NBA Finals: And Dwight Howard Finally Shows Up On Offense!
Mr. Howard. Nice of you to finally show up last night! It’s no surprise, that when you finally got your offense going, the Orlando Magic won—a correlation that should come of no surprise to anyone who can read a box score.
Since the start of the Eastern Conference Finals, Dwight Howard’s offense has been the determining factor as to whether the Orlando Magic win or lose a game. In the Magic’s last 9 games, the team is 0-3 when Howard scores less than 20 points. When Howard scores 20 points or more, including his 21-point game last night, the team is 5-1. So in analyzing the Magic’s ability to win this series, do we need to look any further than Howard’s ability to put the ball in hole?
Last night, in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, the Magic won 108-104 to make it a 2 games to 1 series in favor of the Los Angeles Lakers. And while Howard still managed just 6 shot attempts on the night, he was more aggressive, losing many of his shot attempts to foul calls, which is why he went to the line 16 times. Well, if the Lakers are going to send him to the line that many times, then he has to come through. And that he did.
Howard hit 11 of his 16 free throw attempts. In fact, he has been hitting his free throws quite well (relatively speaking) during the NBA Finals. He is a combined 28 of 41, which is 68.2%, which is well above his season average of 59%. And I say, if Howard is going to keep hitting free throws at that rate, then keep giving him the ball down low.
However, Howard can’t just hope the ball comes his way, he has to demand it. He has to step up and keep asking for the ball, no matter what the defense is doing. He did that last night, and the Magic will need more of that from him in Games 4 and 5. And when Howard ask for the ball, he has to protect it. He turned the ball over 9 times in the first 2 games of this series, and he turned it over just once last night. I mean seriously, how many more stats do I need to give you to prove that the Magic will go as far as Howard takes them?
How about one last one?
Even though Howard only had a few shot attempts in the first 2 games, he wasn’t making any of them. He was just 6 of 16 in Games 1 and 2. In Game 3 last night, Howard was 5 of 6. And the reason he was 5 of 6, was because he didn’t force the issue. He took the shots that were given to him, and when he was double-teamed, he made the pass early on in the possession, thereby allowing his guards to get the great looks they got—which is why they shot a record 75% in the 1st half of the game.
If Howard can continue to be relevant in the post, the Magic have every chance in the world to win Game 4. All Howard has to do is demand the ball, and take what the defense gives them.
If they are going to play him straight up, he needs to try to yam the ball down their throats, and if they foul him, he needs to hit his free throws.
If the Lakers decide to double-team him, Howard needs to make the easy and early pass, and let his teammates do the rest.
That was the recipe that worked for him and the Orlando Magic last night. And if Howard can do that again, the stats say they can’t lose.
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