Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
With the Orlando Magic halfway home to their goal of winning a championship, it seems more than appropriate to conduct a progress report on each player that has been in head coach Stan Van Gundy‘s 10-man rotation (excluding Ryan Anderson, due to lack of minutes) since the start of the 2010 NBA Playoffs. The reports will serve to track a player’s performance at the midway point of the postseason.
There will be no grades handed out, just comments attached.
Today, the reserves.
Mickael Pietrus (24.8 minutes per game):
Ah, “Planet Pietrus.” At this point, there’s no question that Pietrus lives for playoff basketball. For a second straight postseason, Pietrus has taken his game to another level on both ends of the court. Yes, Pietrus’ primary objective when he’s on the floor is to check the opposing team’s best wing player and he usually does a good job of doing it. However, his impact on offense is too great to ignore. Pietrus’ shooting percentages have been off the charts and the main reason has been because he, up to this point, is shooting an absurd 51.2% from the three-point line (21/41).
When the Magic need a big shot late in games, Pietrus hasn’t been afraid to step up in crunch time. Already in the playoffs, Orlando has benefitted from Pietrus’ marksmanship more than anything else. As such, there’s no question that when Pietrus is focused and prepared for the task at hand, he becomes a dynamic player and unquestionably the Magic’s sixth man extraordinaire coming off the bench. And given his track record last year, Pietrus is more than capable of maintaining his high level of play as the postseason continue to progress.
Marcin Gortat (16.4 minutes per game):
Gortat’s energy has been up and down, at times, in the playoffs and he appears to be playing a tad below the level he was at last year but there’s no denying that he has served a valuable role for Orlando, especially in the first round against the Charlotte Bobcats when Dwight Howard was dealing with foul trouble in every game of the series. Gortat was able to step in, rebound, and defend when the Magic needed him to. Seems simple to do but then again, that’s why general manager Otis Smith matched Gortat’s offer sheet from the Dallas Mavericks. Smith invested in Gortat and the move has paid off for Orlando, so far.
Jason Williams (14.1 minutes per game):
Williams has been really low-key in the postseason, when taking a look at his numbers compared to the regular season, but no one has been talking about his less-than-stellar performance because Jameer Nelson has been playing out of his mind. Because Nelson has been performing at an extremely high level, Williams’ lack of production offensively hasn’t been much of an issue. One theory that may explain why Williams has struggled on offense may be attributed to the pace of the games, which doesn’t allow him to play completely to his strengths.
Orlando isn’t a running team, given that they were 18th in pace (92.0 possessions per game) during the regular season, but they were more apt to play in the open-court when Williams was in the game. Unfortunately for Williams, the pace has slowed down dramatically for the Magic in the playoffs (85.6) and he’s been subjected to becoming strictly a half-court player. The slower style of play isn’t entirely out of Williams’ element but it does lessen his potential impact on the floor. Right now, it remains to be seen whether or not Williams will make his presence felt in the postseason.
J.J. Redick (14.0 minutes per game):
It’s easy to look at Redick’s statistics and state that he’s been a non-factor in the playoffs. It’s partly true, actually. However, it’s nothing that Redick is necessarily doing wrong. Redick just hasn’t gotten a ton of minutes on the floor. Part of that has been due to unfavorable matchups on defense, even though Redick isn’t much of a liability on that end of the court, but another factor is the fact that Van Gundy has upped the ante on Vince Carter’s minutes. When Redick has had ample playing time to make a meaningful impact in a game, he’s been able to do that without too much trouble. Even though Redick hasn’t done much in the postseason, it isn’t for a lack of effort or trying. That much is certain.
Tomorrow, the starters.