Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 235

May 14

Interview with Zach Lowe of CelticsHub

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Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

The Boston Celtics — undoubtedly — have a rich history, a prestigious franchise, and some of the best team blogs in the blogosphere, which are supported by a loyal fanbase that really cares about their C’s. CelticsBlog and Red’s Army are some well-known sites that have been around the block but CelticsHub, which has been around for a little over a year now, has blossomed as a go-to source for daily coverage of the Celtics. CelticsHub is buoyed by a trio of excellent writers — Brendan Jackson, Zach Lowe, and Brian Robb, who combine to provide a rich blend of analysis, commentary, and news.

A few days ago, I was able to ask Lowe a few questions to preview the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals between the Orlando Magic and the Boston Celtics.

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Is the Boston Celtics’ resurgence, or whatever what you’d like to call it, simply a matter of the team getting healthy and “flipping the switch” or is there another factor that people have been overlooking?

You know, I was skeptical about the possibility that they would flip the switch. But they have, and you can see it in both their defensive intensity and the decline in their turnover rate on offense. Their defense has picked up in just about every way. They held the Cavs, the 2nd-best three-point shooting team in the league, to about 28 percent shooting from deep. They forced about 15.5 turnovers per game. They protected the rim better than they had since Christmas.

Perhaps most importantly, they rebounded about 78.5 percent of Cleveland’s misses–a defensive rebounding rate that would have led the league in the regular season, and a huge jump from Boston’s season-long number.

And on offense, they transformed from one of the most turnover-prone teams in the league to a team that coughed it up at about a league-average rate. The Cavs don’t force a ton of turnovers, but neither do the Magic, so the C’s improved care for the ball should carry over.

As you say, some of this is due to health. Kevin Garnett hasn’t looked this good since he injured his knee in the middle of last season. He averaged 19 points per game on 58 percent shooting against the Cavs and destroyed Antawn Jamison in the post to the point that Mike Brown, who may be fired by the time your readers see this, actually switched Shaq onto KG during Game 6.

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May 13

Orlando Magic Eastern Conference Finals Playoff Schedule Announced

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Via the Orlando Magic:

The National Basketball Association has announced the schedule for the Orlando Magic’s Eastern Conference Finals best-of-seven playoff series vs. the Boston Celtics.

Orlando vs. Boston Eastern Conference Finals Series Schedule

  • Game 1 – Sunday, May 16, 3:30 p.m., at Orlando (Amway Arena), ABC TV
  • Game 2 – Tuesday, May 18, 8:30 p.m., at Orlando (Amway Arena), ESPN TV
  • Game 3 – Saturday, May 22, 8:30 p.m., at Boston, ESPN TV
  • Game 4 – Monday, May 24, 8:30 p.m., at Boston, ESPN TV
  • Game 5 – Wednesday, May 26, 8:30 p.m., at Orlando (Amway Arena), ESPN TV, if necessary
  • Game 6 – Friday, May 28, 8:30 p.m., at Boston, ESPN TV, if necessary
  • Game 7 – Sunday, May 30, 8:30 p.m., at Orlando (Amway Arena), ESPN TV, if necessary

*All Times Eastern

*All games on Magic Radio Network (Flagship: AM 580 WDBO) and in Spanish (AM 1030 WONQ).

*All conference final games are exclusive national telecasts.

Single game tickets remaining after a season ticket holder pre-sale will go on sale to the general public May 14th beginning at Noon.

While supplies last, single game tickets for the 2010 Orlando Magic playoffs, presented by Bright House Networks, are available for purchase:

  • Online at www.orlandomagic.com
  • At the Amway Arena box office (cash, MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover)
  • At the Orlando Magic ticket office (RDV Sportsplex, Monday-Friday)(cash, MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover)
  • At all TicketMaster outlets (cash only)
  • By calling 1-800-4NBA-TIX (MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover)

Playoff tickets start at $24.

May 13

Thursday’s Magic Word

  • Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “Magic coach Stan Van Gundy doesn’t usually watch games live on television where he has to navigate through commercials and free throws and other stoppages. He will watch tonight’s Game 6 between the Boston Celtics and Cleveland since if Boston wins, the [Orlando] Magic will have to prepare to face the Celtics on Sunday. After the first round, the Magic started preparation for Milwaukee early. Had the Bucks won Game 6, the Magic would have only had one day to prepare for them. With an extra day to prepare this time, they won’t start watching film for any specific team until they have an opponent.”
  • Want to know what the mainstream media thinks of the Orlando Magic? Click here.
  • Josh Cohen of OrlandoMagic.com wonders if the Magic have a chance to be one of the greatest teams in NBA history, when it’s all said and done.
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “They have foes by the, um, throat because they have four all-star starters and arguably the NBA’s deepest, most talented bench. In many ways, Orlando GM Otis Smith has compiled a Noah’s Arc roster in that the Magic have two of everything – two centers in [Dwight] Howard and Marcin Gortat; two point guards in [Jameer] Nelson and veteran Jason Williams; two shooting guards in [Vince] Carter and J.J. Redick; two ace defenders in [Mickael] Pietrus and [Matt] Barnes and plenty of power forward help behind [Rashard] Lewis in Ryan Anderson and Brandon Bass. And whereas having that kind of depth could cause problems with shots and points on other teams, it’s not an issue in Orlando because there is one common goal: To win a championship. “We have a goal and everybody understands that. We check ourselves at the door and we’re a close team,” Carter said. The Magic went back to work on Thursday after having two days off following the sweep of the Hawks, one that proved to be the most lopsided four-game sweep in playoff history (101 points). Orlando’s players had Tuesday and Wednesday off, but got back on the court on Thursday with some scrimmaging and conditioning work.”
  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post explains why Orlando’s transition defense has been stout and takes the time to educate the public on Vince Carter.
  • Sekou Smith’s Hang Time Blog warns the Magic of having too much rest.
  • The Boston Celtics have a chance to close out the Cleveland Cavaliers in tonight’s game and according to Matt Moore of ProBasketballTalk, they better finish the job: “The Magic are playing the best basketball of any team coming into the Conference Finals, regardless of how the Boston-Cleveland series finishes. But the Celtics definitely have the ability to overcome that play with their defense and versatility. They will, however, need to have time to develop a gameplan, and to get their bodies and minds right. Because if there’s one thing we know for certain, it’s that the Magic will be ready. Boston must close out Cleveland tonight.”
  • Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference attempts to find out which position should be built around by teams for playoff success.
  • Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse states that Orlando is hanging loose right now.

  • Carter empathizes with LeBron James’ situation.

  • Dan Patrick conducts an interview with Dwight Howard. Check it out.

  • Jason Williams — trick-shot extraordinaire.

May 13

Dwight Howard Talks About “Just Wright”

May 13

A Progress Report of “The Magic Show,” Part II

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Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

With the Orlando Magic halfway home to their goal of winning a championship, it seems more than appropriate to conduct a progress report on each player that has been in head coach Stan Van Gundy‘s 10-man rotation (excluding Ryan Anderson, due to lack of minutes) since the start of the 2010 NBA Playoffs. The reports will serve to track a player’s performance at the midway point of the postseason.

There will be no grades handed out, just comments attached.

Today, the starters.
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Rashard Lewis (36.9 minutes per game):

PER TS% eFG% TRB% AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG%
14.0 .573 .539 7.8 7.4 1.7 0.9 10.9 19.4
19.1 .700 .678 9.3 12.8 1.3 1.1 13.0 18.2

Lewis has been fantastic, plain and simple. Even though the Magic aren’t relying on him as heavily as they did last year in the playoffs, Lewis has made up for working with a lighter workload by being ridiculously efficient on offense. The numbers show that. And this hasn’t been the case, of course, but it just seems like Lewis has been practically making every shot he’s put up. If anything else, Lewis has shown why he’s the best stretch four in the NBA. How?

Lewis completely neutered Smith’s effectiveness on defense, just by operating on the perimeter. This is the same Josh Smith that finished second in the Defensive Player of the Year voting and is regarded as a good defender, even if his individual D is suspect at varying times. That’s why stretch fours are valued, and Lewis is ahead of the rest of the class.

Lewis has been awesome offensively and what’s been most encouraging about his stellar play is that he isn’t just shooting threes. Lewis has shown a willingness to use the jab step to create space for an open mid-range jumper, put the basketball on the floor and attack the basket, and overpower his way on the low block and nail that silky-smooth fadeaway jumper of his. Lewis has displayed his full repertoire on offense and it’s been beautiful to watch.

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May 12

Wednesday’s Magic Word

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Dennis “3-D” Scott has a confession to make: He believes the 2009-10 Orlando Magic are the best team in the history of the franchise — even better than his old Magic club. The gold standard always has been the Shaquille O’Neal-Penny Hardaway team of the mid-90′s that played in the NBA Finals in 1995. [...] The Magic have stormed through the playoffs at 8-0, ousting Charlotte and Atlanta. They emerged from the first two rounds last season at 8-5, going 4-2 against Philadelphia and 4-3 against Boston.”
  • Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “Dwight Howard‘s day job (Game 1 of the Magic’s Eastern Conference semifinal) prevented his appearance at last week’s New York City premiere of “Just Wright”, but during an off day on Tuesday, Howard hosted a lower-key premiere for a theater full of fans and a few teammates. “It’s my first movie, I’m excited, I’m happy I don’t know what to say,” Howard said in the theater before thanking Magic shooting guard Vince Carter, small forward Matt Barnes and coach Stan Van Gundy for attending to support him. The movie premieres in theaters on Friday. Howard watched the movie, which stars Queen Latifah and the rapper, Common, from the back row of a theater at the AMC in Altamonte Springs. He sat alongside Carter and Barnes. When he appeared on screen the theater stirred and some clapped. Magic forward Rashard Lewis also appeared in the film.”
  • George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel states that the Orlando Magic are no longer underdogs, but alpha dogs.
  • Dwight Howard thanks everyone for attending his movie premier. In case you were unable to attend the event, here’s a link to some pictures from the proceedings.
  • David Whitley of NBA FanHouse states that the Magic are poised to return to the NBA Finals: “Miami and Orlando were in a hissing match over which city would be the better NBA town. The Miami Herald unleashed Dave Barry. Orlando stood no chance. [...] Twenty-one years later, the courtside seats at the Amway Arena are still largely occupied by people who couldn’t carry Jack Nicholson’s forehead. The glamor quotient went up when Tiger Woods showed up and spent the game texting (seriously, the only time he looked up was when Howard was dunking or the Magic Dancers were shaking). Tiger hasn’t shown all season. Apparently, there are problems at home or something. So who will ABC’s cameras fixate on if the Magic make the Finals? I don’t blame the network for wanting the Lakers to play the Cavaliers or Celtics. I’d rather see that than the Magic-Lakers or, zzzz, the Magic-Suns. And I’ve been a proud resident of Orlando for 10 years. It’s a fine place to raise kids, raise mosquitoes, play golf and make fun of snowbirds. But I’d rather see LeBron try to bowl over Kobe than Howard bowl over three Lakers every possession. But what does it matter what I think? The Magic are, you guessed it … “On a mission,” Howard said.”
  • Vince Carter and 16-0? Maybe.

May 12

Orlando Magic Ticket Update

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Via the Orlando Magic:

Single game ticket information for the Eastern Conference Finals will be announced in the coming days.

Please note season ticket holders will be given the first priority for Eastern Conference Finals tickets.

Full season tickets are now available for next season by calling 407-89-MAGIC or logging on to orlandomagic.com. Ticket highlights for next season in the new Amway Center include: 2,500 seats priced $15 or less, 7,000 seats priced $25 or less, and for the first time ever a $5 per game ticket.

May 12

A Progress Report of “The Magic Show,” Part I

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

With the Orlando Magic halfway home to their goal of winning a championship, it seems more than appropriate to conduct a progress report on each player that has been in head coach Stan Van Gundy‘s 10-man rotation (excluding Ryan Anderson, due to lack of minutes) since the start of the 2010 NBA Playoffs. The reports will serve to track a player’s performance at the midway point of the postseason.

There will be no grades handed out, just comments attached.

Today, the reserves.
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Mickael Pietrus (24.8 minutes per game):

PER TS% eFG% TRB% AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG%
11.9 .555 .540 7.4 4.7 1.6 1.4 10.5 18.0
17.7 .662 .657 5.3 7.9 1.6 1.8 7.5 18.9

Ah, “Planet Pietrus.” At this point, there’s no question that Pietrus lives for playoff basketball. For a second straight postseason, Pietrus has taken his game to another level on both ends of the court. Yes, Pietrus’ primary objective when he’s on the floor is to check the opposing team’s best wing player and he usually does a good job of doing it. However, his impact on offense is too great to ignore. Pietrus’ shooting percentages have been off the charts and the main reason has been because he, up to this point, is shooting an absurd 51.2% from the three-point line (21/41).

When the Magic need a big shot late in games, Pietrus hasn’t been afraid to step up in crunch time. Already in the playoffs, Orlando has benefitted from Pietrus’ marksmanship more than anything else. As such, there’s no question that when Pietrus is focused and prepared for the task at hand, he becomes a dynamic player and unquestionably the Magic’s sixth man extraordinaire coming off the bench. And given his track record last year, Pietrus is more than capable of maintaining his high level of play as the postseason continue to progress.

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May 11

Marcin Gortat on Flickr

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

There’s no doubt that Marcin Gortat, who prefers to be known as the “Polish Machine,” is one of the more popular players on the Orlando Magic and has really endeared himself to fans of the team in recent years. Gortat’s rags to riches story is one for the history books, given that he’s gone from being a little-used bench player to becoming a key reserve for the Magic and has gotten $34 million richer in the process. Heck of a story, eh?

But wait, it gets better. It’s been recently discovered that Gortat has a Flickr account.

Since the beginning of March, there have been pictures posted not only of Gortat but of his fellow teammates, really nice cars, and more. Check it out for yourself. Knowing that Gortat has a friend or two that is with him, whether it’s at games, practices, or if he’s out and about, it appears he (or they) is the one that has been taking a majority of the photos. Whatever the case may be, getting to see Gortat in a variety of settings is never a bad thing.

May 11

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “The [Orlando] Magic were scheduled to have Tuesday and Wednesday off, but several players and all the coaches will likely end up at the team headquarters on Wednesday to get in shooting, conditioning and film sessions. [Vince] Carter, who has said that he rarely ever watches NBA games on TV when the Magic aren’t playing, was the most excited about having another break, feeling it will help him recharge his energy and channel his focus for his first-ever berth in the Eastern Conference Finals. [...] Rhythm and flow are vitally important to basketball players, many of whom are used to playing games every other day during the marathon regular season. But [Rashard] Lewis said that the Magic are so locked in right now that no amount of time could distract this team from its mission of trying to win a championship.”
  • Dan Devine of Ball Don’t Lie thinks Jameer Nelson is due some respect, given how well he’s been playing in the 2010 NBA Playoffs: “Nelson was playing arguably the best ball of his career last season before suffering a torn labrum in his right shoulder that knocked him out of commission from February through the NBA Finals in June (and, frankly, probably should have kept him in the cooler until the start of this year). Healthy again, surrounded by talent and fueled by the prospect of championship-round redemption, he’s operating at a whole new level, and it’s a pleasure to see. Dude’s doing work, kids. Admire the sharpness.”
  • Bradford Doolittle of Basketball Prospectus analyzes the Orlando Magic’s sweep of the Atlanta Hawks and explains what it will mean for the victors moving forward: “The Magic move on to the conference finals and will have at least a week to rest and prepare for the survivor of the Cleveland-Boston series. Of course, Orlando wore the opposite shoe last season, battling the Celtics to seven games in the conference semis while the Cavaliers rested up after pounding the Hawks in four straight. So you can bet Stan Van Gundy is going to have his squad practicing plenty hard during the layoff. The Cavaliers and Celtics are both terrific teams and they both present certain problems for the Magic. However, no team is playing as well as Orlando, which now should be considered the odds-on favorite to win it all.”
  • Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playoffs breaks down two plays that show why the series went horribly wrong for the Hawks.
  • Bill Simmons of ESPN.com: “This goes to Orlando’s Amway Arena (better known as the O-Rena), which opened in 1989 as a “state-of-the-art” place and quickly became the last nobody-had-any-idea-what-they-were-doing-when-they-were-building-these-things sports arena. No club seats, no midlevel boxes, concrete aisles … just call this place the Hot Tub Time Machine Arena. (When I walked in, I thought I was suddenly back in college attending a WWE event at the Worcester Centrum. I kept looking around for Rick Rude and Demolition.) The poor Magic recently had to build another new arena that opens next season; if someone doesn’t purchase the O-Rena by next year (asking price: $90 million), the city of Orlando is probably knocking it down. So the Magic got 21 years out of a “state-of-the-art” arena. That’s a catastrophe. On the bright side …”
  • Rob Mahoney of ProBasketballTalk gives the Magic props: “This match-up was the epitome of unfavorable for Atlanta, but I’m not sure there’s a valid excuse for just how poorly the Hawks played in this series. Then again, it’s not too much of a surprise for the best team in basketball to look like the best team in basketball. The real story isn’t that Atlanta and Charlotte were winless, it’s that Orlando made them that way. Basketball-Reference’s Neil Paine broke down the most lopsided playoff sweeps of all time, and no matter how you slice it — straight up point differential, accounting for overtimes, accounting for home court advantage, by measuring how many games in a series were lopsided — the Magic’s second-round dismantling of the Hawks was one of the most impressive in league history.”
  • Here’s a link to Neil Paine’s findings.
  • Dwight Howard provides his thoughts: “I really like how we’re playing like a team on a mission. We’re not going out there and acting like we’ve got a 2-0 or 3-0 cushion in these series. We’re staying hungry and humble and keeping our foot on the throttle every game. Back in the day, we used to relax in games and relax in series like this and we’d let teams come back on us. I think we’ve come a long way and are not doing that anymore. That’s a sign of maturity for us. Now, we’re going to get two days off, but ya’ll know I’ll be back in the gym real soon getting my swolle on in the weight room. I also plan on working on my free throws. I’ve already talked to our guys about not losing focus or losing that edge just because we have a break.”
  • A number of ESPN writers chime in on the MVP’s of the postseason, so far. Nelson and Howard, among others, receive recognition for their sterling play.
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