Finally We are Getting Some Closure

Finally We are Getting Some Closure

By tophatal ……… 06/09/2012 02:04 AM (EST)

Well as the landscape seems to be setting for the NBA Playoffs where we have one contestant known for this season’s NBA Finals . From the Western Conference we have the Oklahoma City Thunder , who await the outright winners of the series between the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat . As we know the Thunder came through a hard-fought series during which they prevailed over the San Antonio Spurs (4-2).

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For Scott Brooks and the players of the Oklahoma City Thunder this was their coming out part y , as they announced themselves to the NBA environment and the nation at large . Kevin Durant has pretty much stepped into the role as “the leader “ of this team , while he is ably supported by teammates Russell Westbrook and James Harden . But not to be overlooked has been the contributions of Thabo Sefalosha and Serge Ibaka , who by themselves have seen fit to be role players under Brooks’ schemes during his tenure. For the fans who attended at the Chesapeake Energy Center as Oklahoma closed out the series in front of a sold-out arena . This was pretty much a night for a great deal of euphoria for all . The heartache for the city of Seattle cannot be overlooked but I see this as being nothing more than sour grapes on their part ! That asides , the city’s lack of really being thorough in their dealings with the NBA hierarchy led by David Stern and the prospective buyer of the franchise at the time , Clay Bennett , would suggest that the city government was very naïve. As we, all know Bennett and his partners purchased the Seattle Supersonics with a view to keeping the franchise in the city of Seattle but instead they reneged on that deal and relocated the basketball team to Oklahoma City . David Stern was unapologetic , even though he gave the impression that he , Bennett and his partners acted in good faith . Howard Schultz , the owner of the Sonics and the founder of the Starbucks’ coffee-house chain , was pretty much sold on the idea of the franchise being in good hands , and the fact that promises were made that the team would remain in Seattle long-term . Boy was he wrong , and the sheer gullibility on his part and that of the city’s council must come into question . In the end , a $25 million payoff by Bennett and the NBA hierarchy pretty much avoided a civil suit in US Federal Court . Therein , the Sonics relocated and the city was left without basketball team .

Over the ensuing the years the Oklahoma City Thunder has pretty much moved up the pecking order of relevance within the NBA and the Western Conference . Moreover, this was very much an indictment of that fact with the team’s performances over the course of the season . Now all that awaits this organization would be an emphatic triumph in the NBA Finals .

Well , the excitement provided by LeBron James in-game six of the Eastern Conference Finals has pretty much brought us to the position where there will be finality in this series. It is either “ win “ or “ go home “ for either team . The Boston Celtics under the tutelage of their head coach Doc Rivers have pretty much given it their all but they will have to give it one more shot , if they are to prevail over their Eastern Conference rivals .

For the Celtics’ veteran trio of Kevin Garnett , Ray Allen and Paul Pierce this will definitely be their last stand as teammates in such an event . The situation almost predicts that whatever the outcome at the end of the postseason , there will be an upheaval within the player personnel . Certainly, team GM Danny Ainge and owner Wyc Grousbeck must know that if the franchise is to look forward to its long-term future , then changes will have to be made . Garnett , Allen and Pierce , collectively have over forty years of NBA experience and a great deal of basketball acumen . It will that experience and the tenacity shown by Rajon Rondo that could very much determine the outcome of this series . While no one is denying that the Celtics were unable to corral LeBron James , I have to believe that Doc Rivers will not let his team be stung twice under such a premise !

On the other side of the coin, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra knows that he is now under a great deal of pressure to succeed . After the team’s triumph in-game six , it is now or never to finally put away the events of last season’s NBA Finals . A victory in-game seven casts away that dark shadow and places the Heat in what will be a highly anticipated showdown with the Oklahoma City Thunder . With several days in between the Thunder’s series victory over the San Antonio Spurs, will be looked upon as the prohibitive favorites in this match up. And while the Miami Heat may well have other ideas as that outcome there is the likelihood with the Thunder’s inexperience in the postseason what might be seen as favorable for the Western Conference team could well end up being a disadvantage . Given the tenacity shown by Kevin Durant and his teammates in the dismantling of the Spurs , I am not so sure that premise will hold true !

Heat team President Pat Riley and team owner Micky Arison having engineered the deal that saw the arrival of Chris Bosh and LeBron James was meant to assure immediate success for the franchise and financial viability . Arison has seen his team’s value rise , that places it amongst the top ten most valuable franchises in the NBA . And the very fact that the Miami Heat now has the drawing power that rivals the Los Angeles Lakers , Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks , augurs well for the franchise and its long-term future .

Perhaps the most intriguing matchup has to now be that of LeBron James and Kevin Garnett . Both have been multiple All Stars as well as league MVP’s who have climbed to unprecedented heights within the game . The duo this postseason have been two of the most productive players during the showcase for its finale . In addition, with that anticipated matchup and the possibility that Bosh and Wade , will have to play their part if the Heat are to win the second NBA title in the past five years .

Doc Rivers will be chasing his second title as an NBA coach and I am sure that he will be looking to his front line players as he seeks to garner further success for the Celtics’ franchise . The role players such as Marquis Daniels and Mikael Pietrus will also have to step up to the plate in order to support the roles that will undoubtedly be played by Kevin Garnett Ray Allen and Paul Pierce . The Celtics’ defense also will have to be more resolute if they are to stymie the offensive prowess shown by the Miami Heat . We can only hope that game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals provides with a great deal of excitement , with the added anticipation that the Finals itself up to the expectations the NBA has come to known for .

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Having witnessed the events of events of the NBA Playoffs which results or teams have been the biggest surprise to you during this postseason ? In addition, which team do you believe will prevail in the series between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat . Simply leave a comment on this and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter .

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(1) Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks smiles as he answers a question during a news conference in Oklahoma City, Friday, June 8, 2012. The Thunder advanced to the NBA basketball finals by defeating the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference finals. AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki ..

(2) In this photo taken Thursday, June 7, 2012, Miami Heat forward LeBron James works the ball against the Boston Celtics during the fourth quarter of Game 6 in their NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals playoff series in Boston. James scored 45 points to lead Miami to a 98-79 win . Game 7 is scheduled for Saturday night in Miami. AP Photo/Elise Amendola …

(3) BOSTON, MA – JUNE 07: Doc Rivers of the Boston Celtics reacts against the Miami Heat in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on June 7, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Jared Wickham/Getty Images …

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This Is Not The House That Walt Built For Mickey And It’s Certainly Not One That The Three Little Pigs Would Wish To Live In ………… A House Of Straw

This Is Not The House That Walt Built For Mickey And It’s Certainly Not One That The Three Little Pigs Would Wish To Live In ………… A House Of Straw

By tophatal …. 20th April 2012

It’s beginning to look like a circus within the Orlando Magic organization as it was announced today that the team’s besieged and beleaguered center Dwight Howard is going to miss the rest of the regular season schedule and will now forgo participating in the NBA Playoffs . A little over a month ago the Magic held the third seed within the Eastern Conference . But a rash of bad results , inconsistent play and the loss of Howard and several of key players over that stretch due to injury has seen them fall from grace .

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The injury which has seen the end of Dwight Howard’s season is one of a herniated disc in his lower back which , is apparently causing the player a great deal of pain. Given the center’s offensive prowess and the fact that he is the team’s leading scorer . The problems for Stan Van Gundy and his coaching staff will be an acute one. I’ve long-held the contention , the moment that Howard and Van Gundy began their infantile bickering , it led to simply where this organization was heading down a slippery slope . There has been a lack of respect and civility between the coach and player. Internal strife within the locker room and most certainly no clear leadership . I’ve said that Dwight Howard while being one of the game’s best players his attitude and lack of maturity has been the biggest “chink” in his armor ! He has yet to show that he has leadership abilities and I for one doubt that Howard will ever develop that trait ! Undoubtedly , Howard is the best center currently playing in the NBA but herein lies the caveat to this whole scenario , without a great supporting cast of characters the player’s game simply becomes moot. And in all honesty , this current roster of the Magic is not that impressive to begin with ! GM Otis Smith has cobbled together an ill-fitting cast of characters that simply haven’s meshed well together .

This off-season the Magic’s front office certainly has some issues to deal with as it concerns the players currently on this team . COO Alec Martins will certainly have to look at the players superfluous to the organization’s needs . Contract issues asides , if the Magic are to contend against the likes of the Chicago Bulls , Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks , then most certainly Alec Martins will have to upgrade the player personnel. Stan Van Gundy , to my mind has outlived his usefulness as a coach with the organization and it is time for the Magic to cut him loose ! His shtick , constant , bitching , whining and failure to hold his players accountable , plus accepting that he too has been at fault for many of the team’s failings. Well , it clearly shows that his time has come , and he needs to go ! And that criteria also fits a hopelessly out of his depth general manager , such as Otis Smith .

In spite of Dwight Howard’s injury issues , my bone of contention with the player , has been the fact that when given the chance to simply leave the Magic . He somehow felt that out of some undue loyalty , it would be in his best interests to remain with the organization . Given the fact , that his postseason’s forays with the Orlando Magic have seen those experiences to be an all too painful , in terms of the chapters written . Well compensated and soon to be in the final season of his contract , whatever advice that has been rendered to Howard by his agent has to my mind seen his value decline ! And now with this injury , for which he will need surgery , which will be performed by a neurosurgeon in Los Angeles , California , will see the player miss playing for Team USA at the Summer Olympics in the United Kingdom this July , 2012 .

To Howard’s credit , while he has missed the last five games with this injury , the player has been supportive of his cast-mates . It has been left to back up center Glen Davis in conjunction with Ryan Anderson to lead the team . The former Celtics’ center has gladly taken up the gauntlet and has excelled in this new-found role . Anderson for his part an excellent three-point shooter , has displayed those skills with great aplomb but his game has improved greatly over the course of this season . It will be incumbent upon this duo , along with Jason Richardson , J J Redick and Hedo Turkoglu to lift their game to new heights, if the Orlando Magic are to have a realistic chance at all of going deep into the postseason .

With the Orlando Magic currently holding the sixth seed (36-25) within the Eastern Conference , with five games remaining to go in this curtailed regular season schedule . If the conference standings remain as they are then Magic would square off against Frank Vogel and the Indiana Pacers , led by All Star …. Danny Granger and his supporting cast . And no doubt Frank Vogel would like nothing better than to have his team to a series victory over his Eastern Conference rivals . And seen as prohibitive favorites with a great deal of justification I might add , there is nothing better that I would like to see than for this Orlando Magic season come to an all too abrupt end . Simply put , Stan Van Gundy and this team have been vastly overrated . At no time have they truly shown that they are worthy of being looked upon as a championship caliber contender , and certainly , I do not believe that they have what it takes to defeat an eager and young and Pacers’ team !

As to what the future now holds for the Orlando Magic once the regular and postseason reaches its finality . It will be interesting to see what decisions may well be made by the front office as it relates to the team and other managerial and executive personnel . Dwight Howard’s eight years in the NBA since being drafted number one overall in the 2004 NBA Draft has me now wondering what ambition if any , does the center still have ! An NBA championship no doubt would ” seal “ the deal besides the accomplishments of the player. A three-time Defensive Player of the Year may well seem nice but in reality it all pales into insignificance when adjudged against that of a championship ring. Dwight Howard wants to add to his legacy but as of now it all seems to be diminishing by the second . And by no means after reconstructive surgery on his spine is there that added assurance that the player will be back his very best . The exhaustive and physical battering that his body has taken has to now be a cause for concern for the player and his future . This is not typically an injury wherein , once having returned he’s assured of being back to anywhere at his best . It will take time but also he has to be cautious if he wishes to have a prolonged career within the NBA .

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As the regular season winds down where do you believe that the Magic’s future may well lay ? Is it as a franchise with Dwight Howard ? Or as many believe it will be one without the player , with the famed center departing , leaving Stan Van Gundy and Otis Smith to take charge of the personnel and its immediate future ? Chime with your thoughts on this and anything else that you believe to pertinent on the subject matter and the NBA in general .

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(1) FILE – In this April 9, 2012, file photo, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, left, leaves the court after the Magic’s 119-89 win over the Detroit Pistons in an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla. Howard told ESPN.com he will have season-ending back surgery on Friday, April 20, to repair a herniated disk. The operation will also prevent Howard from playing in the Olympics in London. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack ….

(2) BOSTON, MA – APRIL 18: Paul Pierce (34) of the Boston Celtics celebrates during the fourth quarter against the Orlando Magic on April 18, 2012 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images …

(3) Boston Celtics forwards Brandon Bass , left, and Kevin Garnett , right, combine to try to stop Orlando Magic forward Glen Davis (11) on a drive to the basket during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, April 18, 2012. The Celtics won 102-98 . AP Photo/Charles Krupa …..

(4) Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce (34) tries to grab a rebound between Orlando Magic players during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, April 18, 2012. From left are Magic’s Glen Davis, Jameer Nelson and Jason Richardson . AP Photo/Charles Krupa …..

(5) Me , not too dumb ” ! Orlando Magic General Manager Otis Smith speaks to the media regarding the acquisition of Gilbert Arenas from the Washington Wizards, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, and Earl Clark from the Phoenix Suns at Amway Arena on December 18, 2010 in Orlando, Florida. Getty Images North America / Sam Greenwood …….

(6) The Orlando Magic’s very own lil’ ‘ Oompa Loompa ‘ ! Head coach Stan Van Gundy of the Orlando Magic motions to his team from the bench during the second half against the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center on February 29, 2012 in Washington, DC. Rob Carr / Getty Images …….
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