The Orlando Magic got some bad news Thursday evening when they learned that Dwight Howard will be undergoing back surgery to repair a herniated disk and, as a result, miss the remainder of the season, including the postseason.
Not having Howard for the playoffs is a big loss, as he is an integral part of their team, but it appears that his back problems were significant and needed to be dealt with sooner rather than later.
This is also the first major injury that Howard has sustained in his NBA tenure. He is still a relatively young player, although it will be worth observing how he recovers during the offseason and how the Magic as an organization prepares for the 2012-13 season.
This news comes after Howard eventually decided to opt-in right before the trade deadline for the final year of his contract, making him an unrestricted free agent come the summer of 2013.
Now the Magic will look to play with Glen Davis as the most likely candidate to replace Howard in the starting lineup. The Magic are currently in the sixth spot and would face the Indiana Pacers in the first-round if the playoffs started today.
The Orlando Magic will probably rely on the experience of Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson and Hidayet Turkoglu to lead the way. Ryan Anderson and Glen Davis will be counted on more than ever to play at their best to replace the loss of Howard.
Additionally, the Magic will need some scoring coming from the center spot (the trio of Glen Davis, Earl Clark and Daniel Orton will be needed more than ever), as they will be sharing minutes.
If the Magic can get a favorable matchup in the first round, then they could have a legitimate chance of winning without Howard on the floor.