Posts Tagged ‘Vince Carter’

Mickey Mouse’s Magic March

March 11th, 2010 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in NBA Basketball   Comments Off on Mickey Mouse’s Magic March

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The 2008-09 Orlando Magic were about as close as you can get to winning their first NBA Championship in franchise history. In the offseason, the team cut ties with F Hedo Turkoglu, a man that was largely considered the heart and soul of a squad that is headlined by C Dwight Howard.

In order to replace the Turkish superstar, GM Otis Smith went out and traded G Courtney Lee and a few other minor pieces for G Vince Carter, who was largely thought to be washed up, and a host of role players, including F Matt Barnes, G Jason Williams, and C Brandon Bass.

So just like most Magic fans, I immediately thought to myself, “Fantastic. We just replaced a superstar for a has-been, two stiffs, and a nut case.”

All that has-been has done this year is average 16.3 points per game and rejuvenate his career.

All the nut case does is annoy the heck out of the opposition, score 8.7 points per game, and does a little bit of everything. Oh yeah, and he got down and dirty and got into the face of G Kobe Bryant when the Lakers came to town last weekend.

Believe it or not, this version of the Orlando Magic may really be better than ever. And there’s never been a better time to strike and capture the city’s first major championship ever than right now.

Just take one look at the Eastern Conference. Even though things aren’t as disgraceful this year as they were a year ago when everyone outside of Orlando, Boston, and Cleveland were all god awful, they’re still pretty bad.

Does anyone really believe that the Magic (or Cavs for that matter) are going to even get remotely challenge by Miami, Charlotte, or anyone else in the bottom of the Eastern Conference in the first round?

Setting up a date with the Celtics in the second round seems like a very realistic possibility, and it also feels like a lot easier task than the Magic faced last season when they had to win Game 7 at Boston Garden to reach the Eastern Conference Finals.

So let’s just fast forward to the inevitable Orlando/Cleveland matchup, shall we?

Last season, there really wasn’t a warm body that could hang with F LeBron James defensively. Now, that nut case Barnes is the man that can get the job done. F Rashard Lewis and Cleveland’s F Antawn Jamison are largely the exact same player and will cancel each other out.

Who’s stopping Superman again? Shaq? I think not.

Cleveland may be the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference, but after six games, Orlando will once again be the team playing in the NBA Finals.

However, that’s not good enough in the home of Mickey Mouse this year. It’s championship or bust, and the entire franchise and the city of Orlando both know it.

Unlike last year’s team that lived and died by the three-pointer and Howard in the post, this team has more slashing ability to the paint. Carter isn’t afraid to get his jersey a little messy, and G JJ Redick has developed a lot more of an inside game that he has had in years past when he was nothing but a three-point shooter. The bench is utilized a lot more as well, as any combination of 11 guys can play 15+ minutes any given night. It’s also a team that can play at the sluggish knockdown , drag out pace that both Cleveland and Boston like to play at.

No team in the NBA is holding teams to a worse shooting percentage than Orlando is at 43.6%. Its 95.3 points per game allowed in the sixth best mark in the league.

The one thing that you can’t measure based on statistics is heart, and it’s that heart, along with tenacity, and toughness that has led the Magic to a six-game winning streak that will probably be stretched out to at least 11 before playing at Atlanta on March 24th.

Mickey Mouse has an angry scowl on his face this season, and if he doesn’t walk away from this season with an NBA Championship, he may never get one.