NBA / Nov 2, 2010 / 2:30 pm

Why The Magic Will Win The East

Dwight Howard

Dwight covers Dime #60

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?

Follow Scott on Twitter at @scott_horlbeck.

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  • ASH

    They will Dominate the East…..But not the HEAT,unless they get it together.

  • http://www.TheProductBand.com Kermit The Washington

    Makes sense to me…I still maintain that the Heat are a regular-season monster that will be slayed in the playoffs.

  • yoda

    no they won’t as long as they have wince and lewis as their go-to-guys.

  • Ben1en

    They’re not gonna do anything tonight though: http://sports.espn.go.com/new-york/nba/news/story?id=5756699

  • karizmatic

    This would be true if Dwight Howard had any basketball IQ at all…as we saw in the Orlando Miami game and early this season Howard’s post game has certainly improved…however he is now content to turn and face and shoot jumpers off the glass instead of attacking the basket relentlessly and using his new post game to supplement his paint domination.

    Therefore this year Dwight Howard’s “improvement” will actually take away from the team as a whole because teams will be content to let Howard shoot that shot and he won’t command a double team nor put anyone in foul trouble. Without double teams Orlando’s outside shooters will struggle…and they have no real playmaker who can create baskets for others.

    As a result, Boston and Miami remain much better teams than Orlando, and if Dwight Howard doesn’t increase his basketball iq and Orlando doesn’t make some type of trade for a true playmaker….they will quickly be caught by Atlanta and Chicago.

  • hahns

    im not really sure how this year’s magic is different from last years….

  • neoy

    magic will not win shit as long as they have vince as their go to guy down the stretch…
    100% agree with post 6, wtf is the diff between this yrs magic and last yrs magic? vince and lewis are 1 yr older? ohh and they got q-rich… lol

  • Stewart

    The Magic are a good team, but far from a championship team. How do you say they are a great defensive team, with the likes of Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis. Rashard Lewis is terrible. A 6’10 shooter, if he isn’t hitting jumpshots provides nothing to the game. I mean nothing to the game. Rebounding: no. Defense: definitely not. Leadership: hell no. A guy who can create his own shot: haha, nope. He does none of those things but he is has a pretty massive contract. Vince is far from the player he used to be. I admit, when the Magic had Turkologu, they were a match up problem, but when you trade him, you turn into a normal team, but Rashard Lewis can’t play the 4, he showed the world that, when they went to finals and Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom had their way with him. Dwight Howard is the foundation of that team, but Lewis and Carter should be dealt. A “championship team” doesn’t rely on jumpshots and that is what the Magic rely heavily on. If there shots are falling, you say they are good, but if they are missing, they are bad. They need that guy who can create, Vince is not that guy.

    With that said. Trade Lewis and Carter and other pieces for Carmello, Kenyon, and JR. Carmello is gone anyway. Denver doesn’t want to deal with JR any more. Hey, get Kenyon Martin’s contract dealt with. For Denver, the compensation won’t compare to Melo, but they didn’t just let him walk away.

    The Magic will definitely not win the East unless a move is made.

  • First & Foremost

    Did we not just see them get blown out? For the very same reason they lost to the Celtics.

    Scouting Report:
    1)Double Dwight as soon as he dribbles. Well if he is not dribbling and shooting jumpshots, teams are willing to live with that. His 10-foot banker will end up being the same percentage as Lewis from 23-feet away.

    2) Come out and elbow Vince/Rashard in the chest within the first minute of the game and they will disappear for the next 47.

    3) Let Jameer run the pick n roll and see if he has learned how to throw an oop. Until his play making with screens set by Howard improves, this team will lose in the ECF every year.

  • WARCHIEF5000

    It sounds simple enough… but I’m just not buying it… Since Hedo left they really don’t have a guy that can break people down off the dribble an get penetration.. I can see Boston or the Heat winning it but no so much Orlando… I just don’t see Boston’s bigs staying healthy enough.. which brings me back to the Heat by default.. I say you gaurd Howard one on one and use all your fouls staying home on the Magic’s shooters… He aint gon score 50… then I’ll let Wade and Lebron penetrate to pick up some early fouls on ole Dwhite… then put him in “high” pick and rolls against Big Z or Bosh to pull’em away from the basket… I think the Magic’s geese is cooked…

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/the-magazine/toc/2010/09/slam-142-on-sale-now/ Powerslave

    Sorry homie but the Magic are a terrible, terrible team. First of all, Dwight is an awful franchise player who shrinks in big games. Second, you have no players that can create off the dribble. Third, Jameer Nelson is an awful pointguard. Fourth, Rashard Lewis is an underperforming b!tch. Last, you have Vince f*cking Carter.

  • 45%

    Do y’all do this shit on purpose??? Unless orl gets a perimeter scorer this team sucks.

    You can’t be serious with this shit

  • Jay10do

    @Kermit the Washington: The Magic winning the East, LMAO! the Heat will be monsters in the season and will shock the hell out of you in the playoffs eazy…. Orlando still looks the same from last year, and VC sucks! What ah second option Lol! Go Heat!!!

  • A.R.

    I agree somewhat. If Dwight keeps up those moves he was showing in the first half of that Heat game and the rest of the team knocks down those threes along with staying healthy they can be deadly. Not enough to take down the LakeShow though. The Heat really don’t have any answer for Howard though so its a possibility.

  • QQ

    Of course, the Magic will win the East. Cause my biased ass says so. haha

    But for real, it’s just a matter of putting it all together. Dwight and his post offense. VC and his drives instead of perimeter shots. Lewis and his touch. I know this is a lot of ifs, but I’m a realistic fan. We should do all of this.

    Then again, whatever haters say, we WILL still win the East.

  • lester

    The Magic actually cant trade Lewis, because his contract ist so terrible, not even the Knicks under Isiah wouldve picked him up.

    They just need guys who are able to penetrate, but they’re doing nothing.

    They should trade Vince, whose contract is expiring for a good SF and make Redick starting SG, sorry but QRich aint a starter in this league, theres a reason he was traded like four times the last year and the Heat even resigned James Jones over him.

    Hell, even a SF like Maggette would be an upgrade, because he was available for Dan Gadzuric and at least gets to the basket and draws a ridiculous amount of fouls…

    Even some other average wing players like Stephen Jackson or Andre Iguodala who are available would help…

  • Fertsy

    The Magic aren’t built to win 4 of 7 against the Heat, Celtics or Lakers… hell the Spurs, Mavs even Portland would prob beat them in a series.
    Too many jump shooters who fade in the spotlight… when a shot needs to be made who do they go to? VC & Lewis *choke*
    In the end they’ll be top 3 East but are a false contender cos they can’t win 4 of 7 against the Big 3 teams (LA, MIA & BOS)

  • Carlos PR

    @Fertsy I totally agree with you, an aging vince carter and an inconsistent rashard lewis with a so so point guard in jameer nelson aint taking them ANYWHERE. Besides they got BLOWN by miami and once Howard is in foul trouble, (which is always) any team can dominate them inside. Add that Howard is only a 18ppg and they got no reliable scorer (No Durant, Anthony, Wade, Kobe, LeBron)

  • ab40

    orlando=dallas east and in a few years they’ll be as irrelevant as dallas is now. btw miami, boston and orlando are great but the west still owns the east in terms of the best team (la) and the best teams who have a real shot at big things the upcoming years and dying franchises who still win 50/55 games like the spurs and mavs.