- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “[J.J.] Redick just enjoyed the best season of his four-year NBA career and proved himself in the playoffs to be a clutch, gritty competitor. He torched the Celtics for 12- and 14-point games in the [Orlando] Magic’s two wins in the East Finals, showing off his growth as a player and guts as a closer. Redick also showed his value to other teams, and with shooting in the NBA being at a premium, he likely enhanced his value on the free-0agent market. He is a restricted free agent, meaning the Magic can match any offer he gets from another team. And all indications are that the Magic will do just that on any reasonable offer because they value Redick’s toughness, shooting and growth as a player. He knows he could assuredly have a greater role elsewhere, likely even be a starter on most teams, but Redick said he hopes more than anything that his future continues to be in Orlando. The guard who will turn 26 years old wants the structure of knowing where his future will be. He decided to get married before free agency in case he had to uproot himself, but he hopes he’s still here come next season.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel evaluates Ryan Anderson and Brandon Bass.
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post grades Anderson and Matt Barnes‘ performance during the 2009-2010 season.
- Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie takes a looks back at the Orlando Magic’s season: “I was wrong, obviously. The Magic leaned too hard on people, not players, who shouldn’t be leaned upon. People who cannot be trusted. Respect the hell out of Jameer Nelson as a person, I implore you, but at times he’s too unaware of his own talent. His own gifts. The same can be said for Vince Carter, who could be an absolute demon in the triple threat position in a playoff game. The exact same for Rashard Lewis. All three failed Orlando, in May. Carter and Lewis, badly, need to pull up some tapes of Reggie Miller’s play in the 2000 postseason. How he used those old bones to drive the Eastern Conference mad. You receive the ball in the pinch post, 19 feet from the hoop. Either side of the court. You fake a drive, you fake a pass, you fake a shot. You fake every option – all three of them, that’s why they call it a “triple-threat” – and you see what the defender lunges at. You respond accordingly. You’d prefer to shoot, it’s the easiest move, but you could also drive. Even for just one or two hard dribbles before the pull-up. You use all those skills, that size, that touch. You make yourself dangerous. You help your team win.”
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk chimes in on Adonal Foyle‘s possible retirement.
- It’s no secret that Shaquille O’Neal had an impact on the Magic … after he left Orlando.
- Daniel Marks of Dime Magazine lists Dwight Howard on the All-Southeast Division team.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Smith told the Sentinel that he “anticipates” Vince Carter remaining with the team, wants to re-sign J.J. Redick and doesn’t expect to package little-used, but expensive players (such as Marcin Gortat and Brandon Bass) in a sign-and-trade deal for a star free agent.
As for starting small forward Matt Barnes, Smith was more non-committal, considering it was Barnes who took the unusual step Monday to formally announce he would opt out of his two-year contract and go exploring as a free agent.
Smith doesn’t plan on making major changes to the 59-win team and instead said he’ll “make some tweaks.”
There’s only one month left until the fun begins — free agency — for teams such as the New York Knicks, who will be looking to lure and sign big-name free agents like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and others. The Orlando Magic have been in that position before, most notably in 2000, when they did the song and dance routine with Tim Duncan, Grant Hill, and Tracy McGrady. The Magic know better than almost every team in the NBA … at first, free agency can be a dream but it can end up being a nightmare before it’s all said and done.
Ten years later, though, Orlando is in a position to make a tweak here and there. Not a facelift.
Barring something unforeseen and given what’s been reported, it appears that J.J. Redick will probably re-sign with the Magic. Redick loves the organization and the organization loves Redick. And since Redick stated on Monday that he wouldn’t mind maintaining his role with the Magic and winning than becoming a starter on another team, unless something crazy happens between now and July 1, it seems like a deal will be worked out sooner or later. Redick has proven to be a valuable player time and again for Orlando, especially in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics, so it’s most likely a sure bet that general manager Otis Smith will do his due diligence and try to keep Redick.
On the other side of the spectrum, Matt Barnes seems like the player most likely to leave the Magic and go elsewhere but it’s hard to predict where he’ll end up. Barnes opted out and is clearly looking for a raise, whether it’s with Orlando or somewhere else, but he could be replaced if push came to shove. Yes, Barnes brings the cliche “intangibles” that everyone enjoys and praises about a player, like his toughness and what not, and there’s no denying that he can always be counted on to give a consistent effort on the floor night in and night out, but he’s replaceable. That doesn’t mean Barnes shouldn’t be welcomed back with open arms if he returned to the Magic, though.
As for Brandon Bass, Vince Carter, and Marcin Gortat, who knows what will happen with them. The respective futures of each of them will probably hinge on whether or not Orlando sticks with their current 4-out/1-in philosophy.
Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images
First in a three-part series, I’m going to analyze this year’s playoff performances of several Orlando Magic players. These posts will be offense-centric, given that I will be writing up player evaluations next week, so I’ll reserve analysis on the defense of Dwight Howard – for example — until then.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Matt Barnes will test the free-agent market this summer. Barnes said minutes ago that he will not exercise his player option for the 2010-11 season, but he added that he hopes to return to the Orlando Magic. ‘As for me and my contract situation, I’m going to opt out,’ Barnes told reporters gathered at RDV Sportsplex this morning. ‘Always worrying about the team and stuff like that is something you have to do during the season, and I’m 100 percent with that. But now it’s about me and my family and what’s best for us. I’ve expressed throughout the season that I’ve loved my time here and would love to return. But I think I know more than anybody that this is a business. The organization has to do what’s best for the team. Hopefully, I impressed them enough to bring me back and give me something decent, but we’ll have to wait and see about that.’ ”
- More from Robbins: “Dwight Howard acknowledged Monday that he might not play for Team USA in the FIBA World Championship late this summer in Turkey.”
- George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel states that general manager Otis Smith will need to make a decision about Vince Carter‘s future with the Orlando Magic sooner rather than later: “Will Carter be one of those 13 guys in 2010-11? It would be a neat thing if Carter stuck around. This is home for him. He’s a good guy with his teammates and a stand-up guy with the media. He does worthy charitable work, including a drug and alcohol rehab center in Flagler County. But all of that stuff often has very little to do with the business of basketball. Carter has an expiring contract, always a valuable asset for teams looking to unload big money. At some point soon, the Magic will need to decide whether Carter is worth keeping for another run, or look into the possibility of trading him. It would be disappointing to see him go. But admitting failure is the less painful than sticking with a plan that isn’t working. Carter needs to be the guy who had a strong latter half of the season, including the 48-point bomb he dropped on New Orleans.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com sits down with Smith for a Q/A session and asks him a variety of questions concerning the Magic. Some answers from Smith were somewhat revealing, like this one: “I think that we can [win a championship with Rashard Lewis at power forward]. I don’t think that is the issue. I think we have enough bodies to play the way that we want to play and win. I’m not one of those guys who subscribe to the theory that we need another power forward. I’ll put that right next to the idea that we need another center. That’s not what I subscribe to at all. We have the right collection of people to get the job done but collectively we didn’t get it done.”
- Rob Mahoney of ProBasketballTalk: “Orlando will likely make an effort to keep him, but from the sound of things it seems like Barnes’ decision will come down to the money. Tough to blame him, as he’s hardly locked in for huge, mega-deals for the rest of his career and his biggest payday yet was a $3 million, one-year deal from the Warriors in ’07-’08. We’ll have to wait and see whether or not the Magic will give Barnes the most lucrative offer, but they could definitely use his services next season.”
- Mickael Pietrus‘ hairdo netted him $17,000 this year.
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “In the end, it was the beginning of the games that doomed the Orlando Magic and derailed their championship chase. [...] The Celtics built upon early leads in three of their four victories, a tell-tale Game 3 rout that put the Magic in a still inescapable 0-3 hole. Playing catch-up all series, the Magic had come back in the Eastern Conference finals with two victories against the 2008 champions. But they couldn’t come back after falling behind by 21 points in the first half against the Celtics, who thoroughly outplayed them on both ends to nix any dream of a Game 7 in Orlando on Sunday.”
- Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “The climb toward history brought them to here so tauntingly close to the spectacular summit. They could reach out and almost touch the historic mountain top. They could see the glistening majesty of the Everest-like peak. Oops. Then they stepped onto the wrong rock, lost their grip, the terrain beneath their feet gave way and they tumbled perilously to earth. Look out below. Boston 96, Orlando 84.”
- George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: “The winner would be the one that got in the best punch. There was one fundamental flaw with that: Games are won by the team that gets the ball in the basket. And that’s why the Boston Celtics are your 2010 Eastern Conference champions. It was their energy and effort that rocked Orlando hard in the first half, stretching a lead extending to as many as 21 before coasting home, 96-84, in front of a noisy sea of green Friday night.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “If you’re searching for a specific moment when the tide started to turn against the Orlando Magic and in favor of the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, look no further than Jameer Nelson‘s offensive foul with 2:22 remaining in the first quarter. It was Nelson’s second personal foul of the game, and coach Stan Van Gundy had no other choice but take his starting point guard and his offensive sparkplug out of the game. The Magic never recovered. There are a multitude of reasons why the Celtics routed the Magic 96-84 on Friday, ending the Magic’s season, but there’s little doubt that Boston won the battle of the point guards.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “In an Eastern Conference Finals already full of so many wild swings, this was the swing that the Orlando Magic never really saw coming – an early knockout punch. Orlando’s bid at making history by rallying out of a 0-3 hole met an early ruin Friday night when the Boston Celtics started quickly to build a big early lead, made one big shot after another and finally put the Magic out of their misery. Boston’s 96-84 defeat of the Magic in Game 6 kept Orlando from sending the series back to Amway Arena one more time for a deciding Game 7. As it turns out, the final Magic game ever played at Amway Arena will be Wednesday’s 113-92 Magic win that seemed to propel Orlando back into the series.”
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Point guard Rajon Rondo set Boston on a good course early, accounting for 19 of the Celtics’ 30 first-period points via a score or an assist. Orlando only managed 19 points itself in the period. In their wins, the Celtics forced the Magic to play from behind, and Orlando never recovered, though it came close in Game 2. Rondo’s drives and aggressiveness in transition fueled the Celtics’ hot start, and the Magic fanned the flames by failing to get back defensively.”
Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images
In a rather uneventful evening, the Boston Celtics defeated the Orlando Magic by the score of 96-84 to advance to the NBA Finals for a second time in three years. Dwight Howard had 28 points, 12 rebounds, and two steals, Vince Carter had 17 points and seven rebounds … and that was it for the Magic. The Celtics were led by a balanced attack, with five players scoring in double-figures. Paul Pierce had a monster performance, with 31 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, and two steals. Ray Allen chipped in with 20 points.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: ” ‘Ridiculous.’ That’s the word Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy used to describe a Boston Herald column in which Ron Borges labeled Dwight Howard as ‘a cheap-shot artist’ and advocated that the Boston Celtics attempt to impose ‘frontier justice’ on Howard in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals tonight.”
- George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: “It’s going to get chippy tonight. Very chippy. Expect plenty of steel-cage antics all around. But they only way the Celtics hold serve is that they somehow rattle Howard or get him into foul trouble. How this game is officiated might be the most critical factor tonight. But to insinuate that Dwight suddenly turned from Superman to Darth Vader is ludicrous. Hello? He is a big guy playing a physical game. Just ask his teammates. Remember that mask Courtney Lee wore last season? That was from a shot he took from Howard. [...] Howard has been ripped a whole lot for his happy-go-lucky disposition. Now he is getting ripped because he is the dirtiest player in the game, quite the confusing juxtaposition for anybody into pop psychology.”
- Adonal Foyle provides his thoughts before Game 6: “In spite of everything we’ve been through in the last five games, the focus remains the same. We must keep up the intensity and understand that the situation has been the same ever since Game 4 – all Boston needs to do is win one more. We’re now at Game 6 and Boston still needs to win one more. Nothing has changed. We still want to make it back to the NBA Finals, we’re still the defending Eastern Conference champions and we are still hungry for a world title. And it all starts with going out and getting this win and bringing the series back to Orlando for one last time. If we come out with the same urgency, the same passion and the same fire, I think we can do it.”
- Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse wonders if the Boston Celtics have ran out of gas.
- Bradford Doolittle of Basketball Prospectus takes a look at where the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals stand between the Orlando Magic and the Celtics: “This is now a new series and the pressure is squarely on the shoulders of the veteran Celtics. I know that’s the easy storyline and one thing we pride ourselves at doing in all the various incarnations of Prospectus is not regurgitating the obvious and the easy. I’m sorry, but I can’t think of any other way to frame Game 6. The Celtics, who have been running a race against age and injury for two seasons now, are battered. Their three-game lead has shrunk to one. And the Celtics enter tonight’s game knowing that if they can’t hold serve at The Garden, they’ll have to try to steal a Game 7 before a revved up crowd in Orlando. On Monday, it was difficult to envision the Magic summoning the will to stave off elimination, with the 3-0 deficit and the Celtics enjoying the home floor edge. Perhaps if Paul Pierce could have found a look at the end of regulation that night, we’d be talking about how the Celtics were resting and healing, while the Lakers and Suns were duking it out in the West. But Pierce didn’t get a shot off and it’s been all Magic ever since. Now, our perception of the series has flipped. It feels like Boston’s last stand. If the Celtics don’t close out the series at home tonight, it’s really difficult to see them them winning in Orlando on Sunday. That, my friends, is pressure.”
- Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated states that the spotlight will be on the big men for Orlando and Boston in Game 6.
- Rob Mahoney of ProBasketball praises Brandon Bass.
- J.J. Redick has impressed in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals.
- ESPN.com conducts a roundtable discussion to preview tonight’s game between the Magic and the Celtics. A must-read.
Even though Dwight Howard has played well on offense in the last two games for the Orlando Magic, everything starts and ends with his defense. Because the Magic rely so much on Howard’s defense, similarly to how the Cleveland Cavaliers rely so much on LeBron James’ offense, they tend to struggle to win games when he’s dealing with foul troubles or he isn’t making the impact defensively that he normally makes. These instances aren’t the norm but when they happen and Howard is not on the floor, his absence on defense is magnified.
It can’t be understated how much of an intimidating presence Howard is in the paint. During the regular season, opponents shot 57.4 percent at the rim against the Magic — the second-lowest figure in the NBA behind the Chicago Bulls (league average was 61.0 percent). When Howard is in the game, nearly every team in the NBA either struggles to attack the basket or neglects to penetrate in the lane altogether. That’s why it’s hard to quantify how good of a defensive player Howard really is. Sometimes you have to look at the video.