Due to their defeat of the Memphis Grizzlies last night, the Orlando Magic became the first team in the NBA this season to beat each of the league's other 29 teams at least once. John Denton reports that coach Stan Van Gundy has not lost sight of this statistic:
Yawn at that accomplishment if you want, but Van Gundy wants his 54-23 Magic to take pride in standing alone as the only team in the league to beat everyone else. Van Gundy, who got to the office on Sunday at 6:30 a.m. for the morning practice and that night's game, researched the statistic during the day and wrote it on the grease board in the locker room before the game for motivation. Dallas can accomplish the same feat with a win at Portland on Friday, but for now at least the Magic are the only team to top all others at least once.
"If they don't do it then we're the only team to beat every other team. Yeah, I like that," Van Gundy said. "I think there's something to be said for going out on the court and literally proving you can beat everybody in the league. Everybody thinks they can beat everybody, but we've literally done it. It's not easy to do and we're 20-10 against the West.
Magic shooting guard Vince Carter, who keyed yesterday's clinching win with 26 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists, also weighed in:
"It's a great accomplishment because you never know who you might face down the road and you want to know in your mind that you can beat them," Carter said. "We want to win out with the rest of our games and then we feel like the rest of the stuff will take care of itself. We just win all of our games and everything else will fall in place for us."
It may seem trivial now, but it bears noting that the last team to run the table in this way, the 2007/08 Celtics, went on to win the championship. If nothing else, the feat indeed proves that Orlando is equipped to defeat anyone on any given night, as Van Gundy said. That has to mean a lot for the Magic's confidence as they head toward their fourth straight postseason, and their third straight in title contention.
Orlando can double-up, in a way, if it wins its remaining games against Washington and Cleveland, which would mean they would have won or split the season-series against each other team. The Magic trail both the Wizards and the Cavs, 2-1, in their respective season series.