A bit of all 3.
Tmac was on an Orlando Magic team that he pretty much had to carry. His second and third best teammates were Grant Hill (who was constantly injured) and Mike Miller.
2001 he got swept by the Ray Allen Bucks. Well, thats why Ray Allen is on the NBA 75 team and not Tmac.
2002 he got swept by the Charlotte Hornets. Now this one is a bit weird. The Hornets? Really? Baron Davis was fantastic that series but still.. Tmac was the best player in that series and probably should not have gotten swept.
2003 was his most impressive playoff series as he took an upcoming Pistons team (who would win it all the next year) to 7 games but he actually blew a 3–1 lead in this series which isnt a good look.
Its not like Tmac underperforms numbers wise.. he averaged 32/6/6 for the Magic in the playoffs. But he did have a habit of disappearing in big moments and in crucial elimination games. He didnt have that “dog” in him. As much as I call Kobe overrated, you can always count on Kobe to at least give a solid effort in 4th quarters and elimination games. Kobe would be there to shoot the ball (whether it went in or not is another matter) but Tmac wouldnt even show up.
And on the Rockets, Tmac wasnt even necessarily an upgrade over the Steve Francis / Cuttino Mobley duo, who they traded to get him. Francis was a very athletic guard who was also a great ball handler and had good chemistry with Yao. Mobley was a solid defender and had his moments too.
With Tmac the offense now revolved around him, but Tmac also started taking more bad shots from the perimeter compared to before and I would say his defense also regressed from his Orlando days. The Rockets ended up losing to the Mavs in 2005, Jazz in 2007 and 2008 all in the first round with Tmac putting up his usual big numbers but not really making a big impact in terms of wins. Was Tmac a stat padder? I mean there seems to be plenty evidence of his gaudy stats not really impacting the team in terms of winning. and on paper, the Jazz dont feel like a much more talented team either yet he loses to them twice in a row.
Then in 2009, Tmac is out with injuries and the Rockets advance to the 2nd round and take Kobes Lakers to 7 games. So isnt it telling that the Rockets made it the farthest in the playoffs without Tmac??
so yeah I would say its a bit of all 3. Tmac dealt with alot of injuries in his career and his Magic team wasnt great. But hes also a bit of a stat padder and a choker in big moments as well.
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