When Hedo Turkoglu parted ways with the Orlando Magic last offseason, many believed that the organization had made the wrong decision.
Fast-forward a year later, and Orlando is once again one of the most powerful teams in the NBA, ending the regular season with their opponents shooting just 43.8 percent from the field, a league best.
With a revamped and healthy roster, the Magic now have the experience, talent, and depth to make it back to the NBA Finals, with an even stronger chance of capturing the first title in Orlando Magic history.
The Vince Carter Effect
Like it or not, Vince Carter is an NBA superstar.
With stars such as Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis, and Dwight Howard surrounding VC, it was obvious that the superstar would be in for a decline in numbers.
Although Carter averaged career-lows in the majority of his statistics, he posted impressive numbers in other categories.
According to www.82games.com, Carter ranked seventh in the NBA in "Clutch" stats (defined as: fourth quarter or overtime, less than five minutes left, neither team ahead by more than five points) with 39.8 points. The six players in front of VC were James, Bryant, Nowitzki, Anthony, Nash, and Hamilton, a very impressive list to be a part of.
Mighty Mouse Makes a Mighty Impact
Many forget that Orlando was without their All-Star point guard Jameer Nelson for the entire postseason last year until the NBA Finals.
With Nelson healthy, Orlando has an extremely aggressive and efficient point guard to lead them throughout the playoffs.
In Game One Nelson put his team on his back with Dwight Howard in foul trouble, finishing the first half with 24 points and the game with 32 points (a playoff career-high).
Superman and the Three-Point Assassin
During the playoffs last year, Orlando forward Rashard Lewis stepped up immensely, knocking down crucial shots to help advance the Magic to the NBA Finals.
In Game One Lewis scored 19 points in 38 minutes on a remarkable 8-of-11 shooting from the field.
With teams double- and triple- teaming Dwight Howard in the paint, players like Nelson, Carter, and Lewis will be heavily relied upon to produce at a very high level.
While Superman did not have much of an impact on the offensive side of the court during the first game, he certainly did on the defensive end.
Howard blocked an incredible nine shots in 27 minutes of action (one block every three minutes on average) in addition to seven rebounds and one steal.
What other team can consistently produce wins when there superstar scores a mere five points in a game? Not Cleveland or Los Angeles.
To make the Game One victory even sweeter, the Bobcats ended the season leading the league in opponents' points per game average.
Depth Is Key
Starting forward Matt Barnes turned out to be arguably one of the best offseason signings (especially since he was signed for only $1.6 million this season).
Barnes has the ability to attack the basket and shoot the open jumper, completing the season shooting an effective 48.7 percent form the field.
In addition to his offensive abilities, Barnes is one of the best individual defenders in the league and will be assigned to defend LeBron James and Kobe Bryant if and when they face up in the postseason.
Along with Barnes is Orlando's bench, who have been a huge part of the team's overall success this season.
J.J. Reddick posted career-highs in PPG (9.6), APG (1.9), RPG (1.9), MPG (22.0), and three-point shooting (40.5 percent) this past season.
Jason Williams, Ryan Anderson, Marcin Gortat, and Mickael Pietrus have all produced for the Magic and have proven that they could step up in the absence of a starter for the team.
With superstar talent, experience, depth, and a sense of vengeance to win an NBA title after smelling one last season, the Orlando Magic have the perfect recipe for a championship trophy.
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