Orlando Magic Blog

Group Blog talking about the NBA 2009 Eastern Conference Champions. Due to the amazing success of the 2009 playoff run comments are now frequently deleted to kill offensive comments, incoherence, or asininity. Comments can no longer be anonymous and require either a Blogger or OpenID account.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Competition in East to get tougher for Magic next season

The Chicago Bulls, who had only a 1.7% chance of winning, are the surprise winners of the 2008 draft lottery, and will draft first with the Miami Heat drafting second.

The top two picks will almost undoubtedly be the two superstar college freshmen... Kansas State PF Michael Beasley and Memphis PG Derrick Rose. Both of them are can't-miss prospects (barring injury) and will have a significant impact next season for whoever drafts them.

The Bulls, who were the biggest disappointment of the NBA this last season, will be much better next season no matter which of the two they will draft. They have a talented group of players including Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, Drew Gooden, Tyrus Thomas, and Joakim Noah.

The Heat, after a disastrous season, will be much-improved also with the number two pick and a healthy Dwyane Wade for the whole season.

The Magic may not find it as easy next season to finish as the number three seed with the improved competition from the teams in the East; hopefully Otis Smith can make the right decisions this off-season so the Magic can be a legitimate challenger to either Boston or Detroit as the top team in the East.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

5 Orlando Magic stories to watch this offseason

Which free-agent guards return?Maurice Evans, Keyon Dooling and Carlos Arroyo all become unrestricted free agents this summer, and all three will go where the money is. Evans worked on the cheap this season ($1.5 million), and as a starter, he'll be looking to triple his salary. If Arroyo returns, he will be taking a huge pay cut (from $4 million), which he won't like. Dooling also will see if anyone else has interest, but he is the most likely to be back.Will J.J. Redick rust on the bench again?Depending upon their free-agent plans, the Magic either will dump Redick in a draft-night trade and try to save face, or they will find a way to play him next season. Sometimes coaches forget that they are in the entertainment business, and the fans should be heard.Does Marcin Gortat have a role?Strangest handling of a young Magic player in years. He played more games in the playoffs (8) than he did in the regular season (6). They let him rot on the bench all year -- giving him no experience -- then decided to use him in the postseason? They need to fix that blunder.Will Dwight Howard improve this much again?Howard became the best center in the NBA this season, but the Detroit Pistons spanked him in the playoffs, teaching him a valuable lesson. He needs to spend the summer honing one of those 12-foot jump shots. His power game is wonderful, but when the Pistons deny it, a Tim Duncan face-up would be great to have.Is FSN on Bright House coming?Although Bright House denied Magic fans the chance to see almost half the games by refusing to add FSN to its lineup, that situation should be fixed before tip-off in the fall. It's small potatoes for two corporate giants who put financial gain ahead of pleasing customers

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Magic unable to stave off elimination... Game 5: Detroit 91, Magic 86

Despite a barrage of turnovers and missed free throws, the Magic found themselves up 70-65 early in the fourth quarter on the Pistons, just a little more than 11 minutes away from sending the series back to Orlando for Game 6. The Magic then proceeded to go 6:48 without scoring and didn't make their first field goal of the fourth quarter until 3:42 remained, as the Pistons went on a 17-2 run to go ahead 82-72. To the Magic's credit, they went on a final run outscoring the Pistons 12-3 to come within a point at 85-84, but that was as close as they could get, as the Pistons came up with a big block by Tayshaun Prince on a Hedo Turkoglu layup attempt that would have put the Magic back to within one, and went on to win 91-86.

The score was tied at 20 after one quarter with Detroit taking a 47-41 lead at intermission before the Magic outscored the Pistons 27-18 in the third quarter to take a 68-65 lead after three before the ill-fated fourth quarter.

Magic leading scorers:

Hedo Turkoglu... 18 points (8 of 15 FGs), 9 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 turnovers
Dwight Howard... 14 points (6 of 15 FTs), 17 rebounds, 3 blocks, 4 turnovers
Jameer Nelson... 14 points (6 of 7 FGs), 4 assists, 2 turnovers
Rashard Lewis... 14 points (4 of 13 FGs), 7 rebounds, 6 turnovers
Maurice Evans... 11 points (4 of 7 FGs)
Bench: Keith Bogans... 10 points (4 of 9 FGs), 7 rebounds

Detroit leading scorers:

Rip Hamilton... 31 points (16 of 16 FTs), 4 steals
Antonio McDyess... 17 points, 11 rebounds
Rodney Stuckey... 15 points, 6 assists
Rasheed Wallace... 14 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals
Tayshaun Prince... 10 points, 8 rebounds

The statistical breakdown:

FGs... ORL 31 of 64 (48.4%) DET 30 of 83 (36.1%) ORL 70 DET 63
3 PT FGs... ORL 8 of 22 (36.4%) DET 3 of 14 (21.4%)
FTs... DET 28 of 32 (87.5%) ORL 16 of 28 (57.1%)
REBs... ORL 46 (12 offensive) DET 38 (15 offensive)
AST/TO... DET 16/3 ORL 14/21

It should be noted that the Pistons set an all-time NBA playoff record with just the three turnovers.

Other game stats and notes:

-Magic outscored the Pistons from the field, had the better shooting percentage, and outrebounded the Pistons, but Detroit had 18 fewer turnovers and made 12 more free throws than the Magic.
-Detroit attempted 19 more field goals than the Magic due to the 21 Magic turnovers and 15 Pistons' offensive rebounds.
-Lewis scored just 2 first-half points.
-Magic were also outscored 20-8 to end the second quarter in addition to the 17-2 Pistons' run in the fourth.
-Pistons shot 13 of 16 from the free throw line in the fourth.
-Magic frontcourt starters outscored the Pistons' frontcourt starters by just 46-41.
-The Pistons' starting backcourt outscored the Magic starting backcourt 46-25.
-Hamilton and Stuckey combined for 21 of 22 free throws compared to 1 of 2 combined for Nelson and Evans.
-Turkoglu and Lewis combined for 32 points, 16 rebounds, 8 assists, but 11 turnovers.

So ends the most successful Magic season since 1996, with the Magic winning 52 games, advancing to the second round of the playoffs, and being competitive in three of the four second round losses before bowing out.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Magic try to stay alive in Game 5 tonight

The Magic find themselves in the unenviable position of being down 3 games to 1 to the Pistons heading into Game 5 tonight at Detroit.

It will be a gametime decision as to whether Chauncey Billups will play or not, as his strained hamstring continues to get better.

Pistons are 6 1/2 point favorites (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Pistons edge Magic to take control of series... Game 4: Pistons 90, Magic 89

With the Magic trailing by one point in the final seconds, Hedo Turkoglu's driving layup attempt fell short, Dwight Howard's tip attempt also failed, and Detroit came out with a huge win 90-89 and are now in the driver's seat with a 3-1 series lead.

With Chauncey Billups sitting out with a hamstring strain, the Magic started out well, as they jumped out to a 25-15 lead in the first quarter and led after one 27-21. The Magic solidified their lead in the second, as they scored 20 of the final 29 points to take a 55-44 lead at halftime. The Magic shot 11 of 15 (73.3%) in the second and 22 of 39 (56.4%) for the first half, including 5 of 7 on three point attempts.

The Pistons came alive in the third quarter after the Magic took their largest lead of the game at 63-48. The Pistons then proceeded to outscore the Magic 15-0, as the Magic went 6 minutes, 40 seconds without a point. The score was tied at 70 at the end of three.

Detroit took their largest lead of 82-75 in the fourth quarter with just over five minutes remaining, but the Magic came back on a 11-2 run, thanks to two big three pointers from Turkoglu to take an 86-84 lead. The Magic had their last lead at 89-88 before Tayshaun Prince hit the game-winning runner in the lane with just under nine seconds remaining.

Magic leading scorers:

Hedo Turkoglu... 20 points (7 of 14 FGs), 4 assists, 5 turnovers
Jameer Nelson... 15 points (6 of 14 FGs), 6 assists, 5 rebounds
Maurice Evans... 15 points (6 of 11 FGs, 3 of 6 3 PT FGs)
Rashard Lewis... 15 points (6 of 13 FGs), 5 rebounds
Dwight Howard... 8 points (3 of 12 FGs), 12 rebounds, 1 block

Detroit leading scorers:

Richard "Rip" Hamilton... 32 points, 6 rebounds
Tayshaun Prince... 17 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists
Rasheed Wallace... 16 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals

The statistical breakdown:

FGs... DET 36 of 79 (45.6%) ORL 34 of 73 (46.6%) ORL 78 DET 76
3 PT FGs... ORL 10 of 18 (55.6%) DET 4 of 13 (30.8%)
FTs... DET 14 of 15 (93.3%) ORL 11 of 17 (64.7%)
REBs... DET 39 (12 offensive) ORL 35 (10 offensive)
AST/TO... DET 18/9 ORL 13/12
BENCH... ORL 16 DET 11

Other game notes and stats:

-Even though the Magic outshot the Pistons from the field and three point range, the Pistons made more field goals, more free throws and had the better free throw percentage; outrebounded the Magic, and had the better assist/turnover ratio.
-The Magic starting frontcourt outscored the Pistons' starting frontcourt just 43-41 after outscoring them 71-33 in Game 3.
-Howard scored just 2 points in the final three quarters on 0 of 6 shooting.
-Turkoglu scored 13 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter on 5 of 8 shooting; the other Magic players in that final quarter combined to score 6 points on 2 of 10 shooting.
-Turkoglu and Lewis combined for 35 points on 13 of 27 shooting, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, and 8 turnovers after combining for 51 points and just two turnovers in Game 3.
-In the second half, the Magic shot just 12 of 34 (35.3%) from the field (7 of 25 excluding Turkoglu).
-Rodney Stuckey, starting in place of Billups, scored 6 points with 3 assists and 0 turnovers in 22 minutes.
-Jameer Nelson shot 2 of 6 from the free throw line.

The Magic now face the next-to-impossible task of winning the next three games in a row, including two in Detroit, starting Tuesday night in Game 5.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Billups Update

From DETNEWS | Weblog | Pistons Blog:

Very little has changed regarding Chauncey Billups' status for Game 4. After around the clock therapy, which isn't doing much for his disposition, the strained right hamstring is feeling better. Still, though, Billups couldn't say for sure whether he will be ready to play. He wouldn't even say that he was 'optimistic.'

Physical therapist Arnie Kander said Billups remains on target to play Saturday, though. He said the fact that Billups felt better and not worse on Day 2 of the recovery was a positive sign.

Billups said he would get up some shots Friday, but he wouldn't fully test the leg until Saturday morning. So, it's still a 50-50 proposition whether he'll play at this point."

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Dwight Howard Officially Best NBA Center

Orlando Sentinel - Dwight Howard Honored, But Only On Fringe of Greatness by

According to Brian Schmitz the All NBA team has been released:

Dwight Howard C
Kevin Garnett PF
LeBron James SF
Kobe Bryant SG
Chris Paul PG

Good times for the NBA. Dwight is 22, CP3 is 23, James is 23

Where Magic Happens

Lewis leads Magic to big win... Game 3: Magic 111, Pistons 86

The Magic got off to a great start, leading Detroit 20-3 and 24-6 before settling for a 30-16 lead after one, with Jameer Nelson scoring 12 points. The Pistons suffered a key injury when Chauncey Billups had to leave the game with a strained hamstring just four minutes into the game and never returned.

Rashard Lewis scored 12 of his career playoff high 33 points in the second quarter as the Magic were ahead 54-42 at the half, as they shot 55% from the field, compared to just 43% for Detroit.

The Pistons made their run in the third quarter, as they got as close as 71-68 before trailing going into the final quarter 73-69. In the fourth, the Magic exploded offensively to win going away 111-86, outscoring Detroit 38-17 on 15 of 24 shooting, including 5 of 7 from 3 point range, as the Pistons were held to just 4 of 15 shooting. The Magic broke a 9 game playoff losing streak to the Pistons.

Magic leading scorers:

Rashard Lewis 33 points (11 of 15 FGs), 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals
Dwight Howard 20 points (8 of 13 FGs), 12 rebounds, 6 blocks, 3 steals
Hedo Turkoglu 18 points (7 of 18 FGs), 6 assists
Jameer Nelson 18 points (7 of 14 FGs), 7 rebounds, 4 assists
Bench: Keyon Dooling 10 points (4 of 6 FGs)

Detroit leading scorers:

Rip Hamilton 24 points, 6 rebounds
Tayshaun Prince 22 points, 7 rebounds
Rasheed Wallace 11 points
Bench: Rodney Stuckey 19 points

The statistical breakdown:

FGs... ORL 42 of 78 (53.8%) DET 31 of 77 (40.3%) ORL 95 DET 64
3 PT FGs... ORL 11 of 24 (45.8%) DET 2 of 10 (20%)
FTs... DET 22 of 28 (78.6%) ORL 16 of 23 (69.6%)
REBs... ORL 41 (7 offensive) DET 35 (9 offensive)
AST/TO... ORL 18/11 DET 12/10
BENCH... DET 27 ORL 17

Other game stats and notes:

-The Magic starting frontcourt outscored the Pistons' starting frontcourt 71-33.
-Lewis and Turkoglu combined for 51 points, including 8 of 11 on three pointers, 11 assists, 10 rebounds, and just 2 turnovers (after 12 turnovers in Game 2).
-Lewis's 33 points was also his high in a Magic uniform in addition to a playoff career high.
-In the first and fourth quarters, the Magic outscored the Pistons by a combined 68-33 on 62% shooting.
-Wallace, Maxiell, and McDyess combined for 11 points (none by Maxiell and McDyess) on 4 of 19 shooting and just 10 rebounds after 28 combined points and 15 rebounds in Game 2.
-No Detroit player had more than 3 assists.

The teams get two days off before Game 4 on Saturday in Orlando.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Magic try to get back in series tonight against the Pistons in Game 3

Down 2-0, the Magic will look to break a 9 game playoff losing streak to Detroit tonight in Orlando. Game coverage will begin on TNT at 8:00 PM.

The Magic are 4 1/2 point favorites (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Magic fail to hold fourth quarter lead... Game 2: Pistons 100 Magic 93

The Magic showed much more fight and competitiveness in Game 2 against the Pistons, coming from behind from a 50-36 second quarter deficit to take a 86-82 lead with just over six minutes remaining in the final quarter, but went cold down the stretch and could not execute offensively as the Pistons made their free throws and were able to take Game 2 100-93.

There was also a key officiating call against the Magic at the end of the third quarter as Chauncey Billups' three pointer was ruled good, giving the Pistons a 78-76 lead even though the clock did not tick down as the Pistons had the ball in play. If the clock had been running, replays confirmed the shot came after the clock would have read zero. Nevertheless, the Magic had the lead by four midway through the fourth but could not close.

The score was tied at the end of one quarter 22-22. The Magic had a horrible second quarter scoring a mere 11 points, shooting only 2 of 12 from the field, including 1 of 7 on threes and trailed at the half 50-40. In the third quarter, the Magic came to life and scored 36 points on 13 of 20 shooting, including a perfect 7 of 7 from the three point line. Down by just two entering the fourth, Magic shot 6 of 24 from the floor, including 1 of 9 from the three point line. Detroit didn't do much better, shooting 4 of 17 from the field but connected on 13 of 15 free throws for the final margin of victory.

Magic leading scorers:

Jameer Nelson 22 points (5 of 8 3 point FGs), 7 rebounds, 4 assists; Dwight Howard 22 points (8 of 11 FGs), 18 rebounds, 5 turnovers; Rashard Lewis 20 points (6 of 21 FGs), 5 rebounds, but 6 turnovers; Maurice Evans 13 points (5 of 7 FGs); Hedo Turkoglu 12 points (5 of 11 FGs), 7 assists, but 6 turnovers. Bench: Carlos Arroyo 4 points.

Detroit leading scorers:

Chauncey Billups 28 points, 5 rebounds; Rasheed Wallace 17 points; Tayshaun Prince 17 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists; Rip Hamilton 14 points; Jason Maxiell 11 points. Bench... Antonio McDyess 6 points.

The statistical breakdown:

FGs... DET 36 of 76 (47.4%) ORL 32 of 73 (43.8%) DET 76 ORL 75
3 PT FGs... ORL 11 of 26 (42.3%) DET 4 of 12 (33.3%)
FTs... DET 24 of 28 (85.7%) ORL 18 of 23 (78.3%)
REBS... ORL 40 (15 offensive) DET 35 (8 defensive)
AST/TO... DET 23/8 ORL 16/19

Other game stats and notes:

-Detroit's final 13 points all came from the free throw line.
-Pistons had the better shooting percentage than the Magic from the floor and free throw line, made more field goals and free throws, and had the superior assist/turnover ratio.
-Nelson and Evans combined for 35 points on 12 of 23 shooting; Billups and Hamilton combined for 42 points on just 12 of 37 shooting, but made 15 of 16 free throws compared to just 4 of 5 free throws for Nelson and Evans.
-Turkoglu and Lewis combined for 32 points on 11 of 32 shooting along with 9 assists and 8 rebounds, but 12 turnovers.
-Carlos Arroyo was the only Magic bench player to score. Keith Bogans, Keyon Dooling, and Adonal Foyle shot a combined o for 5.
-Bogans was scoreless in 26 minutes.
-Wallace and Prince combined for 34 points, 13 rebounds, 8 assists.

Magic face a must-win situation Wednesday night in Orlando for Game 3.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Magic try to pull even in Game 2 tonight

After Saturday night's 91-72 loss to Detroit in a game where the Pistons won every major statistical category, the Magic will try to bounce back and even up the series.

Coverage of the game will begin at 7:00 PM on TNT.

The Pistons are 6 point favorites (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Embarrassing second half for Magic... Game 1: Pistons 91, Magic 72

This seemed to be anyone's game at the half, as Detroit had just a 43-42 lead, despite a so-so first half by the Magic. The Magic actually took the lead with just under ten minutes left in the third 46-45. The Pistons took over from that point on; even though it was only a 7 point lead at 65-58 going into the final quarter for Detroit, they were in the midst of a 46-21 run for a 91-67 lead before the Magic scored the final 5 points of the game to make the final 91-72 Pistons.

For the second half, the Magic were outscored 48-30, and shot just 12 of 36 from the field, including 1 of 8 three pointers. It was their worst half of the season.

For the first time all season, the Magic did not make at least five 3 point FGs in a game; they made only two.

Magic leading scorers:

Hedo Turkoglu 18 pts (8 of 16 FGs), 7 rebounds; Rashard Lewis 18 pts (9 of 20 FGs), 7 rebounds; Dwight Howard 12 pts (5 of 11 FGs), 8 rebounds, 3 blocks. Bench: Keyon Dooling 7 pts (1 of 5 FGs).

Detroit leading scorers:

Chauncey Billups 19 pts, 7 assists; Richard "Rip" Hamilton 17 pts, 6 rebounds; Jason Maxiell 12 pts, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks; Tayshaun Prince 12 pts, 8 rebounds, 5 assists. Bench: Antonio McDyess 10 pts, 5 rebounds.

The statistical breakdown:

FGs... DET 36 of 84 (42.9%) ORL 30 of 74 (40.5%) DET 75 ORL 62
3 PT FGs... DET 3 of 8 (37.5%) ORL 2 of 15 (13.3%)
FTs... DET 16 of 18 (88.9%) ORL 10 of 20 (50%)
REBs... DET 47 (11 offensive) ORL 40 (9 offensive)
AST/TO... DET 21/6 ORL 15/13
BENCH... DET 23 ORL 13

Other game stats and notes:
-The 72 points scored by the Magic were a season low.
-The Magic starting backcourt was outscored by the Pistons' starting backcourt 36-11.
-The Magic starting frontcourt outscored the Pistons' starting frontcourt 48-32.
-Lewis and Turkoglu combined for 36 points and 14 rebounds, but shot just 1 of 7 from 3 point range.
-The Magic bench combined for 13 points on 3 of 16 shooting.
-Five Magic guards combined to score 21 points on 7 of 24 shooting.
-Howard was held to just 4 points in the second half and also suffered a bruised thumb battling for a rebound.
-Turkoglu scored ten points in the second half; the remaining nine players combined for 20 second half points.
-The Magic did not win any major statistical category from Detroit... the Pistons outshot the Magic from the field and free throw line, made more field goals, 3 point field goals and free throws; outrebounded the Magic, had the much better assist/turnover ratio, and more bench scoring.

If this embarrassing performance doesn't provide motivation for the Magic for Game 2 Monday night, then nothing can.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Playoff stats for the Magic compared to the regular season

As we head towards the second round and the Detroit Pistons, let's take a closer look at the Magic individual statistics for the playoffs, compared to the regular season (the top line being the playoff stats):

Jameer Nelson... 17.2 PPG... 51.9% FG... 50.0% 3 PT... 82.6% FT... 3 REBs... 4.8/2.6 AST/TO
Regular Season.. 10.9 PPG... 46.9% FG... 41.6% 3 PT... 82.8% FT... 3.5 REBs... 5.6/2.0 AST/TO
Comment... Up significantly in PPG, FG% and 3 PT FG% during playoffs, down slightly in assists

Maurice Evans.... 8.4 PPG... 43.2% FG... 40.0% 3 PT... 100% FT... 2.6 REBs
Regular Season... 8.9 PPG... 48.1% FG... 38.8% 3 PT... 71.1% FT... 2.9 REBs
Comment... Down in FG%, otherwise same steady play in playoffs as during the season

Hedo Turkoglu... 17.8 PPG... 41.8% FG... 11.1% 3 PT... 91.2% FT... 7.8 REBs... 5.4/3.4 AST/TO
Regular Season... 19.5 PPG... 45.6% FG... 40.0% 3 PT... 82.9% FT... 5.7 REBs... 5.0/3.0 AST/TO
Comment... PPG, FG% and 3 PT% down, but rebounds and assists are up

Rashard Lewis.... 19.0 PPG... 43.2% FG... 25.0% 3 PT... 88.2% FT... 8.4 REBs... 1.6 STLs
Regular Season... 18.2 PPG... 45.5% FG... 40.9% 3 PT... 83.8% FT... 5.4 REBs... 1.2 STLs
Comment... FG% and 3 PT FG% down, but PPG, steals are up and rebounds are up significantly

Dwight Howard.. 22.6 PPG... 63.8% FG... 56.8% FTs... 18.2 REBs... 3.8 BLKs
Regular Season... 20.7 PPG... 59.9% FG... 59.0% FTs... 14.2 REBs... 2.1 BLKs
Comment... Up significantly in every category except FT%

Keith Bogans....... 10.2 PPG... 38.6% FG... 37.5% 3 PT... 83.3% FT... 3.6 REBs
Regular Season.... 8.7 PPG.... 41.0% FG.... 36.2% 3 PT... 73.6% FT... 3.2 REBs
Comment... Up in every category except FG%

Keyon Dooling..... 7.6 PPG.... 40.0% FG... 35.7% 3 PT... 83.3% FT... 0.4 REBs
Regular Season.... 8.1 PPG... 46.8% FGs... 33.8% 3 PT... 84.5% FT... 1.4 REBs
Comment... Down noticeably in PPG, FG%, and rebounds

TEAM................... 104.0 PPG... 99.4 PA... 47.2% FG... 32.4% 3 PT... 45.4 REBs... 5.4 STLs... 5.2 BLKs... 19.6/13.8 AST/TO

Regular Season... 104.5 PPG... 99.0 PA... 47.4% FG... 38.6% 3 PT... 42.0 REBs... 6.3 STLs... 4.1 BLKs... 20.8/14.3 AST/TO

Comment.. 3 PT shooting is down significantly, but rebounds and blocks are up significantly while turnovers are down slightly. Holding a good offensive team in Toronto to just 99.4 PPG in a 5 game series in an accomplishment.

If the Magic, especially Lewis and Turkoglu, can improve their 3 PT FG shooting against the Pistons, and Howard can improve his FT shooting, and maintain their other statistics from the first round against Toronto, especially their good defense, the Magic will have a good chance of upsetting the Pistons. Granted, the Pistons pose tougher matchups for the Magic, though.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Van Gundy admits Grant Hill's exit was good for the Magic and other topics

Van Gundy admits Grant Hill's exit was good for the Magic -- OrlandoSentinel.com

He gives Hill's abandonment of the Magic for a chance to win a championship credit for giving Hedo the chance to step up. (I wonder how that worked out for Hill? Anyone know?)

While we wait to see if the Magic play Detroit (2-2 season record) or Philadelphia (3-1 Magic) it's a good time for me reflect on the season to date.

In no particular order:

Magic point guards seem to be universally considered the team weak spot. But Turk makes up the difference quite a bit. He led the team in assists 28 times this year during the regular season and twice in five games vs. Toronto.

After the series I am now a Chris Bosh fan. He played himself to exhaustion against the Magic, then after the series was over didn't make excuses and congratulated the Magic for being better and deserving to win.

No one has had 3 20-20 games in a series since 1972 and the national press still doesn't care about the Magic, and hardly cares about Superman. PTI didn't even mention the Magic making the second round or the feat the next day.

Rashard Lewis has really stepped up his defense in the post season. He had two 10 rebound games all year and suddenly pulls 13 boards in back to back games while Howard is pulled away guarding Bosh. Nice job stepping up.

How did SVG finish 8th in coach of the year voting? At the beginning of the year all the "experts" were predicting Magic having a poor year due to the loss of Hill, Battie & Darko. All Van Gundy did was get Howard focused on defense, Turk the MIP award, create a competent and confident offense and win 52 games for the first winning record in five years and first 50 win season in 12 years. Nice job.

Even better job by Dwight Howard who responded positively to being benched by SVG for worrying too much about offense and not paying attention to defense.

It will be hard to move ahead in the playoffs with basically a seven man rotation consisting of three front court and four backcourt players playing 96% of the minutes. Four other guys have played spot minutes.

Hedo and Shard had 49 assists between them in the Toronto series. Nelson, Bogans, Evans, Arroyo and Dooling had 41 assists. Jameer had an assist to turnover ratio of 1.85, Lewis was 3.67.

The Magic shot .386 from 3 point range during the regular season, but a poor .324 during the Toronto series while winning 4-1. 3 pointers and defense is a pretty good combination.

The difference a coach makes. Magic shot 1,112 more 3 point attempts and made 459 more of 'em than last year. Their adjusted field goal % jumped from .500 under Hill to .537 under SVG. All that offense didn't hurt the defense much, adjusted field goal defense dropped from .480 under Hill to .484 under Van Gundy.

The GM files.

Great move to risk firing ownership favorite B. Hill after he made the playoffs.

The team recovered from Donovan embarrassment to hire SVG who will be the best Magic coach in history.

Otis overpaid for Lewis, but Lewis sure has stepped up big in the playoffs so far.

Grant Hill had appendectomy surgery to add to an amazing list of injuries over the past 8 years and missed 12 games during the season, then missed two games with a tender groin in the playoffs in Phoenix's very dissappointing season. At 35, injury prone, and never been to the second round of the playoffs (Hello T-Mac) it is just as well he went away.

Darko was going to have his break out year, instead played 70 games was 6th on Memphis in minutes played while averaging 7.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg and 1.6 bpg. He's 22 now and at $6.5 million per season is kind of overpaid. Since the Magic don't have a playoff worthy big man coming off the bench so far this year, it still would have been nice to have him around. But I suspect he would have spent the year pouting and hating SVG.

The Ariza trade worked out (this year) very well for the Magic. There were hints that the Magic were very worried about Ariza's feet. That tall 21 year olds who have already developed foot problems are a huge long term risk. Turns out Ariza only played 24 games for the Lakers and looks like he is out for the playoffs. Last summer I thought this guy was going to be one of cornerstones of the Magic's future, now his career may be in doubt. The Magic may have given up the better talent, but got back Mo Evans who started 47 games and was fourth on the team in 3 pointers made. Cook played in 45 games and is merely a servicable tall guy.

Lack of deadline trades / Garrity still on the team. I'm deeply dissappointed that for the second year in a row there was no deadline trade. The Magic had a stack of expiring contracts that could have been traded for backup frontcourt help and /or point guard improvement but it didn't happen. Without the extra help, they will have trouble continuing to advance in the playoffs. For twelve years now the Magic have always failed to get adequate help for their stars and this year was no exception.

Next Round of Playoffs

You have to believe that any 52 win team with Dwight Howard has a decent chance to lead his team to the finals. Detroit has a way of giving away series to young teams they don't respect enough. Boston could win it all, but also looks... fragile and is full of players and coaches that have never made it to the finals.