Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 236

May 14

MBN Roundtable Discussion: Previewing the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals for the Orlando Magic

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Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

As seen on ABC’s Sunday Dime.

I gathered writers, the best of the best in the blogosphere, to participate in a roundtable discussion and answer some of the most pertinent questions concerning the Orlando Magic as the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals are set to begin.

So, without further ado, here are the participants:

Kevin Arnovitz, TrueHoop
Kurt Helin, ProBasketballTalk
Matt Moore, Hardwood Paroxysm

Each individual provided a quick breakdown of the series between the Magic and the Boston Celtics, his opinion on the player that has been the most impressive for Orlando in the postseason (up to this point), and more.

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With the Orlando Magic having already put the finishing touches on back-to-back sweeps against the Charlotte Bobcats and the Atlanta Hawks in the first two rounds of the playoffs, the question that is invariably being asked is whether or not they are falling in the same trap that tripped up the Cleveland Cavaliers last year? Does that logic apply to the Magic? Why or why not?

Kevin Arnovitz: This logic does not apply to Orlando because the premise defies logic. The notion that a team somehow hurts itself by dominating opponents with brutal efficiency is silly. If Orlando loses in the Eastern Conference Finals, it assuredly won’t be because they were too successful in previous rounds. It will be because they failed to execute their stuff.

Kurt Helin: I don’t think so, because these Magic understand about winning in a way that Cavs team did not. I’m a believer you have to learn to win in the NBA. Orlando went to the Finals last year. This is a team that learned what it took to get there and a painful lesson from the loss in the Final last year about what it takes to be a champion. That there is another level of commitment (plus having a health Jameer Nelson doesn’t hurt). These Magic have come out and taken care of business in a professional way, not letting up.

That Cavaliers team did not lose because of the sweeps in the first two rounds. They lost because they were not the best team, they did not execute as well, they could not get the matchups they liked. These Magic are the best team.

Matt Moore: I think it does. I think that complacency is the worst thing that can happen to a ballclub in the playoffs is complacency. And Orlando’s going to have more of it than any Conference Finalist. Swept through the first and second rounds, never challenged. Drew easy opponents who didn’t match up well. Lots of time off. This is recipe for disaster against a Boston team that’s rolling. The fact that the first games are in Orlando, meaning they have to immediately switch back to high gear because they MUST win their first two games is adding to that. Every team thinks that their dominance is real and valid until it gets blindsided. Then they can’t understand why they ever thought that to begin with.

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May 14

Interview with Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post, Part III

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

No introduction necessary.

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

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One of the major storylines last year, and even this year, was the “what if” scenario, in which people wondered what the 2009 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals would have been like had Kevin Garnett and to a lesser extent, Jameer Nelson, had been healthy. Given that the Orlando Magic and the Boston Celtics are playing well in the postseason, is there a chance we get to see the series that everyone wanted to see last season with both teams at full strength?

Oh, without question, this series is the one everyone wanted to see last year. And the fact that [Jameer] Nelson is playing out of his damn mind right now only makes it more interesting. Garnett, too, is on a roll, having destroyed the Cavs from the inside (when they put Antawn Jamison on him) and the outside (when they assigned Shaquille O’Neal). This series has a lot of potential even without considering those players’ return to form. But yes, the fact that both teams are at full strength only sweetens the deal.

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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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