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Pop Quiz: Has Orlando's window closed?

Posted on: September 17, 2010 4:12 pm
Edited on: September 17, 2010 5:07 pm
Posted by Matt Moore

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a few short weeks. To get you ready for the NBA season, we've put together 25 pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this question...

As Courtney Lee hung in the air, anticipating the incoming lob for a last second shot in the NBA Finals, he likely didn't know anything of what would happen as a result in the next 1.5 seconds. He would miss the alley-oop, a nearly impossible shot that he deserves credit for simply for managing to execute. He would wind up traded to New Jersey which would go on to be one of the worst teams in NBA history, then be traded to Houston. The Magic would swap out Hedo Turkoglu for an upgrade at shooting guard in Vince Carter. And the Magic's best chance at an NBA championship would be snuffed out.

So the question has to be: Does Orlando still have a window open to win an NBA championship?

It sounds absurd. After all, the team won 59 games last season, good for second in the East. They stomped their way to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second season in a row. Dwight Howard enters the season at only 24 years old. Jameer Nelson has a promising career in front of him. They have depth. Stan Van Gundy is considered one of the better coaches in the league. How could their window be closed?

The concern comes down to a number of tangible concerns, and one that relates to the ephemeral nature of windows in the NBA.

In the tangible, the biggest glaring problem is quite simply the other teams in the league. When Orlando ousted Boston in 2009, it was thought to be a death sentence on Boston's lockhold on the East. But Celtic players and fans who thought the only reason Orlando advanced was Kevin Garnett's injury that year were validated last season when the Green stomped the Blue with defense and intensity. Not helping matters on that front is the improved center depth for the Celtics, who now feature Jermaine O'Neal and Shaquille O'Neal to combat Dwight Howard along with Kendrick Perkins.

Then of course, there's that nasty Miami issue. With the Heat not only taking a giant step forward, but playing in Miami's division, things get considerably harder for the Magic.

But those are outside matters. The real issue for Orlando in trying to make it back to the Finals and compete is that they seem to have detonated the special formula that got them there in the first place. Vince Carter had a handful of terrific great games for the Magic but also brought all the questions about toughness and clutch ability. And he seemed a tremendous step back from what Hedo Turkoglu had given them, regardless of Turkoglu's age and diminishing skill. Chemistry for that team was shaky. It seemed inconsistent and incomplete, like there were tensions bubbling under, in contrast to the 2009 team which seemed to hum like a finely tuned engine.

Finally there's the nature of championship windows themselves for small-market teams. A large market team like the Lakers can contend for a decade if they keep egos in check. They can stay in the conversation as long as their top elite player is around and healthy. But we've seen it often in the past. A smaller market team has what is considered a great team, pushes the elite team in their conference, but is unable to reach the summit. The Magic tinkered with what worked, which is often a big no-no in sports. Turkoglu may have been on the downside of his career and not as talented as Vince Carter, but the Magic were better with him running point forward in the halfcourt set.

Think of what they need in order to return to the championship if they don't make a major trade this season. They need Carter to play better than he did last season, have everyone stay healthy, repeat last year's performance, then overcome Boston's defense and Miami's starpower... just to make the Finals where barring a gigantic upset they'll then face the same Lakers team that overwhelmed them two years ago. Orlando's ownership group has commendably committed money to the team as it enters a new arena with a contending team. But unless it takes a major step back up the ladder, it may just be spinning its expensive wheels as the rest of the league continues to stay one step ahead of them.

Orlando will be good. But barring Dwight Howard becoming one of the most dominant offensive players in the league or massive injuries to both Miami and Boston, there's little evidence to believe they'll be good enough to be considered a real title contender.

Since: Sep 20, 2010
Posted on: September 20, 2010 5:13 pm

Pop Quiz: Has Orlando's window closed?

Some good posts that I agree with. Hey if the Magic want a title they need a clutch guy (see Kobe). If only Melo could be a Magic man; he seems like the only clutch guy available. Jameer does seem more like a 6th man (he does have some offense in him) as someone pointed out and CP3 would fit nicely for Orlando and probably for a few other teams. Hey Orlando is spending money for a title and with a small market their ticket prices are going to be huge because of that. Not touching the cheerleader issue but flying could be cool. The Heat have the players but almost all of them played somewhere else last year and having played hoops myself teamwork and trust are very important; that's an experiment that the whole league will be watching for the next few years. These guys are living in new homes, driving foreign to them roads and eating at different places and having to ask for directions all the time. Yeah that'll take time to feel normal and living in new climates with heavy heat.

Since: Dec 4, 2006
Posted on: September 20, 2010 5:00 pm

Pop Quiz: Has Orlando's window closed?

There will never ever be another Michael Jordan again during our life time considering his time was in the early 1980 as was Mine and He Would've still be playing till about TEN years ago.  Though he was one pf the very best out ball handlers and competitor's on the court he got along with EVERYONE on ONE TEAM. Michael Jordan new How to compete with a team that new how to compete together, WILL LeBron' TEAMS NOW HOW TO USE THE WORD TEAM AS ONE TOGETHER OR SHOULD HE HAVE STAYED IN CINCINNATI.

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Since: Dec 4, 2006
Posted on: September 20, 2010 1:41 pm

Pop Quiz: Has Orlando's window closed?

The Magic were a couple of possessions away from a completely different series against LA in 2009 and hit a funk against the Celtics the first 3 games of 2010's ECF. To say that they weren't close enough to taste a championship is crazy. They have essentially the same team with 1 more year of postseason experience. They are going to be there in the end with just as good a chance as anybody (well maybe not the Lakers). Miami has put together an all-star team, but as evidenced by the 2006 world championship team (which had a Bosh-Wade-Lebron core) it takes more than just a bunch of all-stars to win when facing a team experienced with playing with one another. No one is arguing that Miami has 3 of the most talented players in the game, but they haven't played together against NBA quality talent and have had struggles at times against international talent. It should be an interesting season.

Since: Dec 15, 2008
Posted on: September 20, 2010 12:48 pm

Pop Quiz: Has Orlando's window closed?

The problem with Orlando is that they got rid of Rafer Alston.  They wouldn't even have made the Finals without him.  He is a true point guard, where Jameer is a short, small, shooting guard.  Until they get a real point guard, they are lost.  They need a point guard to get Dwight Howard more dunks.  I bet if Orlando had Nash, Rose, Kidd, CP3, Orlando would be beast.  Until then, they will be just a tough stepping stone for the Elite teams.

Since: May 10, 2008
Posted on: September 20, 2010 4:54 am

Pop Quiz: Has Orlando's window closed?

that is one of my favorite comments of all time

Since: Dec 29, 2009
Posted on: September 19, 2010 8:43 pm

Too many have drank the Kool-aid?

Too many of you have drank the kool-aid and let your venom for the Miami Heat cloud any good sense you have. LeBron James didn't lose any skill just because he behaved like an idiot on the made for TV ego trip. The Heat have two of the three best players in the league. Nobody was disputing that fact before the "Summer of LeBron," but now because he pissed everyone who is not a Heat fan off, posters want to act like he all of a sudden he forfeited all of his talent. Sorry he didn't.

The posters who want to post that the Heat will be destroyed by any team is just ridiculous. Maybe they get beat, but destroyed? Come on! LeBron won 66 games with a team that is not nearly as talented as the Heat is now. What happens in the playoffs will be interesting. The Celtics and Magic clearly create serious match-up issues, but they also have serious issues on how they match-up with the Heat. Who does the Magic have to match up with James and Wade? Let's say Dwight Howard takes Bosh and eliminates him. Who takes the other two? Vince Carter? Really? You want to take that match up and ride it to a championship?

The Celtics have better match ups, but we saw that Paul Pierce is eliminated offensively when matched up with James. Bosh obviously has alot of big bodies to deal with, but what do they do with Dwayne Wade? On the flip side what do the Heat do with Rondo? All intriquing match ups and possibilities, but destroyed in any of those series? Come on! Don't let your animosity for LeBron and the Heat eliminate good sense.

Since: Sep 19, 2010
Posted on: September 19, 2010 4:42 pm

Pop Quiz: Has Orlando's window closed?

The Magic aren't going anywhere Matt, as long as Dwight is on this team the Heat will have deal us and Boston sucks they got lucky last year and they
re too old to do that again. My prediction for the NBA finals is Magic over thunder in 6 games. Keep saved somewhere Matt

Since: Apr 10, 2009
Posted on: September 19, 2010 12:32 pm

Pop Quiz: Has Orlando's window closed?

We had Nelson out.  You can't say injuries are the reson teams don't make it.

Since: Dec 16, 2008
Posted on: September 19, 2010 11:49 am

Pop Quiz: Has Orlando's window closed?

Typical media.  This guys bored out of his mind and just doing what the media does best.  You would never see an article written about the Lakers / Knicks or some other large market team after they went to the NBA finals and then lost in the Eastern conf finals the next year.  the media would be hpying them saying they are now ready to take the next big step.  Bottom line is, they will be good again this year, and they will have their shot to win it all just like everyone else does.  It comes down to a couple 7 game series with teams that are so evenly matched, usually only a couple possessions determine who wins the game (and series).  Whoever executes better or gets hot during the series will win, as it always works out.  The media hailed the Cavs as champs last year, and they couldn't even get to the Eastern Conf finals.  But i'm not going to complain.  This will continue to serve as locker room material to keep the Magic focused. 

Since: Oct 30, 2006
Posted on: September 19, 2010 2:56 am

Pop Quiz: Has Orlando's window closed?

im just glad the focus in on the heat magic and boston.....the bulls will make alot of noise this year as they have a very good team...and tibs will have them playing that agressive defense. And if melo gets his may have to stop melo and or rose...just a thought

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