Links: Congrats, Orlando!
First of all, congratulations to the Orlando Magic for advancing to the NBA Finals.
Wait, the series with the Hawks isn’t over? You’re crazy. It’s dunzo. The Magic are the best team in the East, and probably in the NBA, and maybe of all-time. Nobody can beat the Magic. If they do not win the NBA Finals this season, it will be the biggest disappointment of all time.
Was that enough of a jinx? I even used a Finals photo on the homepage!
Jokes aside, the Magic are playing really well right now. Really, really well. Last night in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semis, the Hawks played about as well as they could play for long stretches and they still couldn’t build a double-digit lead. Then, in the fourth quarter, the Magic clamped down defensively and outscored Atlanta 28-15 to get the win. The Magic have so many weapons, from Dwight to Jameer to Vince to Rashard, and each guy had a turn last night.
Dwight finished the first quarter with 18 points, and he was simply dominant. The only problem was that Dwight’s dominance came while he was getting protected by the refs, or maybe because he was getting protected. For instance, Vince Carter came down and threw an entry pass into Dwight that came in about 200 miles per hour. He threw it so fast it jammed a finger on Dwight’s left hand and bounced out of bounds. For some reason, this was called a foul on Jason Collins. A few plays later, Dwight came down on offense and collided with Jason Collins — a.k.a. Collins the Greater — knocked Collins over. As Collins fell to the floor, Dwight then tripped over Collins’ feet. The refs called a tripping foul on Collins. A few plays later, Dwight spun and elbowed Josh Smith in the chest and knocked him over. Foul on Smith. It got so bad it was comical — I tweeted, “Are we sure Dwight didn’t WIN the MVP?” Someone on Twitter said I sounded like Tommy Heinsohn, but it wasn’t just me — even Hubie Brown and Mike Tirico were criticizing the refs. My favorite line was when Tirico said the Hawks seemed to be frustrated by all the calls going Howard’s way, and Hubie said, “They should be!”
But you know what? It didn’t really matter. Orlando has a better, deeper roster than Atlanta, and when the game was on the line, they were a better team. They really just squeezed Atlanta out of it in the fourth quarter. I’m curious to see how the Hawks respond in Atlanta, where they beat Orlando they last time they played. I still think Cleveland is the team to beat in the East, but if Orlando wins it again I won’t be surprised.
• Speaking of Cleveland, here’s a random stat I stumbled across: Remember back in 2004-05 when LeBron finished the season averaging 27.2 ppg, 7.4 rpg and 7.2 apg? At the time he became the fourth person ever to have averages of 25-7-7 for a season, and it was kinda sorta a big deal. Well, since then he’s done it three more times, and this year he averaged 30-7-7, making him the third player to ever do that.
But what’s really insane is that his 8.6 assists per game this season were high enough that LeBron now is averaging 27-7-7 for his career. Crazy.
• I loved this story on Kendrick Perkins not making the All-Defensive team. According to WEEI.com, Doc Rivers suggested Perk didn’t make it because he always has that scowl on his face.
“Well, I guess it’s going to continue to happen,” Perkins said. “Because I ain’t changing the way I look.”
That was a joke in case you needed context and Perkins had a few ready Thursday after he returned to practice with a hyperextended right knee.
His reaction to getting six stitches in his lip courtesy of Shaquille O’Neal?
“Man, I look at it like I’m already ugly,” he said. “I can’t add nothing else to that, man.”
• One bit of news to announce: When I first started at SLAM as the online editor, I basically updated SLAMonline once a day. Then Sam came on board, and we started ramping things up, and then Mutoni started giving news on the regular and Ryne stepped in the building and we started a flood of content for you guys.
The common thread throughout was that SLAMonline has traditionally been a five-day-a-week site.
But now we’re going full-time. Tzvi is coming on board to pick up two other days each week, so between Ryne and Tzvi, we now will have someone posting news and stories on SLAMonline.com seven days a week. So that whole “All Ball 24-7” thing is actually accurate now.
• Hope you guys like the new SLAM cover. Have a great weekend…see you all next week…