INDIANAPOLIS — The Orlando Magic's 81-77 win over the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 is being hailed in Orlando as a triumph of solidarity, team spirit and physical toughness.
All true. Magic players united once the team belatedly announced that
Those views also are accurate.
The Pacers took a 77-70 lead with 4:05 to go and never scored again. And Granger, the Pacers' top scorer, missed a pair of free throws with 1:14 left, flubbed a 2-footer off the glass with 45.9 seconds remaining and traveled with 7.5 seconds to go, setting in motion a hilarious dance by Chris Duhon.
Do not underestimate the importance of the Magic of winning Game 1 as opposed to winning Game 2.
Indiana has far less playoff experience than Orlando, and all of those predictions that the Pacers would win the series in a walk likely put additional pressure on the Pacers.
Are doubts creeping in now?
But as much as the Pacers wilted down the stretch, they never fully utilized their advantages.
Let us count the ways:
• Indy never fully utilized
• And, worst of all, the Pacers missed nine of their 22 foul shots, which is inexcusable for any team, let alone one that considers itself a title contender.