Blog Entry

Believe in Magic

Posted on: May 27, 2009 12:06 am
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All those media types Stan Van Gundy is always complaining about? I'm one of them.

Guilty.

Guilty as charged.

I didn't think the Magic had this in them. I admit it.

I watched the Magic throughout the regular season and in the playoffs, too, and I didn't believe. I wrote this column on March 8, after the Magic beat the Celtics -- without Kevin Garnett -- 86-79 in Boston. That day, Van Gundy explained what I thought was the Magic's Achilles' heel, the weakness that would undermine them in the playoffs.

"I don't think we're built to push and shove on people," Van Gundy said. "And here's the other thing: If you look around, compare us, say, to this team. Kendrick Perkins can be as physical as he wants. Him getting in foul trouble is not, from an offensive standpoint, in any way a huge deal to them. Look at a lot of the teams that are built as real physical teams. Those guys inside are not really concerned about foul trouble. Our front line is Dwight [Howard] and Rashard [Lewis]. Our scoring comes from those guys. We can't have those guys down there pushing and shoving and being in foul trouble and sitting on the bench."

And then I wrote these words: Voila. That is why the Magic won't beat Boston or Cleveland in the playoffs.

There, I saved you the trouble of Googling my words and feeding them to me. You're welcome.

Now, after beating the Cavs 116-114 in overtime Tuesday night to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals, Orlando is one victory away from beating both Boston and Cleveland in the playoffs.

Bravo, Orlando. Bravo, Dwight Howard. I didn't think you had it in you.

I was wrong.

What happened? Three things. 1) The Celtics without Garnett wound up in the same predicament the Magic were in, without enough big bodies to play physical basketball and contribute on the offensive end at the same time; 2) Cleveland, with lightweight Zydrunas Ilgauskas and shadow-of-himself Ben Wallace, didn't have enough physical big men, either; and 3) The Magic and Howard grew up.

To me, the turning point was Game 6 against Boston, when all the pressure in the world was on Howard's shoulders -- and it was self-imposed. After a Game 5 loss in Boston, Howard unleashed a rare public diatribe, calling out his coach and teammates and demanding the ball. He got the ball in Game 6 in Orlando, produced 23 points and 22 rebounds, and then the Magic had the confidence they needed to go to Boston and beat the Celtics in Game 7. Which they did.

From that point on, there were no more questions about the Magic's mental fortitude. And it showed in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals Tuesday night. Howard is among the most likeable superstars in the NBA, one we will enjoy watching for another decade or more. Since that Game 6 victory against the Celtics, Howard has transformed himself from a happy-go-lucky, not-serious-enough, Mr. Nice Guy into the unstoppable force that he should be.

So when I'm wrong, I admit it. When one of the game's young, formerly immature superstars grows up before our very eyes, I applaud him.

Kudos to the Magic for a job well done, and for making the naysayers eat their words.

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Category: NBA
Comments

Since: Apr 12, 2009
Posted on: May 29, 2009 4:33 pm
 

m@g!c

im a magic fan, and i though7 7he magic wouldn7 win. i 7ough7 7ha7 cleveland would have em in 6. now, even af7er 7he loss in cleveland, s7ill shows 7he magic aren7 ou7, 7hey mean bussiness. i 7hink 7he magic will win i7 in game 6 and go on 7o win 7he finals.

magic all 7he way (:



Since: May 27, 2009
Posted on: May 28, 2009 7:45 pm
 

Believe in Magic

Tonight Orlando Magic will win this game and be in the finals! It will be awesome to win that trophy for Orlando!




Since: Dec 2, 2006
Posted on: May 28, 2009 6:46 pm
 

Believe in Magic

I don't know where you get your sports knowledge from jabberwock.  I am a true magic fan and that collapse happen way before three years ago.  Two years ago we were swept by the pistons in the first round (Dwights first year in the playoffs).  Last year we lost to the pistons in the second round (Dwights 2nd year in the playoffs).  The Magic collapse you speak of happened in like '03 when the team was manned by Tmac, drew gooden, pat garrity, jaques vaughn etc.  None of those guys are still around.  The Magic team today does not have a clue what it is like to have a team come back from a 3-1 deficit.  They will have to play this game as if it were their last.  Go Magic!!!!!!!



Since: Apr 17, 2007
Posted on: May 28, 2009 11:43 am
 

Believe in Magic

Jabber, the Magic fans are definitely aware that they are on the short list of teams that suffered 3-1 comebacks. However, none of those players from 2003 are still on the team.
Stan Van Gundy has his team focused and both of their series-clinching wins have been on the road. This game will be very important because a Game 5 win by Cleveland (along with several "questionable calls") will give them confidence that they can come back.




Since: May 26, 2009
Posted on: May 28, 2009 11:14 am
 

Believe in Magic

This is over, you must be Cavs fan....



Since: Apr 15, 2009
Posted on: May 28, 2009 11:13 am
 

Believe in Magic

Completely agreed. Orlando is one of the very few teams who actually matchup well against Cleveland, and anytime you have a player the caliber of Lebron James, the series is never over, down 3-1 but still confident Lebron just will not let his team be embarrassed at home tonight.



Since: Apr 23, 2009
Posted on: May 27, 2009 10:55 pm
 

Believe in Magic

i think this was a bad matchup problem for cleveland. the series isnt over yet though



Since: Jul 17, 2008
Posted on: May 27, 2009 1:18 pm
 

Believe in Magic

Uhm, none of the players from that series are still in Orlando...



Since: Dec 11, 2007
Posted on: May 27, 2009 1:14 pm
 

Believe in Magic

Great article.



Since: May 27, 2009
Posted on: May 27, 2009 1:05 pm
 

Too early

Remember these words? "It feels good to finally be out of the first round" ?
That was Tracy McGrady after taking a 3-1 lead over Detroit.
That was in 2002 and none of the players on the team now were there then.


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