The View From The Top Is All It’s Cracked Up To Be ……Some’d Like It More Than Others
Tonight is the night whereby the defending NBA champions the Boston Celtics (54-18) will face one their main challengers and conference rivals the Orlando Magic (52-18). It’s being viewed as a make or break game for both teams. And in many respects it’s more a gauge in seeing whether or not the Magic can be considered an elite team within the NBA.
So much of what we tend to view is all about perception if nothing else. And over the last couple of years the Magic as a team has improved greatly. But can they finally considered to be one of the elite teams within the NBA ? They may well be zoning in on winning their second consecutive Southeast Divisional title. And that’s most certainly a compliment to the coaching of Stan Van Gundy. But until the Magic are capable of showing that they’re capable of just making the playoffs and going beyond the first round on a consistent basis. The veracity in trying to make the argument that they’re indeed an elite teams stands on shaky ground.
This season they’ve played exceptionally well but there have been times where they’ve come back to the pack . And have looked extraordinarily ordinary. As a team they possess a player who’s now considered the best center in the league in Dwight Howard. And that’s no disrespect to ‘The Diesel’ Shaquille O’Neal , who it can be said is now on the downside of an illustrious career. It’s now Howard’s time to shine as the sun sets on O’Neal.
Howard for his part has led the team impressively and his cast of subordinates have been prepared to follow wherever he’s led them. And with Hedo Turkoglu , Rashard Lewis , Rafer Alston and Mickael Pietrus providing able support. One might consider the team to be a worthy if not dangerous opponent in the playoffs. They’ve suggested that they can raise the level of their play and be on par with some of the more finesse teams around the league. But all too often we’ve seen spurts where they’ve regressed back to just a middle of the pack mentality type of team. And that’s nothing that they can ill afford to have happen in the playoffs. So tonight against the Celtics they will have to prove themselves. And with their opponents seemingly rejuvenated with the return with their inspirational leader and the player viewed as their heart and soul in Kevin Garnett. Tonight’s game should indeed be filled with a great deal of drama and excitement. And no doubt the Amway Arena in downtown Orlando will be brimming with the home fans hoping to see their team acquit themselves well.
Whilst this is all being played out we can’t forget that the Celtics themselves have something to play for as well. With a four game winning streak to their name at present . The Boston Celtics are looking for a way to remind the Cleveland Cavaliers (57-13) that they’re still close enough in their rear view mirror to remind LeBron James and his team that the regular season hasn’t ended just yet. And with the number one seeding still up for grabs even though it favors the Cavaliers. The Celtics would like to remind Cleveland that until the schedule is finished not everyone within the Celtics’ organization has given up hope of catching them before they reach the finish line.
Whoever holds that number one seeding has the advantage of playing their games at home throughout the playoffs. And it can be said with the home record of Cleveland looking all the more impressive. The odds are against either Boston or Orlando catching the Cavaliers at this juncture. Homecourt advantage does mean a great deal but if anything it’s also predicated on the form of the team in question. The robust home record (32-1) that the Cavaliers possess makes the team all the more ominous. And away from home it just doesn’t get any better where they are 25-12. So whatever way one would look at it . A one horse race is now on the cards with just Boston and Orlando looking to see who will come in second to grab the second seeding in the Eastern Conference.
The Orlando Magic are 8-2 over their last ten games with a three game winning streak in their possession. But if anything a win tonight would be viewed with a great deal of pleasure and perhaps cement the credentials they’re seeking. Defensively sound and efficient when needed to be on offense. The team wants now to show that they also possess all of the facets that one would consider to be part of a championship caliber team. Howard possesses the leaderships skills sought. And as alluded to before he’s ably abetted by some very good players to complement his skills. But all too often what’s been seen or viewed by many as toughness shown . Suddenly becomes lackadaisical where the effort put forth seems all too abysmal. The good teams play well but the great teams know how to raise the level of their game and maintain that consistency.
The NBA regular season is now winding down and the Eastern Conference if anything has provided us with a great deal more excitement than we could have perceived. Last year it was the Boston Celtics streaking away with the best record in the league. Then winning the Eastern Conference and finally defeating the Los Angeles Lakers to lift the NBA Championship trophy for the seventeenth time. This time around we could well be in for seeing a new name on the Eastern Conference trophy and perhaps one even on NBA trophy as well. But that’d also be predicated on the eastern representative being able to deal with their counterpart in the West.
The room at the top does give you a spectacular view. As you’re able to look down upon all that you reign over. For some they’re able to deal with the climb to the top . Others aren’t so lucky as they aren’t able to often deal with the pressure of being there let alone remaining there over a long period of time.