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Struggles against elite competition signal an early May vacation for the Magic

April 5, 2011

The Orlando Magic could be in deep trouble heading into the playoffs. I know that doesn’t come as a shock to anyone that has consistently watched this team play, but there is more to an inevitable beard shaving pity-party than just recent sloppy play.

The Magic just flat-out can’t consistently beat good teams. Their current record against teams with winning records is 15-20. Against the top 10 teams record wise in the league (removing Orlando), that number is 10-14. The Magic are a .500 club against good, but not great teams and against the elite teams in the league, they’re basically the equivalent of the Milwaukee Bucks.

The pre/post trade record is as follows:

Pre-trades: 4 wins and 6 losses against teams with winning records (based on current records).

Post-trades: 11 wins and 14 losses against teams with winning records.

You can’t exactly proclaim that Hedo, J-Rich and Gil have set themselves apart from Vince, Rashard, Pietrus and Gortat. Especially when you consider that the Gil and Rashard trades are basically a wash because of injuries to both players. So you have Hedo and J-Rich versus Vince, Pietrus, and Gortat. Do you make that trade again today? Probably not, but I digress.

Let’s take a look at the teams the Magic would have to play in the playoffs and how they compare in the same departments.

Chicago: 22 wins and 11 losses against teams with winning records. 13 wins and 8 losses against the top 10 teams. The Magic are 1-2 against the Bulls.

Boston: 20 wins and 13 losses against teams with winning records. 14 wins and 7 losses against the top 10 teams. The Magic are 1-2 against the Celtics.

Miami: 17 wins and 17 losses against teams with winning records. 8 wins and 14 losses against the top 10 teams. The Magic are 2-2 against the Heat. Clearly the Heat are beating up on the little guys. Do you bet against LeBron though? History says yes.

Atlanta: 12 wins and 22 losses against teams with winning records. 8 wins and 16 losses against the top 10 teams. The Magic are 1-3 against the Hawks, padding Atlanta’s already terrible stats against good teams.

— Side Note: I did not include the stats against the Knicks in this analysis as they are currently at 38-38. The Magic are 3-1 against NY this season. —

The Bulls are the likely second round opponent for the Magic if they are able to beat the Hawks. There seems to be a general consensus amongst the media that the Magic have the best chance of advancing against Chicago, but the Magic are just 1-2 against the Bulls this season. That sole win came pre-trade and was early in the season. In the two losses the Magic were crushed on the boards and held to only 90 and 81 points.

With the Magic playing so poorly as of late, a playoff push already seemed implausible. When you see the numbers against elite teams, it seems almost to be anticipated that the Magic won’t be playing past mid-May.

Can they make a run? Yes. But at this point of the season, it doesn’t seem likely that the Magic are going to flip a switch and become a different team. It’s likely that this team is exactly what we’ve seen over the past few months, a better version of the Atlanta Hawks.

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  1. Tucker permalink
    April 5, 2011 11:14 AM

    Are we sure they’re better than the Hawks? Last weeks game might beg to differ…
    My mustache already annoys me anyway…

    • April 5, 2011 11:20 AM

      Good point. We aren’t sure. Hawks were 3-1 on the season against Orlando. We still are better because of Dwight Howard, but you never know…

  2. April 5, 2011 12:54 PM

    The Magic have actually beaten the Knicks twice with Melo/Billups, not only once like the article implies.

    • April 5, 2011 1:21 PM

      You are correct, that was my mistake. Regardless, the main point was I didn’t use the Knicks because they aren’t over .500 right now.

  3. Justin permalink
    April 5, 2011 1:52 PM

    In regards to your comment about today not trading Vince, Pietrus, and Gortat for J-Rich and Hedo, the main reason Vince flopped so hard in Orlando was because he disappeared, like always, in the playoffs. And Howard hasn’t been committing nearly as many fouls as he had last yr, so Gortat’s presence but have only been mildly felt at best. I guess you could argue Howard might play more aggressively knowing he had a solid back-up behind him in Gortat. But i think we do miss Pietrus’ perimeter defense, although he got somewhat lax in that area as his time in Orlando progressed. But I’d wait until after these playoffs to see how Hedo and J-Rich fare.

    • April 5, 2011 1:55 PM

      All valid points… but it’s not exactly like J-Rich is doing anything that Vince wasn’t. The big gain is Hedo at the 3 allows Bass and Ryan Anderson to both get minutes. So while, we lose Gortat’s 10-15 minutes we gain a full Bass and Anderson. Also, once J.J. returns, that helps that rotation between Jason/Hedo/J.J. and Q can play the spot/matchup minutes when needed.

  4. J Brown permalink
    April 5, 2011 2:45 PM

    I agree with the jist of the article (the Magic are def in trouble come round 2), but I couldn’t disagree more with this post-trade analysis. Firstly, it’s completely meaningless to look at last year’s trades separately bc the Magic would never have made one without the other. You think we were gonna keep 4 PF’s on the roster (Lewis, Bass, Anderson, & Clark) along w/ Glu? No, Otis would never create problems & log-jam our roster like that. So, saying that one trade (arenas-lewis) was a wash doesn’t really mean anything at all bc it was all part of a bigger picture. I also beg to differ that J-Rich is not doing anything that Vince didn’t do (Vince never did shit here)…. FYI: Glu is obviously the piece that should be compared to Vince (they both handle & shoot), not JRich who def fills more of Rashard’s old role. JRich is second in the NBA in made 3’s (seems like Lewis used to always be right up there too); I don’t see how you can say JRich hasn’t done anything Vince didn’t do. Vince never did anything good for the Magic…. & where is any mention of the name Earl Clark in this article? In a few years he could turn out to be the best part of this deal.

  5. April 5, 2011 4:17 PM

    I agree with a lot of what you said, but in reality… the trades can and will be debated for a long time. There is no “yes that was a great trade” or “no that was a terrible trade”. There were and are a million nuances that go into it.

    Also, I never said that the trades were bad or they shouldn’t have been made. All I said was that the numbers show no big difference before or after.

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