The stage is set for the Orlando Magic to clinch a berth in the NBA Finals, which would be for the second time in franchise history, with a victory on the road against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Q. A loss, and the destination will revert back to Orlando for a Game 6 - something coach Stan Van Gundy does not want happening.
The Magic have a chance to wrap up another series on the road; the team was able to do so in Game 6 vs. Philadelphia and in Game 7 vs. Boston. Will it happen again?
After the jump, a look at what the local media is saying before the game.
- Brian Schmitz reveals the mindset of the Orlando Magic, a team with the chance to close out the series, before Game 5 with the Cleveland Cavaliers:
The Orlando Magic and their fans have experienced just about everything that extended-stay playoff basketball can offer.
The Magic haven't gone this deep into the postseason since 1995, and it's as if they've taken a crash course for contenders.
There have been big comebacks and lost leads, clutch shots and buzzer-beaters. A tiff between coach and star. Even angst over (Kobe and LeBron) puppets.
There was the momentary loss of home court to Philadelphia. A Game 7 scrapbook win in Boston. LeBron's one-second miracle and Superman's shot-clock detonation.
And then there has been the world according to Stan Van Gundy, a wild trip onto itself. [...]
Van Gundy doesn't want to hear about the percentages that favor his team. Immediately after the Magic's Game 4 win, he told his players they hadn't really done anything yet.
"You would have thought we had lost," cracked forward Rashard Lewis.
All Van Gundy can envision is a nightmare scenario — LeBron James reviving the Cavs to win three straight games.
"This is a heckuva basketball team." Van Gundy said. "So it is going to be really difficult. I don't know how everybody else is. I don't feel like we've gotten anything done yet in this series.
- Kyle Hightower states what's at stake for the Cavaliers in tonight's matchup:
And so it's come to this for the Cleveland Cavaliers: Climb out of a hole only eight other teams in NBA playoff history have, or take a living room seat for the finale of a season that until now they have dominated.
The only problem for the Cavs, who return home tonight toting a 3-1 Eastern Conference finals deficit against Orlando, is that the dominant team they've been all season has reverted back to being one star and 11 lemmings. [...]
James has accounted for 41 percent of the Cavs' points in the first four games against the Magic as compared to him providing only 28 percent of their scoring in the regular season.
- Josh Robbins asserts that the Magic don't have a problem finishing off a series on the road, given that's how Orlando has moved on in each round:
Most teams struggle on the road during the NBA postseason.
Not the Orlando Magic, who have compiled a 5-4 record away from Amway Arena in these playoffs. All other teams this postseason have gone 20-47 on the road through Tuesday.
Now, the Magic are preparing to reap the benefits. A victory in tonight's fifth game of the Eastern Conference finals at Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena would send the Magic to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1995.
"It's just like us against the world," Magic center Dwight Howard said. "Playing in a doghouse like Cleveland, the whole crowd is against you. You want to go into somebody's home court and quiet the crowd. Nothing feels better than beating a team on their home court."
UPDATE: Dwight Howard posts on his official blog and shares his thoughts before the game:
Our guys are confident going into tonight and we know that we can close out the Cavs. We’re so close to reaching the NBA Finals, but we know there is still so much work to do.
Cleveland is going to come at us really hard tonight and we have to withstand that first punch from them. Like I always says hit first before they punch you. Well, I can’t really punch them because of my tech thang, but ya’ll know what I mean.
We haven’t played very good at the start of games up there, so it’s my job to help us get off to a good start tonight. We need to have a lot of energy, run and defend. We play that way, we really think we can close this baby out.
We really want to do this now, so let’s go get us a win. It’s going to be hard, but we have the team to close this out. I know we’ll be ready to play, just like we have all playoffs and all season.
UPDATE 2: Schmitz states that, maybe, the Cavaliers were trying to play mind games with the Magic today:
When the Magic arrived for their shootaround workout, the shot-clock at Quicken Loans Arena read: 1.0.
The Cavs won their only game --- Game 2 -- on a 3-point shot by LeBron James with 1 second left on the clock.
Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy joked that the Cavs were trying to "intimidate" his team.
Van Gundy agreed that if there is anymore pressure at this point of the postseason, it's obviously on the Cavs, who must win to avoid elimination.
"I don't think pressure is applicable at this point. But if you get down to it, the pressure is on them. If they don't win, they don't get another chance."
Point guard Rafer Alston said he didn't read anything into the 1.0 second left on the shot-clock --- even as he walked past an area at the arena where the Cavs cater to their top season-ticket holders. All the Magic players must file by it to reach their team bus.
The dining/bar area is all done up in a basketball motif with a scoreboard hanging overhead:
That clock also read 1.0.
Make sure to check out this post every few hours for updates.