Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 188

Oct 29

Interview with Kevin Arnovitz and Tom Haberstroh of The Heat Index

Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

After nearly four months, the wait is over.

We know the story by now. LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined forces with Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat to create the SuperFriends. Afterwards, general manager Otis Smith and head coach Stan Van Gundy had a few words to say about the way James handled his decision (literally and figuratively), president Pat Riley fired back with comments of his own, Van Gundy offered a rebuttal, and here we are. The players for the Orlando Magic have been sick and tired with talking about the Heat, and tonight will be their chance to air out their frustrations.

To preview tonight’s matchup, I enlisted the wisdom of Kevin Arnovitz and Tom Haberstroh — both write for the Heat Index at the TrueHoop Network.

Arnovitz and Haberstroh provide their opinions on Mike Miller’s eventual role with Miami when he returns from injury, the matchup advantages for the Magic against the Heat, and more.

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It’s been two games, of course, but how have LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh looked together on the court?

Kevin Arnovitz: It’s far too early to assess meaningfully, but they’ve looked a little disjointed in the half court as a unit. They haven’t been on the floor enough yet to establish a rhythm to their sets or develop an intuitive sense of where the other two guys are going to be in less structured moments. Wade has been the least deliberate of the three — for better (W at PHL) and worse (L at BOS).

Tom Haberstroh: Like they have only played a handful of minutes together. The Heat seem to be experimenting with different sets to try to spark some chemistry and dust off the rust. But they’re not hitting on all cylinders yet and believe me, we’ll know when they are. There’s plenty of time to change this but LeBron has been far too conservative with the ball. He has barely attacked the basket in each of the opening quarters this season and that’s a large reason they’ve sputtered out of the gates so far. That will change as he gets more comfortable alongside Dwyane Wade.

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Oct 28

Recap: Orlando Magic 112, Washington Wizards 83

Photo by Fernando Medina

BOX SCORE

Welcome to the Amway Center. Again.

In front of a nationally televised audience, the Orlando Magic christened their regular season home opener by defeating the Washington Wizards by the score of 112-83. For the Magic, they tied the largest margin of victory for a home opener in franchise history. And to be frank, this game was over when Orlando was up by as much as 18 points in the first quarter. The Magic were led by their four All-Stars, all with standout performances to varying degrees. Dwight Howard finished the game with 23 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks, while Vince Carter had 18 points and five rebounds, Jameer Nelson had 16 points and six assists, and Rashard Lewis had 13 points and seven rebounds. Each of them played efficient basketball, and the chemistry between the quartet has never looked better. Highly touted rookie John Wall struggled at times in his NBA debut, finishing with 14 points on 6-of-19 shooting, nine assists, and three steals. Give credit to Wall for playing hard the entire time he was on the court, despite the lopsided score.

A lot of kudos should be given to Orlando for emphatically beating an inferior opponent. However, the Wizards made things too easy for the Magic by offering little resistance in terms of interior defense. According to Hoopdata, Orlando shot 18-of-21 at the rim and 10-for-15 inside 10 feet. Add to the fact that the Magic were able to get to the free-throw line a total of 32 times, and it’s easy to see why this game was barely competitive after the opening tip.

Those numbers are absurd.

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Oct 28

Preview: Washington Wizards at Orlando Magic

8:00 EDT | TNT
26-56 @ 59-23
Pythagorean Record: 28-54 Pythagorean Record: 61-21
Pace: 91.6 (21st) Pace: 92.0 (18th)
Offensive Rating: 104.2 (25th) Offensive Rating: 111.4 (4th)
Defensive Rating: 109.4 (18th) Defensive Rating: 103.3 (3rd)
Amway Center | 2010-2011 NBA Opening Week

Oct 28

Thursday’s Magic Word

  • Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “So, Dwight Howard can hit mid-range jumpers now? That doesn’t concern the Washington Wizards. Coach Flip Saunders and center JaVale McGee both reiterated the same point: they’d rather have Howard shooting jumpers than scoring in the paint. [...] Saunders mentioned Karl Malone as a player who expanded his game from the low-post to out away from the basket. He believes Howard could become ‘nearly unstoppable’ when he progresses his offensive game to that point, but right now he’s not all that afraid of Howard’s jumpers.”
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “There won’t be any surprises in the Orlando Magic starting lineup for tonight’s season opener against the Washington Wizards. Coach Stan Van Gundy said moments ago that his starters will be Jameer Nelson at point guard, Vince Carter at shooting guard, Quentin Richardson at small forward, Rashard Lewis at power forward and Dwight Howard at center. Point guard Jason Williams will be on the team’s active roster tonight, Van Gundy said. Big man Malik Allen will be on the inactive list.”
  • Head coach Flip Saunders is wary of the Washington Wizards receiving a “haymaker” early in tonight’s game against the Orlando Magic: “There’s going to be an unbelievable amount of energy in this building with the new building. Orlando, they’re playing extremely well. They’ve got something to prove, and they’ve been one of the top three teams in this league the last three years and not a lot of people are talking about them right now.”
  • Win one for the Amway Center? Say what? Note J.J. Redick‘s response.
  • Brian Schmitz talks about the artwork at the new arena.
  • George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel conducts an excellent Q/A with Bob Vander Weide, CEO of the Magic. Here’s a snippet from Vander Weide: “I don’t hear our guys saying anything about respect because once they get on the court they get the respect. The only thing they might say is we’re a little sick hearing about Miami. But I think every team that plays us, knowing where we’ve been the last two years, is going to respect us on the floor. Does that mean that somebody on ESPN is going to call us out as the champions to be? Who cares?”
  • Dress up head coach Stan Van Gundy!
  • Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “The team was at its very best with Nelson running the show on offense, and wasn’t too bad with him on defense, either. As such, he owns the team’s second-best efficiency differential. Lewis is the team’s best option at either forward slot, which lends credence to Van Gundy’s idea that it’s best to move Lewis around based on matchups, which in turn gives the Magic comfort with different, versatile offensive approaches. I’m surprised we saw so litle of Carter at small forward, given how often he and Redick paired up on the wings in the postseason. And [Marcin] Gortat got hardly any time alongside Howard in a big lineup, though when together, they proved effective.”

Oct 28

New TV Show “Inside the Magic: 10-10-10 Opening Night” Premieres 11/3 on Fox Sports Florida

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

Via Fox Sports Florida:

The first 2010-11 edition of Sun Sports/FOX Sports Florida’s acclaimed “Inside the Magic” series premieres Wednesday, November 3, at 10:00pm ET on FOX Sports Florida immediately following the Minnesota @ Orlando game telecast.

“Inside the Magic: 10-10-10 Opening Night” will feature:

  • Hosted by former Miss Florida and now FOX Sports Florida/Sun Sports reporter, Megan Clementi
  • On October 10, 2010 the Orlando Magic played the New Orleans Hornets in the first game in the new Amway Center. FOX Sports Florida cameras were on-site documenting the entire day, from the laying of the parquet court to the preparations of the food, technology, and game presentation staff, and capturing the reactions of fans attending this inaugural game.

Viewers will hear from:

  • Jameer Nelson, Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, Stan Van Gundy
  • Chief Executive Officer Bob Vander Weide
  • President Alex Martins
  • Director of Broadcast Production Kevin Cosgrove
  • Radio Play-by-Play Announcer Dennis Neumann
  • Levy Restaurants Executive Chef John Nicely
  • Lots of fans!

Oct 28

Some Odds and Ends About the Amway Center

Fernando Medina/OrlandoMagic.com

Via ESPN Stats and Information:

The [Orlando] Magic moved into a new building this year. Their home opener was Oct. 28 against the Wizards. Last season, they were at Amway Arena and in the offseason, Orlando moved 10 blocks to Amway Center.

Amway Arena Amway Center
Square footage 367,000 875,000
Width of seats (in inches) 18” 20-24”
Restrooms 8 37
Elevators 4 18
Public concourses 1 8

Oct 27

Wednesday’s Magic Word

  • 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 Ortonor 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.

Oct 27

The Orlando Magic Return to the Familiar Underdog Role

Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images

Via John Hollinger of ESPN Insider:

Virtually every set of predictions lists one of three teams as champion: the Lakers, Heat or Celtics. I’m wondering if this consensus is missing the boat on reality, and I’m not just saying that because the Heat and Lakers looked somewhere south of dominant Tuesday night.

In light of the fact that Orlando dominated the preseason after dominating the second half of last season, I find it particularly hard to swallow how dismissive most people seem of the Magic’s chances.

Apparently lots of people saw last year’s Eastern Conference finals and decided the Magic can’t be trusted in the playoffs … which might be a better argument if they hadn’t won the East a year earlier (with Rafer Alston playing point guard, for Pete’s sake). If the effects of Dwight Howard-stopper Kendrick Perkins’ knee injury linger into the postseason, the Magic might be able to outlast Boston in a potential meeting. Alternatively, they may not need to play the Celtics at all.

And then there’s the wild card: trades. Remember, you don’t win with your November roster; you win with the roster you take into the playoffs. Look at the top teams and at which ones have the assets to make major upgrades between now and the trade deadline, and you’ll quickly notice that it’s not the Lakers, Celtics and Heat who are holding the cards.

Teams such as Portland, Oklahoma City, Houston and Orlando sit on major asset troves, which could enable them to make the necessary upgrades and roster tweaks to push them up another level. You don’t think Orlando becomes a favorite if it can use its assets to pry Paul from New Orleans?

And that’s what boggles the mind. More and more, the Orlando Magic are being labeled as a great “regular season” team. For those that can’t read between the lines, that’s a nice way of saying that the Magic are soft or can’t cut it in the playoffs. Problem is, that argument doesn’t carry weight.

Why?

Because the core of the Magic, the same core that went to the NBA Finals in 2009 is still intact. It’s not like this is a cast of characters that haven’t stepped up on the big stage. Just because Orlando had a one bad series against the Boston Celtics, shouldn’t dismiss all the things they’ve accomplished the last two years. Rashard Lewis, especially, is a player that’s receiving a lot of undue criticism for how he performed against the Celtics in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals, leading some people to believe that he’s yet to have a breakout series in the playoffs.

I guess Lewis’ performance in the Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers doesn’t qualify.

If the Magic were a team that hasn’t proven anything in the postseason then yeah, it’s fair to say they can’t be trusted.  But to dismiss them as a title contender?

That seems premature.

Oct 27

The Orlando Magic’s Journey Begins Tomorrow

Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images

Via Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

City officials and Orlando Magic employees have spent weeks making sure that Amway Center will be ready for its first NBA regular-season game this Thursday.

But even after countless dry runs and four preseason exhibitions, no one can definitively answer a fundamental question: Just how loud will the new arena be when the Magic play a game that counts? [...]

Magic President of Basketball Operations Otis Smith hopes that fans already have found reliable driving routes to the arena and explored the new building during the preseason. Smith wants fans to be in their seats just before tipoff of regular-season games.

Magic players expect no problems in the building, which holds 18,846 people for basketball.

The Magic sold-out their last 76 regular-season and postseason home games. The team also has sold more than 14,000 season tickets, a franchise record.

“Just being around town you can feel the energy,” forward Rashard Lewis said. “A lot of the fans stop you and tell you, ‘Good luck.’ They love the arena. The fans are just as excited as we are.

“I can see it in their eyes.”

If you’re a fan of the NBA, you probably witnessed the Boston Celtics’ victory against the Miami Heat last night. No, it wasn’t a pretty display of basketball and there will be many cynics that will ride the wave of “overrated” chants that were audible at the end of the evening and directed towards the Heat. But it’s one game. Even though the Celtics flexed their muscles in impressive fashion, there’s another elite team in the league that’s ready to do a little flexing of their own.

That team, of course, is the Orlando Magic.

Tomorrow, the Magic will face off against the Washington Wizards in their regular season home opener at the Amway Center. That much is known. And although the preseason showed a glimpse of how good Orlando can be, it’s not something that people haven’t seen before. The Magic have been there and done that. No, this season brings a lot of question marks.

Will Dwight Howard fully evolve into a dominating two-way player?

Can Jameer Nelson or Vince Carter be the go-to perimeter scorer on the team?

How involved will Rashard Lewis be in the offense this season?

There’s many more questions that can and will be asked as the year progresses but when it comes down to it, the spotlight for Orlando is going to be directed towards the four All-Stars on the roster. Yes, the spotlight will be much brighter on someone like Howard than, say, Lewis but their roles carry significance. Howard, Nelson, Carter, and Lewis will have to answer the call in different ways.

That’s how it was last year. That’s how it’ll be this year.

Will the end result be different?

Tomorrow, it’s the Magic’s turn to start finding those answers for themselves.

Oct 26

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Point guard Jason Williams practiced fully with the Orlando Magic on Tuesday and could be activated for the team’s season opener on Thursday. [...] Williams underwent arthroscopic surgery on Sept. 30 to clear debris out of his left knee. He’s expected to back-up starter Jameer Nelson and free-agent signee Chris Duhon this season. On Tuesday, Williams participated in the Magic’s 4-on-4 and 5-on-5 full-court drills for the first time since the procedure.”
  • Don’t expect an 11-man rotation from head coach Stan Van Gundy.
  • Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post shares some numbers concerning Dwight Howard‘s jumpshot.
  • Trey Kerby of The Basketball Jones on the Orlando Magic: “After a brief scare, the mock turtlenecks are back in action. Crisis averted.”
  • Mike Prada of SB Nation concludes that Howard is the most important figure in the NBA right now: “Orlando returns pretty much the same team that surrounded him last year, so barring a major trade, their best chance at getting over the hump is for their best player to fully realize his potential. Can he do it? The answer to this question will determine the trajectory of the entire league. Miami has no answer for Howard, even with their star-studded roster. The Lakers have size to match Howard, but for a team that depends on forcing interior mismatches, a resurgent Howard becomes an issue. The Celtics don’t have Perkins, Howard’s nemesis, for most of the season. Howard is fully capable of leading the Magic past all of the elite teams in this league. He just needs to become less methodical with his post moves, all while continuing to lord over the paint defensively. All this is possible, and if so, he will steal every major designation from his more highly-touted peers. He will be the real MVP. He will be the Pau Gasol-type MVP that every team must find an answer for. He will be the defensive player of the year. He will be the league’s best big man. After a summer where so many others stole the spotlight, it would be something if Howard finds a way to overshadow them all during the season.”
  • Zach Lowe of The Point Forward wonders if the Magic have a go-to perimeter scorer.
  • Dwight Howard writes about a variety of topics on his blog: “I did not like the way our preseason ended with not getting to play that game over in Tampa on Friday night. I felt so bad for the fans that had driven all the way over there and then there was no game because of the slick floor. I hope the fans know that it wasn’t our fault and that the court was REALLY slick. I just knew that I would have fallen down out there and ESPN would have had me on the “Not Top 10″ list. The NBA made the right call by canceling the game, but I hope those fans get to see us play at some point this season. Every time we go to the non-NBA cities, I know what it means a lot to those fans because they don’t get to see us that often. So I’m sorry, and I hope we’re back in Tampa again real soon.”
  • The Painted Area makes their predictions of the new NBA year. Take a look.
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “The Magic may well be the best team in basketball. Scoff if you want, but they were the best team the second half of last season, and two-rounds into the playoffs you thought they were on pace to return to the Finals after sweeping aside the Bobcats and Hawks. Dwight Howard was a beast and Jameer Nelson had found a grove. Don’t let one series against a rejuvenated and hot Boston squad fool you, this team is very good and has a new focus this year. They will be near the top of the East, and they could win it all.”
  • Howard is on the cover of the latest issue of Dime Magazine.
  • Jeff Van Gundy talks about his brother — Stan: “I think my brother really needs to let his guard down a little bit more and speak what he feels the truth to be. One thing I’ve always appreciated about Stan is that he’s not afraid to say what he really thinks instead of giving the politically correct answers that we are so accustomed to hearing. You can disagree with him. You can disagree with him being as direct and as candid as he was. For me, when anybody ever calls me up and says, ‘Did you hear what Stan said?’ I get on the edge of my seat because I have no idea what that could possibly be. I always find it very entertaining.”
  • Check out Basketball Prospectus’ season predictions.
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