With a 3-0 lead in their playoff series against the Charlotte Bobcats, the Orlando Magic can record a best-of-seven sweep for the first time in franchise history tonight at Time Warner Cable Arena. The Bobcats' aims are to find someone who can make an outside shot and to find a way to limit Jameer Nelson's offense. Nelson's incredible efficiency--25.7 points per game on 67.5% True Shooting, just 3 turnovers in 108 minutes--has carried the Magic to their 3-0 lead despite disappointing offensive production from Vince Carter and Dwight Howard. It's also given him a Player Efficiency Rating of 33.5, second to only LeBron James' 37.8 in this postseason.
|2010 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals|
|Orlando Leads, 3-0|
|April 26th, 2010|
|Time Warner Cable Arena|
|TNT / Sun Sports|
|Jameer Nelson||PG||Raymond Felton|
|Vince Carter||SG||Stephen Jackson|
|Matt Barnes||SF||Gerald Wallace|
|Rashard Lewis||PF||Boris Diaw|
|Dwight Howard||C||Theo Ratliff|
|April 18th: Magic 98, Bobcats 89|
|April 21st: Magic 92, Bobcats 77|
|April 24th: Magic 90, Bobcats 86|
Brian Schmitz's report from Magic shootaround indicates that the players know the stakes and are indeed focused on making quick work of the Bobcats with a win tonight. Brackets mine, parenthesis his:
"This is business. We came here to get two (victories)," [Matt] Barnes said. "We’re going out here tonight to win it. You don’t want to give a team any hope, any light. Our mindset is to close it out."
Vince Carter said the mood at shootaround was all business.
"Looking at shootraound, everyone was focused on what has to be done, and that’s a good sign," Carter said.
As the Magic learned in their fourth regular-season meeting with the Bobcats, it's difficult to beat a very good team four times in a row, so tonight's game figures to be the toughest of the series. The Bobcats strike me as a proud, hard-playing team, unlike the Philadelphia 76ers of last season, who just quit in Game 6, and thus were eliminated on their home court in a game in which their opponent was missing its best player. No, that shouldn't be the case tonight, and a Bobcats victory is certainly not out of the question. Mike Prada of SBNation.com writes, "[s]purred by their crowd, I'm expected them to get over the hump tonight." John Carroll of Scouts, Inc. and ESPN Insider also predicts a Bobcats win.
Then again, James Hamlin believes Charlotte missed its best chance to beat the Magic on Saturday, and that "basketball takes a vacation from the Queen City for good" after tonight's game.
For what it's worth, the Magic are 3-1 in closeout games in the Stan Van Gundy era, taking care of Toronto in 2008, as well as Philadelphia and Boston last season. The lone loss was against Cleveland, which defended its home floor with a Game 5 win in last year's Eastern Conference Finals before Orlando polished it off at Amway Arena in Game 6.