28 April 2007

So Long, Farewell: Pistons 97, Magic 93

Our season is over.

Detroit came into our house and had an answer for everything we tried, defeating us by a final score of 97 to 93. Detroit swept the four-game season series, then the four games in this first-round series, giving it an 8-game winning streak over this Magic team. You might say they have our number.

I started write about how encouraging this loss is, at least in the sense that we played our best game of the series, but then I realized what a load of crap that was. We lost four games to a team we had already lost four games to. Can we really learn anything from that? I noticed that Darko played better in this series than he did in the regular season, but apart from that, I don't know what came up in this series that didn't come up in the regular season.

  • We shoot free throws poorly (63.1% today, 57.9% for the series).
  • Dwight is careless with the ball (17 turnovers in 4 games).
  • Hedo is the streakiest shooter in the NBA (66.7% shooting in games 1 and 2, 30.4% shooting in games 3 and 4).
  • Jameer is a serious liability on the defensive end.
The Magic's coaching staff should have counted on that last point, especially late in today's game. I give Brian Hill credit for taking Jameer off of Chauncey Billups late in the game, but that doesn't change the fact that Nelson was still in the game and having to play defense. Rip Hamilton abused Nelson down the stretch, hitting an 11-footer over Nelson to put the Pistons up 87-86, then hitting a 9-footer over Nelson a minute later to give the Pistons a 91-88 advantage. From a coaching perspective, it makes sense to play Nelson late because he is one of the team's captains. However, from a common sense standpoint, it's indefensible to leave him out there in an elimination game to guard an All-Star shooting guard who has 8 inches of height and 5 years of experience on him. Essentially, Brian Hill was using a flyswatter to contend with a dagger. Not the wisest move.

Perhaps the Magic can be encouraged by their solid play today, but that won't change the truth: they were swept out of the playoffs on their home floor by a superior team, one against which they are winless in eight tries this season. We enter the summer on a four-game losing streak and with our roster in flux - Darko Milicic, Grant Hill, and Travis Diener may not return next season. The same could be said for head coach Brian Hill.

We all knew it would end sometime, Magic fans. We just hoped it would end on a less sour note.

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