Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
Via the Orlando Magic:
Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic, the 2009-10 NBA Defensive Player of the Year presented by Kia Motors, and LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the 2009-10 Most Valuable Player presented by Kia Motors, were unanimous selections to the 2009-10 All-NBA First Team, the NBA announced today. Joining Howard and James on the First Team are Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat.
Howard, an All-NBA First Team selection for the third consecutive season, became the first player to lead the league in rebounding and blocks (1973-74 was the first season blocks were kept as an official statistic) in consecutive seasons, averaging 13.2 rebounds and 2.78 blocks. Howard also paced the league in field goal percentage (.612), becoming the first player to lead the NBA in all three of those categories since the NBA started keeping blocked shots. Howard recorded an NBA-high 64 double-doubles, including three 20-point/20-rebound efforts.
Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
Immediately after the Orlando Magic put the finishing touches on a beat down of epic proportions against the Atlanta Hawks in Game 1 of the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals, people — unsurprisingly — went goo goo ga ga when the final score read 114-71. Amidst the blowout victory, the Magic put on a basketball clinic that certainly made NBA enthusiasts smile. However, there was another group of people, whether they were aware of it or not, that would have been (or were) equally impressed.
It’s no secret that the statistical revolution in the league is gaining momentum year after year and certain basketball philosophies, which were mostly taboo five or ten years ago, have become accepted practices. One of those strategies has been executed by Orlando to near perfection for several years now and it was showcased yet again on Tuesday.
Today at 4:00 p.m. EDT on ESPN2, Magic Basketball will be featured as SportsNation’s Site We Like.
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “[Stan] Van Gundy said his team was serious even though all the [Orlando] Magic did was watch film and shoot. He said players have been sharply focused ‘for the last three months.’ And, to a man, says small forward Mickael Pietrus, they are on ‘a mission’ to win the title. They haven’t lost in over a month, their last defeat coming April 2 in San Antonio. The Magic have won their last 11 games, including five in the postseason, and are 38-8 since the midway point of the season. Vince Carter says the team’s mind-set is simple: Win ‘em all — by 43 points or 1. ‘Why not? Doesn’t matter what round it is,’ he said. ‘If we’re scheduled to play tonight, we’re scheduled to win tonight.’ ”
- Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “Jamal Crawford has started on a lot of bad teams in his 10 years in the NBA. It was with a better team, as a reserve, that he truly blossomed. “Who knows if I could have did this early on [in my career],” the Atlanta Hawks guard said. “But you have to have a certain level of maturity to know there’s a big picture of winning. If this is going to give our team the best chance to win, I’m all for it.” A reserve for the first time in years, Crawford became the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year this season as his play keyed Atlanta’s success. In the Hawks’ Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Orlando Magic, Crawford’s play will impact how well Atlanta can recover from a 43-point loss in Game 1.”
- Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Figuring there’s no use wallowing in the misery of Game 1, Hawks coach Mike Woodson focused on his team’s positives during Wednesday’s video review. If that sounds like a short session, it was. Still, the Hawks wanted to go over the little good from Game 1 — their play in the first quarter — to help them believe they can compete with the Magic when they go back to Amway Arena on Thursday for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. The problem for the Hawks is that the evidence to support otherwise has now stretched to four consecutive losses at Amway Arena and seven of eight losses to the Magic overall. The most compelling proof is those other three quarters of Tuesday’s 114-71 loss.”
- Mark Bradley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Nobody seriously believes the Magic are 43 points better than the Hawks — the best team in the NBA isn’t 43 points better than the worst — but Game 1 was a reversal of such immensity that it all but washed away the good feeling from the Milwaukee series. Woodson plans to tweak things for Game 2. He’ll revert to his usual substitution pattern, as opposed to making 12th man Jason Collins his first sub, and will activate Randolph Morris to have another big man to use against Dwight Howard. He’ll have Joe Johnson guard Vince Carter and — good luck with this — let Mike Bibby try Jameer Nelson. But tweaks alone won’t override a 43-point spread; Woodson’s players simply must be tougher. We can’t really say the Hawks have no heart. Were that the case, they’d have been eliminated by Milwaukee. What they lack, even in this third playoff go-round, is the mental toughness to keep playing smart basketball when the opponent is flying and its crowd is roaring. The best they can offer is to note that, what the heck, they’ve been blown out before. And that’s weak.”
Via the Orlando Magic:
250 Tickets Remain For Game 2 of the Orlando Magic’s Eastern Conference Semifinals series vs. Atlanta. Orlando leads the series 1-0.
Game 2 is set for Thursday, May 6, at 8 p.m., at Amway Arena.
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.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: ” The Orlando Magic on Wednesday held a light practice that consisted of some film work, some shooting, some weightlifting … and also a history lesson, courtesy of their coach, Stan Van Gundy. Fresh off of Tuesday night’s 114-71 victory over the Atlanta Hawks, Van Gundy shared some numbers and percentages with his players about what has happened in postseason series after blowouts.”
- Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel states that the Atlanta Hawks are looking for positives after their Game 1 loss.
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post takes a look at the numbers and notes how dominant the Orlando Magic have been against the Hawks in their last nine meetings: “The Magic have also held leads of 50, 46, 38, 21, and 20 points during this span. The Hawks’ big lead, 19, came in the first game of the 2008/09 season. Since then, Atlanta has never led a game against the Magic by more than 12 points. The Hawks’ 10-point second quarter last night was their worst quarter against the Magic during this period, but not by much. Twice, they’ve managed just 11 points–including the third period last night. They also have quarters of 14 and 15 points on the books against Orlando.”
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk comments on the All-Defensive teams: “There are no shocks on here, everyone belongs, which is what you get when the coaches vote and not media members paid by teams who have their own agendas. Of course, a couple coaches gave Joe Johnson a vote, so clearly they are not infallible.”
- Colin Powers of SLAM ONLINE: “Damn, what a tour de force from the Magic in Game 1. There are nights when they look like world-beaters; going almost 12 deep with an endless supply of shooters and athletes on the defensive end, they certainly have all the parts you need to win a championship. Nevertheless, they continue to strike me as being mentally fragile, specifically in Dwight’s occasionally errors of immaturity (fouls and whining at referees) and [Vince] Carter’s love for his jump-shot in crunch time. Who knows, though, maybe I’m just being subconsciously influenced by Stan Van’s persistent mustache and interesting wardrobe decisions.”
- Newsflash: the Magic are not mentally fragile.
- Dwight Howard: “Really good win for us last night!!! Hope that clears up some of the doubts about whether or not we’d be rusty for the first round from all of the time off. We’re a team that’s focused on winning a championship and we’re not overlooking anybody or taking anything lightly. All we have done is win one game. We know that A-T-L has a great squad and they will come out and respond in Game 2, so we’ll have to be ready. We have to play again with the same fire and intensity to beat them. I like how when we get a team down now, we put the hammer down and keep pushing. That’s how that lead got to as much as 46 points last night. It was crazy, ya’ll!!! We kept on pushing and fighting and playing for 48 minutes. In the past we’d let up at times and teams would come back on us, but I think we’ve learned our lesson.”
- Dan Devine of Ball Don’t Lie spreads the good word about Mickael Pietrus: “Between lauding the Orlando Magic for racing to a 53-33 halftime lead in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals series and backhanding the Atlanta Hawks for bringing bricks to a BFG fight, Charles Barkley took a moment during TNT’s halftime show to tell America that Magic reserve swingman Mickael Pietrus is his “second favorite player” in the NBA. The legend-turned-analyst’s high praise surprised some viewers; while Magic fans and some NBA heads are aware of the key role that Air France plays off the bench for Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy, Pietrus isn’t exactly a household name. And given the high-class company the Chuckster keeps in his lucrative side gig as a pitchman — y’know, Dwyane Wade, Yao Ming, Dwight Howard, Godzilla — the surprising love might have sounded random, moderately insane or even possibly insincere. In fact, though, Barkley has taken a very public, staunchly pro-Pietrus stance several times of late.”
- John Hollinger of ESPN Insider debunks four playoff myths you’ll hear or read often. Here’s one of them: “Myth 3: Regular-season matchups matter. Of course, you’d expect head-to-head results from the regular season to offer predictive value in the playoffs. Support for that came as recently as last year’s conference finals, as the Lakers and Magic both won in six games after taking the regular-season series from the Nuggets and Cavs, respectively. Don’t let those two series fool you. When we look at a sufficient sample size — in other words, something more than two series — reality is revealed. For starters, three of the past four NBA champs were swept by their Finals opponent in the regular season. Now, it is true that in the 25 postseasons before this current one, teams with homecourt advantage that also won a regular-season series did win the same matchup in the playoffs 81.9% of the time. But that number is bolstered by the fact that since 1999-2000 (not including this year’s opening round), higher-seeded teams that won a regular-season series against their playoff opponents went a statistically skewing 41-0 in the first round. From the second round on, though, only 63.6% of teams scored the playoff double-up. In other words, after the first round, you’d have been better off picking the team with the homecourt advantage (72.9%). My closing argument is the Heat’s title run in 2006. After the first round, Miami beat three teams — the Nets, Pistons and Mavs — it was 2-8 against in the regular season.”
Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
Via the Orlando Magic:
Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, winner of the 2009-10 Defensive Player of the Year Award presented by Kia Motors, and guard Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics headline the NBA All-Defensive First Team, the NBA announced today. By totaling 57 points overall, including 28 First Team votes, Howard edged Rondo (50 points overall and 23 First Team votes) as the leading vote-getter.
Also selected to the All-Defensive First Team are forward LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers (45 points), Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (34 points) and Charlotte Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace (30 points).
Howard became the first player to lead the league in rebounding and blocks (1973-74 was the first season blocks were kept as an official statistic) in consecutive seasons, averaging 13.2 rebounds and 2.78 blocks. He also became only the fifth player in NBA history to lead the league in rebounding for at least three consecutive seasons. With Howard anchoring the defense, the Magic allowed 95.3 ppg, which ranked fourth in the NBA, and held the opposition to a league-low .438 shooting from the field, including 24 games where opponents shot under .400. Orlando held the opposition to less than 100 points 57 times and to less than 90 points 24 times.
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Who knew that the Orlando Magic would end up taking another day off? They certainly couldn’t have expected it to be this easy or their play to be this crisp once they blew off the cobwebs. But with their game in mothballs for seven days, the Magic showed none of the rust they expected, whipping the Atlanta Hawks 114-71 on Tuesday night in Game 1 of the second round. [...] How bad was it? The Magic’s biggest lead was 46. They led by 41 points at the end of the third quarter — and the Hawks had scored just 44.”
- Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “Here’s all you need to know: When Dwight [Howard] went to the bench with his third foul late in the third quarter Tuesday night, he actually agreed with the ref’s call and happily took a seat on the bench for the rest of the game. Of course, the Magic led by 30 and Dwight had 21 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks at the time. “I played about the same amount of minutes as I played in the Charlotte series,” Dwight said with a smile splashed across his face. So much for the Magic being rusty after an eight-day layoff. They may have been playing the Atlanta Hawks, but they battered these guys like they were the Braves’ bullpen. The last time Atlanta got torched like this, Gen. William Tecumseh Van Gundy was making his famous March to the Sea.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic now have played five games in the 2010 NBAplayoffs, and the only thing that has stopped Jameer Nelson so far is some bad shrimp. The diminutive point guard continued his stellar postseason Tuesday night as the Magic humiliated the Atlanta Hawks 114-71 in the opening game of their Eastern Conference semifinal series. Nelson swished 3-pointers. He finished off drives with acrobatic layups. He penetrated into the lane and dished off to Dwight Howard for easy baskets. In short, the guy Howard famously labeled a “crib midget” as a term of endearment played far bigger than his stocky frame. Nelson finished with 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting. He also recorded five assists.”
- Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Hawks started the game matching the Magic shot for shot. After the first quarter, Atlanta trailed by just two points. That evenness completely changed during the second quarter. The Magic bench players held the Hawks to a franchise playoff low of 10 points in the second quarter and Orlando had a 20-point lead at halftime. They held the Hawks to 11 points in the third quarter and Atlanta trailed by 41 after the third quarter. The Hawks shot 34.6 percent and were outscored by 22 points in the paint. Atlanta coach Mike Woodson didn’t have an answer for why things changed for his team.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Orlando smothered the Hawks defensively, got an inspiring return to form from all-star center Dwight Howard and more solid play from point guard Jameer Nelson in a 114-71 demolition of Atlanta. A surging Magic team that led the NBA in point differential and blowout victories this season was remarkably up on the Hawks by 46 points at one moment of the fourth quarter. The 43-point victory was the second-largest in Magic history, trailing on the 47-point beatdown of the Boston Celtics in 1995. Nothing, not the seven days off or the supposed rust that was supposed to come with the extended break, was about to slow down the runaway Magic on this night. And this was the kind of lopsided blowout that had to resonate from throughout the NBA – from Cleveland to Boston and from Los Angeles to San Antonio.”
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “[...] if you’re the Magic, it’s hard to find a negative in this game. Really, the team executed about as well as it could have during the game’s competitive portions; garbage time turned a bit sloppy, with both Mo Evans and Mario West throwing down uncontested dunks, and Jeff Teague draining a three-pointer with about 15 feet between him and the nearest Magic defender. But the Magic, for the first 36 minutes or so of this game, ran their offense to perfection. Everything was inside-out, via a Howard post-up or a dribble-drive. After that, a shot went up or the ball went back out, then moved side-to-side until an open look presented itself. They executed Stan Van Gundy‘s gameplan to a T, which is why studio analyst Kenny Smith’s complaint that Howard had only 14 points at halftime confused me. Smith contended that Howard should have had 25.”
- Mark Bradley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “It’s no easy feat to trail a Round 2 playoff game by 41 points having played only 36 minutes, but the proud conquerors of Milwaukee managed it. They were down 85-44 after three quarters. And I say it again: This is why so few folks outside Atlanta, and many folks in Atlanta, don’t take seriously a team that won 53 games this season and has survived a Game 7 in each of the two springs. The Hawks tried really hard those first 14 minutes. Then the home team got going, and the visitors decided trying to play sound basketball really wasn’t worth the effort. So they ceased and desisted.”
- Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “The Magic’s 43-point victory margin was their second largest in postseason franchise history. Their largest lead of the game was 46; their largest lead during the regular season was 38 in that Jan. 9 game vs. the Hawks. They’ve won their last four home games against the Hawks by an average margin of nearly 32 points. Not surprisingly, the Hawks talked afterward about how this is just one game in the series. Yes, they said they can regroup. Yes, they can come up with a plan to beat Orlando.”
- Bret LaGree of Hoopinion: “Woodson was saving Horford to play against Marcin Gortat when Gortat replaced Howard on the court and Horford, presumably, couldn’t do that if he picked up a second foul. Somewhat predictably, Stan Van Gundy countered this strategic innovation by leaving his best player in the game against, first, Atlanta’s third-string center, then the backup center. Woodson eventually realized that Howard wasn’t headed to the bench anytime soon and put Horford back in with 8:55 left in the second quarter. That’s 9 minutes and 41 seconds of the first 15 minutes and 5 seconds of the game that Al Horford spent on the bench as his coach, in an effort to create a future mis-match that didn’t materialize until Orlando had a 16-point lead, gifted his opponent’s best player a mis-match in the present. It was surely the nadir of The Horford Treatment and, perhaps, a mis-calculation so severe as to kill off the misguided attempt at maintaining control for good.”
- David Whitley of NBA FanHouse: “After pouting, fouling and sitting his way through the first round of the playoffs, everybody was wondering what was wrong with Dwight Howard. Nothing the Atlanta Hawks and Nick Nolte can’t cure. The NBA’s self-proclaimed Superman is back. If only he could play the Hawks every game from here on out, the Magic would romp to the world championship. Based on Tuesday night’s 114-71 cataclysm, they might do it anyway. They are the stealth team nobody has noticed. Maybe Howard needs to wrap his elbow, wince a lot and start shooting free throws with his left hand.”
- Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse: “It’s why this best-of-seven, second-round matchup isn’t going to take very long. Atlanta’s Mike Bibby had buried his head under a towel, peeking out only once in awhile to view the wreckage. On the other side, Orlando’s Jameer Nelson was waving his towel wildly, up on his feet every few seconds. [...] Nelson had 19 points — hit 5 of 8 shots — and five rebounds in his 25 minutes, orchestrating the Magic offense to perfection. After missing the Magic’s playoff run to the Finals last season, he is hungrier now than he ever has been in his career.”
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “Game two is not going to be exactly like this. The Hawks cannot play this bad again. But in their regular season matchups less severe versions of this same scenario played out. The Magic have a starting five that can best the Hawks starting five, and the Magic bench blows Atlanta out of the water. The Magic have matchup advantages they can easily exploit, while Howard takes away the easy baskets the Hawks try to get off their mismatches. The Magic have made a statement. The Hawks were simply the vehicle. The Cavaliers were the intended recipients.”
- Paul Forrester of Sports Illustrated: “Professional athletes have remarkably short memories when necessary, and after losing by 43 points, the Hawks need them. On the bright side, Orlando isn’t likely to play as picture-perfect a game, nor are the Hawks likely to slug through as badly. Still, there are matchup issues that can’t be overcome in the paint. And Joe Johnson already looks tired chasing multiple threats on the perimeter. That means a whole lot of Josh Smith and getting something out of Johnson’s backcourt mates, Bibby and Crawford. But let’s be honest — Orlando is built to win a title and is playing like it. The Magic may be technically the No. 2 seed, but in watching them easily handle the first five games of these playoffs, the Eastern title goes through Orlando.”
- Eric Freeman of The Baseline: “I’m not sure it’s scientifically possible for one time to sweep a series in one game, but I think this is the closest we’ll ever get. After a close first quarter (25-23), Orlando blew things open in the second (28-10) and third (32-11) to make this the Hawks’ worst playoff loss since the franchise moved to Atlanta. This was somehow even uglier than the score, and it’s difficult to imagine how the Hawks can come back from such a wretched performance.”
- Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus: “It was clear that if the Atlanta Hawks did not pick up their play from where it was during a seven-game series against the Milwaukee Bucks, they would be in trouble facing the Orlando Magic in an Eastern Conference Semifinal series. As it turned out, that was a massive understatement, at least in Game One. The Hawks were outscored by such a lopsided margin in the second and third quarters that it looks like a misprint–60 to 21. The final tally wasn’t much better as Atlanta lost by 43 points. The Hawks’ problems started in the middle, where Dwight Howard was liberated from his foul-trouble issues against Charlotte and crushed fellow All-Star Al Horford. Howard scored 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting and entirely shut down Horford at the other end of the floor. The Atlanta center missed six of his seven shot attempts and had just four points in 22 minutes.”