His response a pointed one
Coach doesn’t like blame game
Stan Van Gundy realizes that the finger-pointing has already begun for his Magic team after losing the first three games of the Eastern Conference finals against the Celtics. Unless the Magic miraculously rally and advance to the NBA Finals, there could be major changes in store.
So the embattled coach not only needs to prepare his players for tonight’s Game 4, he needs to prevent them from looking ahead to a potentially tumultuous offseason.
Of course, there will be plenty of time to dole out blame for the demise, but there is at least one more game to play and Van Gundy wants his club to display at least the remnants of what made it a 59-win team that cruised through the first two rounds.
“People want to escape and then people start worrying about where the blame is going to be placed,’’ he said yesterday following the Magic’s workout at TD Garden. “It’s not just players. It’s coaches and everybody. Instead of having the mental toughness in a situation like this to get yourself ready to play Game 4, you start subconsciously making comments to separate and let everybody know, ‘It’s not my fault.’ Coaches can do it as well as players. You have to avoid that.’’
Van Gundy continued to lament over Saturday night’s 94-71 Game 3 loss; his team never led and never made it competitive after trailing, 21-6.
“I’ll be honest, I’m somebody who says I’m never shocked but I was shocked that we didn’t play with more intensity and determination,’’ the coach said. “We had three days to get ready. I gotta take a lot of responsibility for that. We did not play the way we needed to play.
“But I’m also not crying in my soup. I haven’t done a good job and I need to do a better job and that’s the way I think the players need to think. The series isn’t over and I plan to do a much better job [tonight].’’
“I would say the thing where they have really excelled in this series, their ball movement offensively has been incredible,’’ Van Gundy said. “Even when we were watching our defensive clips today, the point I made to our guys is they’re not scoring any more on their first or second option than we are. But they have been willing to make the third or fourth pass.
“To me, that has been the biggest difference in the series.’’
Gary Washburn can be reached at email@example.com.