Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 241

May 03

Interview with Bret LaGree of Hoopinion

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Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

Hoopinion is known by many around the blogosphere for the past few years as an excellent site that covers the Atlanta Hawks, authored by Bret LaGree. But what people may not know is that LaGree has produced a playwright before, titled “Guyworld” … talk about writing versatility! In any case, if you’re ever in need an educated take or the latest scoop on the Hawks, Hoopinion is the place to go. LaGree drops knowledge, without a doubt.

A few days ago, I was able to ask LaGree a few questions to preview the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Orlando Magic and the Atlanta Hawks.

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Some people have stated that the Atlanta Hawks’ performance in the first round revealed more questions than answers, most notably concerning the team’s inconsistency, head coach Mike Woodson’s coaching acumen, etc. Do you agree or disagree with that statement and why?

Perimeter defense, defensive rebounding, predictability in the half-court (both offensively and defensively) which can be exploited down the stretch of close games, an inability to get to the free throw line, and a lack of depth have all been problems for the Hawks for years but little of that has really taken root in the national consciousness. I suspect that it’s rare that the team who averages the fourth-fewest possessions per game in the league is commonly perceived and frequently described as a devastating transition team.

So, yes, making adjustments isn’t Mike Woodson’s strength (nor does his roster give him a lot of options; granted, some of that is his own doing), and, yes, you’d think that by being a former Larry Brown assistant Woodson would be a good defensive coach but the Hawks have never been a good defensive team under him, and, yes, the Hawks look great when they get out and run but they can’t do that consistently because they don’t rebound enough of the misses they force and, when that happens, they become over-reliant on jump shots created within a half-court system that prizes dribbling over ball and player movement. I don’t think anything that was revealed in the Milwaukee series was news to Hawks fans but the some common misconceptions casual or infrequent viewers of the team were dispelled.

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May 02

Sunday’s Magic Word

  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “The Orlando Magic will be facing yet another Southeast Division rival in the playoffs after the Atlanta Hawks emerged from their first-round series on Sunday. The second-seeded Magic will face the third-seeded Hawks in second-round play beginning Tuesday at 8 p.m. at Amway Arena. The Hawks defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 95-74 on Sunday in a Game 7 for the right to face Orlando. The Magic beat the Charlotte Bobcats 4-0 in the first round for the first four-game sweep in franchise history. By virtue of that sweep and Atlanta being pushed to seven games by the Bucks, the Magic will have had eight days off by Tuesday, while the Hawks will be forced to board a plane to Orlando on Monday afternoon.”
  • Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel notes that there are still tickets available for Games 1 and 2.
  • Dwight Howard finished fourth in the MVP voting: “Looks like the Magic’s campaign to get Howard some MVP consideration worked on a few voters at least. Out of 123 possible votes, 122 from the media and one from a collective fan vote, Howard was in the top five of 111 ballots. He received three first-place votes, 27 second-place, 30 third-place, 29 fourth-place and 22 fifth-place votes for a total of 478 points. James won the award in a landslide for the second consecutive year. He received 116 first-place votes, five second-place votes and two third-place votes for 1,205 points.”
  • Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie questions the Atlanta Hawks: “The biggest question, beyond Atlanta’s consistent inconsistent, remains only partially answered. Will Mike Woodson realize that he has admirable depth on his team? Depth not named “Maurice Evans,” mind you, because Mike loves him some Mo Evans. Beyond Crawford, Atlanta’s bench usually doesn’t get much time to make an impact. But starting in Game 6, Zaza Pachulia came off the bench to make Ersan Ilyasova’s (the Game 5 hero) life a living hell on the glass. Joe Smith can still play, Jeff Teague could at least help in defending in transition or getting teams into sets when Mike Bibby isn’t hitting, and Mario West should be more than a bit player when Marvin Williams isn’t helping.”
  • UPDATE: Mickael Pietrus sprained his left ankle during practice and it is unsure if he’ll be able to play on Tuesday.

May 02

Orlando Magic Updated Eastern Conference Semifinal Schedule vs. Atlanta

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Via the Orlando Magic:

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

Orlando vs. Atlanta Eastern Conference Semifinals Series Schedule

  • Game 1 – Tuesday, May 4, 8 p.m., at Orlando (Amway Arena), TNT TV
  • Game 2 – Thursday, May 6, 8 p.m., at Orlando (Amway Arena), ESPN TV
  • Game 3 – Saturday, May 8, 5 p.m., at Atlanta, ESPN TV
  • Game 4 – Monday, May 10, 8 p.m., at Atlanta, TNT TV
  • Game 5 – Wednesday, May 12, Time TBD, at Orlando (Amway Arena), TNT TV, if necessary
  • Game 6 – Friday, May 14, Time TBD, at Atlanta, ESPN TV, if necessary
  • Game 7 – Sunday, May 16, Time TBD, at Orlando (Amway Arena), TV TBD, if necessary

*All Times Eastern

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

*All conference semifinal games are exclusive national telecasts.

May 02

Something To Pass the Time

Apr 30

Orlando Magic Eastern Conference Semifinals Playoff Schedule Announced

Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images

Via the Orlando Magic:

The National Basketball Association has announced the schedule for the Orlando Magic’s Eastern Conference Semifinals best-of-seven playoff series vs. either Atlanta or Milwaukee. Atlanta and Milwaukee are tied 3-3 in its best-of-seven first round series with Game 7 scheduled for Sunday. The winner will meet the Magic beginning Tuesday night (8 p.m.), May 4, in Orlando.

Orlando vs. Atlanta or Milwaukee Eastern Conference Semifinals Series Schedule

  • Game 1 – Tuesday, May 4, 8 p.m., at Orlando (Amway Arena), TNT TV
  • Game 2 – Thursday, May 6, 8 p.m., at Orlando (Amway Arena), ESPN TV
  • Game 3 – Saturday, May 8, Time TBD, at Atlanta or Milwaukee, TV TBD
  • Game 4 – Monday, May 10, Time TBD, at Atlanta or Milwaukee, TNT TV
  • Game 5 – Wednesday, May 12, Time TBD, at Orlando (Amway Arena), TNT TV, if necessary
  • Game 6 – Friday, May 14, Time TBD, at Atlanta or Milwaukee, ESPN TV, if necessary
  • Game 7 – Sunday, May 16, Time TBD, at Orlando (Amway Arena), TV TBD, if necessary

*All Times Eastern

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

*All conference semifinal games are exclusive national telecasts.

Apr 30

The Wait Continues

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Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

After the Atlanta Hawks beat the Milwaukee Bucks by the score of 83-69 to extend the series to seven games, good news and bad news accompanied the result for the Orlando Magic.

The good news is that the Magic now know they will begin the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals on Tuesday at Amway Arena.

The bad news is that Orlando won’t find out who they’re playing until Sunday, which means the coaches and players will have a minimal amount of time to prepare for their opponent (granted, the same issue applies to the Bucks and the Hawks). Oh, and then there’s the whole rest thing. The Magic will be waiting eight days before they play again, which shouldn’t be a problem but who knows.

That’s why they play the games.

Apr 30

Friday’s Magic Word

  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “[Marcin] Gortat’s proudest moment in the NBA came last Saturday in Game 3 in Charlotte when he filled in for [Dwight] Howard down the stretch and then sealed the game with two clutch free throws. He was shocked when good friend J.J. Redick in-bounded the ball to him with 12 seconds to go, but he collected himself enough to bury the game-winning free throws. He literally made himself into a solid player with his tireless work before and after practices and games, and it came through with Gortat on the line in Game 3. “When I was standing over there on the free throw line I just told myself, ‘It’s fine. Just do the same thing that I do every day before the practice and after the practice,'” Gortat said with a chuckle. “It was just like I was standing with one of the guys from the office, in an empty gym working on my game.” Gortat said that as much as he’s longed for a greater role the past two seasons, winning a title with the [Orlando] Magic would make it all so worth it. He already holds the distinction of being just the third NBA player ever from Poland and signing that $34 million contract last summer set him up financially for the rest of his life. But Gortat dreams now of how a championship would alter his life.”
  • Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel has more on Gortat.
  • Happy birthday, Brandon Bass!
  • Words of wisdom from general manager Otis Smith in response to Howard’s complaints about the officials: “Howard was limited to just 9.8 points and 9.3 rebounds, dramatically fewer than the 18.3 and 13.2 he averaged during the regular season. Smith, who was once a no-nonsense player, has been a no-nonsense general manager. He criticized his star player instead of criticizing officials. ‘Officials are human. They make mistakes, sometimes in your favor, sometimes in the other team’s favor. But it all balances out,’ he said. ‘Just play basketball, and stop worrying about the calls. Are you going to get some bad calls? Sure. Are you going to get some good ones? Sure. Those people running around in stripes are just like me — the more you yell at them, the worse they get. If you smile a little bit more, and you talk to them, you may get one.’ A few of Howard’s fouls in the opening round were foolish fouls when he should have shown more restraint. Others came when he was wrestling in the lane with one of the three Charlotte centers who were more interested in aggravating him than making basketball plays. ‘He needs to be on the floor longer than 28 minutes. That’s not on the officials. That’s not on Stan. That’s on Dwight. Life’s tough. You’re a big guy. Sorry. Move on.’ Howard struggled with foul trouble early in the playoffs last season, too. Like many stars in the game today, though, he rarely admits to a personal foul against him, complaining to officials when calls don’t go in his favor. And that’s not something Smith likes. Howard still believes he doesn’t get the ‘star calls,’ that others like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant often receive. ‘I don’t buy into that concept at all. Zero. I think over the course of a 48-minute game, it all comes back around,’ Smith said. ‘This time of year, the officials do a pretty good job. We’ve got another round of this, and it’s going to be just the same. He needs to be on the floor longer than 28 minutes. That’s not on the officials. That’s not on Stan. That’s on Dwight. Life’s tough. You’re a big guy. Sorry. Move on.’ ”
  • Trey Kerby of Ball Don’t Lie: “I’m with Otis, even though I’m not quite sure Dwight is capable of smiling any more than he already does. He’s a big guy and refs have a hard time calling games for people that huge. Any time Dwight touches another player, that dude goes flying and it looks like a foul. The whistle blows and more often than not, the guy on the floor is getting the call. That’s one of the prices you pay for having shoulders the size of human heads. All that being said, if there is some way we can get Dwight Howard to smile even more, I’m all for it. Happiness is contagious, y’all.”
  • John Krolik of ProBasketballTalk chimes in on Smith’s comments.
  • Howard is excited to get back to work.

Apr 29

Otis Smith Offers His Take on Vince Carter and Marcin Gortat

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

We know the story by now.

After the Orlando Magic made it to the 2009 NBA Finals and lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games, general manager Otis Smith made the choice to reconstruct the roster during the off-season.

Arguably, the two biggest decisions made by Smith was replacing Hedo Turkoglu and bringing in Vince Carter, as well as surprising many people by matching the Dallas Mavericks’ offer sheet and re-signing Marcin Gortat to the full mid-level exception to remain the Magic’s back-up center.

Smith shares his take on Carter …

Via Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel:

I think that’s why we brought [Vince Carter] in. We brought him in for the postseason. Getting some attention off Dwight [Howard], which he’s been able to do. And to help carry his share of the load. We’re not asking him to carry the full load, which we don’t ask anyobdy to do. Our biggest load-carrier is Dwight. Everyone else has to do his part. [...] Probably the positive with him for me is he understands the game better than we thought. He had to understand we’re going to work hard every day. That’s something he had to grow into here. we don’t take a whole lot of days off. When we practice, we practice.

And Gortat?

I think we signed him for a reason. To back up Dwight. Dwight will get in foul trouble and when he does we need a backup center. We insert Marsh. Marsh does a very good job of holding down the fort. Has done a very good job of holding down the fort the few years. I don’t know if that’s satisfaction. Like I said before, we’re in a league that probably only has 10 centers. We just happen to have two. It’s a luxury.

Apr 29

Thursday’s Magic Word

  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “[Orlando] Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, who put his team through an arduous, two-hour workout on Thursday with three 12-minute quarters of game-like action, said his team will practice on Friday as if they will play Milwaukee, “because that’s the only team we can face on Sunday.” And if the start of the next series is pushed to Tuesday – an eight-day stretch from the end of the Charlotte sweep — the Magic might take Saturday off and push Sunday’s workout back to after a Hawks-Bucks Game 7. [...] Several of the Magic players talked on Thursday about the need to keep their conditioning intact and to stay sharp mentally. Small forward Matt Barnes said Thursday’s practice “felt like we played three games in one day,” and point guard Jameer Nelson pointed out that the workout was as intense as any the Magic have had in some time. Nelson, easily Orlando’s most consistent player in the four-game sweep of the Bobcats, said the Magic are determined to not let a long layoff distract their focus from the ultimate prize of a championship.”
  • Head coach Stan Van Gundy shares his thoughts on the Milwaukee Bucks.
  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel thinks the Orlando Magic should fret facing the Bucks in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Semfinals: “If I’m the Magic, I’d rather play the Hawks because they are a team that really has no intestinal fortitude. In contrast, the Bucks, coached by the fiery Scott Skiles, have shown they have the grit and guts to compete even when the situation looks hopeless.”
  • Van Sias of SLAM ONLINE has a tip for fans of the Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento Kings, and the Golden State Warriors, three teams not participating in the playoffs — root for the Magic instead: “Probably the last team you want to pull for is the Lakers, state pride be damned, so why not take it as far out of Cali as near possible and roll with the Magic men? Dwight Howard’s always gonna get his, so you don’t have to worry about your big man not showing up. Plus, they’re already in the conference semis after putting the broom to Charlotte. Hook up with them and you’re on your way!”
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “Dwight Howard lost his head in the Charlotte series. Sure, there were some borderline calls that went against him, but he didn’t deal with it well. He kept picking up silly fouls, not just accepting some of the banging but retaliating. Then he sat. Then his teammates nicknamed him Foul on You. Watch the video and see for yourself. [...] Superman needs to sit down with the other Superman and talk about this — Shaquille O’Neal has been there. It takes some maturity as a strong, physical player to accept the cheap shots and not retaliate, to see calls that would be made on others ignored on you because your strong enough to power through them, to have other people flop and get calls. But Howard let it get into his head.”
  • Are the Magic still disrespected? Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post attempts to find an answer to that question.
  • Trey Kerby of Ball Don’t Lie chimes in on Howard’s $35,000 fine.

Apr 29

“Blue & White Ignite” – Special Fan Activities Announced for Eastern Conference Semifinals

Photo by Brian A. Westerholt/Getty Images

Via the Orlando Magic:

It’s time for Magic fans and the community to jump into the excitement as Blue & White Ignite for the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Magic encourage their fans to show their spirit and wear Blue and White to ignite the team in the 2010 NBA Playoffs. Some highlights of the fan activities surrounding the 2010 Orlando Magic Playoffs, presented by Bright House Networks, will include:

  • For Game 1 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, 9,000 blue and 9,000 white “Blue & White Ignite” T-shirts, presented by Bright House Networks, will be given away, along with 10,000 rally rackets.
  • Following Game 1 and Game 2, 10,000 fans will receive car flags when they exit Amway Arena.

The first 10,000 fans in attendance for Game 2 will receive a drawstring bag presented by T-Mobile. In addition, the first 1,000 children in attendance will receive a STUFF photograph.

  • Fan Fest will take place on the north side of Amway Arena for all home playoff games. The Fan Fest will feature the Legend’s Lounge presented by Bright House Networks for autographs with Community Ambassadors Bo Outlaw and Nick Anderson. The Fan Fest will open two hours prior to tip-off and will have an official playoff merchandise trailer and food and beverage will be available for purchase. This will be a huge fan zone with a tailgate atmosphere that will give fans a reason to arrive early for the festivities.
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