Tuesday's Magic Word | Magic Basketball



May 04

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “True to their nature, Orlando Magic players looked relaxed as they left RDV Sportsplex following their shootaround Tuesday. If you didn’t know that their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Atlanta Hawks was starting tonight, you wouldn’t have been able to tell by the players’ expressions. ‘I’m happy and ready to go, and I’m looking forward to this series,’ Dwight Howard said a few minutes ago. ‘It’ll be a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to having a great series. We’ve had six, seven days of great practices. So, I’m ready to go. The team’s ready.’ ”
  • Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Woodson stayed mum on his plans for Dwight Howard, claiming he still doesn’t know exactly how the Hawks will approach the Magic big man. Woodson cautioned against focusing too much on Howard. “It ain’t just about Howard,” he said. “It’s about Vince [Carter], [Jameer] Nelson, [Ryan] Anderson, I mean they got so many weapons. [Jason] Williams. [Rashard] Lewis. I mean, we just gotta key on anybody that plays. They’re so talented. Howard is kind of the head of the snake.” The Hawks are just two days removed from finishing a Game 7 against the Milwaukee Bucks and will face the Magic tonight. Over-focusing on Howard was a problem for the Charlotte Bobcats, but it wasn’t one they ever recovered from. Despite Howard playing fewer than 28 minutes per game, the Magic still swept Charlotte.”
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic com notes that the Orlando Magic are more than prepared to face off against the Atlanta Hawks in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals: “The Orlando Magic have gone over scenarios where point guard Jameer Nelson is covered by Joe Johnson and they have drilled on what to do when center Dwight Howard is double- and single-covered. They have talked about attacking Atlanta’s zone defense and how to defend the Hawks many isolation plays in halfcourt sets with Jamal Crawford, Josh Smith and Johnson. Yep, the second-seeded Magic have basically been over almost every scenario possible they could face in tonight’s Game 1 against the third seeded Hawks in the eight days since they last played. “We’ve had a long time to prepare for just about everything,” Magic superstar center Dwight Howard said with an exaggerated sigh.”
  • The NBA All-Star Game returns to Orlando.
  • Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie votes Dwight Howard second in his MVP ballot.
  • Shaun Powell of Sekou Smith’s Hangtime Blog, however, doesn’t think Howard should be in the top three of MVP voting: “Let’s start with the obvious. Dwight Howard is the best center in the game, the best defensive player in the game and the top player on a team that might win an NBA championship this season. He is not, however, more deserving of the MVP award than LeBron James, or Kobe Bryant or even Dwyane Wade and Kevin Durant. They have very little if any flaws. Howard, however, has flaws. He’s a notoriously poor free throw shooter, below 60 percent. His offensive game is fairly limited because he lacks a polished, go-to move. And he often gets into silly foul trouble. Very good player? Yes, absolutely. Best at his position? Not even close, really. Top 3? Not so close.”
  • One thing is for sure, Howard is ready to play some basketball.
  • Nada Taha Moslehy of SLAM ONLINE previews the matchup between the Magic and the Hawks.
  • Head coach Mike Woodson talks about Orlando and Atlanta.
  • Britt Robson of Sports Illustrated: “Logic points to an Orlando rout. At point guard, Jameer Nelson is playing like vintage Mike Bibby, circa 2004 or so, while the Hawks are stuck with the slower, less consistent 2010 Bibby. Atlanta may have the Sixth Man Award winner in combo guard Jamal Crawford, but the Magic possess a much deeper and more versatile bench overall. The first few times you watch Orlando, you wonder why it chooses to live and die with so many three-pointers, taken regardless of the shot clock and how many teammates are beneath the hoop. But after a while, you see that it isn’t really that risky: The Magic finished second (behind the Suns) in effective field-goal percentage (which factors in the added value of three-pointers) because their seven most-frequent long-range shooters convert between 36.7 (Carter’s seventh-best accuracy) and 40.5 percent (by team leader J.J. Redick) of their threes. [Stan] Van Gundy will find the two or three who are hot that game, and if defenses flood the perimeter, Howard gets single coverage at the rim.”
  • Mickael Pietrus is ready to go for Game 1.
  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post chimes in on the MVP voting process: “Overall, the internal politics of NBA balloting put the voters in rough spots, which is why I agree with SBNation’s Mike Prada when he calls for more national, independent voters and a transparent ballot. Howard Beck, whose employer, the New York Times, does not allow its writers to cast award ballots, also made the case for accountability and transparency here. Yahoo! Sports’ Kelly Dwyer, a credentialed media member who’s covered the NBA for various internet publications over the last 10-plus years, only received awards votes this season. Why aren’t more people like him given votes? Wouldn’t taking some votes away from team employees make the results a bit more palatable? Kevin Pelton offers another suggestion: keeping the current electorate, but preventing its members from voting for players on the teams they represent.”
  • John Hollinger of ESPN Insider and Dan Devine of Ball Don’t Lie shed light on the next generation of point guards that are flooding the NBA with their talents. Jameer Nelson, the “graybeard” of the group, gets some pub.
  • Jordan Schultz of NBA FanHouse ranks Howard in his own tier among all big men in the league: “A rare combination of size, power and agility, Howard has it all — on the defensive end. He’s led the league in rebounding the last three years, and he’s blocked the most shots the last two. His defensive ability shuts down the entire painted area. He’s won the last two Defensive Player of the Year awards and should stay in contention for the award his entire career. Howard’s challenge, though, is to become a consistent go-to scoring option. He has such quick feet that he can rely on his overwhelming explosion, but with his back to the basket, he’s still very much in the early stages of his growth. He needs to develop more finesse, because right now he’s all power, and when things aren’t going his way, he can literally be taken out of the game by foul trouble.”
  • Bethlehem Shoals of NBA FanHouse sets the table for the series between the Magic and the Hawks.