One of my best friends is a diehard Orlando Magic fan. Each year, right before the season starts, I get the rundown. Whether I ask for it or not, he breaks down the Eastern Conference for me. Team-by-team, player-by-player, he informs me of how the Magic matchup against everyone else. And as usual, I listen, nod my head and half heartedly agree with his points.
About three weeks ago, I received the 2010-11 John Hollinger NBA breakdown text from my buddy, right on time. In the text, he explained why the Magic would win the East this year. Nothing out of the ordinary, the Magic were a top-five team, and he was a diehard fan. But by the end of the text, for the first time ever, I found myself agreeing. Completely. “Holy s**t, I think the Magic are going to win the East!! Holy s**t, I think the Magic are better than the Heat!!!!”
But before you read any further, I feel I need to address the elephant in the room. Yes, I was alive this summer, and like many of you are wondering, no I do not live under a rock. I am familiar with what happened this offseason in Miami, and I am aware that Boston was minutes away from a ring last year.
Just hear me out…
Each year we are reassured that the team who rebounds, plays defense and controls the paint wins championships. Take last season for example. The Lakers dropped confetti in the Staples Center because they controlled the paint. Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom were better in Game 7 than Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis. They played better defense, they rebounded at a higher level, and most importantly, the controlled the paint. It didn’t matter that their best player wet the bed and went 6-24 from the field. When the game came down too the closing minutes, the Lakers were able to get better shots, and more second chance opportunities due to their superior size and post play.
Playoff basketball is just different. When the game slows down and your season hinges on each possession, bad shots lose playoff games. The team who has the ability to get the best shot is usually going to win. The closer you are to the rim, the better the shot. That’s just how it works. Every team has the ability to score from the perimeter. It’s the team who can get a stop on one end, then a lay-up on the other is the team thats going to win. It’s like a really intense game of one on one in the backyard. Eventually you’re going to be tired. You don’t have the energy to make a strong move to the basket, but don’t want to bail out your defender by taking a long jumper. So what do you do? You back him down. You get as close to the rim as possible and try and beat him from there. It’s that simple.
Going by this theory, the Magic are in good shape. Marcin Gortat could be the best back up center in the NBA. He’s long, athletic, and according to Mark Cuban, he’s worth a five-year, $34 million contract. Brandon Bass was born to play in the playoffs. Who doesn’t want a guy with a nonstop motor. Someone who enjoys crashing the boards and playing through contact. Then there’s Superman. The two-time defensive MVP took his talents to Hakeem this summer and enrolled in his prestigious “Post Move Academy.” (Kobe enrolled last offseason and came away with some jewelry.) If Dwight can develop a couple go-to moves down at the block, which we’ve seen so far, he may be the most dominant post player we’ve seen since Shaq. His athleticism, defense prowess and new found offensive skills could make him a nightmare for teams who are small upfront. Combine that with the Magic’s ability to spread the floor and shoot the three, I’m not sure how you would defend them. You double Dwight, they hit a three, you don’t double Dwight, he dunks on your center.
With the Magic’s playoff experience, offense fire power, and ability to control the paint, I like them to win the East this year.
What do you think?
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