Saturday, June 13, 2009

Game Five Adjustments: Lakers-Magic

1) Don't let this end: If you have been following me on Twitter, you probably noticed that I said the feeling after the Game Four loss was like the five stages of mourning. Just thinking about the game, it is difficult just to imagine this ride ending.

This team has done something amazing to this town. It has gotten people on the bandwagon. Rocked the O-Rena for one (second to) last time. Brought together a community during a very dificult time. They have defied the odds.

It has been fun. I have been proud to be Magic fan and I know many others have been too.

For a long time now, I have slowly moved away from fan to analyst as I have become more serious about journalism. A team that needed constant adjustment helped. So did my increased knowledge of the game from actually playing at a decently high level (JV high school basketball!).

This postseason, I have become a fan again. I have lived and died on every shot, every rebound, every possession. I have watched this team exceed my wildest expectations and come on the doorstep of the NBA championship -- something I never thought I would see... no matter how good the team became it, was always something unattainable.

Now with Orlando here in the Finals, there would only be emptiness to come so close but still be so far from the trophy.

I am sure the team feels this way too. So my only plea to them is to not let this end.

This spot is typically for strategic changes the team needs to consider to pull out a win, but I truly believe the Magic have all the tools to win this series. They have shown it in three of the four games of this series. They just have to do it.

So please do not let this ride end.

2) Remain confident: there is a lot of gloom and doom in the wake of Game Four. Like the Lakers after Game Three, Orlando should remain confident. In two of the team's three losses this series, the game needed overtime to be decided. That literally means there was a tie.

Yes, Orlando needs to finish these games. That means making free throws. That means executing on offense -- getting the ball to its playmakers like Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu. Those two did not come through in the clutch on Thursday. They must do so the rest of the way.

There probably has not been a 3-1 series that was as close as this one. If there was a time to believe a team could erase a 3-1 deficit, this might be the time. And that might be the fan in me speaking. But it is the belief the Magic must have.

The closeout win is always the hardest. It will be made more difficult by being in Orlando. That crowd will be behind the Magic win or lose Sunday night. I would expect a great effort and a confident team to take the floor, even after a crushing loss.

There is no reason to think this series is over until one of these teams is lifting the trophy.

3) Take care of what you can do: the biggest thing the Magic can do going from Game Four going to Game Five is to take care of the things they control. That is free throws and turnovers.

Those are the two things they failed to do Thursday. Those are things they themselves can fix Sunday night.

Bottom line: if Orlando plays its game, it will force a Game Six on Tuesday night.

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