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Orlando Magic Make another Great Move

June 30, 2009 by AlexV · 1 Comment 

Prepare for even more magic in Orlando next season.

Prepare for even more magic in Orlando next season.

Vin-sanity is now headed to the Orlando Magic. Why do I like this move? Not only because Vince Carter is an obvious All-Star and has shown superstar potential, but because the already loaded Orlando Magic made a move to get themselves even more loaded. Like The Matrix… reloaded.

I compare the positive nature of this move to their mid-season move of last year when they traded for Raefer Alston. When Jameer Nelson went down, the Magic picked up Alston to take care of the slack. In Alston they had found another capable point guard to run the floor for the Magic. Now, they have given up Alston and Tony Battie for Vince Carter. And in all seriousness, because they have a still budding Nelson at the point, that definitely makes Vince Carter worth those two players and the other no-name they gave up to get him.

Finally, the Magic will further be known as the team who thrives on the three point play. They still have Mikael Pietrus, Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis, Jameer Nelson, and Courtney Lee who can all hit the dagger three. Even the capable Anthony Johnson can do it. Now they add Carter with Dwight Howard and they have two true All-Star players on their team. This proves that the Magic were not happy with the final result of their season and I commend them for it.

Why the Orlando Magic can Beat the Cleveland Cavaliers

May 19, 2009 by AlexV · 1 Comment 

Let's see where the eastern conference home games will be played in this year's finals.

Let's see where the eastern conference home games will be played in this year's finals.

The Orlando Magic did what many people thought they would, although not as fast as some people thought, and that was stop the injury-riddled Boston Celtics from any chances they had of repeating as champions. It may seem to some as though the Magic are not ready to stand the test that is the efficient basketball playing Cleveland Cavaliers who are led by the, this year, super-cool LeBron James. However, the adversity they faced in the Boston Celtics series (most notably games four and five) has helped them mature into a team that can definitely beat the Cavaliers and perhaps even in convincing fashion.


What about the Cavaliers looks like they should just run through the Orlando Magic with ease? That they are efficient, every player knows their place, and they all feed off of LeBron James’ confidence? Sometimes, that’s just not enough when you can’t match up well with your opponent. And I’m talking pure plain and simple physical matchups.


Let’s start with the most obvious… the 6 foot 11 inch Dwight Howard. There are three options to guard him; Anderson Verajao, Ben Wallace, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. First off, Verajao is 6 ft 11, so not bad. Anderson is very tenacious and plays with a lot of energy, but he does not have the scoring nor the speed or power to truly offset a Dwight Howard. Ben Wallace is 6 ft 9 and is a former four-time defensive player of the year. But when you factor in his digression at 35 years of age, it may be too much to ask of him to consistently keep Howard at bay. Finally, the 7 foot 3 inch Ilgauskas has the height advantage, but he is not known for his defense, nor does he have the body strength to prevent Howard from getting to the line for some free throws, and with “hack-a-Dwight” not always being a safe option, this could pose problems.


After Dwight Howard, Verajao will have to look after Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu. These are two strong and tall forwards who also exceed Verajao in his strength and speed, and most obviously, scoring. Verajao can at best, produce one, maybe two nights, where he can match one of these men scoring wise, but one of two and only one or two times is not good.


But this is not all that Verajao will have to worry about. The Magic still have two more big men scoring threats that will be coming off the bench in Mikael Pietrus and Tony Battie, and this does not bode well for the Cavs, even if they are top two in the league in defense.


Raefer Alston and Anthony Johnson together can easily offset Mo Williams, who is more of a streaky scorer, and Williams’ backup, DeLonte West, who also needs space to score, or a clear lane to the hole. Whereas he could get a few lanes, he’ll have Dwight Howard standing under the basket.


This should be no easy task for either team, but what the Magic’s advantage is that they do not have to alter their game-plan or rotations too much to deal with Cleveland’s size. Cleveland most likely will have to. So, in that regard, this should be more of a strategical challenge for the Cavaliers than it will be for the Orlando Magic.

The Magical Bums

May 13, 2009 by AlexV · Leave a Comment 

Maybe if the basket was really that low, he could actually hit his jumpers.

Maybe if the basket was really that low, he could actually hit his jumpers.

The Orlando Magic are a team that has just downright gotten under my skin. It has hardly anything to do with a biased opinion. This literary lashing that is about to ensue is derived from their lack of effort but mainly their incompetence.

A lot of people probably thought the Magic would beat the Celtics fairly handily without Kevin Garnett, with the series going no more than six games, especially since they were 3-1 against Cleveland, 3-1 against Boston, and 2-0 against the Lakers in the regular season. You know why they had such great records against those teams in the regular season but don’t look like it in the post season (like the way they let the Philadelphia 76ers start out to a 2-1 lead in their first round series)? Because they keep playing like the team that looked so good in the regular season, as opposed to the type of team that it takes to get through the postseason… one with heart, and guts, and that wants to live up to the hype, rather than expecting to.

An example of this is Dwight Howard. How many times has he missed on his short hooks in this series? More than someone who is considered in some circles “the next Shaq.” He has the same expression and drive in playoff games as he does in the regular season games, and I would not be surprised if he never worked on that might-as-well-be eyes closed hook shot of his. And who is to say that he should try to live up to Shaq, but he sometimes seem to have an heir as if all the hype is true and that’s that…. no need to work on it or prove it.

Then you have guys like Hedo Turkoglu and Mikael Pietrus looking like all they can do is shoot three pointers. They need to play smarter than that. They are the three seed in the Eastern conference and sport the fourth best record in the entire league, not the three-balling 29-53 Golden State Warriors. Turkoglu and Pietrus need to trust their inside game more and try to force fouls on that Boston interior defense. They have no excuse. Like they say… “You live by the three and you die by the three.”

In game four, they were down by 10 or so with six minutes to go, and only had a little over 80 points total, and needed the help of a six plus minute Celtic scoring drought in order to catch up for the one point lead they blew on Davis’ jumper. Then, in game five, when they seemed to get it right as they had a ten or so point lead on Boston with about four minutes to go, they blew that, and lost by three! You know what that smells like? Pure, plain, and simple incompetence.

Until they change, I will be an advocate of what Charles Barkley said a few nights ago… “If they can’t beat the Celtics without Kevin Garnet, then how in the world do they expect to beat them with him?” It’s not a pity to say the following either, because they’ve only brought it on themselves… The Magic are the second round version of those loaded teams who can never get out of the first round. Except in this case they just can’t get out of the second.” – Alex V



Game 1 Road Victories Huge – Who has the Edge? Orlando or Houston?

May 5, 2009 by AlexV · Leave a Comment 

Although the two would not face each other lest it be in the NBA Finals, both men's teams, Dwight Howard left, and Yao Ming right, face the unsettling task of taking down two of three teams with the best records in the NBA.

Although the two would not face each other lest it be in the NBA Finals, both men's teams, Dwight Howard left, and Yao Ming right, face the unsettling task of taking down two of the three teams with the best records in the NBA.

Last night presented us with a pair of game ones on TNT that just about went down to the wire, but most importantly, had the road teams winning. The first game featured the three seeded Magic and two seeded Celtics in Boston with Orlando getting the W. The second game was the five seeded Houston Rockets at the one seeded Lakers in Los Angeles. with the road team pulling out a crucially upsetting victory. This is a great position for any team to be in, and especially a considerable underdog like the Houston Rockets. With that being said, who has the greatest advantage?


One advantage both teams earned with their victories is home court. Aside from that there are other mental factors that can provide advantages as well as some disadvantages.


The Orlando Magic looked solid and efficient as they worked their way building a huge lead which at one point was as high as 28 points midway through the third quarter. Their big four scorers of Dwight Howard, Raefer Alston, Hedo Turkoglu, and Rashard Lewis all posted 10+ points and they also received a boost from Mickael Pietrus who stepped it up adding 10+ points of his own. All in all it definitely looked like the fatigue from Boston’s seven game, multiple overtime series with Chicago was beginning to show.


That was until they began a spurt which saw them outscore the Magic 54-41 in the second half, and even close the gap to four points when there were less than two minutes left in the game. Now it’s one thing to win on the road and pull off a game one victory. But when you cannot keep the clamps down after building a 28 point lead in the third quarter against a team who is supposed to be tired and is playing without Kevin Garnett and Leon Powe, that should do more good for they psyche of the Celtics than it does for the Magic.


As for the Rockets, they managed to stay within their game the entire contest versus the Lakers. Even when L.A. converted a nine point deficit in the second half into a one point lead, Houston never waivered and stuck with their game plan a got back to holding onto comfortable leads of five to nine points. Much of that had to do with the careful and mistake-free ball handling of point guard Aaron Brooks.


On top of that, they received en emotional lift when Yao Ming was hurt after Kobe Bryant’s right knee banged into his own right knee. Yao was favoring the knee very heavily and he even walked off the court before pleading with his team trainer that he was fine and able to go back. All he did in his return was hit a big jumper and sink six free throws to keep LA at bay in the waning moments of the game. Now if that isn’t good for a fifth seeded team’s confidence faced with task of taking down the daunting L.A. Lakers then I don’t know what is.


Because of the Rockets consistent game play in their victory coupled by the determination of Yao Ming, I would give them the edge on the advantage end over Orlando. As for the Magic, it is great that they won on the road, but they were basically hanging by a thread as the game was expiring, and perhaps they have yet to face a fully alert and enthused Celtics team.

Are the Cleveland Cavaliers Ready to Come Out of the East?

March 9, 2009 by AlexV · Leave a Comment 

LeBron James' career year has him posting 28.1ppg, 7.4rpg, and 7.0apg. Those are the numbers of a star.

LeBron James' career year has him posting 28.1ppg, 7.4rpg, and 7.0apg. Those are the numbers of a star.

Much has been said this year about the great record and stellar play of the Cleveland Cavaliers as a unit. They currently are 2nd in the league in points given up per game only behind the Boston Celtics. Not only do they defend well, but with a league-best 28-1 home record, if they can hold onto their current number one spot in the east, then they would look to be a good favorite to enter the NBA finals. Guess again.

Although the Cavs literally wipe the floor with their non-playoff contenders when they play them, they tend to struggle against the top-tier teams of the league. They can’t beat Boston, and always seem to get thumped in the fourth quarter by them, and if they intend to win a championship, they’ll need to find a way to beat L.A. who swept them in convincing fashion with one of those losses resulting in their lone home loss.

On top of that, they even lost by more than 10 points to Orlando in Orlando this year. Their only convincing wins against a contender has been against the San Antonio Spurs, who they beat in Texas a few weeks ago after LeBron had his worst game statistically against the Houston Rockets.

In my opinion, if they face Boston or Orlando, they go down. If they somehow get to the finals and they face off against the Lakers, who not only have lots of different scorers, but are playing much better defense this year, they won’t win the title. All three teams have more than one all-star caliber player; the Lakers have Kobe, and Gasol, the Celtics have Garnett, Pierce, Allen, and Marbury, and the Magic boast Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, and Jameer Nelson. And even though James is a league leader in MVP voting, it takes more than one man to win in a league where All-Stars are almost always a necessity.

NBA Quarter-Mark Outlook

November 30, 2008 by AlexV · Leave a Comment 

nba logo in the middle NBA Quarter Mark Outlook

So far in the NBA a few teams are back up to their old tricks, a few have been somewhat disappointing, and a good number of upstarts from last year as well as some surprising newcomers have begun to surface.


The newcomers that need to be involved in this discussion are as follows; in the east it’s Miami, New York, and New Jersey and in the west all of the other teams with playoff aspirations are of no surprise at this point in the season. Miami, led by top scorer in points per game, Dwyane Wade, are currently 9th in the eastern conference standings. Last year, everyone remembers how atrocious they were. New York seems to be hitting its stride under the tutelage of former Phoenix head coach, Mike D’Antoni as they are 8-8 and 8th in the standings. Finally, the previous season’s trade between the Dallas Mavericks and New Jersey Nets has finally begun to payoff, as the Devin Harris led Nets are 8-7, 6-4 in their last ten, and 7th in the east.


The Upstarts from last year that are proving their worth are as follows; in the east it’s the Orlando Magic, the Atlanta Hawks, while in the west we have Portland and Denver. The Magic currently sit at 3rd and atop the eastern conference standings at 13-4 going 9-1 in their last ten. Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis, and Hedo Turkoglu and company are really hitting their stride. The continued and improved production of guard/forward Keith Bogans and the extra lift provided by off season veteran pick up Anthony Johnson as point guard have been stalwart.


The Hawks slid a bit after starting off 5-0 mainly because of losing Josh Smith for the next few months, but have regained form and are now 10-6 and 5th in the eastern conference.


In the west the Portland Trailblazers, continue to look like a team of the future with stars Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, and the potential of first-year NBA players like Rudy Fernandez, and Greg Oden. They are now tied with Phoenix, Denver, and Houston at 11-6 while going 7-3 in their last ten games.


Denver’s success can be attributed to the trade of Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson. The Nuggets are 11-6 and 7-3 in their last ten while holding 3rd place in the west. They have had many impressive victories and performances as they beat Boston in Boston, and took the Lakers to the brink of a loss in L.A.


Now come the disappointments. The Detroit Pistons are hovering somewhere between average and above average. Although they are 10-5 and in 4th place in the east, they are suffering some inexcusable losses, most recently a 10+ point loss to Minnesota, do not yet seem to have their act together with Allen Iverson skipping the thanksgiving day practice (however, I do give huge props to Michael Curry for taking charge by suspending him for one game), and are not nearly as consistent as they were when they had Chauncey Billups in the lineup. 


The other eastern disappointments for the eastern conference are the Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers, and Washington Wizards.

The Raptors just 8-7 and are barely holding a spot in the eastern conference as the 7th seeded team. With capable point guard Jose Calderon, and former all-start Jermaine O’Neal, they should be doing better.


The Sixers were a team last year that without Elton Brand finished 6th in the east and took Detroit to six games in the playoffs. Now with virtually the same team and Elton Brand, they are struggling to find their rhythm and are 7-9 and 5-5 in their last ten. As for the “Wiz Kids,” although without injured star Gilbert Arenas they may not have been a playoff contender anyway, they are still abysmal with their 2-12 record which is good for worst in the east. Last season they played without Arenas for the most part, but still managed to finish above .500 and make the playoffs. They have now fired their coach Eddie Jordan and are in a state of disarray.


The disappointments in the west are the New Orleans Hornets, Dallas Mavericks, and L.A. Clippers. The Hornets finished second last year and were one game away from the western conference finals. They are now 9-6 and 7th in the standings in the west. The Mavericks are 8-8 and look like they are ready to get their act together one game, and then go back to mediocrity the next. As for the Clippers, you would think they could be more competitive than their 3-13 record would suggest with the pickup of marquee point guard Baron Davis. Oh well.


As for the Spurs, I’m sure a lot of people would like to put them in as a disappointment, but they have been playing without Manu Ginobli for the entire season (who is set to return soon), and Tony Parker has just returned from his injury earlier in the season. To further their defense, they are now 9-7 and 7-3 in their last ten while being 8th in the west.


Finally we come to the top dogs in the league.


In the east you have the Cleveland Cavaliers with their 14-3 records, 9-1 in the last ten games, and 2nd place spot in the standings. They have put together a bevy of blowouts on their opponents this season, and the addition of a scoring point guard in Mo Williams has been absolutely huge for them.


The second team that has picked up right where they left off from last year is the Lakers. They are 13-1 and making mince meat out of would be superpower teams and have the best record in the NBA.


But the pinnacle of all teams continues to be the Boston Celtics. They’re 16-2 and are still dominating defensively and continue to get great production from their supporting cast members. And although the Lakers get much help from their bench and up and coming players, let’s face it… the Celtics are still the champs.


The last three teams I must mention are the Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns, and Utah Jazz. To me, these three teams are in a state of limbo. Houston would look to be an upstart, but they can’t seem to keep their stars, Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, healthy. The Suns seem like the same team as last year, which wasn’t a contender anyway, and the Jazz keep being a team with potential that can’t seem to build on it.


That would about sum up the NBA season at or around its quarter mark. We’ll look to see who shifts from wherever they were in this discussion and who remains where they are in the coming weeks. As for those that I did not include in this article… you really just aren’t worth mentioning (Chicago, Indiana, Milwaukee, Charlotte, Golden State, Minnesota, Sacramento, Memphis and Oklahoma City).