Not a great weekend to be a fan if Florida’s basketball teams are your thing. First off, I don’t know if it’s karma or what for flip-flopping University of Florida coach Billy Donovan, but what the hell is going on up in Gainesville? As if the two straight NIT appearances after back-to-back NCAA championships weren’t disappointing enough, now the program appears to be in shambles. First Jai Lucas leaves the team, then Nick Calathes says he’s making himself eligible for the NBA draft, then Allan Chaney says he’s leaving, and now the Gators’ leading rebounder and 2nd leading scorer, forward Alex Tyus, announces he’s transferring to an undisclosed school for an undisclosed reason. What!? And for good measure, one of their 2009 signees, DeShawn Painter, already backed out of his letter of intent earlier this month. As the Gainesville newspaper questioned on Saturday, is Billy losing all control or taking control? Whichever it is, his players clearly can’t stand him and the program appears to be in chaos. This time the blame can’t be put on Noah, Horford, Brewer, and the rest all going pro at the same time two years ago.
The pro news was even more disheartening. The Miami Heat got absolutely destroyed by the Atlanta Hawks, managing to score only 64 points in their playoff opener. MVP candidate and NBA leading scorer Dwyane Wade was held to 19 points, 11 below his average. How ugly must that have been for you Heat fans out there? But even more inexcusable was what the Orlando Magic managed to pull off yesterday. Orlando and its 59 wins and homecourt advantage and 3-0 regular season record against the mediocre Philadelphia 76ers coughed up an 18 point lead late in the 3rd quarter like the fowlest hairball imaginable and blew it bigtime, losing 100-98 on a great shot with 2 seconds left. The Magic had been 48-4 with a lead heading into the 4th quarter, and 52-1 when leading with 5 minutes to play. But not on Sunday. Philly roared back with a 35 point 4th quarter by shooting a blistering 74% and taking advantage of every bit of Orlando’s shoddy defense.
Maybe Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis are more injured than we’re hearing. Maybe it’s the Sports Illustrated jinx since Magic superstar big man Dwight Howard was on the cover last week (though he certainly did his part with 31 points, 16 rebounds, and 2 blocks–pretty awesome). Maybe they were overconfident. Whatever the reasons, the hometown boys better get their shit together and play like they’re capable of beginning Wednesday night’s Game 2, or this “magical” run deep into the playoffs will be over before it’s barely even started.