- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Did you know that tonight is, in effect, the start of the [Orlando] Magic‘s playoff push? Forget the calendar. Stan’s blueprint is designed so the Magic at times prepare for the postseason during the regular season, from developing young players to experimenting with certain schemes to seeing that aging Vince Carter reaches the title run in one piece. [Stan] Van Gundy concedes this strategy is essentially a first for him. And it’s not going to be easy. You might even see him lighting up in blue hues. Like a lot of coaches, he lives in the moment, game-to-game, trying to win that particular night. General managers are big-picture people; coaches are reviewing instant snapshots. The idea of preparing for May in January is as foreign to most coaches as Thai cuisine. Then again, most don’t have a contender like Van Gundy does. The Magic are close, with a Finals trip and two Eastern Conference Finals appearances the past two seasons. They are figuring out how to scale that hump. And Van Gundy realizes that The Postseason Plan might require getting away from tried-and-true formulas of the past that have assured wins on a given night.”
- Want to know how to stop John Wall? Ask Daniel Orton, or not.
- Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “The coaching staff has already begun preparing for the Heat game. Van Gundy said the coaching staff usually doesn’t work ahead, but with so many days off in a row, they’ve exhausted all of the preparation they can do for the Wizards. The players, meanwhile, have done no preparation for the Heat.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “When [Jameer] Nelson and Magic coach Stan Van Gundy met following the crushing Eastern Conference Finals loss to Boston last spring, they talked about where Nelson could improve his game the most. Van Gundy asked that he push himself to become a better defender. To do just that, Nelson went through hours of agility drills to better his side-to-side movement and footwork and he trained again with boxing drills to make his hands and reactions better. And Van Gundy said he’s seen positive results in the preseason. He hopes that it carries over to Thursday when Nelson will be matched up with Wall, Gilbert Arenas and Kirk Hinrich at times throughout the game.”
- A preview of Dwight Howard‘s season.
- Are the Magic tough enough? Chris Sheridan of ESPN.com tries to answer that question.