28 March 2007

That's Gross: Celtics 105, Magic 96 (2OT)

Seriously, boys, what the hell was that?
Here are my observations from last night's embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Conference-worst Boston Celtics:

We Need Carlos Arroyo More Than We Know
Had we won tonight, Carlos would have been the main reason why. Okay, his linescore doesn't pop out at you -- 6 points, 1 rebound, 1 blocked shot on 1-of-2 shooting in 11 minutes -- but just look at what he did when he came in:

  • 2:11, 3rd quarter. Enters game for Tony Battie. Magic trail 56-63.
  • 0:00, 3rd quarter. Magic trail 63-66.
  • 8:12, 4th quarter. Hits 23-foot jumper. Magic trail 69-70
  • 7:46, 4th quarter. Blocks Rajon Rondo's layup.
  • 7:41, 4th quarter. Grabs a defensive rebound. On the ensuing possession, Trevor Ariza is fouled and makes both free throws. Magic lead 71-70.
  • 7:20, 4th quarter. Draws an offensive foul on Ryan Gomes, forcing a turnover.
  • 7:00, 4th quarter. Draws a personal foul on Ryan Gomes. With the Magic in the bonus, he hits both free throws. Magic lead 73-70.
  • 4:15, 4th quarter. Draws a shooting foul on Rajon Rondo and hits both free throws. Magic lead 77-74.
  • 3:16, 4th quarter. Leaves the game and is replaced by Jameer Nelson. Magic lead 77-76.
Okay, so the Magic were trailing by 7 when Arroyo entered the game and were leading by 1 when he left. That's a +/- differential of 8 points, which is fairly solid. This sort of play is what forced some people to believe earlier this season that Arroyo should start in place of Jameer Nelson. While it's true that he played very well last night, it's also true that Arroyo does not have the leadership skills to play 30+ minutes in a starter's role for the Magic. HOWEVER, could he really be much worse than Jameer? Food for thought.

We Might Want To Work On Our Shooting
Even after last night's shoddy performance, the Magic are 5th in the NBA in field goal percentage, making 46.7% of their shots. However, they shot just 41.7% against the Celtics, who are 24th in field goal percentage defense, typically allowing opponents to shoot a robust 46.5%. Why the poor shooting against such a poor team?

Well, it's not like we weren't getting open looks. In the first half, the Magic missed 7 layups, 3 of which were blocked. That trend continued into the second half, in which they made just 4 of 10 layups.

And the futility was not only limited to close shot attempts: for the game, the Magic shot 12-of-38 (31.5%) on two-point jump shots and 3-of-11 (27.3%) on three-point jump shots. Even with no one guarding them, the Magic couldn't make a basket, making just 23 of their 37 free throw attempts, or 62.2%. When a team can't hit from point-blank range, and its outside shot isn't falling, and it isn't converting on its free throw attempts, it's in trouble.

Here's a shot chart that only shows the Magic's missed shots for the entire game -- note how many misses there are in the painted area:

We Might Want To Guard Somebody
The Celtics are not the Suns; that is, they don't have the depth to beat you with any single player on any given night. No, for the Celtics to win, Paul Pierce has to carry them to victory. You might say that he did that last night. He hit the game-tying three-pointer to send the game into overtime, then scored all 7 of Boston's points in the first overtime. Note to the Magic coaching staff: Paul Pierce is a 5-time All-Star. He's good.

We Might Want To Take The Ball Out Of Tony Battie's Hands
Tony Battie, who averages just 6.3 points per game this season, scored 13 points last night. "Hey, offensive explosion! Go Tony!" Right?


Tony needed 17 shot attempts to score 13 points -- a terrible ratio. Further, 17 shot attempts tied for the most of any Magic player; Grant Hill was the other. Meanwhile, all-star center Dwight Howard took just 9 shots. Am I missing something here?

Overall, this loss had to be one of the most disappointing all season. Now 9 of the Magic's 39 losses have come against teams with records of .400 or worse. Do playoff-worthy teams play down to their competition so frequently? You tell me.

I was only going to publish the following photo if we won, but fuck it, Dwight Howard is a beast and the world needs to see proof:

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