The only team in the NBA with four potential all-stars in the starting lineup, the 2009 Orlando Magic were an underrated bunch for the majority of the 2009 season.
A midseason injury to blossoming point guard Jameer Nelson put a bit of a damper on Orlando’s season until they were able to acquire Rafer Alston from the Houston Rockets. While Alston wasn’t able to completely fill Nelson’s shoes, he wasn’t needed to.
The dominating three point shooting of Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis combined with the absolutely ovewhelming sheer force of the young upcoming Dwight Howard was still enough to keep the Magic competitive in a top heavy Eastern Conference, and the Magic finished with 59 wins.
In the playoffs, the Magic bested the 76ers in six games, then faced Boston becoming the only team to ever beat the Celtics after conceding a 2-3 series deficit. In the Western Conference Finals, the Magic stunned the heavily favored Cavaliers in six quick games and moved on to the NBA Finals to face the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers, having lost last year’s Finals in embarrassing fashion wasted no time in taking control of the series as they blasted the Magic in game one, 100-75.
While the Magic would make the matchup a much closer contest in the
games to come than they had in game one, they simply allowed too many chances to slip out of their fingers and quickly lost all control of the series.
With the score tied at 88 a piece in game two's final seconds, a defensive breakdown by Los Angeles allowed Hedo Turkoglu to inbound a lob-in pass for Courtney Lee, leading him directly to the bucket where Lee simply failed to convert.
The Lakers went on to win the game in overtime.
Only three teams in NBA Finals history had ever overcome a 0-2 series deficit, but the Magic remained composed and took care of business on their home floor securing a 108-104 win (marking the first time in Orlando’s history that it had won in NBA Finals game).
In game four, the Magic were faced with the opportunity to even the series at two apiece or stumble to a 3-1 series deficit, something no team in NBA Finals history has ever overcome.
Strangely reminiscent of last year’s NBA Finals game four, the Magic dominated the first two quarters of play, entering halftime with a 12-point lead (exactly half the amount the Lakers had built over the Celtics last year).
The Lakers stormed back in the third quarter sparked by 13 points from Trevor Ariza, who had been missing in last year’s Finals. The Lakers managed to go into the fourth quarter with a four point lead where the Magic battled evenly with the Lakers until pulling ahead in the closing minutes of the game.
With a five-point lead under 40 seconds in the fourth quarter, the Magic again collapsed and two quick points from Pau Gasol and a classic three point shot from Derek Fisher sent the game to overtime where the Lakers ended the contest on a 12-to-4 run, taking a 3-1 series lead.
Game five saw the Lakers kick the doors of the Magic’s Championship hopes off of their hinges in a deceivingly close final score 99-86.
Though the Magic had failed to capture the Championship, they were the first team in NBA history to face three 60 win teams in the playoffs, leading some to believe that Orlando had been faced with the most difficult postseason schedule of all-time.