What They're Saying Before the Orlando Magic and the Los Angeles Lakers Face Off in the NBA Finals: Part III

  • A look back at the Orlando Magic's first team to reach the NBA Finals

    Josh Robbins reminisces on the two Finals teams in Orlando Magic history and gathers the thoughts of fan-favorite and community ambassador, Nick Anderson, (and Pat Williams, as well) about the 1995 squad.

    On June 7, 1995 — less than six years after the franchise selected its first players in the expansion draft — they played in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Houston Rockets. It was the second-fastest ascension from nonexistence to the championship round in NBA history.

    "It was just total euphoria throughout the city," Anderson remembers. "It was unbelievable. Everything happened for us so fast that it was like a joyride. This city had never seen anything like it before. It was everybody — the fans, the players — everybody was walking around with a smile on our faces."
  • Q&A with Magic GM Otis Smith 

    Andrea Adelson chats with Orlando GM Otis Smith and asks him some questions concerning the rationale behind choosing Howard over Okafor, the relationship he has with SVG, and more. It's quite the read. 

    Q: You are a very hands-on GM, going to every practice and traveling, too. Why?

    A: It’s the only way I know how to do it. One, I think your primary focus of a team is the team itself. That’s it. We have other areas of responsibility. Stan is the coach, that’s what he does, Dave (Twardzik) is the other side he does the scouting part of it. My job is to oversee. So when you have 21-plus people together every day, all day every day, they need to be managed, they need to be pushed in different ways. They need to be motivated differently. They need to be talked to on a daily basis from the head coach down on the equipment staff.

    Every person is important to making it go, so it’s kind of hard for me to say let’s go on the road for 2 weeks to scout talent that is not going to be able to help me until 3 years from now. I have to have trust in two areas: I have to trust in Stan and his ability to achieve the goals we’ve set forth and I have to trust in Dave and his abilities to go out and find talent to keep feeding the computer.
  • Kobe-LeBron Hype Helped Fuel Magic

    Rashard Lewis speaks with The Baseline and answers a few inquiries.

    Q: Did all the talk of the Kobe-LeBron matchup in The Finals annoy you guys and motivate you against the Cavs?

    A: It did during the time. There was so much hype about the LeBron and Kobe matchup, and the commercials they had on TV with LeBron and Kobe. We didn’t really talk about it too much. But it motivated us. It put fuel to the fire that maybe we can stop what everybody wants to see, and they’re going to have no choice but to watch the Orlando Magic.
  • [Rashard] Lewis: Age Rule in Draft 'Definitely Unfair'

    Sean Denevey of The Baseline lists the ten best players in the NBA Finals and notes how a few of them didn't go to college.

  • The Magic, and 'anything can happen'

    Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don't Lie elaborates on how the Magic were able to construct a roster that advanced to the NBA Finals.

  • Dissecting the coaching pressers 

    Dwyer also dissects the coaching pressers that occurred yesterday and guesses what Phil Jackson & Stan Van Gundy meant when they spoke.

  • Underrating underratedness: The Hedo Turkoglu story

    J.E. Skeets of Ball Don't Lie hosts a special article by Austin Kent about the Turkish delight.

  • Are the Magic Just Hot?
    Tom Ziller of NBA FanHouse points out, like I did yesterday in my in my keys to the series but with a better visual example, that the Orlando Magic haven't been lucky and shooting "hot" from three-point range during the playoffs.

  • Back and Forth: The Finals

    Bradford Doolitte and Kevin Pelton, both of Basketball Prospectus, debate how the championship round will turn out and predict the series winner. 

  • WP82 leaders for the playoffs

    For the stat heads, check out Basketball Prospectus to get the latest listings on the WP82 (wins produced per 82 games) leaders for the playoffs.

  • NBA Finals: Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard determined to make most of Finals trip 

    John Denton of Florida Today writes a special article for ESPN.com about Dwight Howard's journey to the NBA Finals.

  • Kobe Bryant's maturity, defensive discipline keys to NBA Finals
    UPDATE: Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated speaks with an NBA scout to break down the championship series between the Magic and the Lakers.

  • SI.com's writers forecast the NBA Finals

    UPDATE 2: Every writer for Sports Illustrated picks the Lakers to win in 6.

  • Lakers, Kobe Bryant looking to rewrite legacies in NBA Finals

    UPDATE 3: SI engages in a roundtable discussion about the 'title bout'. 

  • Lakers vs. Orlando: A Basketball Junkie's Delight
    UPDATE 4: Kevin Arnovitz of TrueHoop states it best, regarding the NBA Finals matchup:

    Setting X's & O's aside, we're going to be treated to the two most watchable teams in the league for two weeks of June basketball. We're getting two teams with recognizable styles, two teams with marquee players with decidedly different skill sets -- each surrounding by a supporting cast of versatile playmakers. We'll see two smart defenses that employ entirely different philosophies, and two coaches whose temperaments couldn't be more different.

    It might be a dark day for the puppeteers and those who wanted a battle royale between LeBron and Kobe, but for the rest of us, Lakers-Magic is a matchup made in hoops heaven.  
  • What the Regular Season Can Tell Us
    UPDATE 5: Jon Nichols of Hardwood Paroxysm examines, with great detail, what the regular season can tell us when trying to predict the playoffs.

    There are a couple of interesting observations. The team that won the regular season matchup failed to win the playoff series in just four of the 44 series that took place over the last 3 years (there are a few regular season ties). This is indicated by points in the top left or bottom right quadrant of the second graph.

    As we can see, there were seven instances when the underdog won the regular season series (indicated by the seven points to the left of the y-axis; some are hidden because there are doubles). Five of those times, the underdog pulled off the upset.

    If we compare the R^2’s of the two graphs, we see that season results are actually a slightly better predictor of how a playoff series will go than the difference in the seeds is. Of course, both of the R^2’s are very low and the difference is quite negligible. But the point still stands: if you want to predict how a playoff series will turn out, you’re slightly better off if you go through the teams’ previous matchups that year than if you just look at how different their seeds are.

    I should end this article with a few notes of caution. First, there are plenty exceptions to the rule. Second, everything must always be taken in context. Regular season results could be skewed by injuries or odd circumstances. 
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