Some playoff-centric stories for today...
- Brian Schmitz writes that tonight's Game Five between the Magic and the Raptors is Orlando's biggest in the Dwight Howard era:
All season the mantra for the Magic --- heck, all offseason, since they were swept by the Pistons --- has been this:
Win a series for the first time in 12 years, and it has been a great season. Everything after that is gravy.
But lose, yikes, and 52-30 has all but been a waste of time. A good run spoiled.
The Howard Era Magic have taken step No. 1: Winning a playoff game.
They have taken step No. 2: Winning a road playoff game.
Now this is step No. 3: Closing out a series.
- Stan Van Gundy, who I imagine will receive some third-place Coach of the Year votes, used Pat Garrity extensively in practice yesterday, even though he's not likely to play in this series. Garrity, as the longest-tenured Magic player, participated in practice and spoke to his teammates about what it's like to lose a 3-1 lead in a playoff series.
- Meanwhile, David Whitley worries that Orlando residents will blame the Orlando Sentinel for jinxing the Magic if they lose tonight's game, and if they go on to lose the series.
Regardless, I don't want Sentinel fingerprints near the Magic's windpipe. So we completely endorse the following comments:
"It's not over yet," Dwight Howard said.
"We're taking it one game at a time," Jameer Nelson said.
"I'm looking forward to the second round," Tracy McGrady said.
Arrrghhh. Please forget that last one.
I'd say he did a fine job covering the Sentinel's assets on that one. I question the choice of decorating the front page of this morning's Sports section with a toe-tagged version of the Raptors' alternate logo. Yikes.
- Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun (via TrueHoop) says Raptors coach Sam Mitchell needs to put Jason Kapono in the starting lineup tonight. After all, what does Mitchell have to lose? His job? Here's an interesting statistic from Buffery's article: Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh are essentially canceling each other out in this series. But the Magic's remaining four starters are scoring 16.7 points per game each, compared to 8.7 points per game for the Raptors. And Mitchell won Coach of the Year last year? Uh, okay...
One final, non-playoff link: