- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “The [Orlando] Magic were scheduled to have Tuesday and Wednesday off, but several players and all the coaches will likely end up at the team headquarters on Wednesday to get in shooting, conditioning and film sessions. [Vince] Carter, who has said that he rarely ever watches NBA games on TV when the Magic aren’t playing, was the most excited about having another break, feeling it will help him recharge his energy and channel his focus for his first-ever berth in the Eastern Conference Finals. [...] Rhythm and flow are vitally important to basketball players, many of whom are used to playing games every other day during the marathon regular season. But [Rashard] Lewis said that the Magic are so locked in right now that no amount of time could distract this team from its mission of trying to win a championship.”
- Dan Devine of Ball Don’t Lie thinks Jameer Nelson is due some respect, given how well he’s been playing in the 2010 NBA Playoffs: “Nelson was playing arguably the best ball of his career last season before suffering a torn labrum in his right shoulder that knocked him out of commission from February through the NBA Finals in June (and, frankly, probably should have kept him in the cooler until the start of this year). Healthy again, surrounded by talent and fueled by the prospect of championship-round redemption, he’s operating at a whole new level, and it’s a pleasure to see. Dude’s doing work, kids. Admire the sharpness.”
- Bradford Doolittle of Basketball Prospectus analyzes the Orlando Magic’s sweep of the Atlanta Hawks and explains what it will mean for the victors moving forward: “The Magic move on to the conference finals and will have at least a week to rest and prepare for the survivor of the Cleveland-Boston series. Of course, Orlando wore the opposite shoe last season, battling the Celtics to seven games in the conference semis while the Cavaliers rested up after pounding the Hawks in four straight. So you can bet Stan Van Gundy is going to have his squad practicing plenty hard during the layoff. The Cavaliers and Celtics are both terrific teams and they both present certain problems for the Magic. However, no team is playing as well as Orlando, which now should be considered the odds-on favorite to win it all.”
- Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playoffs breaks down two plays that show why the series went horribly wrong for the Hawks.
- Bill Simmons of ESPN.com: “This goes to Orlando’s Amway Arena (better known as the O-Rena), which opened in 1989 as a “state-of-the-art” place and quickly became the last nobody-had-any-idea-what-they-were-doing-when-they-were-building-these-things sports arena. No club seats, no midlevel boxes, concrete aisles … just call this place the Hot Tub Time Machine Arena. (When I walked in, I thought I was suddenly back in college attending a WWE event at the Worcester Centrum. I kept looking around for Rick Rude and Demolition.) The poor Magic recently had to build another new arena that opens next season; if someone doesn’t purchase the O-Rena by next year (asking price: $90 million), the city of Orlando is probably knocking it down. So the Magic got 21 years out of a “state-of-the-art” arena. That’s a catastrophe. On the bright side …”
- Rob Mahoney of ProBasketballTalk gives the Magic props: “This match-up was the epitome of unfavorable for Atlanta, but I’m not sure there’s a valid excuse for just how poorly the Hawks played in this series. Then again, it’s not too much of a surprise for the best team in basketball to look like the best team in basketball. The real story isn’t that Atlanta and Charlotte were winless, it’s that Orlando made them that way. Basketball-Reference’s Neil Paine broke down the most lopsided playoff sweeps of all time, and no matter how you slice it — straight up point differential, accounting for overtimes, accounting for home court advantage, by measuring how many games in a series were lopsided — the Magic’s second-round dismantling of the Hawks was one of the most impressive in league history.”
- Here’s a link to Neil Paine’s findings.
- Dwight Howard provides his thoughts: “I really like how we’re playing like a team on a mission. We’re not going out there and acting like we’ve got a 2-0 or 3-0 cushion in these series. We’re staying hungry and humble and keeping our foot on the throttle every game. Back in the day, we used to relax in games and relax in series like this and we’d let teams come back on us. I think we’ve come a long way and are not doing that anymore. That’s a sign of maturity for us. Now, we’re going to get two days off, but ya’ll know I’ll be back in the gym real soon getting my swolle on in the weight room. I also plan on working on my free throws. I’ve already talked to our guys about not losing focus or losing that edge just because we have a break.”
- A number of ESPN writers chime in on the MVP’s of the postseason, so far. Nelson and Howard, among others, receive recognition for their sterling play.