Magic's Lewis Must Play Like He's Paid
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Orlando Magic can win playoff games against the Boston Celtics with center Dwight Howard being limited to 13 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots – numbers he produced in Sunday's loss.
They can't win if Rashard Lewis scores only six points in 42 minutes. That's a sweep recipe.
For the Magic to even this best-of-seven Eastern Conference final tonight and avoid a disastrous second loss at home, Lewis – more than anyone else -- must raise his productivity.
He must play like he's paid – $18.8 million this season – or at least not play as pedestrian again.
"He has to be more energetic up and down the floor,'' Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said Tuesday after a morning workout. "Rashard has to stay on the move and make it (guarding him) harder on (Kevin) Garnett.''
It's Garnett who locked down Lewis, forcing him into a poor shooting night that made him timid by the end of the game.
Lewis missed all six of his 3-point shots. He hit just two of 10 overall. He went to the free throw line only once.
"I've got to do my part,'' Lewis said. "I just have to knock down those shots. This is like a must-win coming up. We don't want to be going to Boston down 0-2.''
Lewis played well against the Celtics during the regular season, shooting 47 percent from 3-point range, when the Magic won three of four. He played really well against them a year ago – averaging a team-high 20.4 points -- when the Magic prevailed in a seven-game series.
He played awful in Game 1.
The Celtics adjusted their defensive schemes so that Garnett was used less as a help defender for others and more of a stick-to-defender on Lewis. Garnett also didn't play a year ago.
"They've adjusted, but what that does is open up other guys who have to take advantage of it,'' Van Gundy said. "In the past, Rashard's always had success against them. Now we have to do a couple things for him.''
Lewis often has become a spot-up shooter waiting at the 3-point line for opponents to double team Howard. But with Garnett not helping as much on Howard, Lewis has found scoring more difficult.
"There is no defense in this league that can take away everything,'' Van Gundy said. "It's a matter of, if they take away option A, can you go to option B or C?''
Lewis is expected to be more aggressive offensively in Game 2, trying to drive around Garnett instead of settling for hand-in-his-face shots.
Defensively, he did limit Garnett, who had only 8 points, which was well below his average, too.
"Boston is a determined team, a defensive team, and they'll punish you,'' Lewis said. "I just have to do a better job. I have to do my part.''