Orlando Magic

Nelson's Activation Was Not the Best Idea

ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 11:  Derek Fisher #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots a game-tying three-point shot over Jameer Nelson #14 of the Orlando Magic in the fourth quarter of Game Four of the 2009 NBA Finals on June 11, 2009 at Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida.  NOTE TO USER:  User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Aaron HarrellCorrespondent IJune 14, 2009

Let's take a stroll on this road called Memory Lane.

On February 19th, the Orlando Magic received word that their All-Star point guard Jameer Nelson would be out for the remainder of the season with a torn labrum.

On February 20th, Rafer Alston, who was just picked up from Houston, became the starting point guard, where he and Magic backup point guard Anthony Johnson would continue Orlando's winning ways.

The Magic stayed afloat during the remainder of the season and entered the playoffs as a three seed, where their first round opponent was the Philadelphia 76ers.  The Magic won that series, clinching it in Game Six (on the road) without their leader, Dwight Howard. 

Up next, was the defending champion, Boston Celtics.  It was a hellacious seven game series, filled with tough play, big shots, and a show of resiliency that would later on be Orlando's trademark.  Up until that point, Boston never lost a series where they led 3-2.

In the Conference Finals, they had another tough test.  MVP LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers were coming off sweeping their first two playoff opponents and were looking unbeatable.  Orlando took down Cleveland in six games, showing their resiliency being down by 20 in a few games, and also, having to answer questions about LeBron's game-winning shot that everyone talked about for days.

On May 31st, the Associated Press reported that Nelson was looking to a possible return to the lineup for the NBA Finals. 

On June 2nd, he took part in a team practice where he had his teammates convinced that he was ready to play.

On June 4th, it looked like he was going to be held out of Game One.

He played 23 minutes and scored six points.  Alston had six points in 25 minutes of play. It was a stunner for everyone to see Nelson play that many minutes having being out for four months. 

Now that the walk down Memory Lane is over, it is time to face the truth:

Since the activation, Orlando's postseason is equal to the 50-foot plunge on Splash Mountain.

I understand that he's a competitor and he wants the team to be successful, but at the same time, he needs to do what is best for the team and just step aside.  Stan Van Gundy has mishandled his point guard situation in Games One, Two, and Four, which just so happened to be the games that Orlando lost. 

Nelson is averaging close to 20 minutes a game in the Finals.  Interestingly enough, Anthony Johnson averaged close to 15 minutes in the playoffs.

Nelson is not the player he was before the injury and it doesn't look like he'll turn into that player with the maximum of three games left to play in the season. 

He's turning down open jumpshots, he's not breaking down his defender and going to the basket, he's careless with the basketball in late-game situations, he's a defensive liability, he's been more than a step slow, and to top it off, he even admitted that he's not 100 percent.

There's an old saying, "Dance with the girl that you took to the prom".  At this point, Van Gundy needs to scrap the Nelson experiment and go back to what got them there in the first place. It was far too late for Van Gundy to add him into the mix, due to team chemistry. 

Alston needs to be the guy that plays the majority of the minutes (close to 30), and it's time to see a little more of Johnson.  When Alston is aggressive and going to the basket, he gives the Lakers problems (see Game Three), when he settles for jumpshots and plays passive, they lose.

Going into the Finals, Orlando's record was 12-7.

They are now 1-3.

If the prom analogy is not good enough, then Kevin Costner said it best in the movie Bull Durham, "Never **** with a winning streak."

 

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