Friday, June 5, 2009


For someone who did not see Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night, it may be rather easy for them to judge the game by the statistics. Why not? The stats reveal the most important facts of the game, including the final score. But there is more to it than that.

If you read the box score you will notice how horrible the perimeter shooters were for the Orlando Magic. Hedo Turkgolu, Rashard Lewis, Mikael Pietrus and Rafer Alston (the same shooters that many gushed about at the end of the Eastern Conference Finals) combined for a pitiful 12-43 shooting from the field. Funny enough, not many people are wowed by that statistic.

We have all acknowledged Kobe Bryant's Finals career-high of 40 points, with eight rebounds and eight assists to go with it. There was more attention given to this statistically staggering performance, as if we just discovered Kobe and didn't expect him to play this way.

If you did see the game, tell your friends who didn't that the rebounding dissimilarity that favored the Lakers 55-41 appeared to be an even bigger advantage than the recap can tell.

Since the Lakers committed more fouls than the Magic and matched them in turnovers, some may wonder how the Magic will respond in a game in which they got spanked, that for once cannot be blamed on a single bit of officiating.

Magic fans will spend the next couple of days worrying about why Dwight Howard only attempted 6 shots particularly in a game that consisted of such poor, such desperate shooting by his supporting cast. But they should catch the highlights.

Howard was swarmed in the paint by the Lakers full line-up of big men, while those perimeter guys missed wide open shots. You want those statistics for real? I'll spare you.

No secret the Lakers more than doubled the Magic's production in the paint (56-22). That in no way is the most mind-boggling statistic. Take a look at the final score. Just realize that there is more to it than that.

100-75. It sounds pretty lopsided but it's worse than that. Not because the Magic played so poorly or because the Lakers played so great. Orlando is not in trouble because they are facing enough big men to offset their best player in Dwight Howard, or because the LA bench is deeper than the blue sea.

It goes without saying that the Lakers are a far better team than the Cavs who recorded the best record in the regular season and post season prior to their defeat. The Magic should not worry that Thursday night's outing was the wake-up call of the season. They might want to even ignore the aforementioned stats that some may consider a fluke, giving account to their superb shooting throughout the season.

There is no doubting the Magic will respond to the whooping with possibly some whooping of there own. Don't be surprised if the Magic win a couple games, maybe even three.

But one statistic that never concerned the Magic, now involves them directly:

43-0. That is Phil Jackson's record when winning the first game of a playoff series, even though I'm not buying anybody's logic as to the reasons why he has been able to do this.

The problem for the Magic is that he has. And not only that, he has won the first game of this series (and in fashion at that). Consider Orlando buried not because they are geographically at the bottom of the U.S. map, but because they are now apart of the 0 in the soon-to-be 44-0 Phil Jackson statistic.

Coach Stan Van Gundy won't hear of any voodoo curse placed on his team because of the past victims of the Zen Master. Though he will admit his resume hardly measures up to his counterpart's.

"The guy has won more playoff series than I have coached in playoff games. We'll just see what happens." Van Gundy said this prior to Game 1, then we saw what happened.

I anticipate Stan Van coaching up his team the way he always does and them responding in a way that will be engaging enough to maintain our interests. But don't feel bad if you turn your attention elsewhere.

Battling fate is tough for anyone. The Magic loss the first game but there is more to it than that. They will just have to learn the hard way, like the previous 43.

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