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Loitering in the parking lot two days before tipoff — The View from Orlando

[original introduction deleted by The Boss. —t.]


As some of you may have noticed (if you're an author on this site, or if you've gone to write a FanPost within the last day), SB Nation has been hard at work re-designing the blogging interface. They've got some really great new features, but there certainly is a bit of a learning curve – and like anything new in computers and computer software, it's got its early bugs, which the tech crew is working hard to correct.

Personally, I'm a huge fan, and I'll tell you that it's going to make certain aspects of blogging easier, and quicker. However, between the new features, a change in the way we do a few things, and a few small bugs, getting used to the new interface can be a bit of a challenge, especially for those so accustomed to the old interface.

Let's just say that timbo's initial experience with it was a frustrating one for him (I'm sure he'll be letting you know the full extent of his frustrations pretty soon in the FanPosts – look for it). So it is that tonight's The View comes without witty, clever prologue from timbo. Click on through, and we'll get straight to the Finals, as seen from Orlando.





Jameer Nelson closer to getting nod for NBA Finals

by Brian Schmitz, Orlando Sentinel

Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson looks to be closer to playing in the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers as observers said he was flying down the floor, running with the second team in Tuesday's practice.

Teammates are convinced that Nelson is making a return after missing four months of the season.

Nelson has been trying to come back early from Feb. 19 shoulder surgery and the club is using practices on Tuesday and Wednesday, in Los Angeles, to evaluate whether he can play.

"I'm pretty sure he's going to be given the benefit of the doubt. I expect him to be out there sometime during the series," said Anthony Johnson, the veteran back-up point guard to starter Rafer Alston. "You got to play the guys who give you the best chance to win."

Johnson might be losing playing time to Nelson. "I'll support whatever decision is made," Johnson said.

He said it was up to Coach Stan Van Gundy. Van Gundy said after Tuesday's workout that Nelson "looked good" and that he'd make a decision after Wednesday's practice in Los Angeles.

Nelson hasn't played since being injured Feb. 2 against the Dallas Mavericks.



Magic center Dwight Howard: If fans want me, I'll stay in Orlando

by Brian Schmitz, Orlando Sentinel

Orlando Magic all-star center Dwight Howard, publicly addressing his long-term future for the first time, told the Sentinel on Monday that he'd love to finish his career in Orlando.

As long as Orlando wants him, he says.

"It is an interesting question," Howard said. "You know what? I'll be here as long as the fans want me to be here. They have a lot of do with it."

Howard, 23, is a five-year veteran and has four more years left on his $85-million contract. [EDITORIAL NOTE: FOUR YEARS LEFT?!?! AND THIS IS A NEWS STORY??? —t ] 

"I tell my friends this: I want to stay here. It will be based upon the city. We want the support of our fans. That's what carries us, that's what inspires us, that's what keeps us motivated.

"You want to feel loved. That's the biggest thing. I show my love to the community. I show my love to this city by stepping on the floor every night and playing as hard as I can. That's all we want back." *  *  *



Bringing Jameer Nelson back for Finals an iffy option for Magic

by George Diaz, Orlando Sentinel

The Orlando Magic are living in the Age of Aquarius.

The stars are aligned and everything is groovy.

How else can you explain this cosmic coincidence?

As they prepare to venture West for their last and ultimate challenge of the season, they've got a standby passenger on board who might make a significant difference in the outcome of the best-of-seven set against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Welcome back, Jameer Nelson.

Or should we say, "Welcome back, Jameer Nelson?"

In honor of my friend Lee Corso: "Not so fast, my friend."

The decision to bring him back isn't a layup.

It's one of those underhanded half-court deals players like to jack up after practice.

It's going to involve a lot of crazy luck.

There are too many quirky variables. Is he truly ready? How much playing time should he get? How is this going to mess up the rotation? And most importantly, what's in the best interests of Jameer Nelson?

I don't think the Magic front office and coaching staff are going to go for the quick fix and risk permanent injury to one of their marquee players.

Nelson, a gritty point guard, was heading to the NBA All-Star Game until suffering a "season-ending" shoulder injury on Feb. 2. He needed surgery days later.

The question now becomes: Why would Orlando want to slice and dice its playbook, its momentum, its chemistry, everything, on the off-chance that a guy who hasn't played in four months might be able to suit up and take on the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals ? * * *



Tiger Woods straddles the fence about the NBA Finals

by Josh Robbins, Orlando Sentinel Magic Basketblog

Tiger Woods can be seen regularly at Orlando Magic games. He even attended the Magic's Game 6 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals.

But Woods also grew up in Southern California and has emotional ties to the Los Angeles Lakers.

In a newsletter e-mailed to members of his fan club early Tuesday afternoon, Woods didn't indicate whether he'd be rooting for the Lakers or the Magic.

"I'm really torn about the NBA finals," Woods wrote. "I grew up a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan, but have season tickets to Orlando Magic games. Hopefully, it will be a great series."



City of Orlando Embraces its Magic Again

by Ben Q Rock, Third Quarter Collapse

The Orlando Magic's return to the NBA Finals after a 14-year absence is certainly a boon for the franchise. But it's also a big deal for the Central Florida community, which has no other major professional sports team to call its own. * * *

John Denton reports today that the Magic have sold 400 season tickets since closing out the Cavaliers, bringing their total of season ticket-holder commitments for next season to 11,000, which is almost what it was during the mid-1990s, the last time the team was a powerhouse.

The Magic are selling more than just tickets, though, as they opened a retail store in the Altamonte Mall to sell playoff gear; I recall a similar store opening in a strip mall on Mills Avenue in 1995, and that place was packed when my family and I trekked down there to buy our Conference Championship t-shirts. Further, the team's website's traffic, according to a recent press release, has almost tripled since the end of the regular season.

But it's not just these raw facts that lead me to believe this city is buzzing about the Magic for the first time in years; there's a certain vibe. Playoff banners adorn several buildings in downtown Orlando--this one featuring Hedo Turkoglu popping his jersey after hitting the game-winner against Philadelphia is my favorite--and the presence of what will be the team's new arena only adds to the excitement.

Call me a skeptic, but this reaction doesn't seem obvious to me. After 14 years of relative irrelevance, lowlighted by the Grant Hill/Tracy McGrady spending spree which failed to produce even a second-round playoff appearance, I didn't think this city would ever respond to the Magic, even if they made it this far. But thanks to Howard, himself about to cash-in on the team's emerging popularity, and the rest of his likable teammates, I've been proven wrong. The city of Orlando loves its Magic again.



2-3-2 NBA Finals Format And Home Court Advantage

posted by "Pembeci" to Third Quarter Collapse

Last night at the game thread, I wondered if there was any team WITHOUT the home court advantage who reached the happy end at Game 7 after the 2-3-2 format became in play. So today, I went and did some research about the finals series played since that format was started in 1985. Granted this is a very small sample to find some patterns but it is still fun to look at.

To answer my own question, NO there wasn't such a team. The only game 7s happened in these kind of series are (A: team with HCA, B: the lower seeded team):

and they are all won by the home team.



Jameer Nelson in the NBA Finals really could happen

by Zach McCann, Orlando Magic

Jameer Nelson playing in the NBA Finals is inching closer and closer to reality, as today some Magic players said they expect Nelson to see the floor at some point. * * *

I have to admit — I thought this was a bunch of hot air, even as recently as yesterday. I know he's done some conditioning work in practice, but actually playing in a game? I assumed, with five days off in between series, nobody had anything better to talk about.

Like most, I wouldn't mind seeing Jameer out there in spot minutes off the bench.

But I'm worried. Jameer is the unquestioned leader of this team when he's on the floor. So how can we expect him to play some energy minutes off the bench and then watch the other guys play in the fourth quarter? Somehow, I don't see Jameer being comfortable as a role player. And that's not a knock on his character, teamwork or anything like that — it's just not who he is.

If Jameer's out on the floor, he's going to stay on the floor. That could be problematic.



The NBA, where curses get broken

by Philip Rossman-Reich, The Curse of the Big Aristotle

Excuse this blog for feeling somewhat purposeless. The Curse of the Big Aristotle has all but been broken. The Orlando Magic are back in the NBA Finals — against the Los Angeles Lakers no less.

I wore my conference championship shirt throughout the day after flying back to school in Chicago (and yes, I did fly home just for the game) and could do nothing but smile. After 14 years of doubt, frustration and failure, that mid-90s swagger had returned. * * *

I caught myself earlier today from talking about the future. But then I realized that kind of talk is useless right now. Because for the first time in a long time, Orlando is not playing for the future.

The Curse has indeed been broken.

The team can win this thing now.

All that gloom and doom Magic fans are accustomed to should slowly dissipate once the Larry O'Brien Trophy is painted behind the logo at center court at the Amway Arena and we realize how close we are to finally earning our first championship.

I will admit, I was one of the doubters. I thought next year was the year the Magic climbed the ladder and broke through to the Finals. The Conference Finals was my goal for this team (to this point, everything has been gravy). Even against a Cleveland team I knew Orlando matched up well with, I thought James' destiny would be too much against an inexperienced — and to that point — inconsistent squad.

Orlando continues to prove the doubters wrong and keeps us on this (pardon the pun) Magical ride. * * *



Starting to Wonder

by Maxwell Effort, The Puns Are Starting to Bore Me

I know the job of the Magic staff right now is to be vague about the Jameer Nelson situation but this John Denton article really has me wondering if we are going to see the little guy in the Finals...

From Florida Today: "Nelson played four-on-four full-court basketball as recently as last week, and impressed Smith and Van Gundy with his ability to take contact and make shots. The Magic had veteran center Adonal Foyle set several hard screens on Nelson to see how he would react to getting hit, and Nelson showed no sign of shying away from the contact, Smith said."

Now Smith and SVG are absolutely correct that he will not be the same player he was 4 months ago but that is just common sense. Jameer at 50% is not only better than Anthony Johnson but the mental factor would have tremendous benefits for the team.

The next two days will be critical as Jameer will once again participate in a full contact practice. Not many teams have the oppurtunity to add a player of Jameer's caliber for the Finals. It is a tough call and the Magic have to balance the future of Jameer's career with the fact that you cannot take championship oppurtunities for granted.



Highly Humorous Orlando "Remake" of the Little Dez Nike Ad...




All Van Gundy all the time

by Ira Winderman,

Had a chance to catch up with Jeff Van Gundy on the conference call in advance of Jeff calling the NBA Finals for ABC, alongside Mike Breen and Mark Jackson. As expected, providing commentary for the games involving his brother Stan, the Magic coach, was a focus. So, too, were the memories of coaching against Stan, particularly when Stan was a Heat assistant and Jeff coach of the Knicks.

On initially offering to remove himself from the broadcasts: "I was a little bit leery of doing the games and I remember speaking to Mike and Mark about it. And I said, 'I don't know if I should do the games, because I'm not sure I would be critical of Stan.' And Mark said, 'Well, that's not different. You're never critical of any coaches.' So that made a lot of sense to me, because I know how hard the job is."

On Stan possibly providing the NBA championship moment Jeff was unable to produce as coach of the Knicks and Rockets: "If they're fortunate enough to win the championship, I may have my bottle of champagne I pour over myself and Mark and Mike. So, I definitely want 'em to win, there's no doubt. But during the games, I'm going to try to be as objective as possible."

On Stan's coaching ability: "Well, I mean, obviously, he's a great, great coach. You don't make it to where he's made it and won as much as he's won without being really elite in your field. And so, he's done a great, great job and he's got a team that is playing well. Whether it's good enough to beat the heavily favored Laker team, that's what the games are for. We'll see how it goes. But I couldn't be prouder. We're really proud of him and really humbled by the opportunity he has."

On how close he came to sitting out the series: "It's not for me, as an employee, to say what I shouldn't do. I expressed it to our producer and I think it was definitely worth a discussion. I guess they discussed it. I'm doing what they think is best for them. If they think it's best for me to do the games, that's exactly what I'm going to do and I'm going to do the best I can." * * *


The Bottom Line:

1. Jameer is Playin'....

2. Dwight is Stayin'....

3. Tiger ain't Sayin'....

4. JVG is Brayin'....

5. Central Florida is Prayin'....

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