Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 249

May 14

Friday’s Magic Word

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Garnett, who turns 34 next week, is back at full strength and in full throat. He led a 50-win Celtics team to a surprising 4-2 elimination of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who finished the season with the best record in the league. Now it’s the [Orlando] Magic who have inherited best-record status and home-court advantage through the NBA Finals, should they make a return trip. While Garnett’s return has reunited the Celtics’ 2007-08 championship team, the Magic have three different starters from last season’s lineup against Boston: [Jameer] Nelson (trade-deadline acquisition Rafer Alston filled in), shooting guard Vince Carter (J.J. Redick was the starter) and small forward Matt Barnes (playing Hedo Turkoglu’s old position). Next to Nelson’s assignment of corralling triple-double threat Rajon Rondo, Lewis, 6-feet-10, 230 pounds, has likely the next-toughest task of defending a rejuvenated Garnett, 7-feet, 254 pounds.”
  • Tickets for the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals at Amway Arena sold out in nine minutes.
  • Head coach Stan Van Gundy has respect for the Boston Celtics.
  • Josh Cohen of OrlandoMagic.com reminisces to the time when the Orlando Magic defeated the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals.
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Orlando defeated Boston three times in four meetings during the regular season. The Magic twice won in Boston, beating the Celtics 83-78 in November and 96-89 in February. The Magic won 96-94 in Orlando on a last-second layup by Rashard Lewis, but lost 86-77 at Amway Arena on Christmas Day to the Celtics. It had been assumed for months that the Cavs and the Magic would meet once again in the Eastern Conference Finals as they did last spring when Orlando won the series, 4-2. But instead it will be the Magic and Celtics to decide who goes to the NBA Finals.  Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said he wasn’t one bit surprised that the Celtics are back in the Eastern Conference Finals after beating the Cavaliers in three consecutive games.”
  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post previews the Magic’s series against the Celtics and takes a look at the numbers, courtesy of Synergy Sports Technology, to see if Matt Barnes and Vince Carter will succeed cross-matching defensively against Ray Allen and Pierce: “Pierce gets most of his offense initiating the pick-and-roll, which happens to be Barnes’ biggest weakness defensively. He’s also not much of an isolation defender. His biggest strength, covering players coming off screens, also happens to align with how Allen gets most of his offense. So Barnes on Allen–or, if you prefer to word it differently, Barnes off Pierce–makes sense, though the low frequency with which he’s had to cover shooters coming off screens might be cause for concern. But what of Carter? Can he hope to cover Pierce? The answer appears to be “yes.” Here’s how Carter covered the pick-and-roll and isolation plays this year. […] So although Barnes is a better defender overall, Carter’s skill set better equips him to cover Pierce. And Barnes’ tools counter Allen’s quite nicely.”
  • Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference likes Orlando to beat Boston in 6 games.
  • Shaun Powell of NBA.com: “The Magic took three of four from the Celtics during the season when Vince Carter had three big games and Dwight Howard averaged 14 rebounds. But for the most part, those contests were close, which means we might be spared another Orlando sweep this series. Also, the Celtics will be motivated to squeeze out a second championship in what is very likely the last run for K.G.-Ray Allen-Paul Pierce. The most interesting plot doesn’t involve those three players, or Howard, but Rajon Rondo and Jameer Nelson. This has the makings of being a very intense and entertaining matchup. Rondo had a breakout season (All-Star) and was terrific against the Cavaliers. Jameer, injured through much of last year’s postseason, is leading Orlando in scoring, assists and steals. And just think: They’ll actually see a quality point guard across the floor, for the first time in these playoffs.”
  • Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse: “Howard is just 24, yet already a three-time All-NBA first-team center, winning Defensive Player of the Year the past two seasons. He became the first player in league history to twice lead the league in both blocked shots and rebounding the same season. Russell might have turned that double for all 13 years he played — except for two things: Wilt Chamberlain was a more prodigious rebounder, and the NBA didn’t keep track of blocked shots back then. Russell was the first NBA player who literally controlled a game by his defensive prowess, blocking and changing shots with his athleticism, instincts and desire. Howard has more than just scratched that same surface.

May 14

Blue & White Ignite – Special Fan Activities Announced for Eastern Conference Finals

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/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 Finals. 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 of the Eastern Conference Finals, 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.
  • For Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, 10,000 drawstring bags and 1,000 autographed STUFF photos presented by T-Mobile will be given away, along with 10,000 rally rackets.
  • 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, where fans can meet and get autographs from 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, while food and beverage will also 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.
  • Fans will also have the opportunity to win tickets to each Eastern Conference Finals game at Fan Fest. Follow the Magic on Twitter, Facebook and Magic Text to receive updates on how to win. Fans who were unable to secure tickets to the Eastern Conference Finals can also enjoy the game on the 10’x13’ LED screen at Fan Fest.

May 14

MBN Roundtable Discussion: Previewing the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals for the Orlando Magic

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Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

As seen on ABC’s Sunday Dime.

I gathered writers, the best of the best in the blogosphere, to participate in a roundtable discussion and answer some of the most pertinent questions concerning the Orlando Magic as the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals are set to begin.

So, without further ado, here are the participants:

Kevin Arnovitz, TrueHoop
Kurt Helin, ProBasketballTalk
Matt Moore, Hardwood Paroxysm

Each individual provided a quick breakdown of the series between the Magic and the Boston Celtics, his opinion on the player that has been the most impressive for Orlando in the postseason (up to this point), and more.

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With the Orlando Magic having already put the finishing touches on back-to-back sweeps against the Charlotte Bobcats and the Atlanta Hawks in the first two rounds of the playoffs, the question that is invariably being asked is whether or not they are falling in the same trap that tripped up the Cleveland Cavaliers last year? Does that logic apply to the Magic? Why or why not?

Kevin Arnovitz: This logic does not apply to Orlando because the premise defies logic. The notion that a team somehow hurts itself by dominating opponents with brutal efficiency is silly. If Orlando loses in the Eastern Conference Finals, it assuredly won’t be because they were too successful in previous rounds. It will be because they failed to execute their stuff.

Kurt Helin: I don’t think so, because these Magic understand about winning in a way that Cavs team did not. I’m a believer you have to learn to win in the NBA. Orlando went to the Finals last year. This is a team that learned what it took to get there and a painful lesson from the loss in the Final last year about what it takes to be a champion. That there is another level of commitment (plus having a health Jameer Nelson doesn’t hurt). These Magic have come out and taken care of business in a professional way, not letting up.

That Cavaliers team did not lose because of the sweeps in the first two rounds. They lost because they were not the best team, they did not execute as well, they could not get the matchups they liked. These Magic are the best team.

Matt Moore: I think it does. I think that complacency is the worst thing that can happen to a ballclub in the playoffs is complacency. And Orlando’s going to have more of it than any Conference Finalist. Swept through the first and second rounds, never challenged. Drew easy opponents who didn’t match up well. Lots of time off. This is recipe for disaster against a Boston team that’s rolling. The fact that the first games are in Orlando, meaning they have to immediately switch back to high gear because they MUST win their first two games is adding to that. Every team thinks that their dominance is real and valid until it gets blindsided. Then they can’t understand why they ever thought that to begin with.

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May 14

Interview with Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post, Part III

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

No introduction necessary.

A few days ago, I was able to ask Rock a few questions to preview the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals between the Orlando Magic and the Boston Celtics.

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One of the major storylines last year, and even this year, was the “what if” scenario, in which people wondered what the 2009 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals would have been like had Kevin Garnett and to a lesser extent, Jameer Nelson, had been healthy. Given that the Orlando Magic and the Boston Celtics are playing well in the postseason, is there a chance we get to see the series that everyone wanted to see last season with both teams at full strength?

Oh, without question, this series is the one everyone wanted to see last year. And the fact that [Jameer] Nelson is playing out of his damn mind right now only makes it more interesting. Garnett, too, is on a roll, having destroyed the Cavs from the inside (when they put Antawn Jamison on him) and the outside (when they assigned Shaquille O’Neal). This series has a lot of potential even without considering those players’ return to form. But yes, the fact that both teams are at full strength only sweetens the deal.

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May 14

Interview with Zach Lowe of CelticsHub

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Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

The Boston Celtics — undoubtedly — have a rich history, a prestigious franchise, and some of the best team blogs in the blogosphere, which are supported by a loyal fanbase that really cares about their C’s. CelticsBlog and Red’s Army are some well-known sites that have been around the block but CelticsHub, which has been around for a little over a year now, has blossomed as a go-to source for daily coverage of the Celtics. CelticsHub is buoyed by a trio of excellent writers — Brendan Jackson, Zach Lowe, and Brian Robb, who combine to provide a rich blend of analysis, commentary, and news.

A few days ago, I was able to ask Lowe a few questions to preview the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals between the Orlando Magic and the Boston Celtics.

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Is the Boston Celtics’ resurgence, or whatever what you’d like to call it, simply a matter of the team getting healthy and “flipping the switch” or is there another factor that people have been overlooking?

You know, I was skeptical about the possibility that they would flip the switch. But they have, and you can see it in both their defensive intensity and the decline in their turnover rate on offense. Their defense has picked up in just about every way. They held the Cavs, the 2nd-best three-point shooting team in the league, to about 28 percent shooting from deep. They forced about 15.5 turnovers per game. They protected the rim better than they had since Christmas.

Perhaps most importantly, they rebounded about 78.5 percent of Cleveland’s misses–a defensive rebounding rate that would have led the league in the regular season, and a huge jump from Boston’s season-long number.

And on offense, they transformed from one of the most turnover-prone teams in the league to a team that coughed it up at about a league-average rate. The Cavs don’t force a ton of turnovers, but neither do the Magic, so the C’s improved care for the ball should carry over.

As you say, some of this is due to health. Kevin Garnett hasn’t looked this good since he injured his knee in the middle of last season. He averaged 19 points per game on 58 percent shooting against the Cavs and destroyed Antawn Jamison in the post to the point that Mike Brown, who may be fired by the time your readers see this, actually switched Shaq onto KG during Game 6.

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May 13

Orlando Magic Eastern Conference Finals Playoff Schedule Announced

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Via the Orlando Magic:

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

Orlando vs. Boston Eastern Conference Finals Series Schedule

  • Game 1 – Sunday, May 16, 3:30 p.m., at Orlando (Amway Arena), ABC TV
  • Game 2 – Tuesday, May 18, 8:30 p.m., at Orlando (Amway Arena), ESPN TV
  • Game 3 – Saturday, May 22, 8:30 p.m., at Boston, ESPN TV
  • Game 4 – Monday, May 24, 8:30 p.m., at Boston, ESPN TV
  • Game 5 – Wednesday, May 26, 8:30 p.m., at Orlando (Amway Arena), ESPN TV, if necessary
  • Game 6 – Friday, May 28, 8:30 p.m., at Boston, ESPN TV, if necessary
  • Game 7 – Sunday, May 30, 8:30 p.m., at Orlando (Amway Arena), ESPN TV, if necessary

*All Times Eastern

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

*All conference final games are exclusive national telecasts.

Single game tickets remaining after a season ticket holder pre-sale will go on sale to the general public May 14th beginning at Noon.

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 $24.

May 13

Thursday’s Magic Word

  • Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “Magic coach Stan Van Gundy doesn’t usually watch games live on television where he has to navigate through commercials and free throws and other stoppages. He will watch tonight’s Game 6 between the Boston Celtics and Cleveland since if Boston wins, the [Orlando] Magic will have to prepare to face the Celtics on Sunday. After the first round, the Magic started preparation for Milwaukee early. Had the Bucks won Game 6, the Magic would have only had one day to prepare for them. With an extra day to prepare this time, they won’t start watching film for any specific team until they have an opponent.”
  • Want to know what the mainstream media thinks of the Orlando Magic? Click here.
  • Josh Cohen of OrlandoMagic.com wonders if the Magic have a chance to be one of the greatest teams in NBA history, when it’s all said and done.
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “They have foes by the, um, throat because they have four all-star starters and arguably the NBA’s deepest, most talented bench. In many ways, Orlando GM Otis Smith has compiled a Noah’s Arc roster in that the Magic have two of everything – two centers in [Dwight] Howard and Marcin Gortat; two point guards in [Jameer] Nelson and veteran Jason Williams; two shooting guards in [Vince] Carter and J.J. Redick; two ace defenders in [Mickael] Pietrus and [Matt] Barnes and plenty of power forward help behind [Rashard] Lewis in Ryan Anderson and Brandon Bass. And whereas having that kind of depth could cause problems with shots and points on other teams, it’s not an issue in Orlando because there is one common goal: To win a championship. “We have a goal and everybody understands that. We check ourselves at the door and we’re a close team,” Carter said. The Magic went back to work on Thursday after having two days off following the sweep of the Hawks, one that proved to be the most lopsided four-game sweep in playoff history (101 points). Orlando’s players had Tuesday and Wednesday off, but got back on the court on Thursday with some scrimmaging and conditioning work.”
  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post explains why Orlando’s transition defense has been stout and takes the time to educate the public on Vince Carter.
  • Sekou Smith’s Hang Time Blog warns the Magic of having too much rest.
  • The Boston Celtics have a chance to close out the Cleveland Cavaliers in tonight’s game and according to Matt Moore of ProBasketballTalk, they better finish the job: “The Magic are playing the best basketball of any team coming into the Conference Finals, regardless of how the Boston-Cleveland series finishes. But the Celtics definitely have the ability to overcome that play with their defense and versatility. They will, however, need to have time to develop a gameplan, and to get their bodies and minds right. Because if there’s one thing we know for certain, it’s that the Magic will be ready. Boston must close out Cleveland tonight.”
  • Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference attempts to find out which position should be built around by teams for playoff success.
  • Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse states that Orlando is hanging loose right now.

  • Carter empathizes with LeBron James’ situation.

  • Dan Patrick conducts an interview with Dwight Howard. Check it out.

  • Jason Williams — trick-shot extraordinaire.

May 13

Dwight Howard Talks About “Just Wright”

May 13

A Progress Report of “The Magic Show,” Part II

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Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

With the Orlando Magic halfway home to their goal of winning a championship, it seems more than appropriate to conduct a progress report on each player that has been in head coach Stan Van Gundy‘s 10-man rotation (excluding Ryan Anderson, due to lack of minutes) since the start of the 2010 NBA Playoffs. The reports will serve to track a player’s performance at the midway point of the postseason.

There will be no grades handed out, just comments attached.

Today, the starters.
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Rashard Lewis (36.9 minutes per game):

PER TS% eFG% TRB% AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG%
14.0 .573 .539 7.8 7.4 1.7 0.9 10.9 19.4
19.1 .700 .678 9.3 12.8 1.3 1.1 13.0 18.2

Lewis has been fantastic, plain and simple. Even though the Magic aren’t relying on him as heavily as they did last year in the playoffs, Lewis has made up for working with a lighter workload by being ridiculously efficient on offense. The numbers show that. And this hasn’t been the case, of course, but it just seems like Lewis has been practically making every shot he’s put up. If anything else, Lewis has shown why he’s the best stretch four in the NBA. How?

Lewis completely neutered Smith’s effectiveness on defense, just by operating on the perimeter. This is the same Josh Smith that finished second in the Defensive Player of the Year voting and is regarded as a good defender, even if his individual D is suspect at varying times. That’s why stretch fours are valued, and Lewis is ahead of the rest of the class.

Lewis has been awesome offensively and what’s been most encouraging about his stellar play is that he isn’t just shooting threes. Lewis has shown a willingness to use the jab step to create space for an open mid-range jumper, put the basketball on the floor and attack the basket, and overpower his way on the low block and nail that silky-smooth fadeaway jumper of his. Lewis has displayed his full repertoire on offense and it’s been beautiful to watch.

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May 12

Wednesday’s Magic Word

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Dennis “3-D” Scott has a confession to make: He believes the 2009-10 Orlando Magic are the best team in the history of the franchise — even better than his old Magic club. The gold standard always has been the Shaquille O’Neal-Penny Hardaway team of the mid-90’s that played in the NBA Finals in 1995. […] The Magic have stormed through the playoffs at 8-0, ousting Charlotte and Atlanta. They emerged from the first two rounds last season at 8-5, going 4-2 against Philadelphia and 4-3 against Boston.”
  • Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “Dwight Howard‘s day job (Game 1 of the Magic’s Eastern Conference semifinal) prevented his appearance at last week’s New York City premiere of “Just Wright”, but during an off day on Tuesday, Howard hosted a lower-key premiere for a theater full of fans and a few teammates. “It’s my first movie, I’m excited, I’m happy I don’t know what to say,” Howard said in the theater before thanking Magic shooting guard Vince Carter, small forward Matt Barnes and coach Stan Van Gundy for attending to support him. The movie premieres in theaters on Friday. Howard watched the movie, which stars Queen Latifah and the rapper, Common, from the back row of a theater at the AMC in Altamonte Springs. He sat alongside Carter and Barnes. When he appeared on screen the theater stirred and some clapped. Magic forward Rashard Lewis also appeared in the film.”
  • George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel states that the Orlando Magic are no longer underdogs, but alpha dogs.
  • Dwight Howard thanks everyone for attending his movie premier. In case you were unable to attend the event, here’s a link to some pictures from the proceedings.
  • David Whitley of NBA FanHouse states that the Magic are poised to return to the NBA Finals: “Miami and Orlando were in a hissing match over which city would be the better NBA town. The Miami Herald unleashed Dave Barry. Orlando stood no chance. […] Twenty-one years later, the courtside seats at the Amway Arena are still largely occupied by people who couldn’t carry Jack Nicholson’s forehead. The glamor quotient went up when Tiger Woods showed up and spent the game texting (seriously, the only time he looked up was when Howard was dunking or the Magic Dancers were shaking). Tiger hasn’t shown all season. Apparently, there are problems at home or something. So who will ABC’s cameras fixate on if the Magic make the Finals? I don’t blame the network for wanting the Lakers to play the Cavaliers or Celtics. I’d rather see that than the Magic-Lakers or, zzzz, the Magic-Suns. And I’ve been a proud resident of Orlando for 10 years. It’s a fine place to raise kids, raise mosquitoes, play golf and make fun of snowbirds. But I’d rather see LeBron try to bowl over Kobe than Howard bowl over three Lakers every possession. But what does it matter what I think? The Magic are, you guessed it … “On a mission,” Howard said.”
  • Vince Carter and 16-0? Maybe.
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