Monday, April 14, 2008

Hardwood Paroxysm Playoff Preview: Orlando Magic

It's hard to keep track of everything you need to know about all the teams in the playoffs. So we thought we'd do a quick and dirty playoff preview with our favorite bloggers. We asked a simple 20 Question survey to bloggers from all of the playoff teams, and got responses back from most of them. We continue our previews with the Orlando Magic and the best Magic blogger on the web, Ben Q. Rock from Third Quarter

1. Team Name: Orlando Magic
2. Biggest Star: Dwight Howard
3. Playoff Seed: Third
4. Mascot's Name: Stuff
5. Best player: Dwight Howard
6. Most important player: Hedo Turkoglu
7. Better at zone or man: Man. We don't have the freakish athleticism to play zone effectively.
8. Grade your offense going into the playoffs: B+. Sixth in efficiency, second in effective field-goal percentage, and (thanks to Dwight Howard) eighth in free throw ratio. There are three big issues here: first, if the outside shot isn't falling, it's hard for this team to win. Second, Dwight Howard doesn't get enough touches. Third, because the team is trigger-happy from downtown, there are few opportunities for offensive rebounds.
9. Grade your defense going into the playoffs: C. Most of the guys do a decent job staying in front of their man, or at least trying to, so it usually isn't an effort issue. The problem is there aren't any athletic defenders who can force turnovers, which means the team has to rely on rebounding opponents' missed shots to create possessions. And lately, the Magic have done a poor job on the defensive glass, which bodes ill for the playoffs.
10. Worst player: Pat Garrity. He plays harder than a lot of guys in the NBA, but effort alone can't compensate for his limited skills and mobility.
11. Glue guy: Maurice Evans, who averages 10 points (on 50% from the field and 40% from downtown) and 3 rebounds per game as the team's starting two-guard. An afterthought in the Brian Cook trade, Evans has become a solid fifth option in the team's starting lineup, and provides hustle on defense and on the offensive glass.
12. Five words to describe the team heading into the playoffs: "Just being here" isn't enough.
13. Best-case scenario: A conference-finals matchup against Boston
14. Worst case scenario: A first-round exit at the hands of Philadelphia, Toronto, or Washington, all of which can beat the Magic in a seven-game series.
15. First player that comes to mind, "Thunder": Dwight. David. Howard.
16. First player that comes to mind, "Twinkie": Brian Cook
17. Current emotion you feel about this team: Confusion. How does one beat the Pistons by 18 in the Palace then surrender 127 points to the Raptors THE VERY NEXT NIGHT?! How does a team nab a come-from-behind victory in Cleveland, then let the Knicks hold them to 90 points THE VERY NEXT NIGHT?!
18. Team you don't want to see in the next two months: Detroit. Too savvy, too experienced, too deep, too good.
19. Team you want to see in the next two months: Philadelphia. They don't have the shooters to overcome a double-digit deficit, which we're certainly capable of gaining thanks to our strong inside-out attack.
20. What food best describes this team? Do they make dark-chocolate marshmallows? Because if they do, that's what we are: soft, yet potent.

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