Orlando is up 3 to 1 against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
How the hell is this possible? Cleveland was supposed to have a cakewalk to the finals and for good reason, they played fantastic all year long. So how is this happening?
I’m calling it the NY Giants Corollary. A team that was pretty much dismissed as dysfunctional meanders into the playoffs, gets hot at that moment and suddenly becomes a complete different team. It happened again last year with the Arizona Cardinals. They were a joke and suddenly they were in the super bowl. And we’re watching it right now with the Orlando Magic. Don’t get me wrong, I like seeing Dwight Howard come of age right before us. I like underdogs playing above their talent. One of the greatest sports runs I’ve had as a fan was th e2001 Pats playoff run (even including apparent divine intervention and tuck rule discrepancy in Oakland).
But the sports fan in me also hates it with a vehement passion. Because what happens with the minority occurrence becomes the majority occurrence. It robs the moment of any kind of meaning. Every year any team can just “put it together” for a few weeks and contend. I’ve watched this Orlando team all year. They were streaky. They had major problems. Guys wouldn’t show up. Either Howard played well or the rest of the team did. As of Game 6 in the Boston series, they became a radically different team. They were efficient. Their “3 Ball” game suddenly became less reckless and desperate. They found a functional ball movement with Howard. He figured out better ways of getting down low (he still has no post game though). Petruis (Spelling?) suddenly became lights out… or SVG finally just, you know, starting playing him. And speaking of SVG I’m supposed to believe the ultimate headcase has suddenly just become and excellent coach? Cause that’s what he’s been doing this series: coaching the hell out of it. No. That’s not “who he always was.” This guy had shown a complete lack of coherence and confidence his entire career. Now he just “figured it out”? I don’t get it.
It’s a completely different team and we’re just supposed to say they were there all along?
I don’t know. The Cavs have been the best team in the NBA all year long. They’re not just suddenly sucking or anything. Maybe this is the Magic coming of age but part of me believes this is just like the Colorado Rockies in 2007; they’re just getting hot at the right time. Statistically they’re on a whole other level right now. It’s seems to come out of nowhere.
Maybe I’m wrong. Casual and some serious sports fans seem to love it. But that makes no sense to me. I like seeing teams just play at incredibly high levels. I don’t need to see a close game. I need to see great basketball. Great football. Great baseball, etc. When both teams play great? Perfect. But when a team is just playing at its height, dominating a season then coming to the playoffs to take care of business and go toe to toe with rivals? That’s the best. The 90s bulls. The 80s lakers/celtics. That’s the best basketball. And yes Orlando is playing wonderfully but I just get this sick feeling in my stomach that its inconsistent with who they are. They haven’t shown even flashes of this ice cold killer instinct they’ve had on display since game 6. I’m less amazed and more bewildered.
In an age where the exception becomes the rule, I’m still trying to be a fan of the rule.