In shadow of stars, supporting players may shine in NBA Finals
Since much of the discussion this week focuses on
Perhaps you remember Matt (or more likely, perhaps you don't). Short-ish point guard, went to Penn. In six NBA seasons, Maloney averaged 7.4 points while playing for three teams in the late 1990s. There is nothing remarkable about his career, save perhaps the fact that he had one; undrafted, he did some time in the CBA before overachieving his way into the league. He played hard, could shoot a little, coaches loved him.
Maloney's relevant now because, for one postseason, he embodied the quintessential NBA playoff defensive gamble. The year was 1997 and Maloney was a rookie starting point guard for the Houston Rockets, a team that was stacked with three future Hall of Famers. Their starting five read:
In Maloney's case, it mostly backfired. In 16 playoff games, Maloney launched 108 threes and made 43 of them (that's over 40 percent), more than any player did over the course of those playoffs. In one game against the Sonics in the Western Conference semifinals, Maloney dropped in eight threes.
"I'm not amazed at what he's doing," a peeved
Sound familiar? On the surface, there isn't a great resemblance between Maloney and Magic point guard
Alston's not alone in these Finals as a candidate for the "self-check" treatment (that is, there's no reason to "check" him on the perimeter because he already does a fine job of that himself). I can see
Then, of course, there is the most important dare of all: Dwight Howard from 15 feet, clock stopped, unguarded. The Cavs gambled and put Howard on the line and he responded by converting 70.1 percent in the series, or more than 10 percent better than during the regular season (that's about eight extra points the Magic got over the course of the series).
It'll be interesting to see if
The other option, of course, is to play everyone straight up, but as long as Kobe and Dwight are on the floor, that's unlikely to happen. Which means someone will get a chance to play the role of Matt Maloney. If, that is, they're up for it.