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Pop Quiz: Has Orlando's window closed?

Posted on: September 17, 2010 4:12 pm
Edited on: September 17, 2010 5:07 pm
Posted by Matt Moore

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a few short weeks. To get you ready for the NBA season, we've put together 25 pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this question...

As Courtney Lee hung in the air, anticipating the incoming lob for a last second shot in the NBA Finals, he likely didn't know anything of what would happen as a result in the next 1.5 seconds. He would miss the alley-oop, a nearly impossible shot that he deserves credit for simply for managing to execute. He would wind up traded to New Jersey which would go on to be one of the worst teams in NBA history, then be traded to Houston. The Magic would swap out Hedo Turkoglu for an upgrade at shooting guard in Vince Carter. And the Magic's best chance at an NBA championship would be snuffed out.

So the question has to be: Does Orlando still have a window open to win an NBA championship?

It sounds absurd. After all, the team won 59 games last season, good for second in the East. They stomped their way to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second season in a row. Dwight Howard enters the season at only 24 years old. Jameer Nelson has a promising career in front of him. They have depth. Stan Van Gundy is considered one of the better coaches in the league. How could their window be closed?

The concern comes down to a number of tangible concerns, and one that relates to the ephemeral nature of windows in the NBA.

In the tangible, the biggest glaring problem is quite simply the other teams in the league. When Orlando ousted Boston in 2009, it was thought to be a death sentence on Boston's lockhold on the East. But Celtic players and fans who thought the only reason Orlando advanced was Kevin Garnett's injury that year were validated last season when the Green stomped the Blue with defense and intensity. Not helping matters on that front is the improved center depth for the Celtics, who now feature Jermaine O'Neal and Shaquille O'Neal to combat Dwight Howard along with Kendrick Perkins.

Then of course, there's that nasty Miami issue. With the Heat not only taking a giant step forward, but playing in Miami's division, things get considerably harder for the Magic.

But those are outside matters. The real issue for Orlando in trying to make it back to the Finals and compete is that they seem to have detonated the special formula that got them there in the first place. Vince Carter had a handful of terrific great games for the Magic but also brought all the questions about toughness and clutch ability. And he seemed a tremendous step back from what Hedo Turkoglu had given them, regardless of Turkoglu's age and diminishing skill. Chemistry for that team was shaky. It seemed inconsistent and incomplete, like there were tensions bubbling under, in contrast to the 2009 team which seemed to hum like a finely tuned engine.

Finally there's the nature of championship windows themselves for small-market teams. A large market team like the Lakers can contend for a decade if they keep egos in check. They can stay in the conversation as long as their top elite player is around and healthy. But we've seen it often in the past. A smaller market team has what is considered a great team, pushes the elite team in their conference, but is unable to reach the summit. The Magic tinkered with what worked, which is often a big no-no in sports. Turkoglu may have been on the downside of his career and not as talented as Vince Carter, but the Magic were better with him running point forward in the halfcourt set.

Think of what they need in order to return to the championship if they don't make a major trade this season. They need Carter to play better than he did last season, have everyone stay healthy, repeat last year's performance, then overcome Boston's defense and Miami's starpower... just to make the Finals where barring a gigantic upset they'll then face the same Lakers team that overwhelmed them two years ago. Orlando's ownership group has commendably committed money to the team as it enters a new arena with a contending team. But unless it takes a major step back up the ladder, it may just be spinning its expensive wheels as the rest of the league continues to stay one step ahead of them.

Orlando will be good. But barring Dwight Howard becoming one of the most dominant offensive players in the league or massive injuries to both Miami and Boston, there's little evidence to believe they'll be good enough to be considered a real title contender.

Since: Mar 29, 2007
Posted on: September 19, 2010 1:09 am

Pop Quiz: Has Orlando's window closed?

Best post I've read in a long time !! Thanks for the laugh Burnsy. I agree with all points, especialy the topless one, Orlando girls are hot !!!

Since: Oct 15, 2007
Posted on: September 18, 2010 2:58 pm

Pop Quiz: Has Orlando's window closed?

awesome post!

Since: Jun 5, 2009
Posted on: September 18, 2010 1:18 pm

Pop Quiz: Has Orlando's window closed?

I love Jameer Nelson, but honestly he would be better off as a sixth man.
The year they made the finals they were better off with a defensive Point Guard, because thier fowards and center dominated the games.
Its called Match-ups people.
The Magic likely have no more roster moves, i would love to see Vince go because he has no heart and looked very old last season.
There is hope.

The best hope we have is a continued growth of our younger players(Nelson,Howard,Anderson,Bass) and a decent playoff matchup.
If we can somehow wind-up on the opposite side of the Celtics, they can wear down the heat for us.

A heat-celtics Semifinal, then a heat-Magic confernace finals. Maybe the heat will be hurting and we can clean up the mess.

Thats our only chance to get back to the finals.

Since: Dec 10, 2006
Posted on: September 18, 2010 10:37 am

Pop Quiz: Has Orlando's window closed?

I am spending 4 months in  Kissimmee this winter so I sure hope the Magic will contend. They will be good but Vince Carter is and will continue to be their downfall. He has never played with the heart of a champion. Early on it was blamed on no supporting cast but as teams and team mates changed it was the same thing: Vince plays great for a game or two then disappears. He just doesn't have the desire of a Kobe or a Wade.

That being said, with all their flaws, this is still a very strong team that no one should take lightly in a playoff series. If an opponent is not at 100% health wise or is not playing with intensity, the Magic could knock any one off.

They do miss Turkoglu because he made up for Orlando not having a true, pure point guard. Nelson was better in that kind of system than one where he has to be the traditional point guard.

Bring on the season!! The Heat and Celtics will be a handful in the East and there will be a few other decent teams that no one should take lightly.

Since: Jul 28, 2010
Posted on: September 18, 2010 10:25 am

Pop Quiz: Has Orlando's window closed?

Closed And Slammed  Shut  , Celtics will repeat as Eastern Champs and defeat the Lakers easily with a center now and Perkins  healthy and ready for the playoffs 

Since: Jun 1, 2007
Posted on: September 18, 2010 8:21 am

Pop Quiz: Has Orlando's window closed?

I'll need to point out the painfully obvious: D12 has never had to protect the paint from both Lebron and DWADE in the same game. Hardly the same situation as playing a one-trick team that the Cavaliers and Heat were prior to this year.

Since: Dec 29, 2008
Posted on: September 18, 2010 5:06 am
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Nov 18, 2006
Posted on: September 18, 2010 3:08 am

Stan Van Gundy...

"Stan Van Gundy is considered one of the better coaches in the league."


Thanks guy. You made my day.

Since: Sep 2, 2009
Posted on: September 18, 2010 1:34 am

Pop Quiz: Has Orlando's window closed?

I agree with you entirely (including the flying part).
This might sound too whacky but they should trade Carter for Gilbert Arenas (Washington should be up for getting rid of him and bringing in an elder statemen for Wall to learn from). Get Arenas to play the two when Jameer is on the floor or the one when he is injured. They have to play Bass 25+ minutes per game or trade him for a PF who can shoot from the elbow and pass to the wings. Stop calling Rashard lewis a PF, play him at SF (or start calling Kevin Durant a PF too). Modify the uniforms of the dancers as you suggest. Then I want you to fly in there with you new found powers and a video camera, capture the magic, pick up a case of beer, fly down to Australia and show me the gameday highlights.

Since: Oct 28, 2006
Posted on: September 17, 2010 11:28 pm

Pop Quiz: Has Orlando's window closed?

Orlando needs one more piece. Vince Carter doesn't even come close to filling a hole, he actaully causes one, and I'm not sold on Jameer Nelson. Miami will get destroyed by anyone that plays defence, like Boston, and can plug the middle and rebound, like Boston and Orlando. The only thing that can stop the Celtics from returning is age and injury. It'll be interesting to see how Doc Rivers keeps most of these players fresh toward the end of the season. In the end it's still the Lakers title to lose and if the don't get injured in the middle Kobe and the boys will be looking at the coveted 3-peat.

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