Things wont be getting any easier; Magic today, Knicks tomorrow, tough match-ups all around. The Raptors are maintaining a consistent level of effort defensively, but their offense is killing them. I’m sure Casey’s on the job…

Unlike the Nuggets, who had the hooplah of the Carmelo Anthony fiasco bleed onto their play on-court, the Magic have started the season 3-1, with their only loss coming against the Thunder; no shame there.

I had a chance to speak to Eddy Rivera from Magic Basketball about the Magic:

True or False: the Magic, as currently constructed, are championship contenders.

False. The Orlando Magic desperately need a dynamic shot creator on the perimeter and the bench is rather thin. Likewise, the Magic just don’t have the star power that teams like the Miami Heat have. That being said, with Ryan Anderson emerging at power forward, Hedo Turkoglu looking like his 2009 self, Orlando may have new life but it’s still early.

I’m wondering what the strategy is for Dwight Howard. Surely, if Smith wants to keep him, resigning Jason Richardson and trading for his BFF Glen Davis wont cut it, right? Also, was the Glen Davis move as stupid as I think it was?

The strategy behind re-signing Richardson and trading for Davis is to allow the Magic to compete in the event Howard leaves. It’s not smart but with an 85-year old owner that’s gunning for a championship one more time, it’s understandable. And yes, the Bass-for-Davis swap was a bad one. Each player has their flaws but Bass is better.

Will Dwight Howard be a Magic come the end of the season?

Maybe. I still think Howard will ultimately be traded to the Lakers because they offer the best “win now” assets. However, I don’t think it’s set in stone that Howard is gone. Deep down inside, Howard genuinely would like to stay with Orlando but the franchise needs to give him a reason to do so.

Match-ups

Point Guard
With Bayless a game-time decision, Calderon will have to pick it up a notch. It will be tough to play him larger minutes than normal, what with the Knicks tomorrow, but Anthony Carter isn’t much of an insurance policy. The Magic are deep at the PG, not great, but deep. Jameer Nelson is also listed as day-to-day with a neck injury. Unfortunately, even if the Raptors utterly exploit this position, it still will be an uphill battle.
Edge: Raptors

Shooting Guard
If Barbosa has to play some backup PG to Calderon, there will be a lot of pressure on DeMar to hold it down against a very deep SG lineup for the Magic. An area where the Raptors still need some work is perimeter defensive rotations (closing out on open shooters behind the arc). Between Jason Richardson and JJ Redick, any extra open space they have will result in a trey.
Edge: Magic

Small Forward
It’s depressing how weak we are at the 3-spot; lets just say Turkoglu is producing more than all our 3s combined, yea.
Edge: Magic

Power Forward
That Vince Carter trade they made a couple seasons ago was a phenomenal haul for the Magic. Ryan Anderson, seemingly, was thrown in as a salary matching after-thought (I’m sure Otis Smith knew what he was doing ). Historically, the Raptors had success against the Magic because Bargnani’s production would counter Howards. Now with Ryan Anderson putting up 19.5pts 6.5rebs 43%3P in addition to whatever Howard puts up in the middle.
Edge: Even

Center
Howard > Johnson + Magloire + Alabi. A success today, in my books, will be if Magloire comes down with a rebound, elbows up, and catches Glen Davis in the mouth.
Edge: Magic

The Line

The gamblers have the Magic as 11.5 points favourites with an over/under of 190. I’m not hopeful for today; actually, I’m never hopeful against the Magic yet the Raptors always find a way to surprise. The Magic have always had trouble defending Bargnani in the past. It’s not going to be a pretty one, I’d bet the line.

  • Truthkiller

    It will be interesting what the Raptors do to defend Dwight Howard, he’s always had a core of 3 point shooters if teams double-team and if not 1-on-1 I can’t see Johnson/Alabi/Magloire 3 of our very foul prone centers hold their ground against him

  • Akash_singh

    ” Deep down inside, Howard genuinely would like to stay with Orlando but the franchise needs to give him a reason to do so.”, no offense but LMAO

    • erivera7

      Nice to know you know more about the Magic than I do.

      • Akash_singh

        just an outsiders opinion without bias, we all thought the same thing about bosh……………….

        • erivera7

          It’s not bias. My statement is based off of information I know.

          • Akash_singh

            okay, what info do you have that leads you to believe at the end of the day dwight gives a shit about the magic?

            • erivera7

              Sources I trust.

  • 4pt_play

    The Magic look like Cleveland when Lebron was there.  Theoreticallly, If Howard were to leave for nothing, the Magic would be about last or 2nd last place.

  • FAQ

    Great defensive effort from the Raptors, but it seems they can’t play both defense and offense in the same game.  Last season they had a decent offense but no defense… and this season it’s great defense but pathetic offense,  Maybe their salaries should be reduced by half, and reinstated when they produce on defense and offense.

    It’s dangerous not producing on offense because the tribal honking fan really only lives for offense so they can whoop and holler when the ball goes through the basket.  Not much to yell about over defense particularly when you lose due to lack of scoring.  Oh, well …. 2013 is coming…..

    • honk!

      Maybe you don’t give the T-Honkers enough credit. Most seem happy to have the focus on D before O. 

    • p00ka

      What is a “tribal honking fan” to you? Someone who disagrees with you? If so, what makes them tribal honkers? Someone lacking your expertise in the game? Why is lack of offense “dangerous” because of this?

      In case you’ve been on another planet, every fan on this one knows that the greatest need this year was to develop a defensive mindset and culture, with particular emphasis on this early in the season. Do you have an issue with this, or are you just honking to be heard?

  • Brian B

    I’d rank AB+ED over Anderson+ Davis, but still a double digit loss seems inevitable, especially if Nelson plays (I’d rank him over Jose, FWIT). The huge edge which is Howard, plus the outside shooting seems destined to make for a long night – recall how easy Paul George had it for the Pacers. Magic have at least 3 or 4 gunners better than George. Raptors deserately need perimeter defendersn to close out on shooters.

    • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

      I put the PFs at = because AB is the most offensively talented but Anderson does almost the same things as AB on offense (spread the floor) but RAnderson rebounds & defends at a higher effort level despite being less talented than AB in my mind. Big Baby is playoff tested vet and plays both ends with effort with a reliable mid range jumper while Ed is a potential double double weakside rim protector if given enough minutes but is still prone to young player mistakes.

      Also, the Raptors seemingly always give up numerous open 3 point looks to teams.smh

      IF they can close out on the Magic’s 3 pt shooters while making the Magic use the shot clock taking shots late in the clock it could be beneficial for the Raptors hope to gain a W.

      But if Orlando gets hot from 3 point range it could be a long game.

  • Adriiian

    I have a feeling we can win this one, like you said, we always surprise in Orlando.

    Let’s go Raps!

  • terry

    I’m really interested to see how well Barg or Amir will defend D12..

  • draftedraptor

    Only the likes of Bynum, Perkins and Blair can even attempt to play defense against Dwight. We should let him have his way, concentrate on others and hope he doesnt hurt us too much – the same tactics other team use against Bargnani. BigCat to play 10 minutes and foul out today.

    Barbossa almost certainly will cover for Calderon if Bayless is out which is a shame as he has been playing well.  Casey has given Carter a nice retirement package here – salary and coaching benefits. The man is out of shape and shows no enthusiasm for the game or the team. Beats me why we cannot give the 3rd spot and the same one year contract to a Dleague youngster who is trying to prove himself.

    Demar cannot do much by himself against Richardson and Redick. BigBaby and Ryan Anderson are to be watched.

    • mountio

      Not sure how Blair gets into your list .. hes an unathletic 4 ..not sure how you think he can handle D12 .. Bynum and Perkins maybe.
      Bayless being out could be a blessing in disguise .. he has been the worst raptor this year. Sure, if nothing is going right, I dont mind throwing him in to try to change the pace (we all know hes not afraid to shoot .. and with 20 or more on the shot clock no less….)

  • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

    Last season Toronto upset Orlando on the road but this is 2012 and even if Jameer Nelson is out I believe that it will take a near flawless effort from the Raptors to pull out another upset W.

    Raptors can’t let Orlando get hot from 3 point range and need to limit second chance opportunities by closing out defensive possessions.

    The RAnderson ABargnanai PF matchup will be one worth watching closely since RAnderson can spread the floor w/ 3pt range like AB but he also goes to the boards and defends with effort.

    Also, Jose needs to be an offensive threat- drive and attack the rim, not just drive around aimlessly looking for the last second dump off killing any type of offensive flow.

    It’ll will be interesting to see how Casey guards DH with Amir, JM & Alabi because if DH is allowed to get off early on lobs & power dunks in the paint it could be a long night for the Raptors.

    DD should look to attack JRich early as he’s never been known as a stout defender.

    Von Wafer could be a wild card as he has streaky explosive offensive abilities off of the bench.

    I would go small against DH w/ AB at center to draw out DH (but AB isn’t a center this season), JJ at PF (so DH can’t switch off onto Ed or Amir), DD at SF, Bosa at SG Jose at pg and just run, run, run.  

    TO pg = Orl pg

    TO sg < Orl SG

    TO sf < Olr sf

    TO pf = Orl pf

    TO c < Orl c

    TO bench = Orl bench

    I see it as Orl 101 Tor 90.

    • p00ka

      “I would go small against DH w/ AB at center to draw out DH (but AB isn’t a center this season)”

      Do you think the Magic have a say in who covers AB on the defensive end? Just a thought.

  • KJ-B

    It’s either everybody’s still outta shape in the NBA or Jose and #7 were working out in the offseason with LeBron, KD and Wade..!

  • Gem

    James Johnson frustrates the hell out of me when he takes a jumper or tries to handle the ball. 

    • cdub

      It looks like a heathy Kleiza will get some major burn at the 3 from what I have seen so far.  Johnson is an upgraded julian wright which still isn’t that good outside the defense

  • PissedFan

    Is it just me or could a chimpanzee ref that game better than those ones, pretty ludacris……

  • Anon

    Awful officiating

  • olapaloma

    DD is simply embarassing. Barbosa too.

  • mountio

    Classy.
    And youre the one complaining about the comments on this site…
    This guy takes time to give some insights from ORL .. whether or not you believe what hes saying is one thing (Im personally skeptical) .. but try to have a little class …

  • Akash_singh

    didn’t like his attitude much, but I concur my response was overboard, anyways Im done reading the comment section of this site. So much hate, so little knowledge, ciao mountio.

  • Akash_singh

    but of course you have to chime in here, and not when others are calling people “dumb niggers”, unless that was you under a different moniker in the first place?