- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “From either his spot along the baseline near the Orlando Magic’s bench or in his family suite high above the crowd, Rich DeVos likes what he sees when he peers out across the arena that bear his company’s name. He certainly enjoys the product out on Amway Arena’s parquet floor what with his Magic having breezed through the first round of the playoffs and once again being legitimate contenders to win the NBA championship. But when the 84-year-old DeVos attends games – and he likes to come more than the once-a-week edict his wife, Helen, gave him recently – he sees beyond the action on the court. He sees kids’ basketball teams being honored at midcourt during timeouts, church choir groups singing the national anthem and teenagers scurrying in the stands for t-shirts shot out from those cannons. But mostly, DeVos – a family man’s man – sees dads and daughters interacting, husbands and wives smooching on the kiss cam and grandfathers talking basketball with their grandsons. It’s moments like these that DeVos is delighted to be the owner and steward to Orlando’s deepest-rooted, longest-lasting professional franchise.”
- The odds that Dwight Howard is fined for his comments on his official blog yesterday are very high. UPDATE: It’s official.
- Ben Q Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel begins the “rest versus rust” debate here, and some commenters in these pages have wondered if the Magic would have been better off if the Bobcats gave them a rougher go of it in the first round. Could the Magic have used an additonal 48 or 96 minutes as they gear up for their championship run? Will the long layoff between series work against them? These are valid concerns, but ultimately, the Magic should be just fine. [...] Howard, their go-to guy, has been monstrously efficient. [Rashard] Lewis, [Vince] Carter, [Matt] Barnes, [Mickael] Pietrus, and [Jason] Williams have been on fire from the outside. Lewis doesn’t score much, but does it efficiently. Carter hasn’t scored much relative to most other high-profile wing performers, but he’s still putting up better than a point every two minutes on reasonable percentages, which is in line with his season averages. [Jameer] Nelson, on whom the Magic leaned heavily in the first round, and [J.J] Redick are the only two players in the Magic’s top ten who have struggled after long rests.”
- Also, make sure to check out OPP for a look back at some of the major storylines from the Magic’s first round series against the Charlotte Bobcats. Topics include: Howard’s foul trouble and the production (or lack thereof) from the bench.
- Darren Rovell, CNBC Sports Business Reporter, takes a look at the changing dynamics between agents and athletes: “If there are too many agents in the sports world today, blame the movie Jerry Maguire, which despite its cautionary tale, hooked almost every kid who didn’t make it as a pro athlete. [...] In the 1996 movie, which is still the fifth highest grossing sports movie of all time, Jerry was constantly fighting to keep his client Rod Tidwell. But those fights were against the rest of the agent world. Today? Sure, there’s client stealing going on. But there are also the athlete’s friends and relatives who get into the business and convince a star that it makes sense to go in another direction.”
Via the Orlando Magic:
Orlando Magic Television Play-by-Play Announcer David Steele was named the Florida Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (NSSA), Executive Director Dave Goren announced today. The award marks the first of Steele’s broadcasting career.
Steele is in his 21st season with Orlando Magic basketball and his 12th as the television play-by-play announcer, calling the action for Sun Sports and FOX Sports Florida. He was named as the television play-by-play voice for the Magic in March of 1998 after handling radio play-by-play duties for the team’s first nine seasons. In addition to his Magic responsibilities, Steele handles play-by-play for Sun Sports telecasts of University of Florida football.
A native of Jacksonville, Fla., Steele’s professional broadcasting career began in 1975 as sports director for WJHG-TV in Panama City, Fla. He also served as sports director at WLOS-TV in Asheville, NC and was the football/basketball play-by-play announcer at Western Carolina University.
Steele, along with the other 106 winners of the State Sportscaster and Sportswriter of the Year Awards, will be honored at the NSSA Awards Banquet May 3 in Salisbury, NC. Also at the awards banquet, baseball’s Peter Gammons and football’s John Madden will be inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame, while National Sportscaster of the Year Jim Nantz of CBS Sports and National Sportswriter of the Year Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe will also be honored.
Via the Orlando Magic:
The Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard has maintained his position in the top 5 on the NBA’s Most Popular Jerseys List, the NBA announced today. Howard appeared on the list in the top 5 for the first time when the rankings were released in January 2010. The list is based on sales at the NBA Store in New York City and on NBAStore.com since the start of the 2009-10 NBA season through April 2010. Both stores are having record sales years with a combined increase of 20 percent over last year.
Thirteen players competing in the 2010 Playoffs appear on this year’s list. The Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant once again tops the NBA’s list of most popular jerseys, where he has reigned as No. 1 since the start of the 2008-09 season. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James remains No. 2 and the Boston Celtics’ Kevin Garnett climbed one spot from last year to No. 3. Chicago Bulls sophomore Derrick Rose continues to make a name for himself, coming in at No. 4.
The Orlando Magic also rank in the top 10 on the list of Most Popular NBA Team Merchandise, holding down the No. 7 spot.
Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
Rest vs. rust … ah, yes.
It’s a common theme that spans across all sports, particularly in the playoffs, and the question that is usually posed is whether or not getting rest is a blessing or a burden? For the Orlando Magic, it would seem to be the latter, given that they’ve been playing their best basketball at the perfect time. For example, including a first round sweep against the Charlotte Bobcats, the Magic are 24-3 in their last 27 games and currently on a franchise-best 10-game winning streak. The last thing Orlando needs is rest, right?
There’s a way to find out.
Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images
Via the Orlando Magic:
If Atlanta and Milwaukee is finished in six games, Orlando will host Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals vs ATL/MIL on Sunday, May 2 @ 1 pm. Televised by ABC.
The Atl/Milw. series is currently tied 2-2 with Game 5 scheduled for Wednesday night and Game 6 scheduled for Friday night.
Other schedule information to be determined.
Orlando Magic Playoff Ticket Update — Eastern Conference Semifinals (opponent/dates to be determined)
Orlando Magic season ticket holders are given the first priority for playoff 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.
Following the season ticket holder presale, remaining Eastern Conference Semifinal playoff tickets will go on sale to the general public Wednesday at 10:00 a.m.
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 $18.
- Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “You have to wonder if Skip Bayless was persuaded into calling the Orlando Magic’s playoff performance “bologna” on ESPN’s First Take just for the sake of debate Tuesday morning. [...] ”I still don’t trust a team that’s built largely on Dwight Howard and Vince Carter. And I know he came on at the end of the year. I just think it’s going to be different in the next round and the next round. And I’m going to say this for the last time, I still say the Charlotte Bobcats would have been a tough matchup for LeBron James because they have four guys who are his size, 6-foot-8, long and athletic who can guard him and frustrate him which is why the Bobcats beat them the last three times.” After his criticism, Skip Bayless praised the Magic’s impressive three-point shooting and said Orlando turned in one of the most devastating three point performances he’d ever seen.”
- Is Dwight Howard going to Hollywood in the summer?
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk chimes in on the possibility that Howard skips the 2010 FIBA World Championships.
- Colin Powers of SLAM ONLINE: “You could probably argue all day about the relative merits of Carter (who really struggled for a good portion of the season) and Turkoglu (who really struggled for the entirety of the season with Toronto). Nonetheless, such a focus obstructs us from giving proper acknowledgment to that which is truly the greatest change to the Magic roster: Jameer Nelson. The 28 year-old guard just finished catalyzing Orlando toward their four game sweep of Charlotte, aggressively taking it to Ray Felton and DJ Augustin and driving the largely Howard-less Magic on in their journey for 16 wins this post-season. Nelson came into this series off of a fairly pedestrian regular season. His shooting numbers and scoring were down, particularly from 3-point range, and he seemed to have once again fallen into that trap of inconsistency that plagued his earlier years in the League. Orlando ran 12 deep all season, with positional versatility and a new sense of toughness that was certainly a progression from their ‘08-09 incarnation. But without Jameer making plays and putting some fear into opposing defenses, they just didn’t seem like a championship team.”
- Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook takes a look at how the Magic were able to sweep the Bobcats.
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post on “Playoff Pietrus” — Mickael Pietrus‘ alter-ego: “For whatever reason, Pietrus really dials himself in after the 82nd game. Consider that, in terms of True Shooting, the best evaluation of shooting efficiency, Pietrus’ 63.1% mark in the last two postseasons combined exceeds any other NBA swingman’s regular-season marks in each of the last two seasons. Boston Celtics All-Star Ray Allen came the closest to matching Pietrus, with a 62.4% clip last season. Now, Allen scores more than Pietrus because he’s a bigger part of Boston’s offense. The takeaway is that, in the postseason, Pietrus is slightly more efficient than one of the game’s purest shooters has been, despite his own goofy, fading away release off his back foot, while bringing his hands back to his chest.”
- Howard is frustrated, but happy: “Ya’ll know that that series against Charlotte drove me crazy. I mean it was almost comical at times how I was getting fouls called on me. There was nothing I could do our there and I felt like I couldn’t even move without getting that whistle blown on me. I’m not looking to say anything to get myself in trouble with the league, but I just don’t see other star players getting called for fouls the way I get them. No star player in the league is outta games the way I am. I even talked to Pat Ewing about his career and he said he never had foul trouble like what I’m going through. I gotta say this is the most frustrating stretch of my career. I’ve never been through four games in a row like that. But hey, we won the series and we’re moving on. I’m so so so hoping that things will be different next series against ATL or Milwaukee.”
- Want to see some rare photos of Howard? Click here.
Via the Orlando Magic:
The Orlando Magic and Barnie’s Coffee & Tea Company will introduce the new, limited edition Orlando Magic Blend coffee at a pep rally this Friday, April 30 from 12:30-1:30 p.m. at Barnie’s Baldwin Park store (4846 New Broad St.). The limited edition of the special coffee will be available for sale at the Amway Arena as well as in select Barnie’s locations in the Orlando area, with a percentage of proceeds from each bag going to the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation.
The pep rally will feature free samples of the new Orlando Magic Blend coffee, a meet-and-greet with Orlando Magic Community Ambassador Bo Outlaw and appearances from Orlando Magic Dancers and STUFF the Magic Mascot. [...]
In addition to the Amway Arena, the Orlando Magic Blend will be available at select Barnie’s locations, including:
- Park Avenue
- Baldwin Park
- Avalon Park
- Waterford Lakes Town Center
- Phillips Crossing
- Altamonte Mall
- Winter Springs Town Center
- Heathrow Square
- Merritt Square Mall
- Buffalo Ridge in The Villages
- Clermont Landings
As seen on ESPN’s Daily Dime.
With a 99-90 victory against the Charlotte Bobcats in Game 4 on Monday night, the Orlando Magic put the finishing touches on their first four-game sweep in franchise history that can best be described in one word: strange.
Strange because the Magic were able to defeat Charlotte in four straight games despite limited contributions from their franchise player and two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Dwight Howard. Normally, Howard is the best player on the floor for Orlando, but not in this series. The Bobcats did an excellent job of using their abundance of big men, which included the likes of Tyson Chandler, Nazr Mohammed and Theo Ratliff, to nudge, poke and prod Howard relentlessly. The strategy worked, as Howard played roughly 26 minutes per game and didn’t record a single double-double against Charlotte despite posting gaudy block totals in limited playing time. It was a frustrating week or so for Howard, but he’ll have time to regroup and redeem himself in the Eastern Conference semifinals against either the Atlanta Hawks or the Milwaukee Bucks.
So what did we learn about the Magic from this sweep?
- Vince Carter is snapping out of his funk. Maybe. It’s no secret that Carter has struggled in the playoffs so far, but after a slow start in Game 4, Carter heated up in the second half by getting involved in a steady diet of pick-and-rolls and making a variety of plays on offense for the Magic. Against the Bobcats, Carter found the most success in the pick-and-roll because it invited him to be aggressive and attack the basket, something he needs to do more of as the postseason progresses.
- Jameer Nelson is playing like an All-Star. In Games 1 and 3, where Nelson had two 32-point performances, showed him at his best. Nelson was excellent on offense, being über-aggressive and shooting with great efficiency (.647 true shooting percentage). If Nelson can continue playing at a high level, watch out.
- Rashard Lewis and Mickael Pietrus are in playoff form. Lewis and Pietrus have taken their games up a notch and have already proven that they are more than willing to step up in crunch time and hit big shots, just like in last year’s playoffs. It’ll be interesting to see if that trend continues.
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Maybe it was the heaven-sent 3-point shots — or the voodoo like Mickael Pietrus said. The Orlando Magic needed some sort of black magic to oust the Charlotte Bobcats 99-90 on Monday night, advancing to the second round of the playoffs with a 4-0 sweep. [...] Pietrus, born on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, received some treatments on his wrists in his homeland last offseason from what he described as a voodoo priestess. Better than having surgery on the left one, he said. ‘She put this sauce on it and some weeds,’ Pietrus said. ‘I think it helped me.’ ”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Sure, Jameer Nelson continued his stellar postseason by chipping in 18 points, but how about Magic General Manager Otis Smith? Some critics scoffed last summer when Smith matched the Dallas Mavericks’ $34 million offer over five seasons to backup center Marcin Gortat. But Gortat once again helped keep Orlando in the game when Howard was on the bench.”
- Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “Howard smiled as he addressed the media about his new handle, but a few hours later it was back to the same old scowling, sulking, fouled-up Howard we saw all too often during this series. And once again — astonishingly — it didn’t matter in the least. Magic 99, Bobcats 90. Time to sweep up and go home, fellas. Thank God, this series has finally been put out of its misery. Seriously, has there ever been a more brutal four games of basketball than what we just witnessed? I’d rather be strapped to a chair and made to watch 47 straight hours of “Basketball Wives meet Kazaam” than any more of this goon ball.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Almost to a man, the Orlando Magic stressed that this victory, one that would ultimately extinguish the Charlotte Bobcats, was about so much more than just the first four-game sweep in franchise history. This, they announced collectively, was a first step in a championship march. When the Magic got an attacking effort from Vince Carter, two clutch 3-pointers from the self-proclaimed Mickael ‘Playoff’’ Pietrus and more steadiness from Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis to make up for the frustration of Dwight Howard, they surged past Charlotte 99-90 to complete a 4-0 sweep of the first-round series. By whitewashing a Charlotte team that was among the NBA’s best home teams this season, the Magic showed the maturity of surging team and the focus of a squad seemingly on a championship-or-bust pursuit.”
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Coach Stan Van Gundy relied on Carter despite his cold shooting throughout the series; he’d shot just 13-of-40 from the floor and 0-of-12 from beyond the arc prior to tonight. In the second half, with the chance to finish the Bobcats’ season and earn some rest, he called on Carter to initiate the offense. He answered that challenge by attacking the basket more aggressively and purposefully than he had at any other time in the series. And he got a few jumpers to drop as well. Carter’s never one to doubt his shot, but I do think Van Gundy’s move here made sense in the short-term (to win the game) and the long-term (to get Carter going for the next series). There are things to build on, for sure, but right now the Magic have to be happy that they swept a worthy opponent despite meager offensive contributions from Howard and infrequent ones from Carter.”
- Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer: “Sometimes the simplest answer is also the most revealing. “They’re better,” Charlotte Bobcats coach Larry Brown said, when asked how his team was swept by the Orlando Magic Monday. “They know how to play playoff basketball and we haven’t figured it out yet.” Specifically, they never figured out how to score efficiently when an opponent raises its intensity to playoff temperature. That was evident again in a 99-90 loss resulting in a 4-0 sweep, the only sweep in the NBA’s eight first-round series this season.”
- Tom Sorensen of the Charlotte Observer: “I hope Brown stays. I like to believe he won’t leave to coach for an owner other than Michael. But the 76ers probably could use a president and general manager. They’re coming off their worst season in 13 years. Brown coached Philadelphia from 1997 through 2003, his longest coaching stint anywhere, and five times in six seasons he made the playoffs. Also, Brown often says he has no interest in leaving. Yet he has left 12 head coaching jobs.”
- Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse: “Point guard Jameer Nelson, who wasn’t part of the playoff run a year ago, came out of nowhere to score 32 points twice in the series. On Monday, it was Vince Carter and his 14 second-half points that carried the load. Mickael Pietrus hit back-to-back 3-pointers — sandwiched around a Howard block — that broke the Bobcats late in the game. “We still need [Howard] on the floor,” Carter said. “We can go only as far as he’ll take us.” Teammates came up with the nickname in hopes of loosening the mood around Howard. They started talking about it more openly at Monday’s morning workout. Before Game 4, Howard was joking with reporters about his new tag. He also knows he has to lose it soon if the Magic hope to repeat last year’s trip to the NBA Finals.”
- John Krolik of ProBasketballTalk: “There’s a glass half-empty/half-full way to look at this series for the Magic. On the one hand, they were able to sweep a pretty good team with their franchise player on the bench half the time and giving them nothing offensively. Their second-leading scorer struggled mightily as well. If the Magic can play this well without solid contributions from Howard and Carter, imagine what they can do if both of them play like they’re capable of playing. And don’t forget that not every team defends the paint like Charlotte does. On the other hand, it is a little troubling that Howard is capable of playing so badly over four straight games. The free throws are particularly disturbing; if he’s not going to make 40% of his attempts from the stripe, teams are going to wrap him up every time he makes a move. The Magic were talented enough to get through the Bobcats with Howard playing like this, but they won’t make it very much further if he doesn’t start playing like the best center in the league.”
- Eric Freeman of The Baseline: “Congratulations to Orlando, who became the only team to blitz an inferior opponent and get an easy sweep in the first round. What makes it even more impressive is that they did so with Dwight Howard in foul trouble throughout the series. He’ll need to stay off the bench in future rounds, but for now, it just seems crazy that they were able to sweep Charlotte with their best player handcuffed in every game. Tonight, the story was the same as it’s been throughout the series: balanced scoring with five players getting at least 13 points (led by Vince Carter with 21), smart play on offense (only seven turnovers), and quality defense. It’s a formula that wins Orlando a lot of games, and it’s the same one they’ll try to ride all the way back to the Finals.”
- Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus: “The lone sweep of the first round of the 2010 playoffs belongs to the Orlando Magic. Thanks to the result below, Orlando will head into the semifinals with a significant rest advantage. The Magic did it despite series-long foul trouble for Dwight Howard, who fouled out after 23 minutes in Game Four. Orlando was so good with Howard on the floor (+15) and competitive enough with Marcin Gortat replacing him (-6) that it won comfortably nonetheless. What the Magic has demonstrated in this series is its ability to win with a variety of players carrying the load. In Game Four, it was Vince Carter’s 21 points that led the way. Attacking the basket off the pick-and-roll, Carter got to the free throw line nine times. Jameer Nelson was solid if not as spectacular earlier in the series and Rashard Lewis (four), Matt Barnes and Mickael Pietrus (three apiece) carried a perimeter attack that knocked down 13 three-pointers. All told, it was an awfully good offensive effort against the league’s best defense. I suspected late-game fouling might have inflated the numbers, but Orlando had a 117.0 Offensive Rating even before the final three minutes. Besides the hot shooting, the Magic turned the ball over just seven times all night, making the offense hard to stop.”
Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images
Get your brooms out. The Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Charlotte Bobcats by the score of 99-90, sweeping the series and advancing to the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals to await either the Atlanta Hawks or the Milwaukee Bucks. The Magic are the first team in the playoffs to advance to the second round. Also, the sweep marks the first time Orlando accomplished the feat since 1996, when Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway were teammates, and it’s also the franchise’s first four-game sweep. The Magic were led by a balanced attack, with five players scoring in double-figures. Vince Carter played relatively well, scoring 21 points and carrying Orlando in the second half while Dwight Howard was sitting on the bench — again — with foul trouble. Tyrus Thomas led the way for the Bobcats, with 21 points and nine rebounds. Charlotte finishes their year having yet to win a postseason game in franchise history.