The Orlando Magic's Success Depends On Dwight Howard
The Orlando Magic made it to the Finals back in 1995. Remember those times? Back when Shaq and Penny were one of the leagues best duos? Then Nick Anderson missed those late Game 1 free throws that could've won them the game. The momentum then could've switched over to the Magic.
Even if Hakeem was outplaying Shaq, they still could've had the motivation or confidence to win the series if those free throws were made and they won the first game. That's over now, and you can't change what happened.
Remember back in the 2009 NBA Finals? Game two was almost won by the Magic, but Courtney Lee missed that impossible shot. It's not like it was his fault, since that shot was ridiculously tough.
But just imagine if he made it, they didn't go to overtime to lose that game, and the series was tied when they went back to Orlando. The momentum would've definitely switched over to the Magic, especially at home. They could've had a much better shot in that series, if that one late game event would've gone their way.
See a pattern here? The Magic came very close to their elusive championship not once, but twice. It's not like they would've won the series if those situations had gone their way, but they would've had a much better shot at winning.
Fast-forward to this upcoming season. The Magic are once again considered championship contenders. Do they have what it takes to make it all the way back to the Championship series to even get their chance this season? Lets see if they have what it takes:
The Magic's best player is obviously Dwight Howard. Someone that will come to their advantage against the Heat's weak frontcourt. Will he be enough to will them past the Heat? That's something nobody knows until they play against each other.
Playing against the Celtics, however, will be a different story. The Celtics can defend Dwight in the paint without double teaming him. So if that's the case, what can they do? Well, Vince Carter, assuming they haven't traded him, will need to step up. He was nonexistent in the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals against the Celtics, and they were almost swept out of the playoffs.
The Magic have the pieces to beat those two main threats in the East, but those pieces need to step up and contribute as expected and more for them to be able to win. They're now underdogs in their conference, and they play best as the underdog.
Going against the Lakers, Mavericks, Thunder, or whichever team comes out of the West is a different story. However, it all depends on how well Dwight can be offensively. We already know he is the greatest defensive player today, and he needs to add the same accomplishment to his offense.
Can he do it? We just don't know. However, surprising things have happened in the NBA before, and this will be no exception.