Minus the lotto-bound Orlando Magic, the 2014 NBA Playoffs begin Saturday with a four-game slate; here's a complete look at the first-round matchups and schedule. Now's as good a time as any to ask Magic fans behind which postseason-bound club they'll throw their support.
The Los Angeles Clippers' Magic ties run deep: in addition to head coach Doc Rivers and assistant coach Tyronn Lue, L.A. employs former Orlando players Matt Barnes, Glen Davis, J.J. Redick, and Hedo Türkoğlu. During their Magic tenures, all of those men--with the possible exception of Davis and, toward the end, Türkoğlu--earned the adoration of Orlando fans. The third-seeded Clippers are in for a tough matchup against the Stephen Curry-led Golden State Warriors, but should nonetheless advance.
The Charlotte Bobcats are the Clippers of the East, at least in terms of Magic connections if not their actual skill level and championship chances. Coach Steve Clifford served as an assistant under Stan Van Gundy when Van Gundy roamed the Magic's sidelines, and many members of Clifford's staff, including Patrick Ewing, also worked for Orlando. That most Magic fans loathe Charlotte's first-round opponent, the Miami Heat, only adds to its appeal.
Not that Magic fans must necessarily support a team with former Orlando players or coaches. Fans less concerned with Magic ties than with overall good basketball could rally behind the feel-good Toronto Raptors, for example, or the resurgent Dallas Mavericks in what might be Dirk Nowitzki final postseason run. And though they're by no means underdogs, and at times unfairly derided as boring, the San Antonio Spurs play an unselfish brand of ball that hoops purists enjoy.