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Tonight is Game 1 (5:30 PM, TNT) between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Orlando Magic. Let’s see what the Internet has to say.

  • The Philadelphia Inquirer writes that the Sixers are ready for the playoffs.
  • Every analyst for ESPN’s TrueHoop picked the Magic to win the series.
  • John Hollinger gives the Magic a 85% chance of winning the series, and a 15% chance of winning the title.
  • David Thorpe has an amazing breakdown of the series.
  • The Orlando Sentinel has a series breakdown too. Not quite at the Thorpe level though.
  • Brian Schmitz writes that it is now time that Dwight Howard will be judged not by his dunking ability or charm, but by his teams success.
  • The Orlando Sentinel notes that JJ Redick has earned his coaches trust, now he needs to start hitting shots.
  • David Whitley compares the potential of this years team to the 95 team.
  • Mike Bianchi comments on Dwight Howard’s Sports Illustrated cover article.
  • The Florida Today writes that the Magic are ready for a title run.
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Series Preview: Magic Vs 76ers

Magic Nation has high expectations for this postseason.Orlando just completed its 2nd best regular season in their 20 years of existence. Against the top teams, Orlando compiled an impressive record of 6-2. Still, after such an impressive run, there is some doubt with this team. The Magic were an unimpressive 4-5 in the month of April, which included home losses to Toronto and New York. Although a few of the losses can be excused because the Magic did not play their best lineup, there still might be cause for concern. Hedo Turkoglu sat out the final two games of the season after twisting his ankle against the New Jersey Nets, while Rashard Lewis missed the final 3 games with tendinitis issues. Although Stan Van Gundy is being rather indecisive about the status of two of his stars, I’d bet a lot of money they will be ready for Sunday.

On paper, Orlando has every advantage in this series as they won all three matchups this season, which included two games in Philly. Dwight has a huge advantage in the post, as he should be able to get the 76ers bigs in foul trouble relatively quickly. As the regular season showed us, having to pay so much attention to Dwight will open up Orlando’s outside shooters. Good news for us.

Here is the schedule for Round One.

Game 1 – Sun April 19 Philadelphia at Orlando 5:30PM TNT
Game 2 – Wed April 22 Philadelphia at Orlando 7:00PM NBATV
Game 3 – Fri April 24 Orlando at Philadelphia 8:00PM ESPN2
Game 4 – Sun April 26 Orlando at Philadelphia 6:30PM TNT
Game 5 – Tue April 28 Philadelphia at Orlando TBD TBD
Game 6 – Thu April 30 Orlando at Philadelphia TBD TBD
Game 7 – Sat May 2 Philadelphia at Orlando TBD TNT

The experts expect Orlando to advance relatively easily. Take this from ESPN’s John Hollinger:

Cosmo (Anytown, USA): Is the best news for the Sixers right now that this series will be over quickly?

John Hollinger: Probably the best news for Rick Kamla and Fred Carter too. Only silver lining I see for Philly is that Orlando can be turnover-prone, and Philly can turn those mistakes into easy baskets as well as anyone.

Now let’s see what TPASTBM contributors think:

Maxwell Effort:

Magic in 5: I am spotting the Sixers one game because its really tough to sweep but I just do not see how the Sixers can compete in this series. They do not defend well, no one on their team is a consistent 3 point shooter and they struggle mightily in the half-court. They have to play up and down to let AI2, Thaddeus Young, and Lou Williams excel with their athleticism but that is tough to do when the game slows down in the playoffs. Though they have a variety of “big men” they are not equipped to handle Dwight and are typically foul prone against the Magic. I am expecting the Magic to put their late season doldrums behind them and come out with renewed spirit and energy. If the Magic are playing like they did 95% of this season they should be able to put the Sixers away fairly easily.

El Fantasma de Carlos:

Magic in 5: I expect the Magic to come out strong to prove all the naysayers wrong. I mean, even Avery Johnson predicted and offset. Seriously AJ, I mean, really, really, really…I mean come on man. I think Dwight wants this more than anything else in the season. I think that loosing Nelson has inspired them more. Also, Alston has a chip on his shoulder and wants to prove he belongs too. It all comes down to the health of Hedo and Shard. But regardless, Magic win in 5. Philly steals a game at home, but Orlando finishes it up back in Orlando. Mark it.

Jareth Cutestory:

Magic in 5: The Magic lost 3 straight against non-playoff teams before the season ended. They had already wrapped up the 3rd seed for months. The 76ers lost 6 in a row while battling for playoff position. What does this have to do with the playoffs? Absolutely nothing. Both teams are now at 0-0, and both need to win 4 games to advance. Despite their late season woes, I expect them to look like two rejuvenated ball clubs. I still see the Magic taking this series in 5, with Philly squeaking a win out at home by 3 late in the game.

Paul Ego:

Magic in 5: Stifling defense. End of story. Did you watch the defense against the Bobcats? The 76’ers lack of half court execution does not bode well for this series (as far as Philly is concerned). Their one hope is Orlando’s lack of focus at times and ability to cough up the ball. If Philly can capitalize on this, and it happens enough, they could steal a game.As far as Orlando injuries, well, don’t believe the hype.

The Big Train:

Magic in 5: Orlando will take game one by 7, and game two by 20 behind stellar shooting and defense. However, Dwight will get himself in some foul trouble, mainly due to two offensive foul calls, and Philly will take game 3. After that, Dwight gets serious and puts up 20-20 performances in game 4 and 5, and there is great rejoicing in Orlando.

The Nickel Steak:

Magic in 4: On paper, this looks like a terrible series for the Sixers. In reality, it looks worse. Philadelphia is a team that relies on transition baskets and interior penetration for their points. Their halfcourt offense is nauseating, their best half court player(Elton Brand) isn’t going to be there, no one on the team can shoot from beyond 20′ consistently, and their best interior defender besides Brand, Samuel Dalembert, has a career average of 4.3 fouls per 36 minutes, and he’ll be matched up against the player who lead the league in FTAs 2 years straight. Dalembert …

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Magic To Face Philly In Round One

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Unless you are a Magic fan living under a rock, you’ve heard by now that Orlando will face off against the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round. Game 1 is slated for Sunday at 5:30 PM. It will be televised on TNT, and if you are the type of person that cares what radio station the game is on, I’m willing to bet you don’t know what a blog is. Anyway, before we get too in depth on the matchup (that will come tomorrow), let’s look back at the 3 matchups these two teams had in the regular season.

The first matchup was waaaay back in early November when Orlando took one at home 98-88. Hedo and Rashard each put up 20 points and 8 rebounds. Jammer added 16 points and 9 assists, but that doesn’t really matter anymore. Dwight only logged 29 minutes, as he got into a bit of foul trouble. He scored 14 and grabbed 8 rebounds. As for Philly, Thaddeus Young scored 19 while Andre Iguodala added 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assists. Point guard Andre Miller scored 15 on 7 on 24 shooting. The PG matchup will be key in this series.

Orlando took round 2 up in Philly, 96-94. Dwight scored 21 while shooting 13-18 from the line. He needs to get used to that. Tony Battie added 20 off the bench. For Philly, Elton Brand scored 21, but that doesn’t really matter anymore either.

In the 3rd round, again up in Philadelphia, Orlando won once again, 106-100. Dwight fouled out, while Hedo and Rashard each added 23 points while Courtney Lee put up an impressive 18. Andre Miller scored 23 for the 76ers while adding 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Hopefully we don’t see any of that in the next week and a bit.

So that’s how it went down when these teams faced each other this year. I’ll leave you with this… Hopefully T-Mac and Eric Snow keep it to themselves this time around.…

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Changing the game – DPOY

Let’s start off by acknowledging the fact that Dwight Howard will be named Defensive Player of the Year for the 2008-2009 season by the NBA.  If this doesn’t happen, well, let’s not go there, I don’t need ANOTHER restraining order in my life.

Every time someone starts talking about DPOY, two names are brought up, outside of Dwight.  LeBron James and Dwayne Wade have ratcheted up the defensive intensity this year, to mixed results.  James leads his team and sets the tone defensively in one of the leagues better defensive teams (only Orlando and Boston are more stanch), while Wade seems to be holding his team together on sheer will alone.  I have read numerous articles about all sorts of stats making a case for either one of these players over Dwight, and while they are both impressive in their own regards, I have yet to see someone make one specific, telling point about the defense Dwight brings to the table.

Yes, Wade and Lebron have made some timely blocks (James with his chase down blocks, Wade with his end of game defensive stands like the game @ Detroit) and come up big defensively, but Dwight significantly changes the game in an even more impressive manner.  Thanks to some of the information you can find at 82games.com, you can rank players in the league by points scored on inside shots.  Of the top ten players, only two are not ‘big men’.  Those two players, also happen to be LeBron James and Dwayne Wade (not really surprising), each of whom average roughly 10 points per game on inside shots (James at 10.3, Wade at 9.9).

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We all know Dwight patrols the paint, and is the biggest reason that Orlando has one of the top three defenses in the NBA this season.  If you watch a lot of Orlando basketball (and we hope you do), you see time and time again just how effective Dwight is at helping to protect the rim and keep those pesky perimeter players shooting jumpers instead of dunks and layups.  So, lets look at what happens when Orlando faces two of the best in the league at getting to the rim.

Orlando has played Cleveland three times this season.  Two blow out wins in Orlando and a nail biting loss in Cleveland.  In the two games in Orlando, James was held to just 6 points on inside shots.  That’s total, not per game.  Even in Cleveland, he was held to 8 points, 2 below his season average of 10.  For those of you that are mathematically challenged, that’s an average of 4.67 points per game scored on inside shots.  Less than half his season average.

Orlando has squared off against Miami four times this season, so lets see how D. Wade fared against the Magic and Dwigth Howard.  In two home games for Miami, Wade has a total of 14 points, 6 and 8, and a total of 6 in Orlando, with all 6 coming in one game and 0 in another (that’s impressive enough).  A home average of 7, away average of 3, and a total season average of 5, again, well below his normal season average of 9.9.

If that’s not impressive, I don’t know what is.…

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Moving On Up

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All of us here at TBASTBM have known each other quite a long time now… Our common bond being the Orlando Magic. We had always talked about starting a blog about our favorite team. Nothing serious, until the beginning of this year. There is a decent chance some alcohol was involved, as well as the desire to show the Internet who’s boss. That said, we did some good ole’ fashioned brainstorming and came up with The Puns Are Starting to Bore Me. We fiddled with Blogspot for several days, and before you could name all of Sean Kemp’s children, we were off and running.

We mourned the loss of Adonal Foyle, and then praised his return. We stressed Orlando’s defensive prowess. Cheered the Rafer trade. Marcin Gortat. For our 100th post, we gave you 100 memories. There was some Taoism somewhere. How about the best SVG quotes? We gave away tickets to a game. We offered our solutions, with or without Jack Daniels, for how to rebound from the Jameer Nelson injury. We even discussed the Magic in spanish! And much, much more!

It turns out we enjoyed blogging, and for some reason a decent amount of people enjoyed reading our blog. But, like Shaq and Orlando, TPASTBM outgrew Blogspot. Ya see, we want all the lights, ladies, glory, and attention that the Internet can provide.

In comes the Bloguin Network.

We have decided to join said network in order to reach the next level. (Remember the talk about lights, ladies, glory, etc? Yeah, that’s the next level.) The Bloguin Network will allow us to bring our readers even better content, in a much better looking fashion. Honestly, it looks much more official. So, to continue the trend towards professionalism, we have implemented a dress code for all contributors. Jareth Cutestory can no longer blog naked. It really is a win-win for all.

So, please follow us over to the new The Puns Are Starting to Bore Me and let’s keep things going!

Also, thanks to “Sebi” for The Puns banner we have been using for the last several months.…

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Rookie Assessment: Courtney Lee

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With only 4 more games to go before the end of the regular season, I think it’s safe to give a fair assessment of our 22nd pick of the draft. Courtney has surprised many of us, and has exceeded almost all expectations we had for him going into the season. Being the 22nd pick doesn’t usually guarantee you playing time on a title contending team, much less being a starter.

For a position that had the likes of Keith Bogans and journeyman Maurice Evans starting last year for the Magic, FA acquisition Mickael Pietrus all but had the starting 2 spot locked up. However after getting off to a strong start, Pietrus battled injuries and inconsistent play all throughout the year, eventually succumbing the starting position to the rookie. Lee embraced the starting role, and never let it go.

Courtney has been more then just a fill in, or a “good enough” type of player. Lee has come in and provided defense, scoring, and all around hustle for the Magic. Lee just doesn’t quit. Take a bad shot? That’s ok, he’ll go and alter a shot on the other end. Turn the ball over that lead to a fastbreak? He’ll chase down the player with the ball and either strip him or steal the ball right back. Miss a ton of shots? I’ll get to that later….

He hasn’t been named Rookie of the Month, nor will he be Rookie of the Year, but what do those awards really mean anyhow? They are usually given to the rookie who scores the most points on a bad team, rather then the rookie who significantly made his team better in some or all aspects of the game.

I’ve compiled a list of highlights, stats, and other miscellaneous information on Courtney that he has accumulated throughout the year. Let’s take a look….

Favorite Courtney Lee moment: There are alot of games that come to mind where Courtney really showed me something, but my favorite had to be the game against the 76ers on February 28th. Courtney was missing shot after shot, blowing some defensive assignments, and was just having an all around poor game. The Magic were down, as the team collectively didn’t look too sharp that night. Someone had to step up and change the outcome of the game. That someone was Courtney Lee.

Lee, despite his poor effort earlier, continued to fire away, eventually hitting big shot after big shot. The Magic eventually won the game by 6, with Lee being a big part of the reason they won. Lee finished the game with 18 points on 6 of 18 shooting, 4 of 12 from downtown. He also took the most shots out of anyone that night.

I remember losing all hope for that game, as Courtney was being left wide open to continue jacking up those shots. But when he started hitting them, I sprung from my chair, and knew this rookie was making a statement. Leave me alone, and you are going to pay. And pay the Sixers did.

Best statistical game: March 23, 2009 against the Knicks. Lee finished with 22 points with a cool 75% FG, 2 for 3 from downtown, and a perfect 8-8 from the line. He also chipped in 3 boards, 3 steals, and only 1 turnover.

Did you know? The Magic are a whopping 25-5 when Courtney scores 10 points or more.

Favorite “Wow” moment: I’ll let the video speak for itself.

09-10 Outlook: Depending on whether or not the Magic resign Hedo Turkoglu, I foresee Courtney holding onto the starting position, and possibly becoming an even bigger part of the offense. Without Turkoglu and with the addition of Jameer Nelson coming back from injury, the Magic will still be lacking a 4th scorer. Lee will immediately be put into that position, especially on a team like the Magic. I’d also like to see more plays ran for Courtney, as he often spends too much time camping out in the corner, and rarely cuts as much as he should up until recently. If Turkoglu isn’t resigned, Mickael Pietrus becomes the starting SF by default, unless the Magic pick up a legitimate 4 and slide Rashard back to the 3. This would all but guarantee Lee continues to be the starting SG as well. Despite what his role will end up being, Courtney will only improve if he continues to display a strong work ethic and a desire to win games.
Predicted line: 30 mpg, 44% FG, 38% 3pt, 13ppg, 4 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.5 spg

Courtney still has flaws. He can sometimes disappear on the offensive end, and he isn’t exactly a lock down defender just yet. However, GM Otis Smith really picked a winner this year, and Magic fans are thankful to have Courtney on their team for a long time to come.…

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Petty… But Pretty

480-suns_bobcats_basketball_02_embedded_prod_affiliate_138Ok, I admit up front that this is a rather petty thing to be happy about, but today I am celebrating “Suns Elimination Day” in honor of the Dallas Mavericks clinching the Western Conference’s final playoff spot last night, which simultaneously eliminated the Phoenix Suns from the post season.

I have nothing against the Phoenix Suns. In fact, prior to last season, they were one of my favorite teams in the league to watch. I still like players such as Steve Nash, Leandro Barbosa, and Amare Stoudemire. The problem is, and I’m sure you all know where I’m going here, is that the Suns currently employ the two largest purveyors of Orlando Magic destruction, and fan misery, in the franchise’s short history.

How ironic that Grant Hill left the Magic two seasons ago because he wanted to play for a contender. Well, while we could argue whether the Magic even took an on-court hit from his departure, what can’t be argued is the sweet justice this fan feels by watching the classy, but disloyal, Hill’s fortunes fall when he left us. After all, our fortunes fell from the moment when he came to us.

And what more needs to be said about Shaq? Shaq, in his second to last season in the league (according to him), will be missing the playoffs for the first time since his rookie season with the Magic back in 1992-1993. I guess he forgot that you don’t fake the funk on a nasty dunk.

As if there weren’t enough Shaq-related issues in Magicland, Shaq has turned things up a notch this season with his back-and-forths with Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. Of course, Shaq will never be a player that can just straight up give a compliment to a rival. His back handed “compliments” of Dwight Howard this season actually seemed to bother the younger Superman. It is one thing for Shaq to leave the Magic franchise like he did in 1996. That was bad, for certain. But it is another thing entirely for him to attempt in any way, shape, or warm-up, to mess with the one man capable of making us forget Shaq and even take us to places that Shaq couldn’t and wouldn’t.

So, allow me my moment of being petty. Allow me to get a quick feeling of satisfaction that two players who were so instrumental in the direction our franchise took will now be sitting at home watching us achieve greatness without them, and despite them.…

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