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.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The week ahead for the Magic

The Orlando Magic begin the week in their worst slump in the Stan Van Gundy era, as the Magic have lost 2 games in a row, 6 of their last 8 games, and 10 of their last 19 games to drop out of their season-long hold on first place in the SE division. The Magic, 26-14 (14-4 home, 12-10 road), are now in second place, a half game behind Atlanta in the SE. The Magic are now the number four seed in the East, trailing the Hawks, Boston, and number one seed Cleveland. The Magic average 101.2 ppg, while allowing 96.5 ppg.

After 40 games last season, the Magic were one of the top teams in the NBA at 32-8.

The Magic have four games on tap this week:

Mon. January 18th: at LA Lakers (31-9, 22-3 home) The Magic hope to end their 4 game road trip with a win to finish 2-2 in a rematch of last season's NBA Finals; Lakers are in first in the Pacific with the best record in the NBA and are 7-3 in their last 10

Wed. January 20th: Indiana (14-26, 4-16 road) Magic will look for revenge after losing to the Pacers two weeks ago in Indiana, but the Pacers have injured Danny Granger back; Pacers are last in the Central and are 5-5 their last 10 games

Fri. January 22nd: Sacramento (15-24, 3-15 road) Magic beat the Kings to start out their current road trip, but the Kings have injured Kevin Martin back; Kings are 4th in the Pacific and are 2-8 their last 10 games

Sat. January 23rd: at Charlotte (19-19, 16-4 home) The surprising Bobcats have one of the best home records in the league; Bobcats are 4th in the SE and are 8-2 their last 10 games

The Magic figure to finish 2-2 this week, as they have two very tough road games but two winnable home games; however, the Magic have looked awful offensively and defensively their last two losses, and if they can't give a better effort, then they could go 0-4. Conversely, if the Magic turn it around and can play like they're capable of, they could go 4-0.


  • At 6:02 AM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    Looks like Atlanta is the real deal this season, as they have overtaken the Magic for first as we near the midway point of the season; but the Magic have trounced the Hawks twice so far this season, so I'm still not ready to say the Hawks have the better team.

    The Magic need to start playing like they're capable of as the second half of the season begins next week. There's still time for them to turn this thing around, as we all know they have the talent, but they have to start demonstrating that on the court on a game-to-game basis if they are to be taken seriously as a contender come playoff time.

    The Magic's inside-outside game has not been effective at all these last two games, and for much of the last month, with Howard's struggles inside and the poor three point shooting by their perimeter players, not to mention the poor team chemistry.

    Some people point the finger at Carter or Nelson or Lewis and even Howard, but this is not just one player's fault... it's a team-wide thing, and hopefully sometime soon the team chemistry will get better and things will start clicking.

  • At 5:15 PM, Blogger Matt said…

    If it is not the individual players' fault, then it all falls on the coach. Matt Barnes says we have no heart, and he is right. Magic plays as though they don't care or have nothing to play for. It's the coach's job to get them motivated, which SVG used to be pretty good at. Is there any conspiracy to get rid of the coach? You know that players tank when they want to make the coach look bad.

  • At 7:11 PM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    Sure, Coach Van Gundy needs to do a better job of helping the offense snap out of this funk.

    Having said that, I don't know of any conspiracy by the Magic to get rid of the coach, or why they would want to do that. SVG is known as a players' coach, even though he can be overbearing at times, and he promised last month that he would try and be more positive with the players. He took the team to the NBA Finals last season; why all of a sudden would the team stop playing for him.

    I'm glad that Matt Barnes spoke out after the Portland game the other night; maybe this will light a fire under the players.

  • At 7:31 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    Stats dont lie. When your back-up PG gets more assists than your starting PG its gonna be hard for your perimeter players to score. Matt barnes looks like an all-star because he doesnt need the ball to score,but the guys that need to be set up arent getting the same comfortable shots they were getting last year. Two reason's. (1)Hedo's effect. Hedo as we see in toronto isnt lighting up the scoreboard so in a since the magic got the better of the trade in the scoring column. But was actuall scoring a problem? I say no. We scored enough with hedo,we just didnt have a true closer. So bringing in VC is justified because of that. We lost our true playmaker though. The thing that hedo did best was kick passes to the wing off-of "top of the key" pick and rolls. Hedo would read the defense,if they went under the roll hedo would shoot the three from top of the key. If they trailed the roll hedo would go all the way to the hoop. And lastly if a wing defender tries to help over on the roll,hedo would kick the pass right to the player they just left,thats how rashard got so many good looks from three last year. Hedo was truely our PG,and if you were to ask hedo i'd be willing to bet he likes making plays rather than being the big shot maker. Which is why jameer and hedo were perfect for each other,jameer took the big shots that hedo should have been taking(because he was basically our SG) and hedo did all the passing/leading that jameer should have been doing because he was 6ft10. Which brings me to reason 2. (2)Jameer's Role. Jameer's role got alot bigger with hedo deciding to leave. He has been given the keys,no more "co-drivers". Which means you can basically look at the stats and they will tell you that the 5 assists he averages wont get it done on this team anymore. The way this team is built,how are VC,rashard and dwight supposed to get good shots? I mean think about it. If you put any one of them on the block,unless the other team doubles its basically one-on-one with no chance of them getting an open shot. If you isolate them on the wing,again one-on-one unless the other team doubles with no chance of an open shot. And unless you get dwight deep and i mean DEEP position his scoring from the post has been the same for three season's now,everybody in the world knows whats coming. A pass first PG would solve alot of those problems without even having to lean on the coach for solution's. Coaches can call plays after timeouts all day long but at the end of the day those players are going to have to figure out how to play winning basketball during long stretches that cannot be scripted. PG play is most vital during those times,unless you have a point forward that will handle the ball full-court and take pressure off of the PG. Jameer no longer has that and we as a team are struggling because of it. Jameer hasnt shown the ability yet in his career to be a "high assist" PG (and with hedo he obviously didnt need to be) but this team the way presently built may need to think about some changes if they keep falling in the standings.

  • At 7:31 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    Bottom line: by bringing in VC otis put us in the position of having two big shot makers in our starting back-court and neither player is a natural playmaker. Rashard is also a big-shot maker,every now and then will have a 5-6 assist game but not regularly. Dwight and matt are both hustler's/rebounders. Not one natural playmaker in the starting line-up and really the closest thing to one on the whole team would be jwill. The only way this team is gonna work together is if jameer starts to lead at a high level and makes the game easier for other players. If not otis may have to change up the roster again to get it right once and for all. I've always thought that jameer's relationship with dwight on-court was horrible and it makes me wonder,why wouldnt you try and have a stockton/malone type connection when you came in together(same draft)?? I mean we get what?? One lob a game jameer to dwight if that. Sad that we cant get more out of them working together,they do their work on the same floor. At the end of the day if the team isnt winning and cant ultimately figure it out,otis smith will be the man to blame. Maybe he should have offered hedo a better deal and let gortat walk?? How much is gortat really helping us??

  • At 8:45 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    When i evaluate each level the first one being coaching,i think SVG for the most part is getting all he can out of the players. Everytime i comment about my dislike's with SVG it seems like the very next game he makes the changes to his strategies. The rotations are another thing but playing BB about 6-7 minutes a game is the only thing i can complain about anyway,which in the big scheme of things is a pretty small beef. When i look at the players starting with the PG,guys have to be held accountable to do their jobs bottom line. Jameer is a scoring PG who isnt scoring,if he's not gonna get others baskets he better be making his. VC cant continue to shoot 1-7,he gets the benefit of the doubt right now because he's obviously injured. Rashard needs someone to pass him the ball,and at the same time he needs to start making them,jameer and VC both may have to take more of a play-making approach if they want this to work. I dont worry about matt and dwight because they do their jobs for the most part,we can win without them scoring big but their rebounding and defense is priceless. Passing the ball to each other and making solid connections on the court is the only way this team is gonna figure itself out. Guys making shots will bring confidence back and help build chemistry but lets be honest,this team has played together the least out of the top three or four eastern teams. And at the same time we've dealt with injuries/suspension's that have further stunted their growth. Starting monday night im giving the team 7 games to get things going in a good direction. Those seven games will represent a pre-season that the magic never really had(only having rashard for the first 3-4 games because of having to get his replacement player acclimated to the offense/team).

  • At 9:33 PM, Blogger Matt said…

    Big Figure:

    Thank you for taking the time to dissect the problems with the players' inefficiencies. All the points which you have raised about players are valid. There are two major issues with players which come to my mind: 1) the injuries causing the lack of playing time with the nucleus of the team together; and 2) Jameer and Rashard's games are down compared to last year. Lower shooting percentages and missing open shots are indicative that players need to commit more time to practice, above and beyond regular team practice.

    I mentioned the coach because he needs to take a leadership stance. If Jason is playing better than Jameer, he should be starting or at least receive more playing time, which he does sometimes, credit to SVG. One other function for the coach is to get the team motivated and up for the game. There are times which the team plays as they don't care. The coach has to be able to get the team started in proper mind set, but if it doesn't work, he should quickly substitute. After all, this team is deep, and sitting somebody's ass on the bench sends the right signal for the future, even if it causes the loss of a game or two.

    Once again, the coach has a gigantic leadership role, and ought to use the leverage that comes with it. He should also talk to Rashard and Jameer one-on-one and make it clear to them that they need to practice more to pick their games up.

  • At 4:31 AM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    I was looking at Jameer Nelson's game log for this season, and he has two games with 10 assists and two other games of 8 assists, so he does have it in him to hand out that many assists a game. 4.8 assists per game, what his current season average is, isn't good enough to get the job done, and since the Magic don't have Hedo Turkoglu anymore (as Big Figure pointed out, Turk was an outstanding playmaker at times), Jameer definitely needs to pass the ball more.

    Here are Nelson's statistics from this season to last season:

    08-09: PPG... 16.7... AST... 5.4... FG%: 50.3%... 3 PT FG%... 45.3%... FT%: 88.7%

    09-10: PPG... 11.8... AST... 4.8... FG%: 42.2%... 3 PT FG%... 37.5%... FT%... 81.8%

    The dropoff of Jameer's numbers from this season compared to last season is pretty dramatic. I attribute that to getting used to his new teammates and, of course, missing several weeks with his injury, and coming back when his knee isn't 100% and is still sore.

    Nelson isn't the only culprit here; Rashard Lewis, Dwight Howard, and Vince Carter's offensive numbers area are all down significantly.

    I am going to give the team longer than 7 games to get their game going in the right direction. Patience is the key word here, and championships are not won in January (or February and March either, for that matter).

  • At 4:36 AM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    The second to last paragraph in my last post should read... Nelson isn't the only culprit here; Rashard Lewis, Dwight Howard, and Vince Carter's offensive numbers are all down significantly.

  • At 10:08 AM, Blogger Matt said…

    I tried to be clear on the problematic areas. While some issues (like lack of chemistry partly due to playing time together) are the type which would need time to rectify, other issues (like lack of motivation and individual players' deficiencies stemmed probably from lack of practice) are of the type which do not warrant patience. In fact, these are the issues which if not handled promptly may lead to larger chaotic situations.

    I think Big Figure has been generous in allowing 7 games for the coach (I suppose in harmony with players, if I am not mistaken on Big's intent) to resolve these issues. What I would like to see in tonight's game is that the team plays with energy and enthusiasm, and anybody who is not on board is substituted right away. In particular, I have never been a big fan of Jameer, and if we are going to lose games, let's lose them with the right PG playing the right way. May be there are some lessons to be learnt out of that for the long term.

  • At 2:59 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    Matt thats exactly what i meant. And 7 games is plenty of time for the starters,they need to start playing winning basketball on a consistent basis. Right now they arent making shots to go along with bad basketball,that has to change. These next seven games will be a test for them to start showing signs of being able to play together as well as cleaning things up and start looking like the machine we were last year.

  • At 3:00 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    I need to see signs!!!

  • At 6:05 PM, Blogger Damien said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At 6:11 PM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    Everyone’s made great points. And oddly, I agree with all the comments on here; probably because the riddle has yet to be solved. Hopefully things get figured out soon, because it’s becoming very frustrating. Fortunately it’s still early, and there’s still time to work things out.

    I think the blame pretty much falls on everyone. If there is one exception, it’s the bench. Our role-players have been doing their jobs all season. The same can’t be said for our key-guys or even coaches. Because of that, what’s going on could easily resemble a group of guys that are having some type of internal issues; one subject you touched on. Could some players have "tuned out" Stan Van Gundy? Chemistry is one thing, but there’s more playing a part of the Magic’s poor play right now.

    Recently, Stan has become tough to read, and that’s never been the case with him. He appears like he’s straining to remain calm as the losses continue, looking as if he’s afraid to call out his players like he used to and probably wants to...almost like he’s trying to save his job. This very well might not be the case, but Stan’s attitude has changed, and it’s strange to see considering this is the same coach that was never satisfied even when we were blowing teams out by 20.

    Bottom line with the coaching: they need to step up, and do a better job. Stan can’t be afraid to hurt anyone’s feeling, and if our "4 all-stars" continue to play like they are, changes need to be made.

    Thanks for breaking the Magic down, especially as it relates to the pieces around Nelson. Although something sounds wrong with the second half of that sentence. Currently, I’m not sure how to explain Nelson, although you did a hell of a job doing so. We all know Nelson has Otis’s support, and Nelson is supposedly Howard’s boy, but at some point, Nelson is going to have to become responsible. His entire career with the Magic has been up and down, and for the most part, he’s played well in the 09 playoffs and the following season until his injury. Hell, before his injury he was my favorite player to watch. But realistically, beyond those stretches, he’s been questionable. And what makes things more interesting, is how the team has played without him. Two times now, he’s been replaced by aging role-players pretty easily, and during those stints, our record takes no hits. Skip came in last season, and we were okay. He and AJ led us to the Finals, only to fall apart a bit in the Finals, when Nelson returned. Same goes for this season. Nelson goes down with an injury, and J Will steps in, and we continue to win. And our struggles didn’t start to show until he returned, and now what, we’re 6-7 since his return, with many losses coming to teams that we should have been blowing out. This is where I think BIG was making great points. Turk helped balance were Nelson lacked, as he’d aloud Nelson to play off the ball. Now, all the playmaking responsibility is falling on Nelson, and it’s showing. This is pretty much why our team has been better with J Will on the floor. He’s a great passer, and he pushes the ball, both of which benefit VC, Lewis, and Howard’s game.

    So what can Stan do? I’m really not sure.

    Could Nelson come off the bench? That’s hard to imagine, but probably what should happen. Could VC come off the bench? Again, that’s hard to imagine, and we need VC to be VC to contend. Could we focus more on the defensive end, by moving Lewis over to the small forward spot and starting Bass? The problem with that is, Nelson is still our biggest defensively liability. There is no clear cut answer at the moment. As it relates to players, Howard, VC, and Lewis are the most important for the current team’s success. In my mind, this team has shown they can win without him.

  • At 6:12 PM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    One last thing... Ewing needs to move on after this season. Every time I hear someone on giving him credit for Dwight’s game I laugh. Dwight’s had the same offensive game since high school. The only thing that changed is his experience, which naturally he improved. But I think a new big man coach would be a good thing, someone like Hakeem. Until then, can someone tell Stan to FORCE FEED Dwight the damn ball! Seriously, I thought they figured something out in Sacramento, but then in Portland, they went right back to forgetting about Dwight. Really, they had JUWAN HOWARD’S old ass guarding Dwight! Why did Dwight not get the ball EVERY TIME? I know Dwight has spoken up about his touches in the past, only to have Stan basically tell him to shut up, play defense, and get rebounds. But I think it’s about time someone put Stan in his place, and remind him who the franchise player is, and who this team is built around. Give Dwight the damn ball! Embed it in all your players head! If they forget, remind them. If they have a problem with it, take them out of the game. I know Dwight can be inconsistent, but he’ll never improve when he’s continually forgotten. How we played in Sacramento, especially going into Dwight the way we did in the 4th, was how this team needs to play from the start of games throughout. Then come late in the game, if he’s missing free throws, run your pick and rolls with VC and/or Nelson.

    Rant over.

    Here’s hoping for a close game tonight in LA.

  • At 7:14 PM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    Always great to read your point of view, OVERWADED.

    You're absolutely correct in what you write about Dwight Howard. The fact he only got 7 shot attempts against Portland and Juwan Howard was ridiculous. He did get fouled on 5 other touches, but was just 3 of 10 on FTs.

    Before their current 2 game losing streak, it had looked like D12 was really coming alive offensively. In the prior 4 games before Portland and Denver, Howard averaged 21.3 ppg on 65% FG shooting. In his last 2 games, he's averaged 9.5 ppg on 36% FG shooting.

    I looked at Howard's game log from this season, and when D12 attempts at least 11 field goals in a game, the Magic are 12-3.

    D12 definitely needs to see the ball more; the Magic's record when he gets 11 or more shot attempts in a game don't lie.


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