Has Jameer Nelson’s Comeback Hurt the Magic?
by Jason Green of Predictem.com
Magic PG Jameer Nelson went out in February with a shoulder injury that was supposed to be the end of his season. However, the Magic made the finals and doctors cleared Nelson to play in the Finals’ series. One of the reasons that the Magic made the finals was the play of PG Rafer Alston. With Nelson coming back and playing in the first 2 games it may have hurt the chemistry of the Magic and especially the confidence of Alston. In game 3 Van Gundy went back to playing Alston for most of the game and he responded with a good game and the Magic won.
Sure, Nelson was an All Star this season, but why change the team chemistry that that got your team to the finals? That was the dilemma that Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy had entering the series with the Lakers.
In game 1 Nelson came off the bench and almost played as many minutes as Alston (23 to 25). That may have hurt Alston’s confidence and neither player had a good game, as both players played poorly each scoring 6 points with Nelson shooting 3/9 and Alston shooting only 2/9. Nelson had a slightly better FG%, but when he was on the court the Magic had a +/- of -19 and Alston was only at -6.
In game 2 both players disappeared, as Alston scored 4 points on 1/8 shooting and Nelson had 4 points on 1/3 shooting. It was so bad the Van Gundy had F Hedo Turkoglu run the point in the 4th quarter and in OT. Overall in the first 2 games of the series Alston shot a combined 3/17 from the floor.
After game 2 and in Tuesday’s practice Van Gundy was all over Alston and told him to start being aggressive. Van Gundy ruled out starting Nelson in game 3 and the Magic players,of Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, Adonal Foyle, and J.J. Reddick, as well as Alston’s friends through text messages, told Alston to get back to playing his game and playing like the New York playground legend Skip to My Lou, which is Alston’s playground name. Apparently Skip got the message, as Alston played awesome in game 3 going for 20 points on 8/12 shooting. Nelson only played 11 minutes and Alston played in 37 and they had the exact same amount of turnovers (3) in the game.
Van Gundy may have learned the lesson of, if it’s not broken don’t fix it. Throwing Nelson into the mix in game 1 and 2 may have hurt the chemistry of the Magic, but Alston snapped out of his slump and lethargic play in game 3 and helped the Magic get back into this series. Luckily for Van Gundy Alston played great in game 3 and he should, and probably will, stick with Alston and keep Nelson on the bench for most of the game for the remaining games in the series.