The playoff-opening win of Orlando’s Eastern Conference title defense was defined by Jameer Nelson‘s shot-making (32 pts) and Dwight Howard‘s shot-blocking (9 blks). Almost lost in the shuffle was how badly Vince Carter played in his postseason debut with the Magic.
Acquired last summer and expected to bring an explosive element to the offense in contrast to the style of Hedo Turkoglu, Carter was up and down as he averaged 16.6 points in the regular season. In Game 1 against Charlotte, Carter shot 4-for-19 from the field and finished with 12 points before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.
Seeing as Bobcats coach Larry Brown came into this series with a clear game plan for defending Howard (5 points in Game 1), and Nelson can’t be counted on to drop 30 every night, Carter will have to step it up, starting with Game 2 tonight. From the Orlando Sentinel:
Carter had plenty of open looks, but his shots just didn’t fall.
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said he’d like to see Carter attack the basket more, especially when he’s guarded by Charlotte’s big men following pick-and-roll plays.
“But if we can get him the same shots on Wednesday night,” Van Gundy said, “I would actually feel pretty good about that.”
Carter spent much of the game guarding Bobcats F Gerald Wallace, and Wallace said on Monday that the Bobcats emphasized making Carter work on defense.
“I think we did a great job last night of making him play defense, making him work on the defensive end,” said Wallace, who finished with 25 points. “With him having to burn energy on defense, he doesn’t have as much energy to extend on offense.”
While Vince’s critics have pegged him as a playoff choker, the fact is he has career postseason averages of 25.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game. He’s been here before and put in work — and this is the most realistic chance he’s ever had at a championship.
Does Vince need to score 20 ppg for Orlando to win a championship?