The 2010-11 season is right around the corner. No, it is like literally right around the corner. The preseason has started 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: 46-36, lost in First Round
Last Year vs. Magic: Won 100-98 in Milwaukee (11/28); Won 117-92 in Orlando (12/30); Won 99-82 in Orlando (2/2)
This Year vs. Magic: Dec. 4 in Milwaukee (8:30 p.m., NBATV); Jan. 5 in Orlando (7 p.m.); March 16 in Milwaukee (8 p.m.); April 5 in Orlando (7 p.m.)
Magic Connection: Keyon Dooling (Player, 2005-08), Drew Gooden (Player, 2003-04), Corey Maggette (Player, 1999-2000), Coach Scott Skiles (Player, 1989-94), Assistant Coach Joe Wolf (Player, 1995-96)
For all the talk of offseason moves in the Eastern Conference (or lack thereof), everyone has kind of forgotten what has happened in the great Midwest. Yes, Chicago picked up Carlos Boozer. But what Milwaukee has done could have as much say in the Eastern Conference's second class and the Eastern Conference race in the next few seasons.
Everyone by now knows who Brandon Jennings is. The electric rookie set the pace in the Rookie of the Year race with a 56-point outpouring against Golden State and continued to impress throughout the regular season. The year overseas seemed to help him and he could be the poster child for players electing for that pathway to the NBA. But even in the postseason Jennings was a solid player. He is going to be starring for a long time.
Andrew Bogut turned in a career season before a horrible injury (I saw it once, and I pray I never have to see it again) kept him from playing the postseason. He has admitted he is not back to 100 percent health and probably will not be for most of the season. Which is quite unfortunate since Bogut was playing at an All-Star level and filling the promise Milwaukee put in him by drafting him with the top overall pick all those years ago.
But on to the new guys. The Bucks, already a pretty good offensive team, added Corey Maggette in a trade. Maggette has always been a great scorer off the bench and a guy who can put pressure on defenses and get to the line. While Scott Skiles has never been a guy to have a fast-paced offense, he has plenty of players who will surely get out and run.
Milwaukee also surprisingly matched an offer sheet on John Salmons and kept the shooting guard on the roster. Salmons was perhaps the team's most consistent scorer last season and really evened out the young Bucks squad. He put in a great playoff performance when Milwaukee nearly upset Atlanta. Bringing him back was a surprising move that improves the team's overall depth and provides hope that everyone will fear the deer this year.
Everything though will come down to how well everyone buys in to Scott Skiles again. Skiles is known as a scathing, demanding coach. He got his team to play some very good defense last year and to survive in the postseason with Bogut out. It will be important for everyone to buy in again and commit to the type of defense Skiles likes to run for this team to have success.
How the Bucks will beat the Magic: Milwaukee nearly defeated Orlando in late November last year by letting Orlando fire away from 3-point range. The Bucks built a nice lead, but Vince Carter and Dwight Howard, who each scored 25 points in the game, took control and finished the job. The other two meetings were blowouts where Orlando's defense simply dominated.
So besides praying and hoping the Magic do not make threes, the Bucks have to continue to attack the basket and challenge Howard in the paint. Not an easy task, especially with Michael Redd still nursing injuries and trying to keep himself in the NBA.
But that is what Milwaukee has to do. The team has a lot of players who can get to the basket and draw fouls. That has to be how Milwaukee attacks Orlando. A lot easier said than done.
How the Magic will beat the Bucks: A healthy dose of Dwight Howard should do the trick, both defensively and offensively. He had lots of big games against Milwaukee last year and that should continue.
Milwaukee has Bogut, who is still recovering from his injury, and the rest of the team's front court is very depleted. Drew Gooden is not exactly striking fear into the hearts of anybody. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is a solid player, but hardly someone who can stand up to Dwight. Neither is Jon Brockman or Brian Skinner.
That front court depth could especially be a problem if Orlando goes big and plays Brandon Bass more. There is no reason the Magic cannot dominate this team from the inside out. Orlando is just a bad matchup for Milwaukee.