This was the dull series. This was going to be a sweep (as I predicted). The Orlando Magic without Dwight Howard were not going to be able to hang with an up-and-coming Indiana Pacers team.
Well, unless Indiana helps them out with a terrible offensive performance. One where they looked young and in awe of the moment, not up-and-coming.
The Pacers did not score in the final 4:30 of the game shooting 0-9 down the stretch, which gave way to an 11-0 Magic run and an 81-77 Orlando win in Game 1. Where the Pacers were missing shots, the Magic were gritty and knocking down threes in the clutch (that was mostly Jason Richardson).
The Magic, counted out by everyone (myself included) crowed a little after the game. From the AP.
“Y’all look real stunned,” Magic center Glen Davis, Howard’s replacement, yelled at the crowd as he left the court. “Y’all look real stunned.”
This one game didn’t likely change the outcome of this series — I still think the Pacers will come back and win it — but it shows why experience matters. This shows why it will not be as easy as we thought. And it shows that Stan Van Gundy is going to be a very good coach for some team next year (still don’t think that will be Orlando, but this was a good win for his resume).
Orlando was not an offensive force (they have just 81 points, shot 39.5 percent and scored just 0.82 points per possession) but they made some adjustments to get good looks. Early on they had Jameer Nelson and others driving the lane — and Pacers center Roy Hibbert had four blocks in the first nine minutes. So the Magic adjusted and started driving and kicking — they still only shot 9-25 on their spot up looks in this game, but they were better looks and they hit enough.
They also had a hot Jason Richardson — he was 5-of-8 from three including two key threes late in the fourth quarter. They ran him of screens that created just enough space to get him a look, and he was feeling it.
But the bigger issue was the Pacers offense — they shot just 34.5 percent for the game and were 4-13 from three. Late in the game David West got a good look in the paint, Paul George got two wide open threes, Darren Collison got a good look and just none of it fell. The Pacers looked inexperienced too — none more so then when Danny Granger got Big Baby Glen Davis switched on to him late and rather than attack he tried to step back for a three and traveled. Granger also missed two free throws down the stretch as the Pacers went cold. Granger, supposed to be the best Pacer player, was just not good down the stretch.
Look for the Pacers to go to the things that worked — like the Collison/David West pick and roll. Or just a lot of David West, he had 19 points and 9 boards on the night.
The Magic need more games like that from Nelson and Richardson (each had 17 points). They need some more luck.
But they are not going to roll over, they are not going to make this easy on the young Pacers at all. This is a real series now.