Thursday's Magic Word | Magic Basketball

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Apr 15

Thursday’s Magic Word

  • Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “Vince Carter smiled, playfully. Matt Barnes started chuckling. Rashard Lewis called it a “once every blue moon” occurrence. It’s not often Magic coach Stan Van Gundy says nice things about the team he coaches. You know, the one with the second-best record in the NBA, that’s only lost five games since the all-star break and set an NBA record for three-pointers made while still being one of the best defensive teams in the league. At the end of a regular season in which the Magic (59-23) barreled through opponents to the finish, Van Gundy took some time to compliment his players.”
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Van Gundy takes seriously the fact that the Magic are hitting the playoffs just as the team is seemingly peaking. The Magic not only beat foes down the stretch, but usually smashed them in resounding fashion. Orlando won a NBA-best 39 games by at least 10 points this season, something that shows the professionalism of the team and willingness to strive for greatness, Van Gundy said. “I appreciate what our team has done,” Van Gundy said. “Sometimes when everybody is just waiting for the playoffs there’s not enough appreciation for the grind of the regular season and how hard you have to work and play to be good every night. I mean, it’s not like our team was screwing around and winning by four or six points against these teams that we’re supposed to beat,” Van Gundy continued. “We pretty much drilled them all. That level of focus every night, I can really appreciate that. And it means a helluva lot to me.” Now, comes a different kind of grind for Van Gundy and the Magic. Whereas the marathon regular season is often a test of wills and energy, the playoffs boils down to which team is better four times in a seven-game window.”
  • Click here to get to know more about Shannon Van Gundy, head coach Stan Van Gundy’s daughter. It’s certainly a different but more personable perspective on the ol’ coach.
  • Dan Devine, Kelly Dwyer, and Trey Kerby of Ball Don’t Lie preview the first round series between the Orlando Magic and the Charlotte Bobcats. Here’s a snippet from Dwyer: “If you’re a fan of the Magic, you’re right chuffed that the Magic face the Bobcats first. That [Jameer] Nelson and Lewis will have to answer the bell early. That [Dwight] Howard will have to flex his muscles while trying to stay on the court for 35 minutes. This is absolutely what Orlando needs, and while Charlotte is nobody’s prefight sparring partner, I can’t help but think the Magic depth and talent will win out.”
  • John Hollinger of ESPN Insider predicts how the 2010 NBA Playoffs will shape up from beginning to end. According to Hollinger, he sees the Magic losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals: “Welcome to the real NBA Finals. These have been the league’s two best teams all season, and the winner of this series will be an overwhelming favorite to claim its first championship. […] My numbers like Orlando because of its dominance down the stretch of the season, but Cleveland was with the Magic step for step in the Power Rankings until Shaq and Anderson Varejao went out. We still haven’t seen what the Cavs are capable of with Antawn Jamison, Varejao and O’Neal on the court together, but I suspect the answer is ‘awesomeness.’ Most importantly, the Cavs have the best player in the league. A year ago, James’ 38-8-8 series averages weren’t enough because Cleveland couldn’t stop the Magic at the other end. This time around, he has more help, and I think he gets it done in a seven-game slugfest.”
  • Austin Burton of Dime Magazine lists the top 10 players he thinks will get rich from the NBA postseason. J.J. Redick makes the cut for Orlando: “It wasn’t that long ago when J.J. looked like he’d be joining Trajan Langdon in Russia before he’d ever be an impact player in the NBA. It took four years, but now he’s finally getting enough minutes and shots to show what he can do. Granted, 9.6 points in 22 minutes a night doesn’t make J.J. the next Dan Majerle, but he’s proven he can be a valuable bench guy on a contender or even a starter on some teams.”
  • As Emperor Palpatine once said to Luke Skywalker in the Return of the Jedi, “let the hate flow through you.” With that, J.A. Adande of ESPN.com thinks the Magic are the angriest team out of the 16 teams in the playoffs: “In 2010 you won’t find an angrier team than the Orlando Magic. Dwight Howard leads the league in technical fouls. He leads the league in rebounds and blocked shots — again — and can’t get any serious run for MVP. He had to watch the Lakers celebrate their championship last year in his house.”
  • John Krolik of ProBasketballTalk explains why Orlando is capable of winning a championship this year.
  • Howard is well represented on M. Haubs’ ballot at The Painted Area.
  • Want to know what the offensive tendencies are for the Magic and the Bobcats head-to-head? Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post has got you covered: “Indeed, three-pointers comprise a shade more than 40% of the Magic’s shot attempts against the Bobcats this season. Put another way, they averaged 32 three-point attempts per game against the Bobcats, compared to a season-long average of 27.4 per game, which led the league. Shooting the three plays into Charlotte’s strategy; it yields a league-high 20.7 triple-tries per game, while limiting teams to the second-lowest percentage in the league. Larry Brown has his team playing smart on D, as it forces its opponents to take shots that it defends well. There’s a trap here, though. The three-pointer is, historically, the league’s most efficient shot that isn’t a layup or dunk. The Bobcats tend to get away with letting people shoot it because they’re confident in their ability to guard that shot. But against Orlando? With guys with hair-trigger releases like Jason Williams, J.J. Redick, Ryan Anderson, and Mickael Pietrus? That’s what one might call playing with fire.”
  • Check out The Basketball Jones’ preview of the matchup between Orlando and Charlotte.
  • Lang Whitaker of SLAM ONLINE picks Howard as his Defensive Player of the Year.
  • Which player is on the spot to perform in the playoffs? According to Sean Deveney of The Baseline, it’s Vince Carter: “The Magic traded for Carter last year—letting Hedo Turkoglu go shortly thereafter—in hopes that Carter’s ability to slash to the basket and create his own shot would help the Magic keep the offense going on nights when their 3-point shots weren’t falling. At times, it has worked. At times, it’s been a disaster. Carter averaged 16.6 points but frequently had to be prodded to attack the basket throughout the year. Ultimately, though, Orlando was hoping that Carter could be a difference-maker in the playoffs, though Turkoglu did a very good job in playoff situations last year.”
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