their game threads):
Ultimately, the Magic have a great chance to seize this series with a victory tonight. To do that, they need to get the ball to Dwight Howard more, or at the very least try to drive the ball. Howard played the entire second half, yet only attempted 5 shots... and one of those was the direct result of his own offensive rebound/put-back attempt. Dwight Howard is arguably the best center in the league. The Magic should not treat him like he's Andris Biedrins, the Golden State Warriors center whose job description may as well read, "set screens, rebound, and don't shoot unless it's a layup." Point guards Rafer Alston and Anthony Johnson, as well as wing facilitator Hedo Turkoglu, need to look for Howard on the move in pick-and-roll situations. Everyone needs to attack the basket and at least get a shot up; even if it doesn't go down, Howard's having the best overall rebounding postseason in NBA history, which means he stands a great chance of getting a putback.
About that last point: Howard is corralling 26.16% of available rebounds when he's on the floor. Not a misprint. If Dwight's on the floor, and there's a rebound opportunity, there's roughly a 1-in-4 chance he winds up getting it. Nice find by the folks at The Puns Are Starting To Bore Me.
However, as disappointing as Monday night's loss was, there is plenty of basketball left to be played. On the bright side, this game showed us that the Celtics can indeed beat Orlando in this series. It showed the players that they aren't going to get anywhere if they don't relentlessly attack, and it showed the fans that our guys were right there with Orlando despite a putrid overall performance. Ray Allen put up yet another Game 1 stinker (2-12 FG), Paul Pierce shot just 7-18, and Rajon Rondo was atrocious for roughly three quarters and finished with seven turnovers to go along with a 2-12 shooting clip. I'll be damned if all three of them duplicate those abysmal outings in Game 2.
I have two major thoughts going into this game. First of all, I'm sick of everyone in the media and Laker Nation acting like the Lakers played terribly all on their own. The Rockets forced those errors. Shane Battier made Kobe shoot from places that Battier wanted him too. Yao Ming really is that good, actually he's even better. So that's enough of that ridiculous line. Could the Lakers have played better? Sure, but if the Rockets play defense like that every game of the series, I absolutely guarantee a Rockets series win, with or without LA clicking on all cylinders going into that defense. Second, everyone is acting like the Rockets are void of talent and the Lakers are the greatest team in NBA history. Yes, clearly the Lakers are damn good. Kobe is the greatest player on the planet, I agree with that. But come on, the Rockets were 1 win against Memphis away from being the number 2 seed.
I speculate that sometimes it takes a little time for the aura of invincibility to ease up a little as the reality of a changed situation slowly sinks in.
When the Houston Rockets came into Staples Center and handily beat the Lakers on their home floor in Game 1, an enormous and fundamental strategic shift occurred in that series. Tens of thousands of gnawingly insecure Blazer fans around the country can attest to this fact through painful recent experience. Tens of thousands of assured Laker fans no doubt do not yet agree. The Lakers are now in a "must win" position in Game 2 and absolutely must "break serve" in Houston in either Game 3, 4, or 6.