No preview for the game today, just a quick Q&A with Eddy Rivera, from Magic Basketball:

The Magic are totally under the radar right now. Even though they are 7-3 in their last 10, there are some injuries and lots of questions. How are you guys looking heading into the playoffs?
Decent. The losses to the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks were probably games the Orlando Magic should have won, but didn’t because of certain circumstances that didn’t go their way — depth being a major issue in both losses. It’s tough to project the Magic heading into the playoffs because the team isn’t healthy. One of the main pieces to the puzzle, J.J. Redick, is still out with an abdominal injury and it’s unlikely he’ll return before the regular season is over. As such, it’ll be a little hard for Redick to get back into a routine of things, considering he’ll have to do it while the postseason is about to get underway. Plus, Orlando’s energy and effort in games has been so wildly inconsistent. As a result, things like consistency in conjunction with health, continuity, and chemistry are not in their favor right now.

When the the trades happened, I really thought a lot of holes were plugged up, and the team would be a legit EC threat. With Arenas moping, Nelson injured, and Van Gundy busy talking about the media’s obsession with Rose for MVP, looks like the focus isn’t there. Is the stage set for a 1st round upset at the hands of the Hawks?
Not necessarily, but the Magic are a lot more vulnerable now, as exemplified by the Atlanta Hawks winning the season series. This isn’t the same roster that went 41-8 a year ago before losing to the Boston Celtics in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. Although Dwight Howard has improved, nearly everyone else that remains has regressed and even though Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson have been welcome additions to the team, it hasn’t helped that Gilbert Arenas has contributed nearly nothing.

Trading away Rashard Lewis and Marcin Gortat, especially Gortat, has been tough because it’s suddenly turned Orlando into a small team. Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson have more than capably filled in for Lewis’ absence, so they’re not an issue but not having Gortat around has hurt the Magic severely. That has put a lot more pressure on Howard to not get into foul trouble, thus being less aggressive defensively, because when he’s out of the game, Orlando’s interior defense gets butchered with regularity.

Probably too late to do anything about it now, but how can Arenas be engaged to live up to his abilities for next season?
Quite frankly, Arenas is a lost cause.

Howard has been saying the right things, but we’ve seen this movie play out enough over the last couple years to know better. How scared is this organization that Dwight will walk, or force his way out, the first chance he gets?
In my opinion, the Magic are more worried than scared. It seems that general manager Otis Smith is quietly confident that Howard will re-sign, but a lot of things can happen between now and 2012.

Speaking for myself, if there’s anyone that’ll buck the trend of leaving their franchise and moving on to a new one, it’s Howard. I think Howard wants to stay in Orlando and has the temperament to see things through, but the organization needs to hold their end of the bargain and continue to satisfy his desires of winning a title. The Magic have two chances to get it done — this year and next year. After that, anything goes. And going off a reliable source, if Howard isn’t in Orlando, then he’ll probably find his way to the Los Angeles Lakers. There’s no guarantee that happens, but it’s a strong possibility.

Lets keep the losses piling up, yea?

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  • Josh

    Howard at Los Angeles !!! Wow, Can Lakers Pair him up with Bynum ?!! How Scary will that be ?

    • Bendit

      Bynum will likely be exchanged for him in some kind of sign&trade scenario…if that comes about though by that time Kobe should be winding down.

  • momo

    Did everyone forget that today’s the return of Turkshit?

    • RapsM

      No, it goes without saying. Let the pizza rain down from the rafters!

    • BCGheradiniJayGots2Go!!

      Don’t blame Turk- BC/Jay gave him training camp off and he never caught up not to mention that he was misused in the Rap’s offense.

      Please pour out BC’s kool aid it not fit for human consumption!!

      • voy

        please, misused in the offense. I guess it was bc’s kool-aid that made turk appear out of shape.

        • BCGheradiniJayGots2Go!!

          He’s playing much better in Orlando’s system this season compared to last- imagine that?

          Yep, the “take training camp off” flavored BC Kool Aid- it’s not good for one’s health. I thought you knew?lol

          • voy

            taking training camp off is not an excuse to stay fat at season’s beginning and still staying out of shape at season’s end.

            turk had a great playoff run a few years ago. unfortunately, he couldn’t play the same point forward position here in TO (1) cuz he was out of shape and (2) because there wasn’t a D12 to compensate for his matador D.

            Maybe he wasn’t a good fit here in toronto but thats not an excuse to bitch and complain and to not recognize his game had dropped off.

            I dont even like Triano but I dont blame him for not giving Turk more chances than he had to play the point forward position here in toronto. I have no problem with BC recognizing his mistake and getting back barbosa for Turk. I’m not a big barbosa fan but I like turk even less.

            Do you still want turk here?

            • BCGheradiniJayGots2Go!!

              I believe that it was the main contributing factor in Turk being out of shape at the beginning of last season. He was in much better shape at the end on last season but still not in as good of shape as he is currently in this season.

              No, Turk was a bad fit for The Rap’s.

  • voy

    watching this game, I think we at least gotta make an offer to Reggie. I dont think its any coincidence that Mr. Evans lays out Jameer on a pick and a few seconds later Amir lays the lumber across Dwight Howard’s face. Toughness can be cantageous. I’d love to see Evans for another year to teach Davis and Amir.

    I cant even remember the raps hammering 1 guy in a game let alone 2!!

    • mountio

      Gotta agree. As much as you cant be successful with him playing too many minutes (just way too much of an offensive liability) .. this team just plays different when hes in there. Hopefully we can get him for cheap ..
      Great win (although we certainly dont need them). Bayless might just be one of those guys who needs serious minutes to play well (since he tries to force everything, especially for himself when he plays less). As much as I want the higher draft pick .. this game was a joy to watch ..

      • voy

        Yeah, its only been 2 games but it looks like if Bayless knows he’s gonna get minutes he’s a lot less manic at the point and forces the issue alot less. The kid is not afraid. I wouldn’t mind seeing him stick around for a bit to see if he can develop.

        Even though it does nothing to improve our draft position it was good to see the team win. You can tell the guys wanted it bad.

    • Guest

      Bayless laid out Brockman the other night. Was a thing of beauty!

      • BCGheradiniJayGots2Go!!

        Naw, that was a cheap shot- imagine someone doing that to DD, as Brockman could have been seriously injured when he hit the stanchion.

        Plus Brockman is a good guy from the 206 and a former UW Husky!