AP Photo/Mike Carlson
With the playoffs fast approaching, this is the part of the regular season where things get a little boring.
With the Orlando Magic in firm position of the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, there’s not much to play for. The Magic trail the Miami Heat by 5.5 games for the No. 2 seed with 17 games left on the schedule, so it’s safe to say that the odds of Orlando catching Miami in the standings are low.
And even though the Magic are just 2.5 games ahead of the Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks for the No. 3 seed in the East, which means Orlando’s playoff seeding is not set in stone yet, it’s looking a 3-6 matchup with either the Pacers or Hawks is likely. For the Magic’s sake, they better hope they draw Indiana in the first round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs and not the Hawks. Or worse. The Boston Celtics.
As you can see, there’s very little movement possible for Orlando with regards to their playoff seeding. Which means that regular season games for the Magic, like their game on Friday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, have little bearing in the big picture.
You kind of have the feeling Orlando knows that.
From the very start of the game, the Magic were in cruise control and going through the motions. Because Orlando is better than the Cavaliers, they could get away with playing that way. And the Magic did, jumping out to a double-digit lead against Cleveland in the first quarter, then maintaining that distance for the remainder of the game. For the most part.
The Cavaliers did put up a fight, but it never seemed like it was going to be enough because of the talent disparity between both teams. Cleveland cut Orlando’s 20-point lead in the third quarter down to seven points but then the Magic blew the game wide open, increasing the lead to as many as 21 points after Hedo Turkoglu nailed a three-pointer on the left wing in a pick-and-roll with Dwight Howard with 4:05 left in the fourth quarter.
That was all she wrote.
With one month remaining in the regular season for Orlando and a schedule that’s not relatively difficult, expect more games like this from the Magic in the weeks ahead.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
The moment he stepped on the floor, Dwight was — by default — the best player in the game. Matched up mostly against Tristan Thompson, the Cavaliers’ other lottery pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Dwight had his way offensively.
In this case, it’s a negative. One of the main reasons why Cleveland kept hanging around in the game was because Orlando committed 18 turnovers. Turkoglu was the chief offender with four turnovers.