Are We Over-reacting To Orlando’s Problems With Effort?

Are We Over-reacting To Orlando’s Problems With Effort?

A lot of fans are very worried about Orlando’s recent play. They’ve dropped a game to the lowly Toronto Raptors and nearly lost to the likes of the Charlotte Bobcats and Milwaukee Bucks (twice).

Performances like that have given those in the Magic community a lot of worry and there is clearly some cause for concern but just how big of a deal is it?

Clearly, it’s never a good thing to lose but there’s been an obvious over-reaction to Orlando’s “effort” problems.

Let’s take a look at how the Magic have stacked up with the other seven probable playoff teams in the eastern conference:

Records Since All-Star Break

Chicago:  19-4

Orlando: 13-8

Miami: 13-8

Boston 14-9

Philadelphia: 13-9

NY: 11-12

Indiana: 11-13

Atlanta: 10-13

As you can see, outside of the Chicago Bulls, the Magic are right on par with the other two teams that came into the season considered to be “contenders.”

With apologies to Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic and Mike Bibby, no teams in the east made a huge splash before the deadline like the Magic did.

The Celtics have dropped games to the Wizards, Clippers, Nets, Bobcats and Pacers in the last two months while the Miami Heat recently lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Even the Bulls, who have easily been the best team in the east since the All-Star break, dropped games against the Raptors and Pacers.

Last week, Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy admitted teams like the aforementioned Celtics, San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers have the potential to coast through the end of the regular season and still win the title because they’ve won championships in the past.

“The Boston Celtics can get to day one of the playoffs and turn it on, they’ve been there before,” Van Gundy explained. “They’ve won a championship. They know what it is… they know what to do. The San Antonio Spurs can do it. The Lakers can do it.”

Van Gundy has a point – the Lakers have been to the finals for three straight seasons behind Kobe and the trees (Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom), Boston has been lead by Rajon Rondo and the big three while the Spurs have won titles behind Tim Duncan, Manu Giniobili and Tony Parker.

However, it’s not as if the Magic haven’t been there before. A good portion of this roster was in the eastern conference finals last year. Jason Richardson was in the western conference finals as a member of the Phoenix Suns last season and Hedo Turkoglu, of course, helped lead the Magic to the 2009 NBA finals.

Van Gundy’s point is still valid – the Magic haven’t been anywhere with this roster and he’s worried about their lack of effort.

Orlando’s recent play is almost understandable. They’re virtually locked into the fourth spot and already know their opponent – the Atlanta Hawks. It’s only natural they begin to think about that series.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of reasons for Magic fans to be concerned but lack of effort doesn’t top the list.

Orlando should be more worried about where their points are going to come from when Dwight Howard is double-teamed or gets into foul trouble. They’ve really lacked a consistent scorer. They should be concerned they don’t have a player who can consistently create their own shot. They should be concerned about their perimeter defense. Say what you want about Vince Carter, Matt Barnes and Mickael Pietrus but they did a much better job last season than Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu have done defending the perimeter this season. Orlando always has the protection of the best defensive player in the league in Dwight Howard, but if wings are consistently getting into the paint, Howard’s inevitably going to get into foul trouble.

Health is also a big problem for the Magic. Gilbert Arenas is clearly not the same player he use to be while J.J. Redick’s abdomen problem looks much worse than any Magic official originally let on. If Redick is out for the postseason, it’s hard to see Orlando getting a whole lot of production out of their bench.

Don’t get me wrong, Orlando’s recent play and lack of effort is far from a good thing. You’d like to see the team come out and bring it every night but in this league, that’s just not realistic.

Orlando’s lack of effort is certainly not a good thing but recently teams have been able to skate through the end of the regular season and have great success in the playoffs. Whether or not Orlando can do that is up in the air, but their problems certainly lie deeper than that.

via Orlando Magic Insider – 1080 ESPN Orlando.