Everyone loves pleasant surprises.
Like when a boss that seems to dislike everyone and everything gives you a compliment on a report you hand into him. It could be that a girlfriend who lives a few hours away decides to drop by and surprise you. There are many more I could list, but these just happened to be the first two that popped into my head as I sat down to write this.
So, why am I bringing up surprises? Simple. Before the 2008 NBA season started I was scanning the predictions made by the sports professionals at ESPN and NBA.com. I've been an Orlando Magic fan ever since I was in third grade and my mom got me a Penny Hardaway jersey, so I automatically scanned the articles for the listing that might provide insight into how the Orlando Magic might fare this season.
My hopes were fairly high, due to the growth in Dwight Howard over the FIBA tournament played in Las Vegas over the summer, as well as the acquisition of Rashard Lewis from Seattle. So when I saw that both articles had less than high hopes for the Magic and had them missing the playoffs I let out a snort of disbelief.
How could the Magic make the playoffs this past year, acquire an All-Star level player, yet end up worse off? Fast forward to March 6, 2008: after a Celtics win over Detroit, Kevin Garnett says, "We know this [conference] is going to be won by one of three teams, and this is one of them."
We can obviously see that he considers his own team one of the three, that the team he meant when he said "this team" is the Pistons, but who is the third team?
According to ESPN writer Chris Sheridan, the third team is the Cleavland Cavaliers. As I read this I'm completely at a loss of what to say. The Magic have won 40 games, tying their record for all of last year and have only lost 23. They're first in their division and third in the NBA. Not only that, but they have a better record against the teams ahead of them.
The Magic are 2-1 against the Celtics and 2-1 against Detroit. This team has a phenomenal three person core. Dwight Howard is arguably the best big man in the NBA right now and may eventually even be considered the best in history. Hedo Turkoglu is having a career season and is practically living off of the fourth quarter and becoming the most consistent go-to-guy, the Magic have.
Rashard Lewis isn't putting up 20 plus points per game, but last I checked he was still putting up 18 per game and playing out of position. He is the leagues leader in three point attempts with 429 and second in three point shots made at 172. Lewis is also a solid defender.
He gives the Magic a little over 1.2 steals per game and also pulls down 5.1 rebounds per game. The Magic are also tough on the road with a record of 22-11 away from Amway Arena. This is something they really lacked last year, only winning 14 games on the road in the 2006-2007 season. With all this said, I believe the rest of the league needs to watch out for the Magic, otherwise there's gonna be some teams sitting at home at the end of April wondering why they never took the Magic seriously.