Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 193

Nov 02

Orlando Magic at New York Knicks Game Postponed

Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images

Via the New York Knicks:

Following last night’s Rangers game, during overnight maintenance of Madison Square Garden, which included cleaning asbestos-related materials in the attic above the ceiling, some debris fell into the Arena.

Out of an abundance of caution, and after consulting with the NBA, we are postponing tonight’s Knicks v. [Orlando] Magic game. We will be working with the city and independent experts, ATC Associates and GCI Environmental Advisory, to evaluate and determine the most appropriate course of action. As the safety of our customers and employees are our top priority, we will not reopen the Garden until we are absolutely assured the Arena is safe.

Ticketholders are advised to retain their tickets, and to go to nyknicks.com for rescheduling information. We will announce information about future events as soon as they have been determined.

Madison Square Garden apologizes for any inconvenience.

Nov 02

Does Vince Carter Still Have His Mojo?

Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Via Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post:

In this morning’s Orlando Sentinel, columnist George Diaz expressed a sentiment I know a lot of Orlando Magic fans share: the team is fatally flawed against teams like the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat, which can single-cover Dwight Howard in the low post with a minimum of fuss. [...]

What the Magic do have is [Vince] Carter, who was coming off a season in which he averaged 20.8 points, 5.1 boards, and 4.7 assists–All-Star-caliber production, to be honest–when they acquired him in 2009. And, rather significantly, he got a plurality of his offense that year in isolation–that is, in one-on-one–situations, at 21.3 percent. But that season, with the New Jersey Nets, may indeed represent his final campaign of such sustained productivity. To call Carter’s first campaign with Orlando “uneven” is to be charitable, although he at least impressed me with his performance from February to April. And, when called upon, he did show flashes of his former self in getting big baskets at key junctures, even outside that timeframe. [...]

Carter played 13 games last season against the Celtics, Lakers, Charlotte Bobcats, and Milwaukee Bucks, who, along with the Magic, ranked in the top five in Defensive Efficiency last year. Against those teams, Carter averaged 19.5 points per game on a reasonably efficient–given the competition–54.3 percent True Shooting mark, crossing the 20-point barrier 8 times. Further, he was roughly as aggressive in those games as he was on the year, earning 0.294 free-throw attempts per field-goal attempt against the defensive elite, versus a 0.301 ratio overall. I know the playoffs left most everyone with a sour opinion of Carter, but it’s hard to refute the idea that he didn’t bring it against tough competition last year.

Good stuff in response to Diaz’s article. Worth the read.

Nov 02

The Clock is Ticking for the Orlando Magic

Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images

Via George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel:

The Orlando Magic are going to win a bunch of games this season.

My guesstimate is that the bar starts at 50 and shoots up from there. Expect lots of good times in the fabulously-plush Amway Center.

But the celebratory spirit may come crashing down in the playoff crunch, when the creampuffs disappear and the Magic are forced-fed peas and broccoli.

The Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics are not yummy-yummy for the Magic. Perhaps it’s a bit premature to make that call so early in the season. It was just a few days ago that NBA Commissioner David Stern was in town commemorating the start of the season in a new arena and the Magic were carving up the Washington Wizards.

But some things never change.

The Magic don’t have any players who can break down a defense by going one-on-one, unless Vince Carter steps into a Hot Tub Time Machine and it’s 1997 all over again.

Without one, they won’t have a prayer of beating the Celtics or the Heat in a playoff series. [...]

It is not too early in the season to break out the gloom-and-doom scenario. Listen to Stan Van Gundy‘s analysis, breaking down his team’s strengths and weaknesses, after Friday’s loss.

“Against a good defensive team we have trouble a little bit,” he said. “We don’t have — and this isn’t to put down anybody in our locker room — but we don’t have the great one-on-one players. We don’t have Wade and James and Paul Pierce and Kobe Bryant.”

What they do have are bad matchups against the Heat and the Celtics. And matchups are what this league is all about.

And so here we are.

Two games into the regular season, and all the goodwill that’s been built up with the Orlando Magic has been wiped away.

That being said, it’s fair to question whether or not the Magic have the roster to usurp the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference. When head coach Stan Van Gundy readily admits that Orlando doesn’t have a great individual scorer, that speaks volumes. It really does. It makes people wonder whether or not general manager Otis Smith will pull the trigger on someone like Carmelo Anthony, a player that’s readily available on the open market and is the type of shot creator the Magic desperately need right now. Still, it’s too early to speculate on that possibility because there’s too many variables involved.

Now is not the time for hasty action.

Orlando had a bad game against a rival. At the very least, the Magic deserve the opportunity to right the wrongs and fix the problem internally. That being said, if this continues to be a problem with the Heat and Celtics in the next few months, let alone the Los Angeles Lakers, then the organization for Orlando is going to have to take a hard, long look at themselves. Ownership has invested millions of dollars in allowing the Magic to compete for a championship but if the roster isn’t calibrated to beat the teams ahead of them, changes need to be made.

Or else the money spent is a waste.

Before the February 24 trade deadline, Orlando faces off against Miami and Boston a total of five times. If the Magic can prove that they can beat the Heat and Celtics in a manner that’s sustainable for a seven-game series in the playoffs, great.

If not, Magic fans will be clamoring for a trade.

The clock is ticking.

Nov 01

Monday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The loss to the Miami Heat, as embarrassing and as complete as it was, will provide one beneficial by-product for the Orlando Magic. It will allow the players to measure their character less than a week into the 2010-11 regular season. How do they recover from a loss to a rival? How quickly do they make needed changes to their offense? How do they approach a grueling week of games? Those questions will be answered when the Magic play the New York Knicks at 7:30 Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. [...] Responding well to defeats has been a hallmark of the Stan Van Gundy era in Orlando. The Magic have compiled a 57-19 record after losing the previous game during his tenure as head coach.”
  • Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “Brandon Bass has been the first player off the bench in the Orlando Magic’s first two games, giving the appearance that Bass had beaten out Ryan Anderson for the backup power forward position. But that’s not the case. “Not at all,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. In fact, Anderson almost played instead of Bass in the first half of the season opener. Van Gundy said that if Yi Jianlian had been on the floor when the Magic did their substitutions in the first quarter, Anderson – not Bass – would have played the backup minutes at power forward. Against the Heat, Van Gundy thought Bass would be a better matchup against Chris Bosh, although he admitted Anderson did a nice job on Bosh in the second half. The two player’s position battle is far from over. There’s no clear-cut backup power forward at this point, and it doesn’t appear if the situation will shake itself out anytime soon. For now, the team will continue to play the matchups.”
  • Hey, at least Marcin Gortat is an honest person.
  • The Magic have been working on passing and screening (in pick and rolls) lately.
  • Dwight Howard dressed up for Halloween.
  • More from Robbins on Howard’s leadership: “Howard’s growth as a vocal leader could pay dividends for Orlando. For all of their talent and depth, the Magic in recent years seem to have lacked players who could snap the roster out of a funk with impassioned words. The maturation of their all-star center might have changed the overall dynamic. Howard attempted to spur on his teammates on at least three different occasions during and after the Magic’s 96-70 loss to the Miami Heat on Friday night. He spoke loudly in a team huddle on the sideline after the Heat opened the third quarter on a 9-0 run. He tried to inspire his teammates in the visitors’ locker room shortly after the final buzzer. And during his postgame press availability, he said the Magic “got shell-shocked” when they faced adversity.”
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said that his team watched film of the Miami loss for more than an hour on Sunday morning. Van Gundy wanted to show the team the many instances when it could have set screens better, made more on-target passes and swung the ball from side to side quicker. While he said losing in the manner in which his did was never a good thing, he hoped the lopsided score and embarrassment would cause his team to take heed of the areas in which it needs to improve. [...] In the minutes after Friday’s loss, Van Gundy admitted that the Miami loss felt similar to the defeat to Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals last spring. Not in the magnitude of the game, but with the manner in which the Magic lost. When Miami’s defense took away the Magic first and second options offensively, Orlando didn’t work hard enough to get good shots with extra passes, better screens and poise. With a starting lineup of all-stars and the NBA’s deepest bench, the Magic can often score with ease against bad and middle-of-the-road teams. But against the best defenses there has to be a more determined commitment to doing the little things, Van Gundy said.”
  • Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post chats with Quentin Richardson about positionality.
  • Howard is not a fan of his dunk rating on NBA Jam.
  • Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook breaks down the Magic’s loss to the Heat.
  • According to Casey Mack of Dime Magazine, Howard needs an archenemy.

Nov 01

Video Analysis: Dwight Howard’s Offensive Performance Against the Miami Heat

While the Orlando Magic lick their wounds from the beatdown they suffered at the hands of the Miami Heat on Friday, it’s worth revisiting one of the few bright spots from that game. Dwight Howard‘s performance against the Heat, in which he looked more dominant than ever — as he should have been — against the likes of Joel Anthony, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Jamaal Magloire, is a development that’s worth keeping tabs on before the two rivals meet again in late November.

Want to see true growth on offense for Howard? Watch.

Nov 01

Video Analysis: A Look at the Orlando Magic’s Inability to Score Against the Miami Heat

In the Orlando Magic‘s loss against the Miami Heat on Friday, a six-point halftime deficit ballooned to 20 points in the span of roughly three minutes during the third quarter. It was a haymaker that served as a knockout blow for the Magic, and it had to everything to do with the Heat’s defense which was devastating in its own right. Everyone marvel’s at the offensive firepower of James, Wade, and Bosh, but sometimes people forget that they’re pretty good defenders too. Bosh gets pegged, unfairly, as a bad defender but watch him in the 2008 Summer Olympics and it becomes clear that in the right defensive scheme, he can be a net positive on defense. As for James and Wade, they love to roam defensively and wreak havoc whenever possible.

During Miami’s 14-0 run, there was little Orlando could to do create on offense. One of the main things that stands out from the Heat is not only their pick and roll coverage, which was superb, but just their swarming team defense. Miami has a lot of athletic players on the roster and that makes for a stingy set of defenders. The Magic learned that the hard way as they had to take difficult shot after difficult shot and dig themselves deep in a hole they couldn’t get out of. It’s easy to criticize Orlando for not running enough pick and rolls, for example, but they were having little success when they tried. The Heat’s defensive rotations were fantastic.

And watch James on defense — he was everywhere.

Oct 30

Recap: Miami Heat 96, Orlando Magic 70

Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images

BOX SCORE

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

After months of the Orlando Magic yapping away and tossing verbal grenades towards the Miami Heat in the offseason, it shouldn’t be too surprising that they got what was coming to them last night. In their regular season home opener in front of a nationally televised audience and a sellout crowd draped in black, the Heat were able to defeat the Magic by the score of 96-70. Dwyane Wade killed Orlando, as he always has in the past, putting up 26 points, six rebounds, and two blocks. LeBron James was the maestro of the destruction, finishing with 15 points, six rebounds, and seven assists. Chris Bosh chipped in with 11 points and 10 rebounds. And the Heat got excellent contributions from the bench. For the Magic, there were only two players that had a pulse when the game mattered — Dwight Howard and Brandon Bass. Howard had 19 points and seven rebounds while dominating in the first half on offense like he never has before. Bass had nine points, six rebounds, but most importantly, he played with excellent energy and effort (one of the few to do that last night) on the defensive side of the ball. It seemed like only Howard and Bass were the players on the Orlando roster that were prepared for Miami’s fury.

The first half of yesterday’s game between the Magic and Heat was everything that people envisioned. It was physical. It was defensive-minded. It was bloody.

When J.J. Redick got popped in the face (below the eye, to be specific) by a James’ elbow as he took a charge and had to get stitches in the locker room to quell the bleeding, he unintentionally served as the sacrificial lamb to christen the rivalry.

It was on.

Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 29

Preview: Orlando Magic at Miami Heat

8:00 EDT | ESPN
1-0 @ 1-1
Pythagorean Record: 1-0 Pythagorean Record: 1-1
Pace: 99.1 (11th) Pace: 89.6 (28th)
Offensive Rating: 113.0 (8th) Offensive Rating: 97.0 (23rd)
Defensive Rating: 83.8 (1st) Defensive Rating: 95.9 (8th)
AmericanAirlines Arena | 2010-2011 NBA Opening Week

Oct 29

Friday’s Magic Word

  • Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “Perhaps the most surprising element of the Orlando Magic’s 112-83 victory was the play of Mickael Pietrus; specifically, the fact that he didn’t play in the first half. Stan Van Gundy wanted to stick to a nine-man rotation, and that surprisingly left both Pietrus and Ryan Anderson on the outside looking in. We knew there was a chance Anderson might not play – it was either him or Brandon Bass – but Pietrus riding the pine? Not many saw that one coming, including Pietrus himself. [...] Pietrus won’t have long to hold on to it, as he’ll most certainly be called on tonight against the Miami Heat. With LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on the floor most of the night, Pietrus’ abilities will be necessary to guard one of those players throughout the game.”
  • Dwight Howard on tonight’s game: “We can make a statement. But we don’t want to go out there and be so hyped emotionally that you forget your purpose. We know we’re going to be playing against a team that’s gotten all the hype all year. And our biggest thing is coming out and executing the right way, limiting their possessions and making them play against us. That’s the biggest thing. I think when you go into a game that’s hyped up and very emotional, that stuff wears off as the game goes on. So, we just come out and weather the storm, because they’re going to come out hyped and ready to go. If we weather the storm early, we should win.”
  • Howard missed a lot of free throws against the Washington Wizards, and had to do push-ups because of it. Willie Mays Hayes, anyone?
  • Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post performs an excellent interview with Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus and asks him a variety of questions related to the Orlando Magic. Here’s a snippet from Pelton: “In some sort of hypothetical situation where I did not have to deal with the players’ reactions to their minutes, I would probably play Anderson and [Rashard] Lewis fairly equally at power forward, give Lewis 10-15 minutes a night at small forward and leave Bass on the bench. Anderson is, to me, pretty comfortably the superior player. I totally understand why Stan Van Gundy wants to use all three guys, however.”
  • Michael Wallace of The Heat Index previews the rivalry between the Magic and the Miami Heat.
  • Five things to watch for with the Heat.
  • Rob Peterson of NBA FanHouse does a fantastic job of chronicling head coach Stan Van Gundy’s press conference decorum: “Like Phil Jackson, who sometimes speaks to reporters as if his 11 championship rings gives him carte blanche to condescend and Gregg Popovich, who on occasion treats the media as if they were dim cattle, Van Gundy suffers no fools. But compared the other two, Van Gundy is an unvarnished grinder, buoyed in the knowledge that his knowledge of the game is far greater than your knowledge of anything else. Most impressive was his use of the word “look,” which could take on many implications depending on the tone of his voice or his body language.”
  • Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse: “The Magic, beaten by Boston last spring in the conference final, has been quietly impressive this fall, even if no one else cared. They won all seven exhibition games by an average of 26 points. They won their opener against the dreadful Wizards by 29 points. Now they will play the game they’ve been waiting to play for months.”
  • I wonder what that game is?
  • Zach Lowe of The Point Forward takes a look at in-game strategy for Orlando and Miami: “The Heat will almost certainly have to help center Joel Anthony, who is listed as 20 pounds lighter than Howard but is probably giving up more weight than that. Orlando loves to play an inside-out game and allow its elite three-point shooting to burn opponents that double-team Howard. But if there are two defenders capable of helping on Howard without sacrificing too much team defensive integrity, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James fit that description. They are long, quick and athletic enough to create some chaos without yielding clean passing lanes and uncontested shots. As I’ve said before, I expect Miami to take a page from the U.S.’ gold-medal winning World Championship team when facing an elite back-to-the-basket big man. That is: Have your most athletic players fly around the court to create confusion and force turnovers. It worked for the United States in Turkey, but it never faced anyone like Howard or a three-point shooting army as accurate as Orlando’s. Of course, Miami could choose to stay at home and let Howard go to work on its big men. We’ll see.”
  • Matt Moore of CBSSports.com with a must-read article on Howard’s attitude towards the Heat: “After talking to Howard this summer? I immediately started predicting he would average over 30 points a game against the Heat. And I’m still convinced that will happen. That’s pretty much what you get out of Howard when you bring up the Heat. As he has dealt with the talk of this team all. Summer. Long. Howard has heard no end to the talk about Miami and the new super core. It started plaguing him right after it happened, prompting him to decline questions about Miami for a time, until he realized it was pointless. In Chicago, he was friendly with Wade, the way superstar NBA players are. It’s a brotherhood, after all, and in the end these guys know that one another helps them get paid. But there were still moments where you could tell Howard’s motivation has grown and expanded after listening to the Heat hype for three solid months. Make no mistake, behind the lighthearted superhero facade is a man who is very bitter over the way three players have supplanted themselves not only above him in the preseason rankings, but butted him out of his own state. Florida is supposed to be Howard’s home, and instead all he hears about are his neighbors to the south. This has disturbed him, compounding the anger and frustration left over from a postseason where the Celtics took the bite out of the dog and left his team whimpering as they advanced to the Finals. Boston returned Orlando to where most people consider it: also-ran status. Miami has made it a sideshow. Howard doesn’t like that. Howard Smash.”
  • Trey Kerby of The Basketball Jones explains why Howard has broad shoulders.
  • Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie has more on Howard’s in-game calisthenics: “Howard, clearly bemused and frustrated all at once, went to the end of the bench, and started doing push-ups. The TNT cameras, as you can see above, clearly caught him. Then the cameras panned away toward live action, but, yep, Dwight was still doing push-ups in the background. [...] But Magic coach Stan Van Gundy seems impressively unaware.”
  • You know who else is tired of talking about Miami? Yes, Marcin Gortat.
  • Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook breaks down the Magic’s win from last night.
  • Seats are still available for the Heat’s regular season home opener!
  • Bill Simmons of ESPN’s Page 2: “You know who has the most to gain with the 2010-11 Miami Heat other than LeBron and Wade? Dwight Howard. He could and should rip them apart much like Wilt ran amok in the 1960s against 6-foot-8 white guys who smoked butts at halftime. Does he have it in him? Will Howard ever be anything other than an awesome physical specimen who happens to play basketball only because it’s the sport that made the most sense for him?”

Oct 29

Want to Get Psyched About Magic vs. Heat? Watch This Video

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