Let me say this right off the bat: I like Dwight Howard. I think he’s one of the best centers in the league (the best is still Yao); Superman is a terror on the boards, and a terrific defensive presence. With all that said, he’s being exposed, and done so in such a fashion, that it’s become disgusting to watch.
Coming into this series, I didn’t think he would have this much difficulty, but after viewing the first two games, something definitely has to change, and it starts with him. People can’t blame Stan Van Gundy for lack of touches, or for his teammates not getting him the ball in position to make his move. Granted, he’s getting Andrew Bynum in foul trouble, but what does that really mean? Andrew Bynum will get Andrew Bynum in foul trouble. However, what I have seen is the Lakers have decided to guard this man, with surprising success, with Pau Gasol.
Allow me to repeat that again: they are guarding Dwight Howard, the same man who murked Cleveland’s frontline, with Pau…Gasol.
Isn’t this the same guy that killed Sam Dalembert (Philly series), along Big Z, Ben Wallace, and Sideshow Bob in the Eastern Finals? Now the apologists will say that he’s getting doubled, and they throwing all sorts of looks at him, but hell, what dominant center hasn’t seen a double team before? He got doubled in the last series, and he destroyed those cats. Plus, it’s not like the Lakers aren’t sending immediate doubles when he gets the ball. It’s almost like he’s expecting the double to come instead of just making his move, so once it comes later than he expects, he doesn’t know what the *bleep* to do, and he ends up traveling, turning it over, or taking some awkward-ass shot. When Rashard Lewis gives you 34 points (on excellent shooting), and Hedo Turkoglu adds 22 (on excellent shooting), you shouldn’t lose a game. Granted, their guards stunk as well, but we expected Superman to be a huge factor, and he simply hasn’t been so. I really wouldn’t be so hard on him if it was expected for him to be playing mediocre, but when you go from dominating Cleveland, to not being worth a damn against the Lakers, you should be called out. 38% shooting is pathetic, especially for someone who makes a living at the rim. He also has to continue playing, no matter how much he gets hit, even when things aren’t going his way. There were a couple of possessions where he just stopped when the ref didn’t blow a whistle, and that simply can’t happen.
I think what’s happened is we’re seeing how limited his offensive game really is. This is something many people have been saying for a while now, and it’s on display during the biggest stage of the year. Ed said it his article about a month ago, which he’s been getting crucified for, but hell; we’re all seeing it with our own eyes. He got his FIRST DUNK OF THE SERIES last night, which basically means if he’s not dunking, he’s ineffective on that end. Either that, or Pau Gasol is First-Team All Defense. You be the judge.
We’ll see if Superman gets it together for Game Three and beyond, because they certainly need him if they have any prayer of making this thing competitive.