No one expected the Orlando Magic to be all that this season.
But they have been one of the League's true elite teams: Best defense in the NBA, and extremely good offense.
Then they lost their All-Star point guard to a season-ending injury, and did the bold thing and rolled the dice with replacement parts. They continued to play at a high level.
Then in a key playoff game, they played roughly the way they have played all year. The substitution pattern and ball distribution were not particularly noteworthy. They missed some shots, though, played too slowly perhaps down the stretch, didn't play their best defense, and give away a lead to lose a key game.
After the game, their star player made what he later acknowledged to have been a mistake. In a heated moment, he blamed the same coaching strategy they have used all year for the loss. More or less the same strategy that has brought them tremendous success all season.
And, even though the evidence doesn't support his claim, the dominant reaction has been: You're right Dwight Howard. Your coach did blow it.
My main thought is: Gosh, Dwight, what a shame that you chose this moment -- with a massive Game 6 on the horizon, when cohesion would be most valuable to the franchise -- to make misguided and self-centered claims to the media, causing a public fracture with your coach who could use an endorsement. It's understandable. In the heat of the battle, people say heated things. No biggie. I'll have Dwight Howard on my team any day of the week.
But shame on so many other people for going along with the theory. On what basis do we assume the Magic offense is clearly better when Dwight Howard takes more shots? How do we know ten shots is too few? And there's a theory that it might not be about shots, but more touches. Even that is unclear. How many points per possession did the Magic average this season when Howard touched the ball, vs. when he didn't? I don't have that answer. But I'm also sure all those people who are sure Howard is right don't know it either.
Which means everyone is assuming. And you know what they say about assuming.