Read the whole thing, but here is an excerpt:
The reality, as Boston coach Doc Rivers acknowledged before the game, is that Orlando has become an elite defensive team, and that's the central reason they're threatening to finish ahead of the Celtics in the Eastern Conference.
Check out the leaderboard in defensive efficiency, for instance, and you'll note that the Magic are barely behind the Celtics. Orlando gives up 98.9 points per 100 opponent possessions, good for second in the league and just a hair behind Boston's league-leading 98.7 mark.
It's no surprise where it all starts -- with center Dwight Howard. He's threatening to become only the fifth player to lead the league in blocks and rebounding in the same season, with Wednesday's game-saving block of Paul Pierce becoming the latest spectacular swat on his résumé. Howard's board work is also why the Magic lead the league in defensive rebound rate at 76.2 percent, even though they're effectively playing with just one big man most of the time.
"Dwight has been more consistent with his effort defensively," Van Gundy said. "I think he's the best defensive big guy [in the league] when he's really focused and wants to bring it. And his focus and consistency has been a lot better. He's a great help defender and he can block shots, he can guard his own guy in the post, he can defend pick-and-rolls. Yes, I'd start with him."
And knowing that Howard is around enables the Magic's perimeter players to be more aggressive than they otherwise might be.
"We don't want to just rely on Dwight," said Hedo Turkoglu, "but we know he's got our back."