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  • Published: Jun 13th, 2009
  • Category: NBA Basketball
  • Comments: Comments Off on The Magic can pick up their parting gifts on their way out of the playoffs.

The Magic can pick up their parting gifts on their way out of the playoffs.

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We have a home version of our game for each of the departing Magic players.

The Lakers have the NBA championship in their hip pocket. The Magic was a victim of poor shooting and the lack of home court advantage. It is almost impossible for any team to win 3 straight games at home against a championship quality opponent. The Magic proved that they could not stand the heat.

More important, Dwight Howard proved that he could not stand the heat. This is not the same team that played Cleveland so well. The Magic looked very tight. When Howard missed the free throws at the end of regulation, it was also the end of the Magic’s dream of a title.

The Lakers were in foul trouble, on the road, and tired. Even so, they found a way to steal game 4 from the Magic. Even if the Magic manage to win game 5, they are done. They will not be able to win one game against the Lakers in LA let alone 2. The Magic only won game 3 by shooting a record percentage.

The Lakers have a history of taking a game off. They may well lose game 5. They will not lose 3 in a row. If the Magic couldn’t win 3 in a row in Orlando, how can they expect to win 3 with 2 of those games in LA?

Games 5 and 6 will tell us a lot about how finals ready the Magic are. If they win game 5 and give the Lakers a real tough game 6, they may have the grit to win a title in the future. If not, they could well be remembered along with the Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings as teams that could get to multiple championship series but not ever win a championship.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NBA Finals,NBA Playoffs,Magic,Lakers,LA,Orlando,NFL Playoffs,Vikings,Bills

Lakers squeeze out a 2-0 lead in the finals.

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Again the so called experts have been proven wrong. After the 100-75 win by the Lakers in game 1 of the NBA finals, the majority opinion was that the Lakers would win the series in 4 or 5 games. Then came game 2.

The Magic pushed the Lakers the entire game forcing it to overtime only after just missing a shot with less than a second left that would have tied the series at 1 all. The experts are still confident in the Lakers chances. The Lakers are 38-1 when leading a series 2-0. That statistic is pretty convincing.

What makes me think that the series will go longer than 5 games is how badly the Magic played in game 1. It was unlikely that they would continue to play that poorly throughout the series. The Magic is better than they looked in game 1. But there are some signs that bode well for the Lakers in the long run.

The Magic will not win the series unless they get C Dwight Howard more involved late in the game. He did not have a shot in the OT session. He hardly touched the ball in overtime. The Magic MUST get him involved more at crunch time. He is the secret to getting open 3 point shots late. If the ball comes into him and the D collapses, he can pass it out to an open 3 point shooter.

Another issue for the Magic is the struggles of PG Rafer Alston. The decision to bring Jameer Nelson back for the finals. Alston has struggled to find his shooting touch in the first two game and it may be because he is sharing time with Nelson. Nelson is trying to shake off the rust of missing more than half a season due to injury. He too is struggling.

The new roles for the guards has disrupted what was an extremely productive bench. The rotation that worked so well against the Cavs has been disrupted by the Nelson addition and the bench has become an albatross around the necks of the Magic.

The Magic can win. They proved that by forcing overtime in LA even though they played less than their best game. They MUST win all three games in Orlando. I don’t believe they can do that. I think that LA wins one in Orlando and the series is over in 6.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NBA Finals,NBA,Lakers,Magic

Saturday Niblets for 6/6/09

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Today is the 65th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. My Dad was the first American on Omaha Red beach 2 hours before the invasion. Today, we salute all those that risked or gave their lives to help free Europe from Hitler.

Best Email of the last 2 weeks: from James on “The Cavs are a 1972 Comet with a Ferrari engine.” too bad Lebron and the Cavs failed to reach the championships… was rooting for them! I just do not know what will happen of the team if Kobe comes in… the dynamics of team will likely change, but if they get past that they’d get a huge chance in grabbing the title next year…

James: The chances of Kobe coming are very slim. But you are exactly correct in that the team is going to have to have a rebuild this off season to become a championship caliber team in time to win a title for LeBron next season. Thanks for your comment.

Updates on previous columns:

Mangenious and his Magical Bus trip

The NFLPA is investigating the Magical Bus trip of 10 hours each way to the football camp outside of Hartford Conn. that Eric Mangini forced on the 19 Browns rookies. Of course Mangini flew to Hartford and was planning to fly back until someone smarter than him suggested how bad that would look. Let’s hope the league fines Mangenious a couple of hundred thousand dollars and gives it to those that took the bus.

LeBron is LeGone

Lebron James was fined $25,000 by the NBA for failing to speak to the media after the loss to the Magic in game 6 of their Eastern Conference Finals. Initially, the league announced that he would not be fined. In an interview on ESPN Radio, Comm. Stern the day after that announcement was made, Stern said he was looking into the issue.

What do you do with a young benched starting QB?

Titans coach Jeff Fisher told the press that “eventually” Vince Young will be the starting QB. Fisher told the press that Young has been spending time in the weight room.

My Advice: Vince, get out of the weight room and camp in the film room. The problem is your understanding of the playbook and reading coverage not your arm strength.

Niblets fresh off the cob:

The NFLPA reaches a settlement with retired players

Retired NFL players had filed suit against the NFLPA to get a part of the money flow of the various marketing deals that the NFLPA gets. According to ex-Packer and Hall of Fame DB Herb Adderley who filed the suit, the settlement gives retired players 26.25 million dollars. This is only one issue between current and retired players.

Exec. Dir. DeMaurice Smith told a meeting of active and retired players that benefits for retired players would be reduced by 80% if the NFL Owners lock the players out after 2011. This will be one more potential suit for Adderley to file against the NFLPA.

The Lakers win game 1 by 25.

The Lakers looked good Thursday night against the Magic. According to several sources, the Lakers are much more focused in the finals because of their loss last year to the Celtics. We will see. If they play the way they did against the Nuggets, the Lakers will lose again. Magic C Dwight Howard is not going to score just 12 points often. Neither returning all star PG Jameer Nelson or Rafer Alston played particularly well. Nelson, coming off an injury, should get better with more practice to shake off the rust.

The NHL series is all tied up.

After Pittsburgh won the first two games at home, many pundants wrote that the series was over. Not so fast. The Red Wings looked tired and slow compared to the younger Penguins. The scheduling of back to back games has helped the Pens. But to win, the Pens are going to have to win game 5 at Detroit. I don’t believe that they can win a game 7 in hostile territory against a seasoned team like the Wings.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: D-Day,LeBron,James,Kobe,Bryant,Young,Titans,Fisher,NFLPA,Smith,Adderley,Lakers,Cavs,Magic,Pittsburgh,Detroit,NHL,NBA,NFL,NFL Draft,NBA Draft,Alston,Nelson,Howard

LeBron is LeGone.

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LeBron2 LeGone

LeBron LeGone

LeBron is LeGone.

LeBron’s exit from the playoffs says something about his future in Cleveland. His failure to speak at the post game press conference says a lot more.

Forget about him not shaking hands with his opponents. This wasn’t widely reported but he didn’t shake hands because he was so tired of carrying 11 guys plus his coach on his shoulders that he couldn’t raise his hand above his waist. Really, Dwight Howard showed as little class as LeBron by taking a meaningless 3 point shot as time ran out. One still picture of LeBron’s face showed his frustration and his anger about the shot, the team, the situation and the future of the Cavs.

LeBron not showing up for the post game press conference was a mistake. The sports world is coming down on his head for opting out of the post game chat with the media. He will be fined and I am sure that he is fine with that (excuse the pun). He should have gone and at least made an appearance. Given how much class he has shown from day one of his career, I can excuse him totally for not taking the meaningless question from a meaningless member of the media “how do you feel about losing in the playoffs?”

What failing to show up says about him staying in Cleveland is much more important. I doubt he will even consider taking GM Danny Ferry’s calls about a contract extension under the current circumstances. The Cavs as they are now constituted will NEVER win an NBA Championship even with LeBron. Even a talent as great as his can not go 1 vs. 5 and win. And that is the singing group we saw in the playoffs—LeBron and the 4 statues.

LeBron has made up his mind about coming back in 2010-2011—He is not going to do it. The only way that the Cavs can possibly change his mind is to make monster moves this off season. Even if they do make a couple of monster moves, they still might not even be the 2nd best team in the East. In my opinion, Orlando is better now, and next year will have all star PG Jameer Nelson back from injury. Boston gets injured Kevin Garnett back next year and should face Orlando in the NBA East finals next season. The ONLY way that the Cavs can keep LeBron is to make some monster moves very soon.

I fully expect to see the Cavs do little or nothing this off season. Ferry believed that bringing in PG Mo Williams was the key to putting the Cavs over the top and into an NBA championship. NOT SO MUCH! In a future article I will put a couple of real plans together. Despite my wishing that Kobe Bryant would come to Cleveland, we all know that will never happen.

What the Cavs MUST have is a front court scorer that can rebound as well. They also need a reliable 3 point shooter that demands coverage. That will open up options for LeBron for drives to the basket.

So given the current situation, what will LeBron do? First, he will not sign a contract extension with the Cavs in this off season. We all want to see what Ferry will do to improve the team in the off season. The Cavs 2 picks in the 09 draft are not going to have an impact this season if ever. There is not much potential help in the unrestricted FA list. The one guy most talked about is Utah PF Carlos Boozer. With Utah he has been a 16 point/10 rebound guy and both numbers would be welcome by the offensively stagnant Cavs. But that won’t happen because Boozer stabbed the Cavs right between the shoulder blades by telling them he would resign then sneaking out of town to join the Jazz.

Another really nice addition would be the Magic’s Hedo Turkoglu. But Turkoglu has a better chance of winning multiple championships with Orlando that he would in Cleveland and he knows it.

So, LeBron is LeGone. As much a Cavs fan as I am, I can only tell the championship starved Cleveland fans enjoy next season. The Cavs will turn into pumpkins in 2010-11 and beyond.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NBA,NBA Draft,LeBron,Kobe Bryant,Cavilers,Magic,Jazz,Turkoglu,news conference,Nelson,Brown,Ferry

The Cavs are a 1972 Comet with a Ferrari engine.

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Our Comet is old and looks slow. But the horsepower provided by the engine will eventually tear the car apart.

The Cavs won last night. Lebron James, the Ferrari engine, had a direct hand in the last 32 points by his team. He either scored or had an assist on each of those shots. The problem for the Cavs is no matter how this series turns out the team needs to be reworked this off season if they want to have any chance to keep Lebron in town after June 2010.

The Cavs are fine as they stand for the regular season. They feed nicely on the Knicks, Wizards, Pacers and such. They can win at home against the Bulls and Celtics. The problem is that in the playoffs, they have one REALLY bad match-up—The Magic. And unless the Cavs can win a title this year or next, Lebron is most likely going to go to a team that can. Could you even imagine how good the Magic would be with Lebron? Would you rather spend the winter in Orlando or Cleveland?

If Lebron went to the Magic, that team would win 6 or 7 straight titles.

Due to the Bird exception in the salary cap, the Cavs are going to be able to offer Lebron more money than any other team. But money is not what motivates Lebron. He is a winner. He doesn’t want to be saddled with a team that wins in the regular season but falls short in the playoffs.

What the Cavs have:

In the NBA, it is not a question of what a team should do to improve. It is a question of what a team CAN do to improve. With guaranteed contracts, NBA players are a lot like the Scud Missile under Saadam—You can’t fire it and you can’t make it work. But the Cavs should have a lot of wiggle room in the 09 off season.

Joe Smith, Wally Szczerbiak, and Lorenzen Wright are unrestricted FA at the end of the season. That should free up over 29 mil in salary cap. In addition, Zydrunas Ilgauskas has an early termination option (ETO) in his contract. The team could lose him as well freeing up another 10.8 mil.

After next season, Sasha Pavlovic and Ben Wallace are free agents in addition to James with his player option. Together the three will provide 33 million in free money.

Anderson Varejao has a player option. If he doesn’t like what the Cavs are doing, he is likely to go. He has played fairly well this season. He is not starting quality but would be an excellent off the bench energy player for a contender.

What the Cavs need:

The series against Orlando makes one thing clear—to win championships they are going to have to beat the Magic in the playoffs over the next few years. They can not do that now.

The most critical needs for the Cavs are a reliable 3 point scorer and a quick big man with the feet to defend Howard and rebound. The Cavs had a chance to bring Ohio State alum SG Michael Redd to Cleveland a couple of years ago but did not. He is a consistent 3 point gunslinger.

The plan of all plans for the Cavs (that will never happen but should):

Kobe Bryant has an ETO in his contract this season. He want the max contract but he wants to win more. Bring Bryant in to pair with Lebron. You have 33 mil next year to give to Lebron. If Bryant comes in, Ilgauskas will stay. That would provide the Cavs with the scoring they need and one more outstanding defensive force. You can find another D player with a little scoring ability for the mid range exception.

Would Bryant come to Cleveland? Good question. To win a couple of titles, he might. There is no question that Bryant wanted to prove that he could win a title without Shaq. But given a chance with a short contract, he might be willing to come.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NBA,Playoffs,Cavilers,Magic,salary cap,Howard,Lebron,James,Redd,Bryant,Kobe Bryant,Knicks,Wizards,Pacers,Bulls,Celtics

The Cavs are in SERIOUS trouble.

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Saturday’s Niblets will return next week. Have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend and thank a Veteran for his or her service to our freedom.

In 50+ years of watching basketball, I have never seen anything close to what I saw last night from Superman Lebron James. Forget the fact that there was only one second left. Forget the fact that the Cavs were 2 points behind. Forget the fact that they had given back a 23 point lead. This was The biggest shot in Cavs history because their survival in the series depended on the shot going in. The Cavs chances of keeping Lebron in town after 2010 depends a lot on winning a championship or two.

I consider myself qualified to make such a statement. I have been a Cavs fan since they came into the league. Along with a few thousand other fans, I suffered through the Walt Westley Bingo Smith era. I was there when in the old downtown arena the Cavs beat the Lakers for the first time. When the team needed to raise money and sold stock, I bought some.

I also suffered through the playoff losses to Michael Jordan. But this team was different. It had a killer instinct that previous Cavs teams lacked. Or at least it seemed like they did.

The fact that the Cavs lost 2 games at home in the playoffs against the Magic after having leads of 15 and 23 points is inexcusable. The Cavs lost that game last night. It was Lebron that won it rather than the Cavs as a team.

There are a number of things that point to a Magic win in the series. First, the Cavs can not seem to handle the pick and roll. Time and time again the Magic ran the P&R and got totally open shots because the Cavs defenders were too slow to provide defense on the ball. The Cavs were doubling Dwight Howard down low. The Magic adjusted and began to make the extra pass to a wide open 3 point shooter with great success. The Cavs never adjusted to the change and got burned. I am not convinced that Howard is enough of an offensive threat to warrant doubling the entire game. The Cavs have to get more pressure on the outside shooter to win the series.

At one time in his injury history, I was convinced that the word Ilgauskas was Greek for “man with bad feet.” I realize now that it refers to a 7 foot Greek statue. Zydrunas Ilgauskas is no match defensively for any of the Magic big men. Away from the basket Z is a defensive liability on anything that can move faster than a lamp post. Lebron is the only Cav with length that has the feet to guard any of the front line members of the Magic. Obviously, he can’t guard 3 guys at the same time.

The Cavs shot selection was abysmal. Mo Williams is in a slump shooting 13 for 40. No one other than Lebron is stepping up to fill in. When the Magic were making their comeback late in the 2nd quarter, time after time, the Cavs were taking long 2 point or 3 point shots. Ilgauskas was outside taking 15 to 18 foot 2 point shots with no one under the basket to provide an offensive rebound. That is just dumb. The Cavs are not a 3 point team. They don’t have a wealth of players that can hit those shots regularly. They are much more of a half court offense.

The successful Cav half court offense depended on ball movement. That requires movement of the players without the ball. In the critical period of the game with the Magic cutting the lead, the majority of the Cavs were standing around on the offensive end of the floor. They have to get back to Cavs offense—half court moving the ball around the floor and 4 guys without the ball working to get open. The Cavs seem to forget what got them the leads they have been able to build against Orlando.

Rebounding, particularly offensive rebounding has also been nonexistent in those periods when the Magic are making their charge. When the Cavs are cold from the outside, they have to get those second rebound shots to slow the charge. They go blocks of minutes without an O rebound.

While the Magic bench is providing excellent support, the Cavs bench has vanished. Joe Smith and Aleksandar Pavlovic have to step up on both ends of the floor. They haven’t so far in this series. Ben Wallace needs to provide more D than he has so far. Daniel Gibson and Wally Szczerbiak have been ignored totally.

The Cavs that are usually careful with the ball at the O end of the floor were giving the ball away like the Federal Government hands out money. That would be trouble for any team. It is ten times worse for a team that lacks the team foot speed to get back on defense after a turnover.

Worst of all, the Cavs seem to have lost their killer instinct. During the regular season, the Cavs would either get the lead of a dozen points then blow it up to 20 or more or at least finish off the game with the key shots and defensive stops to win. They are doing neither in the two games against the Magic. That has to change if the Cavs are going to get to the finals.

To win this series, the Cavs are going to have to figure out how to stop the P&R. Early in the game the Cavs were doubling the ball and getting stops. The Magic adjusted and began making the extra pass to an open 3 point shooter. The Cavs did not adjust and lost the lead. If they can’t figure out how to stop the P&R with the players that they have, they will get rolled right out of the playoffs.

Some of the pressure will transfer to the Magic for the two games in Orlando. To win the series, they really need to win both games. While the Magic may be able to win another game in Cleveland, they can’t count on that.

There is pressure in any playoff series. The situation has just escalated the pressure a bit on both teams.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: Cavilers,NBA,NBA Playoffs,Magic,James,1 second,Jordan,Lakers,Howard,Ilgauskas,Williams,Smith,Szczerbiak

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