Ball Don't Lie - NBA



Boston at Orlando
; Boston leads series, 3-1

The best possible distillation I can give you in the best possible way for the fools Magic to survive is the easiest distillation, and most obvious one. The one we've been banging on about, for quite a while, now.

Jameer Nelson(notes) has to be aggressive. Jameer Nelson has to be on his game, after becoming aggressive.

So, you have the determined move to the paint, and the sound pass or sounder shot to follow. Nelson has to be the straw that stirs the drink, every drink, or else the Magic are toast.

Game 4 can't be the template, either. Because as big a role as Nelson played in that season-extending win, a healthy chunk of his late game point total came off of three hurried three-pointers in the last few minutes of fourth quarter and overtime, and one was badly banked-in. Nelson was working a 14-point, 4-11 shooting without those treys. With six fouls and six turnovers to his nine assists.

No, Nelson needs to return to the sort of point guard we saw in just-about alternating games this season, and for most of his pre-injury turn in 2008-09. The kind that put enormous pressure on any defense. The kind that knew in an instant that "I have less than a second to get this 17-footer off, it's the best shot we're going to get in this possession, I better square my shoulders and jump as high as I can in order to give myself the best possible chance to swish it."

Seems simple enough, but Nelson hasn't thought nor executed that way much recently. When he does get that window, that half second that great point guards thrive on to do something terrible to the defense, he overthinks it. Keeps dribbling. Doesn't fully commit to the jumper. Screws up the jumper if he does take it, screws up the possession if he doesn't take it. It's not pretty.

It could be the difference, though. Last year the Magic beat the Celtics because Kevin Garnett(notes) wasn't around to guard Rashard Lewis(notes). This year, Lewis is sick and KG is sicker, so bye-bye about 15 points per game as a result. Where are the rest of those digits going to come from? How are the Magic going to make up the difference?

They need to trade Rafer Alston(notes) for Jameer Nelson, the All-Star. Not Jameer Nelson, the sometimes-there-kinda-guy.

It truly does fall on him. Because these teams are too ancient, in spite of Dwight Howard's(notes) presence, and not a lot is going to change from game to game. I still think them evenly-matched, so you can read into that what you want. Something like, maybe the Magic are owed a blowout. Maybe they're also owed another close win, as Boston enjoyed in Games 1 and 2.

But only if Nelson acts like he owes it to himself to contribute in a way he's capable of.

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