In a Blink of an Eye, a Rivalry Between the Orlando Magic and the Miami Heat Have Reached New Heights | Magic Basketball

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Jul 09

In a Blink of an Eye, a Rivalry Between the Orlando Magic and the Miami Heat Has Reached New Heights

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Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images

Welcome to Miami Thrice.

There are a number of nicknames that are being used to illustrate the union of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. Some complimentary, some not. Yet there are a number of adjectives that can also describe the newly-formed trio. ‘Unpredecented’ is, perhaps, the most appropriate one to label an alliance that has shaken the foundation of the NBA at its core. Never before has the best player in the league during his time, whether it’s James right now or Michael Jordan back then (this group is close), united with talents like Wade and Bosh in the prime of their careers. It’s unheard of. Yes, there have been “Big Threes” that have been talented to varying degrees, but this triumvirate is in rarified air. And the epicenter of the earthquake that occurred yesterday was located in Miami and the tremors are emitting to Orlando.

adj. +/- net +/- stat. +/- PER WARP Win Shares/48
Chris Bosh +6.97 +6.0 +3.84 25.0 14.0 .182
LeBron James +18.52 +15.8 +14.13 31.1 25.3 .299
Dwyane Wade +16.09 +14.1 +10.77 28.0 20.0 .224
Dwight Howard +24.97 +10.2 +7.21 24.0 19.2 .223

Numbers for the 2009-2010 regular season.


In one felt swoop, the Miami Heat have transformed themselves from being a playoff team to a title contender — regardless of the seven players that will be needed to fill out the roster (Mike Miller appears to be accounted for, alongside Mario Chalmers). Likewise, after three years of reigning at the top of the Southeast Division with no legitimate challengers to dethrone them, the Orlando Magic have to deal with the Heat. The irony is that Miami was in the same boat from 2005 to 2007, but didn’t have a challenge until the last year when the Washington Wizards finished three games behind them in the division. Just like the Magic this year with the Atlanta Hawks.

It’s been said elsewhere but even though the rivalry between Orlando and Miami exists, given that they’re in the same state, same division, and all that, the rivalry hasn’t seen many fireworks over the years. The playoff duel in 1997 is one to remember, and when Shaquille O’Neal joined the Heat in 2005, that stoked the fires of the rivalry a little bit. Sure, there’s some animosity between both franchises when head coach Stan Van Gundy chose to coach the Magic in 2007 and president Pat Riley demanded, and received, compensation to allow the transaction to go through, which strained the relationships of the two teams. Can’t forget the storyline getting set up in the first place after Riley “replaced” Van Gundy in 2006, ultimately leading Miami to their first and only championship. Of course, there’s the humorous history of players having played for both franchises at some point in their careers. A list that includes Ike Austin, Rony Seikaly, and others. The point is, there’s always been skirmishes between Orlando and Miami. That’s it.

Now?

The Magic and the Heat are elite teams. Together. Never before have Orlando and Miami competed for championships at the same time … until now. Rest assured, it’s going to be a bloodbath. A slugfest. A war. Aside from the rivalry between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers, the Magic and the Heat have the makings of being one of the most intense rivalries not only in the NBA but in sports in general. All of the elements are there and in a way, Magic fans should enjoy watching the drama unfold. ‘Beat the Heat’ becomes a relevant chant again, for instance. Miami has always been Orlando’s natural rival but it truly means something now. These are two teams vying for a title and three of the top five players in the league are going to be the actors in a script that everyone is dying to read.

So what does the Heat acquiring James, Wade, and Bosh mean to the Magic?

A three-headed monster has awaken
Orlando, and the rest of the NBA, is going to be dealing with a trio that has the potential to be the most devastating in league history. Sure, James, Wade, and Bosh become another “Big Three” in the company of other trios but statistically, we’re talking about the best player in the NBA joining forces with a top five player and a top 15 player, respectively. In Wade’s case, he could easily be considered the second-best instead of Dwight Howard but it’s a fluid comparison. In any case, the most recent example of these types of players forming like Voltron was in 2008 when the Celtics acquired Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to team up with Paul Pierce. Strictly from a production and skill standpoint, however, James, Wade, and Bosh are superior cumulatively. The disparity in the comparison is staggering, actually.

The only consolation that can be taken away from Boston’s perspective is that Garnett, at the time, was the best defensive player in the league. However, James and Wade are no slouches defensively. Bosh is the weakest of the three and has never been known as a good defender, but James and Wade are All-Defensive First Team players and deservingly so. In today’s NBA, perimeter defense is key and the Heat will have no issues there. That’s for sure. It’s true that Miami still has to figure out who’s going to fill the center position for them. Though aside from Yao Ming, Pau Gasol, Howard, and a few other bigs, there’s not many elite big men that the Heat will have to deal with. In the playoffs, it might be an issue.

Many people have tried to bring up the point, and it’s a valid one, that the Heat don’t have anyone that can guard Howard. Truthfully speaking, the only teams that have players that can defend Howard are the Celtics (Kendrick Perkins), Lakers (Andrew Bynum and Gasol), and Rockets (Yao). Unfortunately for those teams, their effectiveness defensively against Howard is lessening little by little. Miami isn’t the only team in the league with personnel issues versus Howard.

However, the Magic don’t have anyone that can guard James, Wade, or even Bosh for that matter. Remember, James almost single-handedly defeated Orlando in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals. A bad matchup head-to-head, the incompetence of head coach Mike Brown, and an inferior supporting cast undermined James’ brilliance. Now James has the benefit of playing with two infamous Magic-killers, Wade and Bosh. There are those that are skeptical that the arrangement will work, but it will. James, Wade, and Bosh are unselfish players.

Career vs. ORL MP PPG RPG APG BPG FG%
Chris Bosh (26 games) 37.8 23.4 9.8 2.4 0.9 .500
LeBron James (30 games) 42.3 29.2 7.3 6.7 0.9 .469
Dwyane Wade (21 games) 38.6 29.9 5.4 6.4 1.2 .522

It would be the assumption that Howard would be able to stop, or at the very least, slow down Bosh but historically, that hasn’t been the case at all. Bosh has feasted on the Magic for years, whether it’s been against Howard or Rashard Lewis. The scary part is that James and Wade now have their ‘Pau Gasol’ in Bosh. The similarities are striking statistically.

To be frank, there are a congruence of factors that have Orlando in a bind.

If Howard is in foul trouble, which there’s a good chance of happening due to the uber-aggressive natures of James and Wade, then the Magic are toast. Howard is the best defender in the NBA, yet there was nothing he could do as he watched Pierce torch Orlando on the perimeter in the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals. Plus, Howard wasn’t even dealing with an offensive threat. Lewis was able to contain Garnett and Perkins isn’t known for his prowess on offense. If Pierce can have his way when Howard is zoning his area in the paint, then what’s going to happen when he’s going to have to cover Bosh while simultaneously trying to provide help-side defense against James and Wade? The Magic could do nothing to stop Pierce. Now Orlando has to deal with James and Wade, two scorers that are superior to Pierce. It’s an absurd scenario to think about, actually.

This is what the matchups look like for the Magic on defense right now. Vince Carter on Wade, Mickael Pietrus on James, and Lewis or Howard on Bosh. Wade will feast on Carter and in the process, can potentially kill two birds with one stone by presumably getting him in foul trouble and knocking him out of the game. Assuming J.J. Redick returns, he would then have the responsibility of defending Wade. Redick isn’t a liability on defense, but Wade would have a field day at this point. Pietrus is Orlando’s best perimeter defender and was lauded for his efforts against James in the Eastern Conference Finals, but James still went off for 39 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists per game in the series two years ago. Even if Matt Barnes came back, he wouldn’t make much of a difference defensively either.

In the Magic’s current form, unless they acquire an athletic defender or two, they have almost no shot at defending James, Wade, and Bosh simultaneously with effectiveness. It’s almost impossible. The Los Angeles Lakers would be interesting, in this case, because Ron Artest and Kobe Bryant would be able to defend James and Wade. Plus, the Lakers do have the length to bother Bosh. Unfortunately for Orlando, they do not have that type of defensive personnel. Regardless of the role players for the Heat, they are going to be a nightmare matchup for the Magic. Especially if Miami continues to add three-point shooters like Miller to flank the perimeter.

Finding chinks in the armor
With all that said, it’s interesting to see what holes Orlando can exploit on offense. As has been mentioned before, James and Wade are two of the best defenders in the league. Versatile, too, as James and Wade are more than capable of defending more than one position if need be.

As such, there are three players that become extremely important for the Magic against the Heat. Jameer Nelson, Lewis, and Howard.

At this point, Mario Chalmers is the only point guard on the roster for Miami and even though he’s a good defender, that is a matchup that Nelson will have to exploit. Nelson proved his offensive capabilities in the playoffs against the best defensive point guard in the NBA, Rajon Rondo, so there’s no excuses. Rondo sets the bar on defense and Chalmers is several rungs below it. This is a matchup that Nelson needs to be dominant, whether it’s against Chalmers or whoever else starts at the point, for the Magic to begin evening up the score against the Heat. The 1/5 pick and roll with Nelson and Howard will need to be relied upon consistently. Indeed, Orlando also likes to execute the 1/2 pick and roll with Nelson and Carter but against Miami, that play wouldn’t work. It might succeed a few times but the Heat could easily foil it by either putting Wade on Nelson to anticipate the switch with Carter, or simply put James and Wade on Nelson and Carter. The Cavaliers did a similar thing, actually, in the regular season when they put James on Nelson to combat the play. Problem solved on Miami’s end.

Lewis has gotten a lot of flack for his performance against Garnett and the Celtics. Some of it is undeserved, to be honest, but that’s then and not now. It’s been already stated that Bosh isn’t a good defender and although he’s capable of defending on the perimeter, this is where Lewis’ abilities to thrive at the stretch four could pay dividends as it has in the past. This is a matchup that the Magic can exploit. Even if someone like James switched onto Lewis, which Cleveland did in the Eastern Conference Finals, that would leave Bosh exposed to Howard if he was in the game. If head coach Erik Spoelstra got creative, he could sit Bosh and have the Heat’s center guard Howard while James is on Lewis. Howard would still probably have his way on offense, which might invite double-teams, but James would be able to limit Lewis’ effectiveness and Miami wouldn’t be exposed elsewhere with Wade’s presence on the perimeter. That might be a case where the Heat would allow Howard to get his, if push came to shove, and concentrate on shutting down everyone else. For Orlando, there definitely would be a lot of chess matches involved.

As for Howard, his offense has been talked about a lot since the off-season began for the Magic. In Miami’s current state (this applies against other teams), this is where Howard’s development offensively is the key to whether or not Orlando has a chance to win a championship. This matchup is intriguing because even though the Heat would have numerous offensive advantages, perhaps too many to overcome, the Magic have the ability to counter with Howard on the low block. The underlying theme for Howard, more than anything else, is that he’ll need to be dominant against Miami or whoever else. Howard needs to be unstoppable for the Magic to begin putting a dent in the matchup advantages the Heat have at their disposal. That’s the next step in Howard’s career and for him, it’s a necessary step if Orlando wants to conjure up the possibilities of combatting Miami.

A rival has tipped the scales
The question that many Magic fans are asking is whether or not Orlando is good enough to beat Miami. The answer is no. However, if there’s a year where the Magic can take advantage while the Death Star is still in development, this is it. Depending on how much James, Wade, and Bosh leave on the table, the supporting cast that will surround them will be Chalmers, Miller, and whoever else. No matter what, Orlando will have the advantage this season when it comes to the supporting cast. However, as great as James, Wade, and Bosh are, the battle of the role players might be irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. After this year, depending on how the new collective bargaining agreement shakes out for the NBA, the Heat will probably have exceptions (the mid-level, for example) available to them to continue to improve the roster as they see fit.

Do the Magic have to respond to these moves? Yes, more or less.

General manager Otis Smith talks a lot about how he doesn’t react to what other teams do and that he’s always looking to improve the roster as he sees fit. This was true last season, when the East engaged in an arms race and there was a wide assumption that he acquired Carter in response to Cleveland’s acquisition of O’Neal. Not exactly. Orlando traded for Carter to improve as a team. The Cavaliers traded for O’Neal to try to beat the Magic and everyone saw that the plan didn’t work thanks in large part because of the Celtics. It’s important for Orlando to not get caught up in the hype and try to get the perfect player to match up with Miami.

However, the Magic will have no choice but to try to improve the roster. Given what’s occurred with the Heat, maybe Smith will have a greater sense of urgency to do just that. To be honest, though, there’s only one player that Orlando should consider trying to trade for, aside from acquiring from athletic perimeter defenders. It’s admittedly a long-shot and doubtful of happening, but Chris Paul would give the Magic a chance to level the playing field a bit. Of all the top players in the league, that’s the only one that make sense for Orlando. At his best, Paul is a top five player and when paired with Howard, that’s the type of talent that can give the Magic a chance at winning a championship. Orlando still has a chance to win a title now, but the odds would be undoubtedly greater with Paul on board. As long as the Magic don’t get worse in the process of acquiring Paul, of course. It’s not all gloom and doom, though.

As currently constructed, Orlando’s best chance to beat Miami is this year. After that, all bets are off. Even then, the Magic may not be good enough to beat the Heat this season. It’ll be difficult, but not impossible. Supporting casts are important, sure, but its the stars that win or lose titles.

The Heat have three of them.

23 comments
Will
Will

Fair enough. I'm perhaps a bit sensitive, I'll admit that. I get pretty excited about this conversations and just get a bit sidetracked when I FEEL (probably misunderstood) that a nice conversation turns into a little bit of a 'who can argue better'. No biggy. . .point taken and I'll work on it.

I love basketball-reference.com. I'm going to read these.

Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera

@Will

No problem. I respect your opinion on the matter and I wouldn’t mind continuing the discussion, but I know we’d go around in circles. That’s why I referred you to read Neil Paine’s comments on Basketball-Reference and allow you to take it from there -- the material for you to devour should be plenty.

Will
Will

Hey,

Well, Shaq's PPG did go down about five points in that year but his FG% was the best it had been since his second year with the Lakers, his rebounding rate was always flucuating during his time in LA and that year it was actually better then the previous two years (at 11.5), his block rate was better or on par with the bpg in the previous years (at 2.5). He did miss a lot of games however. But in the playoffs, which he played every game, his scoring seemed to be the only thing that suffered. His FG% was better then ANY of his Laker years save the 98 season where he only played half the amount of games. His playoff rebounding rate always flucuated so though it went 'down' the last two years to 13.5 (not bad at all), it was actually better then most LA years, and his block rate was the best he had produced since the 99 season (and that was only better by 0.1). So, if we are going off of raw stat data, I don't see much of a difference except points. . .which makes sense since Malone would eat up double figures that year and Kobe was merging into the team leader.

In regards to the rookie GM and the rookie this and the rookie that. . .that is a sad, sorry excuse for an argument for why a player doesn't have, as Skip Bayless would say, the 'clutch' gene. The Bulls roster in 1990 was hardly any different then it was in 1991. They FOUND a way to win through Jordan's will to win in 1991. . .he had had enough losing to the Pistons. And in regards to his years of failure before: sure, he didn't have the help around him, and it doesn't lessen his accomplishments but MJ LEARNED from those experiences to BECOME a leader. LeBron has learned nothing but to blame others and not accept his own faults. You ACQUIRE these things through failure. . .he did not and, apparently, has not, as he has decided to join the band as opposed to making it solo.

Plus. . .even as Jordan eventually lost to the big boys like the Celtics and the Pistons, he still cemented himself as an unbelievable talent even in the eyes of his opponents. He struck fear. The Pistons won because they DESTROYED Jordan physically. They had Pippen crying for headaches for pete's sake. One thing Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, and the city of Detroit could NEVER say was that he choked or failed to win. He certainly tried his hardest. Has LeBron? Even if I accept he only quit one game (which I don't agree with). . .HE STILL QUIT! Jordan NEVER quit. That's why he managed to defeat a Cleveland team that had beat them 8 TIMES in 11 games (but the Bulls won the three that mattered). LeBron has ONE single handed defeat of a rival and that was the Pistons. . .but against the Celtics and Magic he has simply FAILED. Stats be damned. . .he FAILED. Jordan might have thought high of himself but he didn't tatoo CHOSEN ONE and KING on his body and EXPECT victory. . .he worked for it. LeBron hasn't. He has turned intelligent people like yourself into yes men blaming EVERYONE ELSE for his failures.

Once again. . .reading your ideas in the Spurs paragraph, sure his team was outclassed but you can't say that the Pistons in 07 were any worse then they were in previous years and you can't use his EPIC DEFEAT of the Pistons in 07 with the 25 points blah blah blah and then say he was outclassed by the Spurs. He found a way to win in that series. . .why not against the Spurs. It's not like the Spurs were this wildly complex team. Sure, they had better players, but a lot of the greats have proven they can outplay the giants. The 2004 Pistons being the PRIME example (but Shaq was past his prime apparently so. . .it doesn't apply here). Plus, the final two games of the sweep were competitive. The first two games were won easily by the Spurs.

Well. . .just the fact that he gave up in Game 5 is convincing enough that he is a choker. The pressure got to him. But in Game 6 he had, what, 8 TOS!? He was 2-9 from three (a range he seems to think he can hit from but has never consistently done) and it wasn't exactly like his energy was there. He was disengaged and couldn't care less. Not a superstar mentality. . .I call that choking. The pressure got to him.

And let's go up and bring up ancient history while we're here. Against our Magic in 2009, he did average incredible numbers. INCREDIBLE. I admit it. But Game 6 wasn't exactly his best game of that series. How could a guy who averages 39+ points only show up for a 'mere' 25 (I know, comical. . .I wish I could score 25, haha), in the game to save his season. LeBron has never been able to deliver when he was facing tournament death except in that one Pistons game and in Game 2 of the ECF Finals (which really only tied the series and delayed the inevitable).

Wait, wait, wait. . .are you saying that the surrounding pieces were good enough to win 66 games our of 82 but not 16 in the post season? I won't be as disrespectful to you as you are to me in evaluating my opinions so I will say that I disagree. Sure. . .the playoffs are different but the 2009 team had LeBron, the 'all-star' Mo Williams, a few of the dudes from the Finals run in 07, a lot from the deep run in 08, and the first/second round DEMOLITION of a crap Pistons team and a solid but not great Hawks team. His team had been there. . .he had the pieces. It's not like the Magic beat them by 48 every night. When it came down to it. . .the Cavs couldn't get it done and that falls on the guy who gets all the praise for their success: LEBRON. You can't say he was magnificent in the regular season and his teammates had nothing to do with it (two seasons in a row no less) but say it was their fault for them losing. And I agree it certainly wasn't the coaching staff. Mike Brown is legally retarded. You just can't say LeBron did it all by himself when everything was peachy and say it was because he was by himself that he lost. 50 win season and a run to the 2nd round. . .I'll buy that. 66/61 wins and deep playoff runs. . .I don't buy it.

'Absurd'? Look man. . .this is the third frickin' time you've claimed to want to have a conversation but then use these words. I know your big and tough and said you wouldn't 'back down' from your opinons but, really, calling me absurd? I've also been called idiotic and foolish. C'mon man. You want to engage, let's engage. . .not insult.

Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera

@Will

My respectful rebuttal to you is that I disagree with practically everything you wrote. We're going to go in circles with this conversation, so rather than waste both our times, let's agree to disagree. And by the way, my 'absurd' comment wasn't directed towards you but to the cliche comments I read on a daily basis about LeBron. Don't take thing so personal.

If you feel the urge to comment on the issue surrounding LeBron's decision and his talents as a player, feel free to hit up Basketball-Reference and keep an eye out for comments posted by my buddy Neil Paine -- make note of comments #84, #85, #119, #161, #170, #183, #184, #209, #213, #214, #216, and #227. Here's some additional knowledge to chew on:

-- http://www.basketball-reference.com/blog/?p=6812
-- http://www.basketball-reference.com/blog/?p=6618

Enjoy.

Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera

@Will

Shaq was fazing out of his prime. End of story. I can empirically prove to you that he was, with a variety of statistics to support my claim.

LeBron hasn't gotten a ring because he was undermined with a rookie general manager, rookie head coach, and a sub-par supporting cast. That's not his fault. LeBron's statistical accomplishments shouldn't be lessened, by any means, because the people he HAD to rely on failed him time and again. Jordan was the best player in the NBA for four or five years before he finally won a championship. Why? Because he, too, was undermined by a rookie head coach and a sub-par supporting cast. It wasn't until Scottie Pippen emerged as an All-Star, Horace Grant emerged as an excellent role player, and Jordan got better coaching AND talent that he started to win titles. Does Jordan's accomplishments before he won championships mean nothing? When he was -- FAR AND AWAY -- better than his peers? No. And it's the same with LeBron. All the criticisms you have of LeBron are the same ones Jordan received.

Want to know why the Cavaliers were swept by the Spurs? LeBron's team was OUTCLASSED. Cleveland's starting backcourt that year was Sasha Pavlovic and Larry Hughes! Don't come at me with this revisionist history that LeBron is a "choker" because his team didn't win a game against San Antonio. If you watched the Finals, those games were competitive and LeBron performed to the best of his abilities. Want to know why the Cavaliers got beat by the Magic? Because Orlando was a nightmare matchup for Cleveland. How is LeBron a "choker" when the MAIN reason why the Cavaliers lost the series is because they had no one to defend Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis. How is that LeBron's fault? LeBron did EVERYTHING conceivably possible to beat the Magic, yet couldn't because his teammates failed him.

LeBron did give up in Game 5 against the Boston Celtics and he should be called out for it, but LeBron came back in Game 6 with 27 points, 19 rebounds, and 10 assists. Last time I checked, though, giving up isn't the same as choking.

Why should the opinion of the mainstream media determine to you whether or not LeBron had the pieces? At the end of the day, LeBron never did. The reasons why the Cavaliers won 60+ games in back-to-back seasons was more because of LeBron's brilliance than it was the supporting cast and coaching staff that he was surrounded by. If LeBron is a "choker" for the things that you described, then Jordan was a "choker" too.

Absurd.

Will
Will

I can't agree that just coming off of three titles in five years is fazing out of his prime but I do agree about Wade, LeBron, and Bosh being in their primes. Good point.

I never said Bosh COULDN'T perform I said that he hasn't proven anything yet in the playoffs. So I can't guarantee a title when 1/3 of the 'big three' are unproven. I also don't believe in raw stats, as we've discussed before. Averaging 39 points, er, rather, a near triple double, is phenomenal statistically, no doubt about it. But the Cult of Personality of LeBron is that he has done more then he actually has. The Piston-25 point outburst was out of this world. . .no doubt. But stats have not got LeBron a ring. . .and that's what matters. Why are we (the general public) guaranteeing championships to 3 people where only one of them has proven it.

Perhaps choke is a strong word: but whenever the 39 ppg, 8 rpg, and 8 apg NEEDED to win, it hasn't happened. I consider that choke-esque, if you will, when he followed up that 25 point outburtst with a Finals sweep. I call it choke-esque when he leads a team to 66 wins and falls apart to the Magic. I call it choke-esque when he leads a team to ANOTHER best record in the regular season and then GIVES UP when the going gets tough. And I don't want to hear the argument that he didn't have help. Last time I checked almost every major sports bureau picked the Cavs to win the whole thing the last two years. . .he had the pieces and he delivered. . .except when it mattered. Choke.

Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera

@Will

Can't compare the two situations. Shaq was fazing out of his prime, and Malone and Payton weren't in their primes at all. James, Wade, and Bosh are ALL at the peak of their careers.

And even though Bosh has little playoff experience, that doesn't mean he can't perform. Pau Gasol had little playoff experience when he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, and now no one questions his pedigree. As for James, he is NOT a choker. Did James give up in Game 5 against the Celtics? Yes, but that's the only criticism that can go against him. He didn't choke when he scored 25 straight points against the Pistons in 2007. He didn't choke when he averaged 39 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists against the Magic in 2009. I can go on.

Will
Will

Remember 2004 is what I'm going with this season. Remember Shaq, Kobe, Malone, and Payton in LA. How'd that turn out. Haha. . .who knows.

Chris Bosh has virtually no playoff experience compared to Wade (one ring, two good playoff years) and LeBron (choke after choke after choke). And with all draft picks and low income centers forming the rest of the line-up alongside journeyman Mike Miller and ho-hum Chalmers, I don't see a championship guaranteed yet.

Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera

@jax502

The Magic can still compete against the Heat as currently constructed, but it's going to be extremely difficult to topple them.

@pcnyc

Orlando is in a bad spot right now, matchups-wise. Either Miami or Boston will present problems in different ways.

@hulKK

It's hard, but that's why everyone needs to press on and see how everything shakes out.

I don't think it's fair to say that a player like Chris Paul wouldn't make the Magic that much better. That's foolish to assert, to be frank. And it's equally foolhardy to state that Orlando is paying the luxury tax and opening up the Amway Center for nothing. That's not true. The Magic are still capable of winning a championship. The road to a title got harder, but it's not impossible.

@ndcolin

Paul can't guard Wade, because he's too small in that matchup.

It's possible for Orlando to acquire Paul, but not likely. You're head is in the right direction, though. The only way the Magic could conceivably acquire Paul is if they're willing to take on Okafor's contract. The issue, though, is that I'm skeptical that Otis Smith can put together a package that would appeal to the Hornets. I say that because New Orleans is under the luxury tax, so the urgency to shed salary isn't there anymore. Orlando would have to make a very enticing offer, similar to the one that you suggested.

Nelson is NOT a shooting guard, by the way.

@Billy (slickw143)

Even with Howard's matchup advantage and let's assume that the Magic will have the better supporting cast when the regular season begins, I don't think that'll be enough to topple the Heat with James, Wade, and Bosh. If one of them gets hurt, then that's a different story. But if all three are healthy and are flanked with an adequate supporting cast, the cards are stacked in their favor.

It's true. Talent isn't everything. It's all about matchups in the NBA, which is why Miami has the advantages there. More than Orlando, plus they ALSO have the better players. To be frank, the Heat are too overwhelming of a matchup against the Magic right now. Things can change, obviously.

@yogi

Gerald Wallace isn't going anywhere.

@JoeybarZ

Iguodala would be a start, in the sense that -- when he's at his best -- is one of the elite perimeter defenders in the NBA, but he would be a dubious fit offensively.

@pcnyc

That's why Miami is acquiring three-point shooters, to foil the strategy of making them win from the perimeter.

@Nate

What matchups are there to exploit? I laid them all out on the table.

Nate
Nate

You guys need to quit freaking out. SVG will exploit the matchups. 3 players does not a team make.

pcnyc
pcnyc

the way i look at this, the usual strategy used by Magic is to let the superstar beat you, (explains why the huge numbers from all 3 when they played Magic), so from that stand point, having all 3 of them on the same team really doesn't change much, it's not like having the three triples the number of points for each bucket. what sucks is that Magic does occasionally like to double the superstar near the end of the game, that won't be as effective now with all the options Heat has. The best thing to do is probably still what Magic does best, shut down the paint and make them beat you from the outside.

Billy (slickw143)
Billy (slickw143)

Another thing that needs to be covered. Yes, Miami has the most talented team even without making any more moves. But as Magic fans saw last year in the playoffs, that doesn't always mean everything. The Magic were a more talented team than Boston and had a lot of advantages individually in regards to match-ups, but Boston's team defense and sound offense won out. Same with them against Cleveland. And even against LA, who now everyone who's not on Miami's jock is saying is the title favorite "without question", were a Perkins ACL away from losing to them.

Boston out-played three teams with, in my opinion, a fair amount of more talent than them. Orlando would have to reach down and find something they didn't have last year, something Boston clearly had, but it's not like this Miami to the Finals thing is a done deal.

pcnyc
pcnyc

you are right, my mind was stuck in 2008 for some reason, nba changed the seeding to guarantee div winner to be top 4 or something. @Derek

JoeybarZ
JoeybarZ

As much as I'd love to have gwallace, jordan ain't lettin him go... I still like Andre iggy and eddy u stated that it wouldn't work financially, but dag that would be hella pick up... Cp3 would be phenomenal out here but unlikely is a huge understatement...

ndcolin
ndcolin

I know it may not happen, but Jameer could play as a 2 pretty easily. He already shoots, drives, etc more than the average 1. Think of him as a Hornacek/Iverson mix at SG. We would need his outside shooting and driving ability, and so long as we don't run into a team with two large wings who can score (D Wade is too short for Miami to have that), he wouldn't be that much of a defensive liability. Also, I think NO could see VC/Gortat as pretty appealing. First, it's one of the few thrade combos that would be possible under the current CBA. Also, they badly want to cut salary/start from scratch because of likely new ownership. Shedding Okafor's onerous contract, then, would be in their best interests. As would acquiring VC's soon-to-expire deal. The draft picks could help them along in their rebuilding process, too. The Daniel Ortons of the world would be a better fit on a rebuilding team like NOLA than a contending team like Oralndo

yogi
yogi

CP3 may not happen, and if so why have nelson then.
I think we should get gerard wallace to take care of james and help howard with the rebounds.

Billy (slickw143)
Billy (slickw143)

NO's not giving up Paul without getting Jameer back. It would be a great move for the Magic, and as Eddy said, the only one out there that really makes a lot of sense. Since I'm lazy, I'm just going to post my comment from OPP.

"slickw143 thinks LeBron James is doing the best thing for LeBron James

I think I just spoke in the 6th person. Anyways, there are two things I feel the Magic and the fans can look at as a possible silver lining in all of this.

First, they don’t have nor will they have anyone to guard Dwight, because there’s no one available on the market who can. That’s what Boston and LA had the last two years that kept us from winning the title. If Dwight gets even better offensively over the off-season, then that’s a huge advantage for us. Second, with the looming CBA, I think there will be at MOST three vets who will take minimum deals to jump on to their ship. This is the last chance for some good role players to get paid. The Heat will have garbage for depth, and who knows how things play out if one of the Ginormous Three gets hurt, or how much they have left at the end of a game after logging 44 minutes each.

Either way, I’m still nervous."

ndcolin
ndcolin

Hear me out on this.

Chris Paul wants to win a championship. He can't go to Miami (would have to trade one of Big 3 to meet CBA guidelines) or Boston (Rondo). That means only us and LA are left. We could give NO Gortat, VC's expiring contract, and 1st round picks for 2-3 yrs, while taking Okafor's large and unwanted contract from them. Better than the Lakers. We have this starting 5

Paul-Jameer-Pietrus-Lewis-Howard

Bench: Duhon, Redick, Okafor, Bass, Anderson, whoever, whoever

When we play the Heat, CP3 gets Dwayne, Pietrus gets LeBron, Lewis on Bosh. None of those match-ups are show stoppers, but they're respectable. Miami, meanwhile, just has spent the remainder of their cap space on Mike Miller. Which means that their starting center will be a min salary guy or Haslem. BIG advantage for us. The other four guys in the starting line-up (and JJ) can drain threes if they double on Howard.

A lot of speculation, yes, but also very possible

Derek
Derek

not exactly,look at the playoffs from this year.Celtics won the Atlantic but were a 4 seed.We'll just need a better record than other division winners,if we don't win.@pcnyc

pcnyc
pcnyc

This also begs the questions, how long until Pat Riley gets back to coaching?

hulKK
hulKK

It's hard being an Orlando Magic fan. We've done a great job of drafting, trading and making good moves to build this team for the past 6-7yrs now only to be slapped in the face by "buddy basketball" Let's be honest, knowing that we can only somewhat compete with the Heat and will never overcome them is VERY heart breaking. Even if we do bring in some one like Chris Paul, it still won't improve the team by much. This is truly a sad day for an Orlando Magic fan. We might as well just say it, Orlando has a VERY talented team that is well over into the Luxury Tax with a NEW Arena for no reason.

pcnyc
pcnyc

Well, they are in the same division, so at least Magic should be locked into playing the Heat in round 2 (1seed vs 4 or 5) and not the Celtics, yay?

jax502
jax502

Eddy, you've said it in the last part of this great article. The Magic will have no choice but to make a huge move to improve their lineup if they want to compete in the East. I really hope they can bring someone like Chris Paul in to the team or someone in the PF or SF who will be able to handle LBJ and Bosh defensively. The new Big Tres will be a nightmare for the Magic.