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Magic the Gathering…Orlando’s Playoff Preview

Posted By Warren Shaw On Apr 27 2012 @ 9:33 pm In Orlando Magic | No Comments

If  Dwight Howard was still a child (in actual age) his theme song would have been the hokey pokey this season. His antics while disturbing actually seemed to have had little effect on the Orlando Magic’s play this season until the final month.

In the final month of the season the team finished 5-9 without Howard and fell from 3rd in the Eastern Conference down to 6th at the season’s close. 

Howard was advised to have surgery on the herniated disk that ailed him down the stretch which in turn sidelined him for the remainder of the season.

Poof distraction gone right?

The problem is, that “distraction” averaged 20.6 points, 14.5 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks  per game. He also anchored an underrated defense deterring would be attempts on the basket by opponents.

Distraction or not the Magic have not been able to replace those numbers and now enter a playoff match-up with the very capable and scary Indiana Pacers.

The Pacers leapfrogged the Magic in the standings and now sit in the 3rd seed of the conference where the Magic once called home for more than two months this season. Nobody and I mean nobody thinks Orlando has more than a punchers chance against Indiana.

Still second year Pacers Coach, Frank Vogel, is saying all the right things to avoid giving the Magic locker room material.

Anybody that knows basketball knows that a 3-point shooting team like Orlando is extremely dangerous…It doesn’t matter who’s in the middle, they can get red hot and shoot you out of the game. Our antennas are going to be up, and we’ll be ready to go. Their spread pick-and-roll attack, whether it’s Dwight Howard rolling to the basket, or Big Baby or Earl Clark or Orton, they are extremely dangerous the way they spread the floor with Anderson and all those shooters. In a lot of ways, they are just as dangerous, and in some ways, even more dangerous because they shoot all those 3s.

That is nice of Vogel to say but there is not a chance the Magic can beat the Pacers 4 times in this series.

The Magic enter the series missing more than Howard. Glen Davis, who has been exceptional in the absence of Howard, rolled his ankle in the next to last game of the season and is questionable for Game 1.

Hedo Turkgolu is still working his way back from the facial lacerations that sidelined him for more than 3 weeks. He is wearing a protective mask that he already said makes him uncomfortable on the court.  His size and ball handling will be key for the Magic and a dip in the hot tub time machine back to 2009 wouldn’t hurt either.

Jameer Nelson has been been playing his best basketball in two years down the stretch of this season and he could be the key to avoiding an Indiana sweep.

”Our game has changed,” Nelson said. ”Over the past two weeks, we’ve been without the most dominant player in the game, but we just have to stick together and help out defensively and do things the right way.”

Taking a look at the starters for each team and some of the intangibles that make up this series will prove the optimistic Nelson wrong.






Jameer Nelson

George Hill


Jason Richardson

Paul George


Hedo Turkgolu

Danny Granger


Ryan Anderson

David West


Glen Davis/Daniel Orton

Roy Hibbert

If the Pacers go inside with Hibbert and West as expected the Magic will not be able to stop either on the block. 

Indiana ranked 3rd in rebounding during the regular season and without Howard to man the middle, offensive rebounds/second chance points should come a dime a dozen for the Pacers.

Indiana’s bench includes guys like Darren Collison, Leandro Barbosa, and Tyler Hansbrough. Comparing that trio to the likes of J.J. Reddick, Earl Clark, and Quentin Richardson should make it easy to see why the Pacers are favored.

Losing to the Pacers is not a shameful end to the season and quite frankly they are the most overlooked team in the playoffs with home court advantage.

Orlando has adopted the “Nobody is giving us a chance” and the “All we got is us” as rallying cries and unfortunately they are right.

This “Dwightmare” of a season is finally nearing its deserved end.


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