Friday's Magic Word | Magic Basketball

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Oct 22

Friday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “This was an NBA walk-through that actually was a walk-through. The Orlando Magic did not do any running during their shootaround this morning at the St. Pete Times Forum because the court was too slippery. […] The Magic are scheduled to face the Miami Heat here at 7:30 p.m. [Stan] Van Gundy said he would have kept his team at its hotel this morning and held a walk-through in a ballroom if he had known the court was so slippery. St. Pete Times Forum spokesman Bill Wickett said the court’s slickness was not caused by condensation from the ice underneath the wood. Instead, he said the basketball court had been stored for a long time and was cleaned after last night’s Tampa Bay Lightning hockey game. The spokesman said the court had not dried before the Magic arrived at the arena.”
  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Regardless of what’s motivating [Vince] Carter, one thing is clear: it’s working. To great effect. Yet Carter’s attitude adjustment isn’t the only factor that appears to have contributed to is success. Indeed, the Magic are deploying him differently than they did last season, using him less as a facilitator and more as a jump-shooter. More specifically, data from Synergy Sports Technology show that Carter’s pick-and-roll involvement has dropped from 48.7 percent of his overall plays in 2009/10 to 34.4 percent this preseason. As a result of playing off the ball, he’s able to take more in-rhythm shots off the catch (33.9 percent), and fewer contested ones off the bounce (21 percent). On the downside, his assist numbers have taken a dive, which his incredible efficiency mitigates.”
  • Dwight Howard and Marvel Comics team up for a rare collaboration.
  • Ball Don’t Lie previews the Orlando Magic. A must-read: “The only thing stopping Orlando is smart play down crucial stretches of playoff games, and this means the first quarter as much as it does the fourth. Because the fourth quarter is rarely crucial when you lose the first. Jameer Nelson needs to lead his team offensively, Rashard Lewis needs to get back to where he was during the 2009 playoffs, and coach Stan Van Gundy will have to get the most out of what is easily the deepest team in the NBA. Championship, or bust. No other way to put it.”
  • Zach Lowe of The Point Forward looks at the good and bad of the pre-season for the Magic. There’s not a lot of the latter: “Everything. The Magic are undefeated and outscoring opponents by a ludicrous 25 points per game.”
  • Rashard Lewis is one of the worst shot blockers in the NBA.
  • An opposing scout provides his take on Orlando for Sports Illustrated: “I don’t see Orlando being on the same level as Boston or Miami in the East, and a lot of it has to do with having Vince Carter as their go-to scorer. He can do it on certain nights, but I don’t think they can depend on him consistently in the playoffs. When he is doing most of the scoring and shooting, it doesn’t fit in with the rest of the team and what they’re all about. Defensively, Carter doesn’t help them either. The problem is they brought in Carter to replace Hedo Turkoglu, who played a big role for them going to the Finals two seasons ago. They ran many sets with Turkoglu handling the ball in pick-and-roll situations as if he was a point guard. He could post up, he could play both forward positions, he could handle the ball and he was so versatile — not a great shooter but he made big shots and plays — and most of all he was a matchup problem for everybody. Carter doesn’t create those mismatches, and their other players don’t flourish around him the way they did around Turkoglu a couple of years ago.”
  • Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated: “They appear to be third in line behind Miami and Boston, but Orlando will demand the respect of opponents by winning close to 60 games. No one thought much of the Magic two years ago either, and then they went to the Finals. They’ve kept their team intact, which gives them an advantage in teamwork over the Heat, and they’ve shown no interest whatsoever in ceding anything to Miami. The two Florida contenders will be on their way to developing the East’s best rivalry if they succeed in beating each other when they meet twice in the opening month.”
  • Howard empathizes with LeBron James and the hateful tweets he’s received.
  • ESPN previews the Magic, as well, and a lot of their criticisms are off-based (more on this later). Take it away, Chris Broussard: “Dwight Howard will be better and make a serious case for MVP, but the Magic as a whole are declining. They’ll still win lots of games, but with Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis just another year older, they’re heading in the wrong direction. Bottom line: they should’ve paid Hedo!”
  • And lastly, NBA FanHouse previews the men in blue. Tom Ziller and Bethlehem Shoals provide a sound and accurate depiction of the forgotten contender in the Eastern Conference: “I’m fully convinced that having Patrick Ewing, the king of great but somehow disappointing centers, as an assistant coach has dragged Dwight Howard’s name unnecessarily through the mud. Like death and taxes, you can always count on a louse or two pointing out Howard’s flaws without acknowledging his amazing feats. Feats like winning three straight rebounding titles before turning 25. Like leading the league in blocks and rebounds two straight years. Like missing a whopping three games in six seasons. Howard doesn’t have Hakeem’s smooth or Duncan’s craft; he’s just a heap of muscles and a giant set of hands. So, like Ewing and even David Robinson, he’s discounted as a player not committed to getting better, to not being the man. Bull pucky. This is the best big man in the game today, an heir to Hakeem and Duncan in terms of impact on a game, any game. How quickly we forget that Howard’s team has beaten LeBron and the Celtics already.”
  • Seriously. Read and re-read the previews of Orlando by Ball Don’t Lie and NBA FanHouse.
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