Orlando Magic Quickly Becoming Elite Team in the East

Ryan SabaContributor INovember 28, 2008

Ever since the beginning of the 2007-08 season, the top three teams in the NBA have been Boston, Cleveland, and Detroit. As this season progresses however, the Orlando Magic are slowly taking over Detroit's spot in this trio. 

Detroit is the East's most consistent team, making it to the Eastern Conference finals in each of the past six seasons. The Orlando Magic know this all to well, having lost to the Pistons in the playoffs in each of the past two years. 

However, this season promises to be different; the Magic hold a one-and-a-half game advantage over the Pistons right now. Orlando, often criticized for its lack of depth in their guard positions, have seemingly overcome this obstacle. 

The offseason acquisition of Mickael Pietrus, combined with phenomenal improvement from Jameer Nelson, has filled in the Magic's only real missing piece from last season.

The Magic have even improved their defense from last year. Towards the end of last season, their defense was suffocating.

This year, led by Dwight Howard's incredible increase in blocks per game (just under four per game), the team is fourth in the league in defense. With their offense struggling a little, their defense has been key to their wins.

Don't count on the offense struggling for too much longer, though. The Magic are currently putting all five starters in double digits, and it really hasn't mattered who starts. 

For instance, JJ Reddick started for the first time in his career against the Toronto Raptors and scored 10 points. With this kind of consistency from their starting five, their offense will come around.

When it does, be sure to watch out. Who knows, if they can keep up their defensive intensity when their offense finally breaks out, they may even be considered to be the top team in the NBA.