The 2010-11 season is right around the corner. No, it is like literally right around the corner. Training camps open in a few weeks and we can finally stop conjecturing and start making sense of this summer of upheaval. The new season will be much different than the old. So let's start thinking 2011 and all the hope and promise that comes with it.
Jeff Clark of CelticsBlog.com has organized the NBA Blog Preview, consisting of all the best basketball blogs across the Internet, to help everyone get ready. The Magic will be coming up sooner rather than later and the season will be around the corner. I will be trying to keep up and give a Magic-centered look at each team being previewed.
Last Year: 40-42, Missed Playoffs
Last Year vs. Magic: Won 125-116 in Toronto (11/1); Won 104-96 in Toronto (11/22); Won 118-99 in Orlando (12/16); Lost 108-103 in Orlando (1/6)
This Year vs. Magic: Nov. 12 in Orlando (7 p.m.); Jan. 21 in Orlando (7 p.m.); April 3 in Toronto (6 p.m.)
Magic Connection: None
The big story in Toronto was Chris Bosh's departure. Bosh was the consensus third best free agent in the coveted 2010 class and the one most likely to follow another free agent somewhere else -- a lap dog, if you will. Everyone expected Bosh to follow Dwyane Wade or LeBron James somewhere. Most assumed he would not be back in Toronto.
And that is really too bad since Toronto has had it tough with their big name players.
You can hear it every time Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady head to the Air Canada Centre (do they boo Marcus Camby when he returns? Damon Stoudamire?). Hedo Turkoglu (traded to the Suns) and Chris Bosh will surely get the same treatment.
Magic fans can relate in a certain way. We have seen our fair share of great players leave on bad terms. But the one thing you can give Toronto fans credit for is their passion. The job they do making their former players feel at home is quite astounding.
Even on the road, Raptors fans are loud. In December last year, a group of Raptors fans got tickets in the lower bowl and gave Vince Carter the road treatment, booing him every time he touched the ball and even getting Carter to respond and ask them to get louder after hitting two free throws.
That should make this season especially hard on the long-suffering Toronto faithful. Because there just is not a whole bunch of talent on this team.
Andrea Bargnani, Leandro Barbosa and DeMarr DeRozan are good, but not first-option players. But those are the guys Toronto will be relying on.
It could be another long winter in Toronto.
How the Raptors will beat the Magic: Besides praying Dwight Howard is not healthy when they play... not much. Toronto was a pretty bad defensive team last year and the offense was built around Chris Bosh. He is gone now and an offense that ranked as one of the best in the league will certainly not be so this year without its best offensive option.
Barbosa could make things interesting with his speed. Bargnani typically does a good job stretching defenses, but that is more difficult with Rashard Lewis on the floor also stretching the defense and able to keep up on the perimeter. Linas Kleiza's return to the NBA makes things interesting considering how well he played in Turkey during the FIBA World Championships, but he was really only a solid bench contributor in the NBA and it is hard to see him be much more in this go-around.
So I am at a loss of how Orlando will not lose these games. If you have any advice, I am sure Jay Triano would appreciate it.
How the Magic will beat the Raptors: With a healthy dose of Dwight Howard and timely drives from Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter, Orlando just has too much talent for Toronto to handle. No one can guard Howard in the post or make him compete for boards. Reggie Evans has been decent defensively against Howard, but does not do much else and is getting up there in age.
In other words, you thought Howard dominated Toronto when Chris Bosh was guarding him...