Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 193

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

Oct 29

A Rivalry to Be, or Not to Be: That Is the Question

Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

There is no rivalry between the Orlando Magic and the Miami Heat.

There is no rich history between the two franchises.

Celtics vs. Lakers it is not. History? Boston and L.A. have decades of it. Geography? They are the East vs. West. Bad blood? Five words: Kevin McHale clotheslines Kurt Rambis. Great players? Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Jerry West are only the beginning.

And when it really comes down to it, a big reason why the Celtics and Lakers have an intense dislike for one another, is because the other was the only thing standing between them and a championship.

This isn’t Bulls vs. Pistons. For three years, Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all-time, was humbled by the collective power of head coach Chuck Daly and the “Bad Boys.” The “Jordan Rules” tested the Bulls to their very core. It took everything Jordan had — from extreme conditioning and toughness, the triangle offense, and his evolution as a teammate, to make it to the Finals.

This isn’t even Heat vs. Knicks. That was just violent.

Orlando and Miami, up to this point, have never competed against each other for even a conference championship. Whenever the Heat were an elite team, the Magic were merely good and vice-versa. They have played for state of Florida bragging rights, and little else. Sure, they had a somewhat memorable first round series in the 1997 NBA Playoffs, thanks in large part to Penny Hardaway’s Herculean efforts in Games 3 and 4 (back-to-back 40 point games) to make what was a one-sided matchup into a competitive battle.

That’s it, though.

For the Magic and Heat, countless players have come and gone. As such, not many star players have had a chance to leave an indelible mark on the head-to-head series. It’s true that Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard have been the most consistent faces, in terms of in-their-prime superstar talent, between Orlando and Miami in recent years, but there’s never been a signature moment between them.

No, it’s not a rivalry.

Not yet.

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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.

_______

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.
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