Tuesday's Magic Word | Magic Basketball

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Apr 19

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “Dwight Howard is a better defensive center than Bill Russell. That’s right, BILL RUSSELL. And this isn’t me talking because, quite frankly, Bill Russell was before my time although I do remember when I was kid listening to my stepdad and his buddies talking about how Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a great center, but, by gosh, he was no Bill Russell. In fact, I almost spewed Bud Light out of my nose the other night after the Magic-Nuggets game when Magic color analyst Matt Guokas was talking to play-by-play man David Steele during their post-game wrap-up. That’s when Guokas dropped the bombshell and actually said Howard is a better defensive center than Russell and, therefore, the greatest defensive big man in the history of the game. Is this basketball blasphemy by a homer broadcaster or is it intrepid analysis by an astute observer of the game? If it was anybody else except Guokas, I might call him a hopeless homer, but that’s just not Guokas’ style. He is not a bombastic broadcaster who is disposed to hyperbole. He is a thoughtful, knowledgeable historian of the game who gives honest opinions during Magic telecasts. Not only that, but he played against Russell, played with and against Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and is old enough to remember when George Mikan played for the old Minneapolis Lakers.”
  • Jason Richardson talks about defending Joe Johnson.
  • Players’ habits don’t change according to head coach Stan Van Gundy.
  • Jameer Nelson talks about the improvements needed for the Orlando Magic.
  • The Atlanta Hawks have a chance to take a commanding 2-0 lead against the Magic.
  • Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “To my recollection, a typical Magic post-up for Howard goes a bit like this: a wing player, usually on the left side of the floor, throws an entry pass to Howard, who’s stationed on the left block. The post-entry passer then cuts through the paint to the weak side, finds a spot beyond the arc, and stands still. The three other players stand in place. This alignment puts no pressure on the defense, which has nothing substantial to react to, no tough decisions to make. It seems like it’d be wise for Orlando to at least send a cutter or to the basket, or run a pin-down on the weak side for a shooter, while Howard operates in the post. Get the would-be help defenders moving, force them to make a choice, find the hole, exploit it. Longtime readers of this site know I tend to advocate more motion in Orlando’s offense, either by involving Howard in more pick-and-rolls or by running some off-ball action to free a wing player as outlined above, whenever the team consistently stagnates. As much as I hate to use that talking point so much, I still believe it to be true. I don’t know that Orlando will have much postseason success if it continues to run its offense this way.”
  • Matt Moore of CBSSports.com notes an adjustment Orlando needs to make in Game 2 later tonight: “According to Synergy Sports , you know how many pick and roll plays the Magic ran? 31. You know how many wound up in the hands of the roll man? None. Zip, zero, zilch. That makes Dwight Howard’s night more impressive, but it also means a few things. One, if you go back and watch, the Hawks are closing two to three defenders on Howard or whoever the roll man is. Two, that adjustment means that the Magic, had they opted to, would have had an open shooter off the second pass on the pick, drive and kick. But instead, they just launched. Nelson comes off the screen, he kicks out, catch and shoot. Except that they were rushing all those shots. They had the opportunity to spin the ball when the Hawks started to try and recover, but instead just let it fly. The result? Brick city. The Magic are at their best not when they’re just launching threes, but when they’re actually creating stupendously open shots from their ball rotation. That’s how they beat the Celtics and Cavaliers in 2009, and going away from that strategy in 2010 hurt them, as it’s hurting them now. They have experienced, competent passers and shooters on the perimeter. The Magic need to slow down their decision making, not their pace, and work to create the best shot possible. Do that and their perimeter game will finally start to click.”
  • Nate Drexler makes an appearance in ESPN.com’s 5-on-5 writer roundup.
  • Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie chimes in on Dwight Howard winning the Defensive Player of the Year award for the third consecutive time in his career.
  • Farewell to former Magic player Jason Williams.
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