Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 242

May 22

Preview: Orlando Magic at Boston Celtics, Game 3

8:30 EDT | ESPN
59-23 @ 50-32
Pythagorean Record: 61-21 Pythagorean Record: 52-30
Pace: 92.0 (18th) Pace: 91.6 (22nd)
Offensive Rating: 111.4 (4th) Offensive Rating: 107.7 (15th)
Defensive Rating: 103.3 (3rd) Defensive Rating: 103.8 (5th)
TD Garden | Celtics lead series 2-0

May 22

Three-Point Shooting and J.J. Redick


Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images

When it comes down to it, the NBA playoffs are all about matchups and adjustments. For head coaches, and even assistants in different situations, this is their chance to prove their mettle against each other. One of the main storylines that has surfaced in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals between the Orlando Magic and the Boston Celtics is the fact that head coach Doc Rivers and assistant coach Tom Thibodeau have constructed an excellent game-plan, more so defensively than anything else.

The Magic have struggled to score, at times, against the Celtics because their options are being limited on offense. Boston has made it their priority to limit the amount of three-pointers (specifically, from the corners) Orlando attempts, let alone makes. The Celtics are wary of the devastation the Magic can cause when they’re making threes in bundles. One of the reasons why Boston has been so successful on defense is that they have the personnel to single-cover Dwight Howard and hound Orlando’s shooters on the perimeter. Open looks have come at a premium for the Magic and unfortunately for them, the problem is being exacerbated given that the Celtics are doing an excellent job of limiting the amount of three-point shots being attempted. For example, even though Orlando shot a good percentage from beyond the arc in Game 2 (38 percent), the number of threes they attempted (18) was less than their average during the regular season (27).

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May 22

Sneak Preview: Orlando Magic at Boston Celtics, Game 3

Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “A not-so-funny thing happened to the [Orlando] Magic on the way to a second consecutive Finals appearance: The 2008 championship Celtics have materialized.They didn’t step out of an Iowa cornfield or magically appear through some heaven-sent cigar smoke from the late Red Auerbach. The tough old birds got their legs back, along with finding life in other assorted appendages. They stole home-court from the Magic, jolting them in Game 1 and winning Game 2 thanks to the play of a kid whose name sounds like a hero from an action movie: Rajon Rondo. And now a Magic team that easily was racking up victories never needed one more.”
  • Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “Dwight Howard objects routinely to contention that the Magic want to go down fighting, saying that he doesn’t plan on going down at all. He offered a modified General George Patton quote after practice on Friday in an effort to illustrate the Magic’s position that they didn’t plan to go down fighting. ‘Do you know what the object of war is?’ Howard asked a reporter. ‘It’s not to die for your country, it’s to make the other person die for theirs.’ ”
  • Julian Benbow of The Boston Globe: “With the Celtics leading the Magic, two games to none, in the Eastern Conference finals, Rivers’s fear was the team would hear continuous praise for three days. Instead, there was talk about overconfidence and the potential for a letdown, considering what hap pened two weeks ago. In the Celtics’ second-round series, they split the first two games on Cleveland’s home court and came back to Boston with three days off before Game 3. Rivers had described the practices as “lousy,’’ and the Cavaliers dealt the Celtics their worst home playoff loss in team history, with LeBron James exploding for 38 points in a 124-95 decision. Rivers said there was no need to show the team tape of that game again. The lesson was obvious.”
  • Jarrod N. Rudolph of The Boston Globe: “The Magic aren’t ready to concede anything to the Celtics. They are down, 2-0, and have given their counterparts full credit for two wins on their home floor. The Magic are coming to Boston with the understanding they have to win tonight’s Game 3, and the belief they’re good enough to get the job done. […] Three teams have come back to win a best-of-seven series after dropping the first two games at home. The Magic, however, don’t feel they need to go to the history books for inspiration. Their approach will be simple and straightforward. The task of winning in Boston will be hard enough without complicating it.”
  • Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: “Tony Allen says he wants strictly to look ahead – a healthy perspective if ever there was one. When the Celtics guard looks back, there are too many thorny memories – the multiple knee and ankle surgeries, the repeated falling out of favor with his coach, the off-court and on-court troubles of his early pro career that led to an NBA security alert last April during the first round of the playoffs in Chicago. Compared to Allen’s current run as a rotational stopper – the man you might soon see on Lakers star Kobe Bryant, the one who can match up on just about any Magic player not named Dwight Howard – his past is locked in a closet. Right now he’s simply grateful for what has to feel like his third or fourth chance on this team.”
  • Dan Duggan of the Boston Herald: “A common explanation for the rediscovery of Paul Pierce’s offense in the Eastern Conference finals against Orlando is that he no longer must worry about guarding LeBron James, as he did in the previous round. Although the assignment was undoubtedly a burden, that rationale overlooks another, more glaring reason why Pierce struggled offensively against the Cavaliers: He was being defended by LeBron James. A two-time all-defensive first-team selection, James is more than capable of locking up an opponent’s top scorer. In that matchup, Pierce was giving up size, speed, strength and leaping ability.”

May 21

Media Log: 2010 NBA Draft Combine Media Availability Day 2

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

In today’s media session (click here to read the log from Day 1), I was able to speak with Evan Turner amongst the media, as well as speak with Paul George, Patrick Patterson one-on-one, and Larry Sanders.


Evan Turner

Could you talk about the rich basketball culture in Chicago, given that you’ve grown up in an area that’s produced talents like Isaiah Thomas, Quentin Richardson, and others?

Yeah, I just think basketball has always been a big thing in Chicago. It’s a competitive sport. Kids have a ball before they can walk. Everybody grows up playing it. It’s the thing to do during the summer. I used to play basketball from like 11 a.m. all the way to [midnight], so I think it’s a very competitive sport and just the way life is out here.

How did Thad Matta help prepare you for the NBA?

I think just mentally. He’s really big on the mental aspect of the game. He says everybody has talent but not too many are mentally tough and they crumble. I think he’s gotten me prepared for being positive, always have confidence in myself, and just preparing right. Working hard and not letting a day go by or an opportunity go by.

What makes your play-style so conducive to the next level?

I think I was blessed with the ability to slash. I picked up the game and learned how to find my teammates quicker … use the ball screen. I think it’s just a players’ game. I play basketball and I just work on different type of things to be ready for the NBA game and it’s a players’ game. I feel like it’s just basketball.

The NBA has become more of a league dominated by wing players. How do you think you’ll take advantage of the game in its present form?

Being in the Big Ten where they could carry you up the court pretty much and not getting any fouls called, I think I’ll adapt to it well. Definitely I have to get used to it on the defensive end because you can’t use your body or your hands. These are pros now. It’s their job to make shots. It’s their job to attack and everything, just have to be smart, really use your technique, and really use your fundamentals.

Some of the players I spoke with yesterday said that the college game is more physical, so how do you think you’ll adapt yourself to the league where it’s more spread out and what not?

The pace is going to be faster and the length of people [is different]. Somethings it’ll be tougher to finish at the rim and that’s pretty much it. The pace is going to be way quicker. Better athletes … you might face a guy your height or taller, as opposed to facing a guy who’s a little bit shorter.

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May 21

Friday’s Magic Word

  • Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic are well aware of how important this weekend. Center Marcin Gortat called it the most important weekend of the season. After practice on Friday, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy acknowledged that the season would be judged based on how the team performed in the playoffs. He said the expectations surrounding the Magic are a good thing and right where the franchise wants to be.”
  • John Denton of “For two days since the Orlando Magic plummeted into a shocking 0-2 hole, Rashard Lewis has had plenty on his mind. He’s thought repeatedly about ways to get himself more involved in the offense, he’s steamed over the trash talk from the Boston Celtics and he’s listened to the noise about how the Magic are done. All of it, combined with the frustration of losing the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals, has raised the dander of the mild-mannered, soft-spoken Lewis. He vowed on Thursday that the Magic might be overlooked now and little expected of them, but by Saturday’s Game 3 people will see there is still plenty of life left in this team.”
  • Dan Savage of thinks there’s still hope for the Orlando Magic in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals: “With each step taking me closer to the Magic’s locker room, I feared I’d see a room with heads held low and the look of utter defeat. But upon my arrival, I witnessed the near antithesis of my worries. The team’s facial expressions and body language still reflected determination and a complete belief that they could turn this series around. And that’s the moment that initiated my metamorphosis from a sullen disbeliever to an all-biases-aside-writer who sincerely thinks that Orlando’s Finals run is far from over. “
  • Rob Mahoney of ProBasketballTalk responds to Matt Barnes‘ comments about Paul Pierce being a flopper: “Paul Pierce is a fantastic player, but the infuriating thing about him is that he stands (or falls?) amongst the most egregious floppers. It’s one thing for Paul to exaggerate a bump on the way to the rim, but the way he collapses on the floor after minimal incidental contact or pretends to be hit in the head while shooting seems like it should be beneath him. He’s honestly too good of a player to be compensating like that. […] Barnes’ quote applies more to a singular incident of Pierce’s flopping than a general trend, but his point stands. However, that doesn’t mean I’m here on a holy crusade to rid the world of the flopping abomination. That’s the problem, actually. No matter how much we rant and rave, there isn’t a convenient solution to get rid of this kind of play. Pierce will continue to go on rewarded for what he does, and there’s really not much the NBA can do about it.”
  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “A lot of things need to happen for the Magic to make this series interesting again. Three-point shooting is just one aspect. But it’s an important aspect. Getting to the foul line more–[Dwight] Howard and [J.J.] Redick are the only two players do to it consistently–can offset the lack of three-point chances, but it’s clear that the Magic need to rediscover what they did against the Celtics in the regular season. In those 4 games, Orlando got 27 of its 78 three-pointers from the corners, or 34.6%. Before the Conference Finals, the Celtics adjusted. Now, the Magic need to counter. Otherwise, they’ll be vacationing sooner rather than later.”
  • Mickael Pietrus speaks!
  • Assistant coach Patrick Ewing could play some basketball in his heyday.
  • Austin Burton of Dime Magazine: “I think Vince Carter can shake his reputation as a crunch-time choker and overall soft player. All he has to do is play the game of his life tomorrow.”
  • The top 10 players of the 2010 NBA Playoffs, featuring Jameer Nelson and Dwight Howard … in that order.
  • Bradford Doolittle of Basketball Prospectus: “It’s apparent that the Celtics are not going to allow Rashard Lewis to become a big factor in this series. If that trend seems to be continuing in Game 3, I’d like to see Stan Van Gundy give more time to Marcin Gortat, who has been a spark whenever he’s stepped on the floor in the first two games. I don’t always love a Gortat/Dwight Howard pairing on the Magic frontline, but I do like it against the Celtics’ starting unit. Orlando can dominate the glass and as long as Kevin Garnett is struggling with his jump shot, Gortat should be able to contend with him on the defensive end. So far, it’s felt like Van Gundy has struggled to adjust to what Doc Rivers (or Tom Thibodeau, as the case may be) has thrown at him defensively. Going really big may force Doc to make some unwanted adjustments.”

May 21

Marcin Gortat and Dwight Howard Training Together

May 21

A Quick Rundown on Rashard Lewis’ Struggles Against the Boston Celtics


Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images

Via Peter D. Newmann of ESPN NBA Statistics and Information Research

Rashard Lewis has been an absolute non-factor in this series. This comes after he was a major factor against the Celtics in the 2009 postseason. Lewis has as many points as rebounds in this series. How many of his struggles can be attributed to the presence of Kevin Garnett?

Postseason History vs. Celtics:

2009 2010
PPG 20.4 5.5
FG Pct. 45.5 25.0
3-PT FG Pct. 32.4 11.1
RPG 6.3 5.5
Plus/Minus +40 -13

May 20

Media Log: 2010 NBA Draft Combine Media Availability Day 1, Part II

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Today and tomorrow at the Attack Athletics facility on the West Side of Chicago near the United Center, the 2010 NBA Draft Combine will take place. Nearly all of the top prospects (53, to be exact) hoping to be selected in the 2010 NBA Draft, whether it’s in the first or second round, will interview with teams, participate in basketball drills, undergo athletic and medical testing, and much more. No competitive games, though. In any case, the combine will give every team in the NBA a chance to start getting a first-hand look at the prospects, given that they’ll watch the workouts and, as has been mentioned before, interview them to get to know more about a player’s personality. For two days, the prospects will also be available to the media throughout the late morning and early afternoon.

In today’s media session, I was able to speak with John Wall amongst the media, as well as talk with Dominique Jones one-on-one, James Anderson, Xavier Henry, Luke Babbitt, Jarvis Varnado one-on-one, Travis Booker one-on-one, and Solomon Alabi one-on-one.

Part II contains my questions for Varnado, Booker, Alabi, and Wall.


Jarvis Varnado

I know that the whole draft experience can be exciting for prospects but tense, too. How’s everything going for you?

It’s going real well. I’ve been getting good training out in Los Angeles, so it’s been going good.

What are you trying to improve on as the draft looms closer?

The offensive end of the court. I’m known as a defensive player, so I’m just trying to improve on the offensive end and knock down 15-footers.

You were well-known as a shot blocker and rebounder in college. Do you think those skills will translate for you to the NBA?

Oh yeah, there’s a lot of players in the NBA that can score but there’s quite a few that can play defense so whatever team drafts me, I’m just going to come in there and bring energy and the defensive presence that I have.

What do you think is something that’s overlooked about you that people should know more about?

I think I can knock down the 15-footer real well. I didn’t show it in college because I was doing what the coach asked me to, so I think I can shoot it real well.

What goes into blocking a shot?

Just timing, instincts … I try to be the second guy off the floor and use my long arms and be quick. My leaping ability allows me to do that.

Do you think you’ll be able to block as many shots in the NBA as you did in college?

Oh yeah. I got a lot of shots blocked off the weak-side. If one of the guards get beat, they know I got their back so I’m looking forward to that, as well as get some [blocks] from other people.

Is there a guy that you try to model your game after?

I say a Marcus Camby. He’s a great defensive player. He’s able to knock down his jumpshot.

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May 20

Media Log: 2010 NBA Draft Combine Media Availability Day 1, Part I

Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images

Today and tomorrow at the Attack Athletics facility on the West Side of Chicago near the United Center, the 2010 NBA Draft Combine will take place. Nearly all of the top prospects (53, to be exact) hoping to be selected in the 2010 NBA Draft, whether it’s in the first or second round, will interview with teams, participate in basketball drills, undergo athletic and medical testing, and much more. No competitive games, though. In any case, the combine will give every team in the NBA a chance to start getting a first-hand look at the prospects, given that they’ll watch the workouts and, as has been mentioned before, interview them to get to know more about a player’s personality. For two days, the prospects will also be available to the media throughout the late morning and early afternoon.

In today’s media session, I was able to speak with John Wall amongst the media, as well as talk with Dominique Jones one-on-one, James Anderson, Xavier Henry, Luke Babbitt, Jarvis Varnado one-on-one, Travis Booker one-on-one, and Solomon Alabi one-on-one.

Part I contains my questions for Jones, Anderson, Henry, and Babbitt.


Dominique Jones

How did your training go in Atlanta?

It’s good. It’s just where I’m based out of right now when I go to these workouts so I got the training down and everything is good.

A lot of people say that you’re style of play is very conducive to the NBA. Why is that?

I think that I’m strong and the contact is good, things like that. Getting to the basket and being able to knock down that wide-open shot, I think I can do that and I guess that’s where it translates at.

Specifically, what are you trying to improve in your game?

My ball-handling and getting inside the lane. I mean, I can get inside the lane basically wherever I want to go but keeping my ball-handling a little tight and my defense. I can defend but I just need to get it a little better.

What type of team would you like to play for? Up-tempo? Structured?

It don’t matter. I can go anywhere and play. I prefer an up-tempo team because then I can get up and down [the court] like I like to do.

Do you feel you’re an open-court player?

Yeah, that’s what I’m best at. Transition, open-court, off deflections, off defense, I’m the best at that.

Which teams have you worked out for?

Yeah, I’ve worked out for Boston, San Antonio, Washington, Indiana and Chicago.

The NBA is becoming more of a perimeter-oriented league. How do you think that will help you succeed as a player in the league?

Yeah, I think that’ll help me get to the basket more and make my drives a little easier so I can get that contact at the basket. I mean, I think it’ll affect me on defense too because I won’t be able to be as physical as I want but I’m satisfied with the rules so I like it.

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May 20

Thursday’s Magic Word

  • Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “It was [Matt] Barnes who revealed last week that his assignment for Game 1 was Ray Allen instead of Pierce, whom he guarded during the regular season. Pierce is averaging 25 points, seven rebounds and five assists per game in the Eastern Conference Finals. Today both Barnes and Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said the defensive assignments have yet to be determined. And while Barnes said he would do his job on whomever the coaches wanted him to guard, when asked if he could stop Pierce, he replied confidently. ‘I think that I can,’ Barnes said. ‘You don’t really stop anybody; you just want to slow him down.’ ”
  • More from Ganguli: “Magic coach Stan Van Gundy reminded his players this week that over the last few years very few teams have won a playoff series without winning on the road. It was his way of telling his players that even though their home court advantage was smashed to smithereens this week, that is something they can overcome. Something they might have had to overcome anyway. […] Van Gundy said he didn’t implement any drastic changes to the game plan today. He does not plan to change his starters, either. […] But they did insert a few new plays to help Rashard Lewis’s offensive game, and worked on improving ball movement, shot selection and offensive and defensive transition games.”
  • John Denton of states that Matt Barnes will likely guard Paul Pierce in Game 3 of the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals: “The likelihood is that Barnes will hound Pierce in Game 3, while Carter will move back to checking Allen. That’s the way the Magic schemed defensively against the Celtics during the regular season. And Barnes grew accustomed to checking the other team’s best players, having big defensive nights against the likes of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Joe Johnson and Stephen Jackson during the regular season and in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Being the Magic’s defensive stopper is a role that Barnes, a potential free agent at season’s end relishes.”
  • Shaun Powell of comments on the prospective matchup between Barnes and Pierce.
  • Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse has more on the same subject.
  • Rob Mahoney of ProBasketballTalk takes a look at some of the adjustments the Magic need to make against the Celtics: “The key is for Stan Van Gundy and his staff to identify the most problematic areas and the Magic players to adjust before its too late. In a seven-game series, changes in approach and execution are only as influential as the time at which they’re implemented. Everyone within the Magic organization can only hope that there’s still time to implement a change, go about making the necessary adjustment, and do their best to perform beginning with Game 3. One possible adjustment is to yank the injured Matt Barnes from the starting lineup, and replace him with the far more effective J.J. Redick.”
  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post goes a step further and explains why J.J. Redick should start: “I’m not trying to slam Barnes here–he’s playing through back pain right now, and he’s had a great year–but the individual and team-wide numbers condemn him, and strongly suggest that Orlando stands a better chance to compete with Boston when Redick’s on the floor. Look at the efficiency differentials the team posts with those players sharing the floor with the other starters. Redick’s worth 37.31 points per 100 possessions over Barnes so far in this series! That’s just too glaring to ignore.”
  • Rashard Lewis needs to score.
  • Austin Burton of Dime Magazine chimes in on head coach Stan Van Gundy’s plan to get Lewis involved more on offense against the Celtics.
  • Senior vice president Pat Williams doesn’t think it’s time to panic if you’re a Magic fan.
  • Dwight Howard: “Well, the sun came up today and life went on like normal. I know we’re in a really tough spot right now going down 0-2 to the Celtics, but I’m not about doom and gloom at all here. Repeat after me: We can still do this!!! We need to get over the hump. All that matters now is getting our minds and our games right for Game 3 and not worrying about what has happened in the first two games. Of course, we’re upset about losing a tough game like we did Tuesday. We poured everything we had into that game. We looked at the film today and saw that the game came down to doing all of the little things. In games like this it’s more about having energy, running back on defense, rebounding and scrapping for loose balls. Those are the things that win big games in the Eastern Conference Finals. Right now, Boston is making those plays, but we know we can turn it around and swing things in our favor.”
  • Zach Harper of Hardwood Paroxysm takes a look, with the help of video, at Howard’s post game in Game 2.
  • Trey Kerby of Ball Don’t Lie: “In the first two games of the series, Lewis has played a little more than 83 minutes. Based on his per-minute stats from the regular season, you’d expect about 35 points and 12 rebounds for that amount of tick. Lewis has fallen a little short of that — he’s scored 11 points and grabbed 11 boards in the two games. That’s not good. Furthermore, the normally dead-on Lewis has made just 25 percent of his shots thus far. And as you can see by his shot chart, in typical Lewis fashion he’s been hesitant to mix things up inside, preferring to hang out by the perimeter and chuck threes. Once again, not good.”
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