Celtics-Bulls Star in the Greatest Game Ever; Magic, Rockets Subscribe to The Ewing Theory

If you didn't catch last night's triple-overtime Bulls/Celtics epic, I'm sorry, but I can't help you. "Words can't do it justice" is, ironically, a cliche that only writers resort to. But there were so many phases, so many twists and turns, and just so darn much of this Chicago win that it's near impossible to get a handle on it. Watching it bordered on surreal, and toward the end, really weird things started happening -- like Hinrich blowing an easy lay-in, or Noah taking the ball coast-to-coast for an emphatic dunk. Or Rose going to the line and missing two free throws that would've sealed the victory. But seconds later, when the rookie point guard elevated to swat what would've been a game-winning Rondo field goal, it hit you: This very well might have been the best NBA game any of us have ever seen. ↵
↵
↵At some point, I heard that the Magic had beat Philly, advancing into the next round without the help of Dwight Howard or Courtney Lee. That wasn't such a surprise; Philadelphia's success was almost random at times. Whether it exposed Orlando, or just hit its Achilles heel, will only be determined when we see how the Magic match up against stiffer competition next week. But in a series that has lead some to second-guess Howard for lacking real post game; wonder whether his teammates are doing a good enough job of getting him the ball; and ask whether Shaq might not have been right about Stan Van Gundy's lack of grace under pressure, I found the following post-game quote from the Sixers' Andre Miller both telling and a little shocking: ↵
↵⇥"They're actually better without Dwight Howard. One of their players told me that they were better without Dwight Howard. They said the ball moves quicker. They're not standing around a lot." ↵
↵This, of course, is the Ewing Theory, which asserts generically that a team is better when they play minus their star. The reasons for this, though, are on a case-by-case basis. If Miller heard this, or saw something that convinced him he had, it's further proof that the Magic need to figure the root of their problems. Chances are it's not the NBA's reigning Defensive Player of the Year and dominant dunking machine, but stranger things have happened. ↵
↵
↵Speaking of scapegoats, systems, and superstars who may or may not be at fault, Houston's win is bound to reflect negatively on Tracy McGrady. After all, T-Mac's been unable to get his team past the first round, whether with the Rockets or the Magic before that; when he finally misses the playoffs, they advance. We'll never know what would've happened had McGrady been healthy for this series, and the addition of Ron Artest was hardly an insignificant move for this franchise. And Portland was a young team with zero playoff experience. But the bottom line is that -- and here's that Ewing Theory again -- the Rockets accomplished more without McGrady than they had with him. Better things happened. In the court of public opinion, sometimes all explanations sound like excuses, and nothing's going to endure like that cold, hard fact.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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