Blogtable: Do you believe in … ?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the five most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

The Magic are good, but can they hang with the Celtics and, we guess eventually, the Heat?

Steve Aschburner: No. Overpaying guys doesn’t turn them into clutch performers, so I still have reservations that Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis can step up when it matters most. Jameer Nelson has maxed out, Matt Barnes‘ feistiness will be missed and J.J. Redick was kept at too high a price. Now, if you could find a way to air-drop in Kevin Love to bang alongside Howard …

Fran Blinebury: Only if Rashard Lewis can find his shot and rediscover his spark from the 2009 playoffs when he was a difference-maker.

Art Garcia: Sure they can hang. Trips to the Finals and Eastern Conference finals in back-to-back years proves that. You really want to know if they can beat the Celts, and eventually, the Heat? The Magic can D-up, which is a great start, but I don’t believe there’s enough offensive depth to get out of the East. If Rashard Lewis‘ shot doesn’t come around, there’s too much pressure on Howard, Vince Carter and Jameer Nelson.

Scott Howard-Cooper: If they continue to defend and rebound at this rate, anything is possible. But no one is fearing that offense right now. Rashard Lewis is nowhere and Vince Carter is a complementary scorer on a team that needs weapons. Put it this way: The Magic don’t want to be in too many close games where it comes down to Celtics heart, experience and determination.

Shaun Powell: The Magic could beat the Celtics or Heat in a seven-game series, or lose to them. They lack an X-factor that would give them a decisive edge. Even Stan Van Gundy admits his team needs a playmaker. Orlando should consider rolling the dice for Steve Nash and sacrificing Jameer Nelson in the process.

John Schuhmann: I still think the Magic are as good as both of those teams. And even though they got crushed by the Heat in the first week of the season, I think they match up better with Miami. Boston has the advantage of not having to double-team Dwight Howard (as long as Shaq or Kendrick Perkins are healthy), which allows them to stay at home on the shooters. The Celtics also defend the pick-and-roll really well. Without anyone that can defend Howard by himself, Miami will have to scramble a little more defensively. I’m actually really looking forward to that rematch next Wednesday in Orlando.

Sekou Smith: Absolutely. They can hang with the Celtics, Heat and whoever else joins that elite party in the Eastern Conference this season.  I’m still convinced that they have the raw personnel to win big, but I’m not sure about their chemistry. Something (or someone) does seem to be missing. But they are no more flawed than anyone else hovering around the top of that totem pole in the East.

26 Comments

  1. [...] they can while his value is still quite high. After I heard Stan Van Gundy say that his team still lacks a true playmaker, and read one blogger suggest the Magic should chase Nash at the expense of Jameer Nelson, here’s [...]

  2. Marjan says:

    Carter has been around for a while now and unfortunately has been through too many injuries. When in good form we know that Vince-sanity can bring it to the table, we saw this in Toronto and in New Jersey as well. I agree with many of the posts above that Nelson is the problem. The Magic have more than enough weapons, but these are not utilized because Jameer Nelson is no Steve Nash or Jason Kidd. Even so, the only edge the Celtics hold over the Magic is in having more passion. The Magic have enough caliber to beat them. Now the Heat, thats a different story.

  3. mrkeyman67 says:

    I still do believe in MAGIC it’s too early to tell, i think that tit for tat involving Jameer Nelson and Steve Nash is a good proposition from Sekou Smith i like that

  4. john says:

    so far there are only 5 legit nba finals contenders: la, celtics, noh, heat & sa. but magic is #3 in the east

  5. john says:

    so far there are only 5 legit nba finals contenders: la, celtics, noh, heat & sa.

  6. kingjames23 says:

    I think that Howard is There only offensive wepond right now Like compare last years 3p% to this years it’s a pretty big differntial ! But the Celtics would dismantle the Magic easy ! No double teaming howard so No open 3’s so That’s all the offense they have ! And the celtics and heat would be a great series I wanna see what happens because without chalmers at the point they lack great defense at the PG and every time so far the heat have a great point guard play them He goes for big Numbers soooo put chalmers there that helps shutting down Rondo and the other postions are on lock ( BEST DEFENSIVE TEAM IN THE NBA) The magic will lose in the second round to the Bucks Lol

  7. david says:

    east conf finals rematch*****

  8. david says:

    the magic will beat the celts and heat and eventually the lakers this year, its mid november shard has always started slow and every year everyone says the same thing he got over paid and cant shoot anymore yet he has dropped more three’s the past few years more then any other player come playoffs he will step up…again combine that with dwights improved off. game this year and vinces efficentcy they will be strong leaving nelson to be the so called x factor they are suppose to be missing not to mention they have one of the deepest benches in the NBA their defense is strong enough to hold em through until their offense starts to “again” the celts last year where better but the magic relize that and figured out something in that series to things worked that they didn’t use enough during last years reg season, and that was the combo and dwight at the 5 and gortat at the 4 last year the seldomly used that and then against the c’s they went to it and although effective not enough chemistry to truly work against a team like the c’s this year they are using those together more so when we face the c’s we have that in the back pocket as well as bass to provide the toughness and PF (non three point) scoring we lacked from last season as well as his ability to play D and rebound one huge weakness of shard…..And as far as the heat go this year they wont even make it to the conference finals not enough time to gel and to many ego’s not enough support at the one or 5 the two most important positions in basketball the nba wants the league to be a 2/3 position game but truth of the matter if you have a good point and or good center it gives your team a huge adv. against teams who dont such as miami both boston and Orlando have both Great PG,s and both have solid starting and back up centers the heat lack both of the weapons and so this year they will lack a championship ultimately it comes down to a finals rematch of last year and to say one team can no doubt beat the other is just plain ludacris, But I’m a long time magic so fan so of course….i gotta say magic will win lol

  9. Dwight19 says:

    Magic has an awesome bench but they did not use it as theyre advantage and its too bad that magic lost Hedo Turkoglu. Its a long season they can still make a new line up for the playoffs

  10. Kel says:

    I think Rashard’s struggles are the fault of the offensive scheme. Their theory is dump it down to Howard, and then if that’s not there, kick it out to shooters. They depend too heavily on 3 point shooting. Before when Rashard was in Seattle, he was an All-Star. He had multiple weapons. He could shoot, and he had a good post-game. He could also take it to the hole. The Sonics that made it to the playoffs had a much more dynamic offensive with more ball movement, allowing Rashard to blossom. Instead, Orlando has confined him to be nothing more than a 3-point specialist, which is a shame. If they utilized him better, they would get more production out of him. Everyone seems to blame Lewis when things go wrong, just because he was over-paid. That’s not fair. The organization is the one who decided to pay him that much. Dwight needs to finally develop a decent back-to-the-basket game and hone his offensive skills. And they need more of a distributing PG and not a scoring PG. Just imagine if Rondo were out there teaming up with Howard, Carter and Lewis.

  11. magic melo says:

    they can get out of the east if insted of lewis air france was a starter plus bass is getting good lets see

  12. Al says:

    Id like to see them trade nelson for nash or something like that. Yeah nash only has a couple seasons left in him but nelson will never take that team to a champisonship so may aswell just get rid of him and get in a good passing PG that can turn howard into a monster with a good pick and roll game. Plus you will see everyone elses offense improve with nash running the team even if he only plays 30mpg.

  13. Omarisgay says:

    Carter/lewis are aging and dwight isn’t getting as much as playing time as he would normally. If some of the younger dudes (Ryan Anderson, Brendon Bass) become a bit more consistent to contribute, Orlando is as good as anyone out east

    They should trade dwight howard to the raptors for a 2nd round pick though, that’d be awsome IMO

  14. jov says:

    The magic would need to blow out their opponents because they usually go to panic mode in close games/crunch times especially against celts and other great teams. No real playmaker after they got rid of hedo (hedo was both a play maker – and can shoot some 3s). They thought Carter would replace hedo but nope (Carter is a choker, he either gets injured or having an off night when the magic are against great teams) Lewis lost his touch after he got over-payed. Yes they can hang but no chance against the bigger dogs.

    • Jake says:

      Everyone in Orlando is glad that they traded Hedo for Vince. Hedo has bombed the last two seasons, and it’s become pretty evident that he was overrated. Plus, how can you blame a guy for getting injured? It’s not his fault that accidents happen.

    • George says:

      I am tired of people hating on Vince Carter. He had several lingering injuries last year, struggled in the series against Boston, in part because Jameer Nelson is a shoot first point guard, which is a dangerous mentality to have against good defensive teams. The Celtics outplayed the Magic fair and square singling out the starting five one by one and shutting them down. Nelson did not distribute the ball, Howard did not have the same offensive game last year that he showed this year, and Lewis put up bricks, just like he is doing again this year… Vince Carter is not the sole problem. If we are going to get into proper analysis, let us remain objective without plainly hating on certain players.

      I do not think Hedo is the solution. He had a poor season for the Raptors last year and is having another subpar season with the Suns to the point where they wanted to bench him a few games ago. The reason the Magic were successful with him is because he is a point forward and is a much better passer than Nelson. He essentially ran the offense for Van Gundy. He ran plays when he was on the floor, With his departure, Nelson lacks the same court vision and is a pure offensive point guard (5.6 apg on a team with offensive talent like the Magic is unacceptable). The solution for the Magic is to get a passing point guard who can defend, or a gifted playmaker, like Nash for example. Their scorers need the ball in the right spots and Nelson is simply not doing the job.

      At this point in his career, Lewis is a spot up shooter who will benefit from a good passing point guard. Carter (who was decent through first two playoff series) was effective for New Jersey in the playoffs having consecutive solid all around performances( with legendary Kidd by his side). He can still create his own shot, but not for 48 mins. He too will need a passing point guard. To be fair, Carter did perform well against top notch teams on several occasions last season and I do not think he is a “choker.” He nailed a number of clutch shots in his career. DHoward showed the tendency to shoot in the post every time he gets the ball… He too needs to be a bit more patient and look for shooters on the perimeter because some of his inside shots are not good shots.

      The best option for the Magic is to get a passing point guard even if that means making Jameer Nelson expendable. Chauncey Billups could help… So could Nash…

  15. Pepo says:

    I think what the Magics are missing is Hedo Torkuglu, they should’ve never let him go… He is the reason we went to the finals that one year, he is not afraid to play against LeBron, Pierce or Kobe… did you guys see how he drained that one three pointer on Kobe’s face to seal Phonex win in LA?

  16. atli steinn says:

    the first and the last game between Orlando and LAL in 2009 finals were not close… the others were decided by overtime or less than 5 in regulation. They did not get trashed by the Lakers.

  17. Amani says:

    The Magic were never as big as people pretend they are. They walked into the Finals in ’09 while the Celtics were down one Garnett and the rest of the East was in a transitional period (a less generous way of putting it is sacrificing wins for Summer 2010), and then they got trashed by the Lakers. Yes, they have serious D and they have a man who will one day be renowned as one of the great centres to play the game…but they just don’t have it in ‘em to get outta the East. Never really have.

    And don’t get me started on Vince Carter.

    Bring in Melo, CP, and/or Steve Nash? Those are all reeeeeally long shots, but then we’d be talking hangin with the Cs.

    They do have a distinct advantage over the Heat, though. If Howard really is committed to working on his offense, then he could put up some vintage Shaq numbers on the Heat and send ‘em packing in 6, should we be so lucky as to witness that matchup. Either way, Boston, if healthy, will dismiss one or both of those teams.

  18. Jake says:

    They can certainly hang with any team in the East, and they can beat the Celtics if they Rashard returns to his all star form (or close to it), and they can string together a couple good shooting nights in a row. Vince isn’t putting up huge numbers, but he’s been attacking the basket hard this season and he’s scoring a lot more efficiently than last year. Rondo’s a difficult matchup for Nelson, and the Celtics are well equiped to handle the Man-Child, but they can certainly beat the Celtics if a few breaks (like KG’s knee, jk) go their way.

  19. StaplesB says:

    Rashard is looking for the three to much now when he 1st came to orlando people didnt believe he was worth the price so he had something to play for now theres nothing to play for so he needs to take it in and go in the post so he can rediscover his shot or until he gets hot

  20. SimplyMe says:

    I would have to say that the Magic can hang with the Celtics and Heat, but there is something missing from thier team right now. Rashard Lewis is just not a scoring threat the he once was. I think that in order for them to take that next step, they are going to need to make a change someone. However, in a 7-game series with the Celtics, I will put money on the Celtics everytime because they have a ring, and they have the weapons that the Magic just don’t have.