Orlando Magic: Getting Primed For the Cavaliers
Amway Arena is mostly bare, save a few division title banners and one for an Eastern Conference championship.
In Magic highlights that light up the jumbotron, there are no images of the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy, no fancy rings on any fingers.
There isn't any overt celebration going on in Orlando, either. The Magic have won the Eastern Conference semifinals, yes, but for a team that has only reached the Eastern Conference championship one other time, in 1996, it's time to look forward to bigger and better things.
The name of the game is focus for Stan Van Gundy's team. LeBron James and the playoff-perfect Cleveland Cavaliers are no walk in the park, and there's no way to get to the NBA Finals without taking them down first.
Magic general manager Otis Smith is keeping the game face on in the front office as well.
"We have to stop talking about making it to the conference level, and start talking about winning a championship," Smith said Monday. "And then we have to stop talking, and start doing."
There are a few things that concern fans of the blue and white.
The Magic are full of young players who haven't dug deep into a playoffs as of yet. Furthermore, the first two rounds weren't exactly a walk in the park. While the future of the 2009 NBA Playoffs is unclear, a few things are certain: Orlando must play physical, keep cool enough to shoot a high percentage under immense pressure, and ensure that Dwight Howard plays like the team leader he should be.
Van Gundy must also keep cool as well.
So far, the attitude in the Magic locker room seems to be just right. Hedo Turkoglu, who put up a fantastic 25 points in game seven, is confident.
"We have a chance. We never lose confidence of what we can do—not myself, not anybody."
If Turkoglu can continue to be the clutch player he's proved he can be, there should be many high scoring games in store for Magic and Cavalier fans in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Magic have no reason to doubt themselves; they have won the last eight of 11 against the Cavaliers.
As I keep saying, staying calm under pressure and keeping the confidence at present level is the most essential thing Van Gundy's team can do to advance.
It's all about just playing the game of basketball. The Magic should have no problem executing if they keep their heads right. For now, here's to an awesome game one on Wednesday night.
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