NBA Postseason Graveyard: Orlando Magic
Welcome, to the NBA Postseason Graveyard on The 12th Man, the NBA Hoops feature for Technorati! During the postseason, when a team gets eliminated, we will take a look back at their season, and what do they do for the future to get better. There are 15 graves here, and Wednesday night, two more teams met their maker. We continue the series with. Three teams were sent to the grave on Thursday night, and we start with the Orlando Magic
2010-11 Orlando Magic
Record: 52-30 (4th, East)
Playoff result: lost conf. quarterfinal (Hawks 4-2)
The Orlando Magic finished last season two games short of their second consecutive trip to the NBA Finals. In an effort to keep their star player, Dwight Howard, the Magic made moves that were supposed to keep them in contention among the NBA's elite. Instead, they ended up regressing all the way to a first-round exit at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks, the same team they beat by 25+ points for four straight games.
Orlando first made its major in a trade with the Phoenix Suns, by trading Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, and Mickael Pietrus in exchange for Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, and Earl Clark. For Turkoglu, it was a return home 1 1/2 seasons after being a key contributor to the team that made it to the NBA Finals in 2009. The second move was trading a key component Rashard Lewis to the Washington Wizards for Gilbert Arenas. Arenas was looking for a fresh start after the saga with bringing guns to the Verizon Center locker room after a fight on the team plane with former teammate Javaris Crittenton.
It took a while for the Magic to gel with all the new pieces, Arenas struggled throughout the season, Howard lost his backup big man in Gortat, resulting in more playing time, J.J. Redick was out with an abdominal injury towards the end of the season. It was apparent that teams seemed to take the approach of making the outside shooters beat them and let Dwight Howard work inside. The Hawks took this approach, and it was very effective in Game 1 of their series, letting Howard score 46 points, and have the rest of the team score 47 points. Out of those 47, 27 of those points were obtained by Jameer Nelson. No other player had double figures. Shot selection was also a factor, as the Magic, despite their poor shooting, had a chance to win the game from the inside, but blew the opportunities as well.
A lot of questions are surrounding the future of Dwight Howard in Orlando. Many sports analysts feel that the Magic are not doing enough to keep Howard in Central Florida. The moves that were made were heavily scrutinized, and a first-round exit may not be the best way to show that this team is committed to keeping their star player. General manager Otis Smith will have to make some moves once again to try to appease his star and show him that the grass is not always greener. Many questions will be have to answered, and only time will tell if the efforts are enough to pay dividends with the ultimate price: a championship.