The Orlando Magic Defy Explanation

Ben GibsonSenior Analyst IMay 22, 2009

CLEVELAND - MAY 20:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic reacts on the court against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2009 Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 20, 2009 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

A funny thing happened on the way to the coronation of King James.

Somewhere between those "Most Valuable Puppet" commercials and Spike Lee joints about Kobe Bryant, the script we have had since the Kevin Garnett injury appears to be in limbo.

Don't look now, but the real masters of panic may soon become NBA commissioner David Stern and the ESPN bigwigs.

As many have pointed out, the fantasy matchup between Kobe and LeBron in the NBA "Final to End All Finals" is far from certain after three great games between four deserving teams.

To make matters worse for ESPN, the team that is becoming the thorn in the side of the King and his royal family is the same team that the mass media has tried to write off for nearly two months.

The Orlando Magic.

Then again, who can really blame them?

After all, this is a team that has been playing without starting point guard and All-Star Jameer Nelson for nearly half the season.

This is a team that is predicated on the three-point shot—something that usually falls apart come playoff time when the pressure and the fatigue set in.

They are a team whose star player has a shooting range of about three feet, and a youthful exuberance that many experts actually downgrade as a flaw. 

I guess "nice guys finish last" has become sound basketball analysis.  

They have a coach who is known as the "Master of Panic," and was called out by his superstar in the last round against Boston, and by back-up center Morcin Gortat in the series before that. 

Not to mention he could probably be used on an episode of What Not to Wear

Note to Stan Van Gundy: The media would prefer coaches not come to post-game press conferences in a t-shirt.

You stay classy, Orlando!

This is a team that folded up faster than a lawn chair to end the regular season, and had many believing that there would be a quick exit in the first round.

After all, with the exception of Orlando's win over the Toronto Raptors last year, the Magic have not won a first-round series in 12 years.  After that, they were summarily ousted by Detroit 4-1.

Clearly the Orlando Magic are just too young and inexperienced to be real title contenders.


Well, it seems every time that people write off the Magic they have come back from the dead like Lazarus to prove us all wrong.

First, it was Orlando winning game six against the Philadelphia 76ers without Dwight Howard.

Then, it was Orlando coming back to win the series against Boston, including a game seven win on the road after absolutely falling apart late in game five.

Sure, the Celtics were missing their best player in that series, but Boston was 32-0 when taking a 3-2 lead in the postseason all-time.  The Magic comeback was not just unexpected, it was historic.

Last, but likely not least, there was game one against Cleveland.

The Cavaliers looked to be in complete control against Orlando in that first half.  When Mo Williams is making shots from the other side of the court, it is easy to think it may not be your night.

However, Orlando exploded offensively in the second half, and Rashard Lewis proved that he is one of the better finishers in this league with his late-game heroics.

Orlando is the monkey wrench in the master plan of the NBA that many had in mind.

Still, the Magic can frustrate not only the so-called experts but their own fanbase as well.

They are an enigma.

A team that can dominate the fourth quarter of game seven against Boston like grizzled veterans, but can't score a single point in the final five minutes and 49 seconds of game five like rookies still trying to get their feet under them.

A team that can make a furious comeback against Cleveland but let both Philadelphia and Boston win a game by throwing away big second half leads themselves.

A team that can play lock-down defense one moment and fall asleep at the switch the next.

The Orlando Magic have made some major strides this postseason, but don't be ready to anoint them just yet.

Indeed, Orlando likes playing mind games with basketball followers.

Every time people jump on the bandwagon, the wheels come off.

When people try to hitch another ride, Orlando shows its amazing potential and pull us back in.

Let's face it, as much as we love watching a LeBron James dunk or a dagger three-pointer by Kobe Bryant, the real drama this postseason has come with the Orlando Magic.

You never know from game to game what to expect with this team.

Anyone who tries to define this team, quickly ends up frustrated and confused.

However, that's the glory of the NBA.  This young team of shooters continues to grow and develop.  Sure there have been "growing pains," and those will persist.  

Those shots by Hedo Turkoglu and Lewis that prove to be game-winners in one contest usually end up being bricks in another one.

In all likelihood, with all the love for Orlando following the game one victory, you can expect them to come out and lay an egg in game two before beating down Cleveland in game three at home.

Then again, Orlando didn't get to this point by being predictable.


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