Skip to content

NBA Playoffs Celtics Magic Game 5: Stan Van Gundy has to be willing to gamble

May 26, 2010, 10:50 AM EDT

Thumbnail image for Howard_blinded.jpgOnce again, Orlando, this is it. You staved off the monster, backing into a cave and swiping at its tentacles, forcing Rajon Rondo to the locker room, forcing Kevin Garnett into tough decisions (other than yelling and barking), and generally didn’t suck. Congratulations. Now you just need to do it three more times in a row.

Stan Van Gundy is often labeled with, and I’m sorry to apply simplistic adjective here but I’ve got little choice, the stupid moniker of the Master of Panic. Guys that panic don’t get their teams to the Eastern Conference Playoffs in consecutive years. But if panicking means overreacting to the situation, this is one scenario where SVG needs to embrace that label. The rotations must change.

Van Gundy needs to turn to unlikely and unconventional sources to give his team the best attack it can provide. Boston will likely be refocused. Rajon Rondo will likely be back to his werewolf-like self. Kevin Garnett may not miss as many open looks. So the Magic have to be willing to turn to alternative options if the Celtics are able to create the havoc they wreaked in the first three games. That means more time for J.J. Redick, Brandon Bass, and some looks for Ryan Anderson, and less time for Jason Williams, Mikael Pietrus, and especially Vince Carter.

Redick should be a no-brainer. The argument will be that you don’t disrupt the rotation and “psyche of your team” in the Eastern Conference Finals. No, you don’t disrupt the rotation and psyche of your team when you start the Eastern Conference Finals. Down 3-1 versus a very pissed off Celtics team that annihilated you in the first three games? That’s when it’s totally fine to pull any trick you think will work out of the bag.

Redick is +21 in this series (via PopcornMachine.net), versus Carter, who is -23 .Even if you for some reason feel that after Carter’s complete quitjob in Game 4 (going 1-9, getting torched on defense, and not showing any interest in coming back in the game in the fourth quarter) he’s your best option, you can still give Redick significant minutes. Redick’s handle isn’t superb, it’s true. But he’s a better option to run the offense than Jason Williams, who has been a complete disaster. Jameer Nelson is ready to log long minutes, and switching to a Redick-Carter backcourt means you have your best perimeter weapon (when he feels like trying) and the best pick and roll ball handler in this series in while Nelson rests. This is the time for trying new things. Just because you caught the Celtics napping at home doesn’t mean they won’t bring the thunder tonight. You need lightning in a bottle to respond, and so far in this series, the Magic’s regular rotations have been cumulus clouds drifting past a peaceful landscape.

In the front court, the Magic may want to consider some unorthodox alternatives, particularly if Dwight Howard winds up in foul trouble. Does playing Rashard Lewis at small forward against Paul Pierce sound like a nightmare? Absolutely. But it’s not like any of your other options, especially Carter or Matt Barnes, have had any success whatsoever. Lewis has the length to contest Pierce’s pull-up jumper and the size to give him problems if he should drive. What happens for those stretches at power forward then? Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson. Anderson has seen no time in this series, due to his inexperience in both the playoffs and the system. Again, I would respond, “It’s not like the traditional approach has been effective!” Anderson has the size to body up against Sheed and the physical nature to combat Glen Davis, plus range to give both of them significant problems. Why have all this stocked talent if you’re not going to use it?

Then there’s Brandon Bass, who is quite the mixed bag. Questionable on defense, a definite spark on offense. Bass has shown at least a willingness to be aggressive against Boston which is more than you can say for several of the Magic’s wing players. Plus he has touch, which Dwight Howard has struggled with.

There are plenty of reasons to go in with what you feel are your best players and stick to the script that made you so successful during the regular season. But you’ve also got to turn to alternatives when that formula has been neutralized, tazered, dragged outside and left for dead. The Magic aren’t just up against the wall, they’re at knife point. If they want to see tomorrow, and another game in Boston (at which point you’ll see a whole lot of puckering from the guys in green whether they show it or not), they’ve got to be willing to try some new things.

Variety is the spice of life. The Boston Celtics beating the crap out of you for four quarters and you not adjusting? That’s the overcooked toast.

  1. jeff - May 26, 2010 at 4:19 PM

    Go Celts!!
    porkchopfactory. com for some VERY Funny stuff

  2. AH - May 26, 2010 at 4:48 PM

    I totally agree with this article. If Van Gundy doesn’t adjust and they lose he will get all the blame. If he makes some changes and they win he looks like a genius, and if they lose at least he tried to squeeze something different out of his roster. I just think they ran into a better team. And VC is as soft as yogurt.

  3. Tim Pilgram - May 26, 2010 at 5:47 PM

    Does anyone actually think Orlando can come back and challenge Boston??
    Check out a preview and prediction @ http://www.lionsdenu.com/nba-playoffs-eastern-conference-final-boston-celtics-vs-orlando-magic/
    I thought the Magic would be much better than they’ve been but it’s ALL about Rondo and company in 2010.

  4. Erik - May 26, 2010 at 6:19 PM

    Is it just me, or has Vince Carter been TERRIBLE in this series? Boston in 5!

  5. vince carter - May 26, 2010 at 8:12 PM

    van gundy and carter need to oil up and get gay on national televison

  6. mc - May 26, 2010 at 8:20 PM

    yea, great idea homo.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Why can't Lakers have a player-coach?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. T. Warren (4999)
  2. L. James (4277)
  3. K. Love (3698)
  4. D. Rose (3457)
  5. C. Anthony (2754)
  1. K. Bryant (2621)
  2. R. Allen (2534)
  3. J. Nelson (2413)
  4. B. Griffin (2088)
  5. C. Boozer (1963)