5 Bold Predictions for the Orlando Magic's Second Half of the Season
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With the second half of this truncated season underway, it is time to predict how the rest of this crucial Orlando Magic year unfolds. With Dwight Howard's future in O-Town on the line, the Magic, since the beginning of the season, have had to play efficient, winning basketball to try to convince their perennial All-Star that this is the organization to sign long-term with.
However, the Orlando Magic did not accomplish this goal in the beginning of the season. Despite possessing a playoff-worthy 22-13 record before the All-Star break, the Orlando Magic are widely not considered a championship contending team.
Not only is their defense subpar, the Orlando Magic, a team notorious for jacking up way too many three-pointers, have had trouble scoring the ball.
Even though they have had problems on both sides of the court, the play of All-NBA talent Dwight Howard and breakout power forward Ryan Anderson have largely kept them afloat.
Nonetheless, the Orlando Magic still have a long way to go till the end of their 2011-12 season and the following slides show my predictions on how it will unravel.
The Orlando Magic Don't Trade Superman
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Despite the uncertainty of the future of Howard in O-Town, the Orlando Magic will not ship the former first overall pick. Instead, the team will try to convince the All-Star to stay in Orlando for the long-term.
The Magic's owner, Rich DeVos, has already stated that Dwight Howard is not going anywhere before this year's trade deadline.
In the end, this move may backfire on the Orlando Magic, as the team will be running the risk of losing their superstar for nothing this offseason.
The Orlando Magic Acquire Either Monta Ellis, Steve Nash or Josh Smith
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With the trade deadline approaching, the Orlando Magic have a few interesting decisions to make. Rich DeVos has already dismissed any rumors that the team will ship franchise cornerstone Dwight Howard out of town.
However, the organization still needs to find a second star for Howard, as the Magic still lack a second major scoring threat. Sure, Ryan Anderson is averaging an incredible 16 points per game this season, but there is no doubt that the team still lacks a player who can find shots off the dribble.
By acquiring any of the aforementioned three players, the Orlando Magic will, ultimately, find themselves in the upper echelon of the league.
Josh Smith, Steve Nash and Monta Ellis are all stars in this league and will greatly improve Orlando's chances to lock up Howard for the long-term, but the team will have to trade many pieces to acquire one of them.
A package of young talent (DeAndre Liggins, Daniel Orton), Jameer Nelson and draft picks would probably be the Magic's most enticing offer.
The Magic Will Take Advantage of Their Easy Schedule in April
Jason Richardson, Stan Van Gundy and Dwight Howard
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Despite playing in arguably the best division in the NBA, the Orlando Magic have a surprisingly easy schedule in April.
Besides their games versus the New York Knicks (April 5th), Philadelphia 76ers (April 7th, 16th) and Atlanta Hawks (April 13th), the Orlando Magic will be favorites in every competition in the entire month.
The Magic will go 12-2 during this stretch, while creating major buzz from around the league as they prepare for the playoffs.
The Orlando Magic Win Their First-Round Matchup Against the Pacers
Dwight Howard and Danny Granger
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The Orlando Magic will be the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and match up against the extremely deep Indiana Pacers.
Despite the efficient play of veterans Danny Granger and David West of the Pacers, the Orlando Magic will strike first, as the team steals two wins in Indiana.
Back in Orlando, the Pacers take a series-changing win against the Magic in Game 3. However, Orlando goes back to their winning ways and takes both Game 4 and 5.
Dwight Howard will be the MVP of the first round, as Roy Hibbert will not be able to cover the behemoth under the basket.
The Orlando Magic Fall in the Second Round
Joel Anthony and Dwight Howard
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The Heat are too motivated by their critics to fall to the Orlando Magic and the team's athleticism is the key for advancing to the Conference Finals. The second-round series ends in six games due to the Heat's dominant play.
Due to failing to advance to the NBA Finals once again, the Orlando Magic enter the offseason with a sour taste in their mouth and a lot of questions to be answered.