What Did We Learn About the Orlando Magic? | Magic Basketball

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Apr 27

What Did We Learn About the Orlando Magic?

Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

As seen on ESPN’s Daily Dime.

With a 99-90 victory against the Charlotte Bobcats in Game 4 on Monday night, the Orlando Magic put the finishing touches on their first four-game sweep in franchise history that can best be described in one word: strange.

Strange because the Magic were able to defeat Charlotte in four straight games despite limited contributions from their franchise player and two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Dwight Howard. Normally, Howard is the best player on the floor for Orlando, but not in this series. The Bobcats did an excellent job of using their abundance of big men, which included the likes of Tyson Chandler, Nazr Mohammed and Theo Ratliff, to nudge, poke and prod Howard relentlessly. The strategy worked, as Howard played roughly 26 minutes per game and didn’t record a single double-double against Charlotte despite posting gaudy block totals in limited playing time. It was a frustrating week or so for Howard, but he’ll have time to regroup and redeem himself in the Eastern Conference semifinals against either the Atlanta Hawks or the Milwaukee Bucks.

So what did we learn about the Magic from this sweep?

  • Vince Carter is snapping out of his funk. Maybe. It’s no secret that Carter has struggled in the playoffs so far, but after a slow start in Game 4, Carter heated up in the second half by getting involved in a steady diet of pick-and-rolls and making a variety of plays on offense for the Magic. Against the Bobcats, Carter found the most success in the pick-and-roll because it invited him to be aggressive and attack the basket, something he needs to do more of as the postseason progresses.
  • Jameer Nelson is playing like an All-Star. In Games 1 and 3, where Nelson had two 32-point performances, showed him at his best. Nelson was excellent on offense, being über-aggressive and shooting with great efficiency (.647 true shooting percentage). If Nelson can continue playing at a high level, watch out.
  • Rashard Lewis and Mickael Pietrus are in playoff form. Lewis and Pietrus have taken their games up a notch and have already proven that they are more than willing to step up in crunch time and hit big shots, just like in last year’s playoffs. It’ll be interesting to see if that trend continues.
8 comments
Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera

@Will

Good thoughts, everyone. A few things.

I wouldn't say Carter has lost his touch from three-point range. Four games is a small sample size to make that type of assertion. Carter shot roughly 37% from three this year, which is good. I don't think he should stray from taking threes, he just shouldn't settle for them.

@Mikeyho

See, the difference between Carter and Turkoglu is that while both can make difficult shots, Carter made his career on making those type of shots. Superstar shots, as people like to call them. The type of shots almost every other player in the NBA has no chance of making but someone like Carter can. Obviously, the frequency by which Carter can make these shots is going down, which is why he needs to attack the basket to off-set that.

Carter is going to need to produce eventually. The Magic didn't need Carter against the Bobcats but they sure as hell going to need him as the playoffs move forward.

Mikeyho
Mikeyho

I agree and disagree Will. Though I think you make a good point.

If Vince doesn't shoot, people don't play up on him making driving much more difficult, if not impossible. I believe Vince is a great shooter but I agree about the "30" foot comment. I feel like Vince would have shot in the mid 50's % for his career if he took the same shots like Barnes takes (but he wouldn't have averaged 20 points if he took only good shots).

I also feel that's why he can have a bad series and still help the team. If the defense focuses on him and others benefit from it, the talent around Vince will do the job. If the let up on Vince, he will do well. It's picking your poison not unlike taking away either the three point shot or Dwight, but you can't have both.

I think it's his belief, kinda like Turk, that he can make these unnecessarily difficult shots. I feel like this comes from a pressure that he has to produce, when I really feel he doesn't. Not with all the talent we have.

Anyone agree?

Will
Will

Hey Eddy and MikeyHo:

I think VC stil has a few mental blocks when it comes to his shooting. Vince had poor shooting mostly because of his jump shots. Didn't he shoot, like, 5% from three point land in the series? He needs to let that phase of his career go. . .he's lost some touch and it is costing the Magic some possessions. When Barnes and Pietrus throw up threes I never wince. I'm learning not to with Redick. But VC just makes me nervous. You can almost see the hamster running inside the wheel in his head: 'I can make this' from 30 feet out.

His strength, much like Turkoglu, is driving in the paint and drawing fouls. I'd love to see stats on his inside-the-paint or just outside 10 feet shooting. It seemed like, with the exception of Game 4 where he found his spot up high past the free throw line, VC bricked everything that wasn't near the basket. But I can't remember him missing a floater, a fade away, or a layup within 10 feet. And he went to the stripe a lot.

Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera

@jax502

The Magic are a deep team, indeed.

@Mikeyho

No worries. I don't think the slow start is a problem, either, given that the Bobcats were the best defensive team in the NBA. That being said, hopefully Carter picks up the slack the remainder of the playoffs because the Magic are going to need him to step up eventually.

Mikeyho
Mikeyho

Yeah sorry. I get defensive cause it seems like if Vince sneezes people think he's screwing everything up. I still don't think his slow start is a problem, but I guess it could be. Just a small sample size against a pesky defense. I especially don't mind if, when Vince "struggles," other players like Jameer are killing it.

Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera

@Mikeyho

I was just speaking specifically to Carter's struggles in the series, nothing more. Hence the question, what did the Magic learn from this sweep? I know that Carter had an excellent second-half of the regular season but he had a slow start to the postseason, which is what my comment was alluding to. Hope that answers what you were looking for.

Mikeyho
Mikeyho

Hey Eddy. What funk is V.C. in? Since the all star break or the last two games where the best defense in the league focused hard on him? That's not a funk to me but I'm open to be educated.

jax502
jax502

I don't care what Kenny "The Jet" Smith says about the Magic. The Magic is a deep team. Period! (Or should I say exclamation point!)