Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Recaps: All Previews
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Recaps: All Previews
October 1 is almost here and that only means one thing.
The grand opening of the Amway Center is upon us. As the community of Orlando prepares to check out the new digs on Friday, take a minute out of your day to preview what your eyes will bestow upon sooner or later. As head coach Stan Van Gundy might quip, buildings are nothing more than inanimate objects but it’s hard not look at the pictures and say one word.
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Media Day is today!
I attended last year’s event for Orlando Pinstriped Post and would have covered it this year, but I’m in graduate school at Northwestern University and scheduling as well as logistics didn’t allow me to trek down to Orlando to cover the proceedings at the Amway Center this year.
All is not lost, however.
As per my recommendation, make sure to follow these writers on Twitter for coverage:
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Here’s another installment of the Magic Basketball Mailbag.
Will the Magic make an offer for Melo after all?
Most likely, no.
If it hasn’t happened now, then it probably won’t happen.
I just had a debate with some Lakers fans. One of them claims that we have no defense against the Heat. What’s your take?
Dwight Howard thinks otherwise.
Having the two-time Defensive Player of the Year as the anchor of the defense will help the Orlando Magic against the Miami Heat and slow them down a little bit, but it’s not entirely clear if he alone is enough to stop them. Yes, the Magic have a bevy of perimeter defenders but none of them have proven that they can stop either LeBron James or Dwyane Wade, or even slow them down at all.
James, Wade, and Chris Bosh have been Magic-killers for years. This is nothing new and when looking at the matchups defensively, even with Howard in the paint to help discourage James or Wade from attacking the basket at will, it’s doubtful that it will be enough. That’s what’s frightening about this matchup. Orlando has almost no choice but to single-cover James, Wade, and Bosh at times. Who stops them?
Maybe Bosh can be contained, but what about James and Wade?
Let’s put it this way.
In 2009, the Magic led the NBA in defensive efficiency yet were unable to effectively defend James, Wade, and Bosh individually on their respective teams.
James eviscerated Orlando’s defense in the Conference Finals, averaging 39 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists per game. That’s not even including James’ regular season meetings, mind you.
Wade, infamously, scored 50 points in a loss during a regular season game and in four meetings, averaged an obscene 38 points per game on a .579 True Shooting percentage.
As for Bosh, he averaged 24.5 points per game on a .622 True Shooting percentage — including a 40-point outburst in one meeting.
And remember, this was when they were the primary focus of the Magic defensively.
Yes, there’s going to be a redistribution of shots and possessions but if James, Wade, and Bosh were able to accomplish these feats by themselves, it’s scary to figure out what they’ll do as a tandem.
For example, the Heat could employ the Charlotte Bobcats’ strategy of going right at Howard in the paint and draw fouls on him. If Miami were to succeed in that philosophy, have mercy on Marcin Gortat because he’s going to be left on an island.
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Fact or Fiction presents both sides of key issues the Orlando Magic will face in the upcoming season.
The Orlando Magic will show that the 4-out/1-in offensive scheme and a more traditional style of basketball can co-exist by using each at the correct time to exploit the other team’s weakness.
The centerman in this entire discussion is Rashard Lewis.
When it comes to figuring out whether or not the Orlando Magic are going to play a more traditional style of basketball, Lewis is the player that starts and ends the domino effect because of his ability to play at either forward positions at an All-Star caliber level when he’s at his best.
And in case you haven’t heard, head coach Stan Van Gundy has stated that he is deliberating internally on how much time he’s going to feature Rashard Lewis at the small forward position.
Then the next logical step would be to decipher whether or not Ryan Anderson or Brandon Bass should be primarily paired with Lewis. But rather than open that can of worms, let’s save that discussion for another day once a decision is made by Van Gundy.
Even though a contingent of Magic fans hope that Lewis starts at small forward, it’s unlikely that will occur. That being said, Lewis does need to be featured more at the small forward position when favorable matchups present themselves on the court.
This is something that needs to happen because Lewis is such a talented and versatile player offensively, yet not many people realize it or forgot because he’s been asked to be primarily a spot-up shooter in the Magic’s 4-out/1-in offensive system to maximize the spacing on the floor and provide Dwight Howard with plenty of room to operate on the low block.
Sure, there have been instances where Lewis has seen a considerable amount of time in the low post (see Game 6 against the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the 2009 NBA Playoffs). But those occurrences have been few and far in between for the last three years since Lewis arrived as a free agent in 2008 from the Seattle SuperSonics.
Yet everything could change this season.
Knowing that the road to an Eastern Conference championship and appearance in the NBA Finals is tougher than ever before for Orlando, it’s clear that Van Gundy is going to have to find different ways to maximize the roster’s potential for success this year. A number of people have critically panned the Magic’s off-season because general manager Otis Smith didn’t dramatically improve the team (ie: didn’t dominate the headlines and made splashy moves like last season), but improvements were still made. Chris Duhon is projected to be an upgrade at back-up point guard over Jason Williams, and Quentin Richardson is expected to be a much better fit at the wing position than Matt Barnes. And if there’s one factor that nearly everyone isn’t taking into account, it’s that improvement may also come through continuity and familiarity with Van Gundy’s system.
Vince Carter, Anderson, and maybe Bass, players that will be with Orlando for a second year, may improve because they’ve had a season to get accustomed to different schemes and what not. Plus, the chaos of integrating five new players (like last year) to a 10-man rotation isn’t there either. Instead, only Duhon and Richardson will be the newbies trying to fit in.
That’s much more manageable.
Ultimately though, the utilization of Lewis will be one of the things that will determine how successful the season will be for the Magic.
There’s no question that, barring injury, Rashard Lewis will be in the Orlando Magic’s starting lineup when the regular season begins on Oct. 28.
But at what position will the 6-foot-10 sharpshooter play?
That’s up for grabs.
Coach Stan Van Gundy told the Orlando Sentinel today that perhaps his top task over the next month will be to determine whether the Magic are better off with Lewis at his usual position of power forward or at his natural position of small forward. [...]
Indeed, Van Gundy acknowledged Lewis could start the season opener at small forward.
This is … interesting.
There is a contingent of Magic fans that would jump head over heels if Rashard Lewis was the starter at small forward.
The logic is that the Orlando Magic haven’t been able to win a championship with Lewis at power forward in recent years because they’ve lost to teams in the playoffs that have had superior size, so a solution that’s been discussed tirelessly would be to shift Lewis back to his “natural” position at small forward and go from there. Then either Ryan Anderson or Brandon Bass could start at the power forward position and voila, the Magic would be bigger in the frontcourt. Yes, Marcin Gortat might be a possibility but it’s been proven that he can only coexist with Dwight Howard in spurts, given his inability to space the floor offensively at all.
Problem solved. Right?
This is a type of move with an eye towards the postseason, when the Magic might invariably face off against the Boston Celtics and/or the Miami Heat.
The question is whether or not shifting Lewis at small forward and playing Anderson or Bass at power forward is enough to make a difference in either series? It may work against the Celtics, given that Lewis — despite concerns that he lacks quickness to stay in front of wing players or chase them around screens — would be guarding someone in Paul Pierce that is more crafty than anything else. And even though there would be concerns that Anderson or Bass might not be able to guard Kevin Garnett, he would have the benefit of having Dwight Howard on the weak-side defensively to help if necessary. An additional problem, though, is that Bass is a defensive sieve when it comes to executing schemes so that needs to be taken into account. It’s not so much an issue with Anderson, given that he’s a capable team defender. So there’s that scenario.
As for the Heat, there’s no way that Lewis can defend LeBron James.
The problem is exacerbated when making note that James would likely be assigned to guard Lewis on the other end of the floor. James, by the way, is one of the best defenders in the NBA and after shutting down Pierce in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals, there’s no question that James could do the same to Lewis and eliminate a weapon for the Magic on offense. Then Anderson or Bass would be forced to fend against Chris Bosh, who is a Magic-killer and probably wouldn’t have too many problems scoring on either player. This is a matchup where Lewis has to play at power forward because he’s had success against Bosh in the past, not so much stopping him on offense but more so making an impact offensively. That’s an important distinction because Lewis wouldn’t have anywhere close to the same luck if he was being defended by James.
Clearly, it’s a tough call to make for Van Gundy.
That being said, it’s doubtful that Lewis starts the season at small forward.
The move doesn’t make much sense, especially when considering that the rotation would be different and players like Mickael Pietrus or Quentin Richardson would see a short end of the stick in terms of playing time.
It’s more likely that Lewis sees much more minutes at the small forward position on a situational basis, whenever the matchups are favorable so he can do some damage on the low block.
We’ll see what happens, though.
Ultimately, the key is finding the right balance for Lewis at the forward positions.
Equilibrium is the word.