- Great post from Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “After signing a No. 12 jersey, Magic center Dwight Howard helped 21-year-old Brandon Young from Apopka put it on, then invited Young to join his daily post-practice (or post-shootaround) drills. Young has cerebral palsy. He’s blind in his left eye. He has a box implanted in his chest through which his father can remotely help calm his epileptic seizures. He loves the Magic and because he does, his whole family does also. This morning Young’s parents, Michael and Nancy, brought him to shootaround to meet some of the players. ‘It’s unbelievable. All the stuff he goes through on a daily basis. I don’t know how I would do it if I was in his position,’ Howard said. ‘It’s great to see the effect, sometimes we don’t even know it, just saying hey to a kid, smiling how big of a difference that makes to their life. Brandon, he was so excited he was really jumping for joy, just to be out here, making a shot. Me and the rest of the guys, that’s something all of us really enjoy.’ ”
- Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated reveals his official ballot and chooses Dwight Howard as the Defensive Player of the Year:” The Magic are tied for first in field-goal defense because Howard dominates the paint in addition to the defensive boards. Orlando’s commitment to team defense — as well as its spread-the-floor offense — is built entirely around Howard’s overwhelming presence inside.”
- Tally two more Defensive Player of the Year votes for Howard from Marc Stein of ESPN.com and Lang Whitaker of SLAM ONLINE.
- Here’s an update on the race for the overall No. 2 seed, courtesy of John Hollinger of ESPN Insider: “There has been some confusion about how a tie would be settled in the event of a Lakers-Magic Finals rematch. The league office confirmed for me this morning that since the two teams split their regular-season series, the tie would be decided by record against the opposite conference. That tiebreaker would favor the Lakers, who are 22-8 against the East, while the Magic are 20-10 versus the West.”
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post takes a look at the Orlando Magic‘s chances of passing the Los Angeles Lakers in the standings in the last four games of the regular season.
- Wondering if Vince Carter deserves to be in the Hall of Fame when it’s all said and done? Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference breaks down Carter’s chances: “I don’t think he gets in, barring some kind of postseason success with Orlando (and even that may not be enough). It’s much easier to make a case for him never stepping foot in the Hall than it is to argue for his induction, and this simple fact is going to weigh heavily on the minds of the voters. David Thompson was inducted despite never reaching his potential, and his fall from grace was actually less defensible than Carter’s Toronto tankfest (drugs and a knee injury — caused by falling down the stairs at Studio 54 — ruined Skywalker’s career), but Thompson was also a winner/statistical monster in college, and his long-run impact was massive: he helped further legitimize the ABA, leading to the merger; he helped pioneer the high-flying, dunking style we see today; he influenced the Greatest Player Ever™ more than anyone else; his career-ending drug addiction was one of the prime incidents that motivated the league to clean up its image… etc. In other words, Thompson gets a pass where Carter doesn’t because Thompson came first, and people view Thompson’s career arc as tragic, while they see Carter’s career arc as self-inflicted. Is this fair? Probably not. But is Carter as talented as Thompson was? Probably not. Thompson was viewed as arguably the best player in basketball during the 1978 season, and we’ve already established that Carter was never viewed as the NBA’s top player, even at his peak.”
- Dime Magazine reveals the top 10 dunks … from 1995. Check it out, if only to see a glimpse of vintage Penny Hardaway.
- Howard explains why he hasn’t gotten any technical fouls lately.
- Head coach Stan Van Gundy talks about rest.
- Tracy McGrady reminisces on his time in Orlando: ” ‘I just want to be now where I can win,’ he said. ‘Honestly, I wish I had never left here. I really miss it. It was unfortunate that we couldn’t put together the pieces that make it how it is today. I guess I was just here at the wrong time. It’s not like I wasn’t producing. I just got tired after four years of grinding it out every night, having to do everything. It was wearing out my body.’ McGrady, who grew up in Central Florida, still holds many of the Magic and Amway Arena scoring records. He scored 62 points at Amway Arena against the Wizards in 2004. He scored 40 points or more 25 times for the Magic. Unfortunately, he often was a one-man show on a bad team. His 32.1 point average during the 2002-03 season is the second-highest NBA scoring average in the last 17 years. ‘I think about it (his days in Orlando) all the time. How can I not? It was a fun place to play. I always had so much family here. It was great to look into the stands and see all my people sitting there,’ he said. ‘But you move on.’ ” Here’s more from T-Mac.
- Art Garcia of NBA.com examines J.J. Redick‘s emergence this season.
Via the Orlando Magic:
Single game tickets for the first round of the 2010 Orlando Magic playoffs, presented by Bright House Networks, will go on sale to the general public Saturday, April 10 at 10 a.m. Orlando’s playoff schedule will be announced following the conclusion of the regular season.
Tickets 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 (Monday – Friday and on Saturday, April 10; 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 $12.
- Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “Magic General Manager Otis Smith can see both sides of the discussion about whether or not NBA players should dedicate so much of their summers to playing for their countries. He understands the struggle of players with limited free time. Mostly, he supports it because playing for your country is an honor. His star, Magic center Dwight Howard, re-affirmed his commitment to play in the World Championships with Team USA this summer. But Smith acknowledges his might be a situational perspective. ‘I guarantee you’ll get a different answer from a general manager that has an abundance of European players,’ Smith said.”
- Good news. Dwight Howard’s AAU team is doing well. The DH Warriors are 7-1 and won their last game on a buzzer-beating half-court shot by Matt Clark.
- Sean Deveney of The Baseline chooses Josh Smith over Howard on his ballot for Defensive Player of the Year and explains why: “Howard is a dominant defender and fearsome in the lane, and it’s likely he will win this award. But the reason Smith edges him on my ballot is that his athleticism allows him to get out and defend the perimeter, and is one of the chief reasons the Hawks are able to use their switch-everything approach to pick-and-rolls.”
- Jason Williams is a player that doesn’t get his shot blocked very much.
- Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus chimes in on a team’s ability to win close games: “There are, generally speaking, two schools of thought on close games: That they reveal a team’s true ability and that they are decided by luck. My research on the subject last year for Basketball Prospectus offered a middle ground, suggesting that good teams win close games more often than bad teams, but that the element of randomness mitigates the talent gap.” In the Magic’s case, they perform worse than expected in close games. Red flag?
- Vince Carter, according to Dime Magazine, is one of the most hated players in the NBA: “Hated by the entire city of Toronto and possibly all of Canada. Critics get on him for settling for jump shots, even though every other high-flyer before or after Vince has been encouraged to adjust their game eventually and take more jumpers. Call him soft, call him lazy, but then he drops 40 or gives you a game-winner and your point becomes moot.”
- Tracy McGrady wants to be back in Orlando. Ditto with Mike Miller.
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post talks about the possibility of either McGrady or Miller re-joining the Magic during the off-season: “Obviously, there are downsides. Miller’s had trouble staying healthy, and though he’s still a deadeye shooter–he’s posted a True Shooting percentage of better than 58.8 in each of the last 6 seasons, and he’s second among swingmen (minimum: 30 minutes per game) at 60.8% this season–he’s spent each of the last 3 years trying to re-invent himself as a point forward, and has thus passed up numerous open shot attempts. Also, his lateral mobility is more-or-less gone, which makes him a defensive liability. McGrady has his own set of red flags, as he’s recovering from microfracture knee surgery and still trying to figure out how to play without the benefit of the all-world athleticism that helped him win back-to-back scoring titles in 2002/03 and 2003/04. Oh, and the way he sulked his way out of Orlando after that disastrous 21-61 season has made him Public Enemy No. 1 in the eyes of most Magic fans. Owner Rich DeVos, who’d be footing the luxury-tax bill once again next year, might be loathe to pay the man who publicly trashed his franchise after demanding–and being granted–a trade. So they’re likely not going to be the Magic’s top options this summer [...]”
- Paul Forrester of Sports Illustrated isn’t impressed with Matt Barnes‘ poise.
Things started out slow for the Orlando Magic against the Washington Wizards in last night’s game. The Magic were up only six against the Wizards at halftime but the action picked up in the second half, as J.J. Redick, Jason Williams, and the rest of the bench for Orlando put on a show for the hometown fans in one of the last games at Amway Arena.
Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
There isn’t much the Orlando Magic have to play for after winning the Southeast Division title for a third consecutive season and locking up the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference … aside from having the chance to catch the Los Angeles Lakers in the standings, of course, in hopes of earning home-court advantage if the two teams meet in the NBA Finals once again. So, it’s no surprise that the Magic mucked around here and there in tonight’s game. Against the Washington Wizards, Orlando got away with it and won by the score of 121-94. The Magic were led by a balanced attack, with seven players scoring in double-figures. Dwight Howard finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks, while Mickael Pietrus and J.J. Redick each pitched in with 16 of Orlando’s season-high 65 points off the bench. Mike Miller, a former Magic player, had 16 points, nine rebounds, and five assists for the Wizards.
- Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “Dwight Howard is a better defensive center than Bill Russell. Matt Guokas, the color analyst on Orlando Magic telecasts on Sun Sports and Fox Sports Florida, said that on the air last week and I wrote a column about it over the weekend. As you might expect I have been getting hammered by readers and blogs all over the country for this basketball blasphemy; for even suggesting that there’s a chance Howard may be better than the iconic legend of the Boston Celtics. [...] Guokas, an astute observer and student of the game, is a former NBA player and coach who actually played against Russell. This is not to say Guokas’s opinion is right, but his opinion is much more credible than the opinion of many of critics who have e-mailed me to tell me how stupid Guokas is for saying what he said and how idiotic I am for writing a column about it. I’m willing to bet that 95 percent of those e-mailers never saw Russell play a single game.”
- Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “Every Magic player went through shootaround this morning at RDV Sportsplex, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said, so minor bumps to Magic guards Vince Carter, Jameer Nelson and Anthony Johnson won’t be an issue when the Magic take on the Washington Wizards tonight at 7 p.m. What will be an issue is the Magic’s ability to stay focused and take some momentum into the playoffs. With just five games remaining on the schedule, Orlando has clinched the second seed in the Eastern Conference and clinched the Southeast Division.”
- Rob Mahoney of ProBasketballTalk chimes in on the Magic clinching the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.
- Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus looks at the five best and worst teams in the NBA “in terms of fewest marginal dollars spent for each marginal win. The statistic, derived from the one pioneered at Baseball Prospectus for the MLB by the late Doug Pappas, measures how much teams are spending above the NBA’s salary floor (75 percent of the cap) for each win above what a replacement-level team could muster.” Unlike last year, the Magic are not an economically efficient team this year.
Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
The Southeast Division all theirs and the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics no longer a concern in the standings, the Orlando Magic now have their sights set on trying to catch the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Magic clinched their third consecutive Southeast Division title Tuesday night when the Hawks lost to the Charlotte Bobcats. It also guarantees that the Magic (54-23) will enter the playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.
If the playoffs started today, the Magic would face the seventh-seeded Charlotte Bobcats (41-36). The Michael Jordan-owned Bobcats are two games back of Miami (43-34) for sixth and three games ahead of Toronto (38-39) in eighth. The Magic are 3-1 against Charlotte this season.
Another division title is nice and the Orlando Magic should be commended for becoming Southeast Division champions for a third straight year, especially with the Atlanta Hawks on their heels for the majority of the regular season. But it can’t be understated how important it was for the Magic to enter the postseason with the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference so that they didn’t have to run the gauntlet, meaning not having home-court advantage against either the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Boston Celtics in a seven-game series, for a second consecutive season in hopes of making a return trip to the NBA Finals.
Additionally, the fact that it’s looking more and more like the Charlotte Bobcats — not the Miami Heat — will be Orlando’s likely first round opponent, the bracket is shaping up nicely for the Magic. Now, the Bobcats will be a challenge but the Heat would have been a nightmare. Especially with Dwyane Wade presenting himself as the ultimate wildcard, a player that can win a series by himself. So, barring something weird happening, Orlando dodges a bullet there.
One last thing to look out for in the East is the race for the No. 3 seed between the Hawks and the Celtics. The Magic are a combined 6-2 against Atlanta and Boston, but there’s no doubt that Orlando has a preference between the two teams. And that’s the Hawks, a team that doesn’t matchup well with the Magic. In contrast, for all their consternation, the Celtics still pose as a threat.
Nevertheless, it should be interesting to see how things pan out before the playoffs start.
Via the Orlando Magic:
With just a few regular season home games remaining and the Orlando Magic moving into Amway Center next season, the team is celebrating some of the greatest moments in Amway Arena history. To commemorate the last regular season in Amway Arena, the Orlando Magic are announcing a week-long tribute beginning Wednesday, April 7 leading up to the Magic’s last regular season home game on April 14.
To kick-off the celebration, the Magic will be giving away a commemorative poster that highlights the events that have come through Amway Arena to the first 3,000 fans at the game on Wednesday, April 7 vs. the Washington Wizards (7 p.m. tip-off).
On Friday, April 9 when the Magic face New York (7 p.m. tip-off), the team will give away another commemorative poster, which celebrates the best NBA/Magic moments in Amway Arena to the first 3,000 fans in attendance.
Fans in attendance at the April 7 or April 9 games will be treated to a video feature during the game highlighting moments at Amway Arena.