- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Even now, some eight months later, Orlando Magic superstar center Dwight Howard has flashbacks to July and August when he would spend two to three hours a day in gymnasiums all over the world shooting jumpers and perfecting his hook shot with both hands. Howard was a man in demand last summer, twice traveling to China for promotional appearances, making a third trip to India for the NBA and also spending time in New York and Los Angeles furthering his acting and musical aspirations. But regardless of where he was, Howard would always seek out a gymnasium – usually at U.S. army bases – to perfect his craft and prove that he was far more than just the NBA’s premier defender and rebounder. Howard and the rest of the basketball world see the fruits of all of that work now on a nightly basis as he has boosted his scoring average to easily the best mark of his career (23.2 points per game) while also carrying his Orlando Magic across those broad shoulders of his. “
- How many wins have the Orlando Magic lost due to injuries and illnesses?
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “When the Magic do stumble in the playoffs, know that it’s not your fault. It may be the midseason trades that didn’t provide much useful debt, especially at point guard (but did tie up future cap space). It might have something to do with inconsistent three point shooting. It might have something to do with teams being able to slow the Magic because they can single-cover Howard.”
- Ironically enough, following the Kendrick Perkins trade and Dwight Howard’s continued development on offense, the Orlando Magic have become the Boston Celtics’ kryptonite according to Tom Haberstroh of ESPN Insider: “The Celtics had an answer for Dwight Howard, but now he plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Perkins was pivotal in neutralizing Howard in the Eastern Conference finals last season, but the Celtics don’t have that weapon in their arsenal anymore. In the two games the Magic played against the Celtics with Perkins in street clothes, Howard and the Magic held the Celtics to 78 points in an eight-point win on Christmas and lost by just three on Boston’s home court in January. Luckily for the Celtics, the playoff seedings likely will keep Howard far, far away from TD Bank Garden, because the earliest the two teams could possibly meet is in the Eastern Conference finals, a would-be rematch of last season’s East title bout.”
- Ken Berger of CBSSports.com: “Magic coach Stan Van Gundy might be right: Some in the media may have already made up their minds that Derrick Rose is the MVP, all evidence be damned. Personally, I haven’t. Even if you’re like me and have been leaning that way for a few weeks, there is plenty of time for careful, thoughtful, and informed analysis before the ballots are due in the NBA office April 14 at 3 p.m. ET.”
- Howard implores Magic fans to believe in the team.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Now that the national championship game has been played, is it okay to admit that this year’s NCAA Tournament, including the championship, wasn’t really all that great?
Whenever I throw accusations around about “March Madness,” all my friends who call themselves “purists”—and who are convinced that the NCAA Tournament is perfect—chastise me and quickly explain how this latest tournament has been the best tournament ever.
I’m going to take a few moments to address the most common arguments for “why this year’s tournament proves March Madness is the best!”
Not a single number-one-seed is in the Final Four
This is by far the biggest “selling point” for anyone defending this year’s tournament, and is by far the most ridiculous. How does eliminating the best teams in the tournament make it better? Similarly, how is it possibly more enjoyable to watch VCU play against Butler than it would be to watch Duke play Ohio State?
For me, a good tournament ends with the most elite and skilled players going head-to-head, not mediocre mid-major squads looking sheepish and trying their hardest to appear as if they somehow belong at the big dance. Yes, Butler and VCU proved that on any given day, a good team can get beat. So what? If I want to figure out who the best NBA team is, I don’t force the Lakers to play a one-game neutral-site playoff against the Nuggets to figure out who’s better. I play them off in a series, and the battle reveals the winner, and the “best team.”
Upsets are always fun to watch, but when it comes down to it, a big part of what was missing in the Final Four, and more specifically in the championship game, was the presence of an elite team. Ugly basketball isn’t fun to watch.
The Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks by the score of 78-72, putting themselves in position to win their 50th game of the regular season when they play again on Wednesday. Also, the victory ensures that the Magic will be facing off against the Atlanta Hawks at the No. 4 seed, meaning they’ll have home-court advantage for the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs. Orlando was led by a balanced attack, as four players scored in double-figures. Dwight Howard had a quiet night for his standards, finishing with 18 points, 17 rebounds, and three steals while simultaneously shutting down Andrew Bogut to two points. Jameer Nelson had 17 points and five steals. Brandon Bass finished with 13 points. Hedo Turkoglu notched a double-double, putting up 12 points and 10 rebounds. Gilbert Arenas and Chris Duhon were able to make their respective returns to head coach Stan Van Gundy‘s rotation, though their collective impacts were minimal. For those that witnessed the championship game in the 2011 NCAA Tournament on Monday, this game was not much better when it came to two teams scoring points. The Bucks have the worst unit offensively in the NBA, thus it’s no surprise that they were held to 72 points.