Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Orlando: Time to Truly Back SVG & This Roster

See what I did there with 'back'? It seems like every time I have a long blogging hiatus, something terrible occurs with this franchise. I'll cut it out. I don't care if the Magic lose to both the Bobcats and Grizzlies these next 2 days and we end up facing the Heat in the postseason, you have to continue to admire the fight that this roster and coaching staff have displayed despite all the injuries the entire Dwight saga. We will most likely find ourselves in the 6th seed. Win percentage wise, it's the worst season in Stan Van Gundy's Magic coaching career. Character and legendary one-liner wise, it might be his best (aside from the whole minor heart attack thing). SVG has a semi-decent chance of somehow surviving getting into a public-eye dispute with a superstar franchise player. That's extremely rare in American basketball.

Dwight Howard went from god to goat in a few weeks really after everyone in Central Florida wanted to throw D12 a parade for utilizing his opt-in. I'm not going to bash Howard, but it's excruciatingly difficult to defend anything he's done since the Lockout ended. This has been crazier than the LeBron, 'Melo, Deron Williams sagas combined. Dwight is in *Profanity Alert* 'Stay Schemin'' mode it appears with the way the media continues to beg Superman to bolt the City Beautiful. Ping's got that new job with ESPN locked up if the mothership continues to eat up all the filthy bad rumors coming out of his mouth. How are the golf courses up in Bristol? I won't worry about D12 and his future in pinstripes until our postseason ends. No Schmitz, we still don't want Bynum's shaky knees. No Bianchi, stop trying to demean and replace 'We All We Got'. Are folks seriously going to have a fit over Dwight not being in Orlando for 3 weeks, or not travelling with the team? The man has a career-threatening back injury that requires rehab close to the doctor that did the surgery on his herniated disc. Let's be honest, the team doesn't really need more distractions than what they've endured up to this point. A few time zones of separation could do both parties well. 

Stan may be over-critical of our current abhorrent defense and young guys, but don't confuse those remarks with the fact that Van Gundy is clearly making the best of this situation. He's also a sly motivator. There's a reason why a good chunk of the locker room would much rather have Van Gundy over Dwight. After all, we are missing a multiple-time winning Defensive Player of the Year and yet have shown amazing competitiveness. Statistically, and just by looking at it, the offense overall has been better this season without Dwight. That's a little odd, but Stan has the system in place that makes Ryno and Big Baby paint beasts (even Earl Clark and Daniel Orton in small spirts) when they want to be. SVG also knows that if we can just learn from the lessons of this season in regards to finishing out quarters, halves, and games, we'd have the 3rd seed with ease. Now one hopes it all comes together in the postseason. We've blown lead after lead, been blowout at home and on the road a few times. Injuries and illnesses (drunk dialing isn't one of them) have been rampant among even the non-player personnel. I'm 90% certain the 'El Magic' jerseys were burned to a crisp weeks ago. We suck on national television. We can't buy an overtime victory. It's just been issue after issue. You can either fold or barrel on. Well, we're pushing through it up to this point. The second game of a back-to-back in Denver doesn't count. Especially when you lose Jameer 2 minutes into the contest. 

Even though we are playing what appears to be the worst team in NBA history on Wednesday. It's no gimme. Not as long as Amway Center ticket holders and Magic fans everywhere continue to abandon ship. Myself and other diehard local fans in the area are benefiting thanks to cheap tickets. After all, Orlando seems to continue to lose a player every week to injury. There are spots of instability throughout the franchise. Still, what's this 'dead men walking' B.S.? WE'RE IN THE PLAYOFFS! I'm sorry if there's no Dwight around, but this is still a basketball team that technically has a chance to win an NBA championship. If you want to work the trade machine and NBA Draft mock-ups in the month of May, go for it. But you're wasting your time when you can savor this 'Heart & Hustle' part 2 experience. Our franchise is hosting a Fan Appreciation Night as a massive thank you to the community for enduring this media-injury-Dwight-chaotic monster for 5-6 months. The least we can do is continue to fuel the drive and passion that has kept the ship afloat. 

I really do expect Hedo Turkoglu to be back for Game 1 this weekend. It may do him and our bench some well if he's the floor general (especially with Chris Duhon out there). He'll be wearing a Gino's brand pizza mask to protect his surgically repaired cheek. Turk may be Mr. Inconsistent, but before he got sidelined, Hedo actually put together 3 solid games. Now, life will be different without Dwight and some rust. It's still very difficult to count Turkey Dance out in the playoffs. Jameer needs his veteran buddy to help carry the inexperienced crew. Also, I still don't have any faith in J-Rich doing much at small forward (or his normal SG position for that matter). Redick and Ryno can't throw up playoff duds. Especially Mr. Anderson who is fighting for big boy money in the offseason.

'We All We Got' isn't just a locker room slogan. It applies to the small percentage of us fans that still believe that Orlando can win a playoff game, or hell a series for that matter in the coming week. I'll go into more depth about the rest of the roster once we know who our playoff opponent will be. But don't you dare count out any team that gives a damn, can be dangerous from 3-point range, and has the capabilities of limiting turnovers. Oh, and who has a top 5 basketball coach that happens to be the franchise's best ever. Do yourselves a favor, Orlando. One way or another, find a way to enjoy the last regular season home game. Who knows what the state of the team will be 12 months from now. 

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