WDBO Sports Director Scott Anez has seen, or listened to, every Orlando Magic game ever played! A local boy who graduated from Lake Brantley High School and UCF, Scott began his career by covering the Magic's inaugural season in 1989 and he is known as the Voice of the Magic Fan in Orlando. This is Scott's 21st season hosting FM 96.5 and AM 580 Newstalk WDBO Inside Magic, the highest rated sports talk show in Orlando. He also serves as Broadcast Host for the Orlando Magic Radio Network. Scott shares his unique take on what's happening at Two Magic Place and beyond with ANEZ SEZ. Read more of Scott's previous blogs at the Anez Sez archive or at http://580wdbo.com.
Posted by Scott Anez, Friday, October 19, 2012, 10:30 AM
Magic Number: 35
Let’s face it---for the last five years or so, we’ve been spoiled here in Orlando
Every year, we would go into the season knowing that the Magic would be well on their way to a 50-plus win season.
We would know that a playoff appearance would be a given
We would know that our team would be a championship contender.
This year? Well, the basketball gods have decided to humble us with a virtually new team, a new coach, a new GM and a new plan of attack for the future.
However, with all that has happened—with Dwight taking his talents to Long Beach, with Stan Van Gundy currently selling a local schools tax referendum and with Otis Smith holed up in Altamonte Springs vowing never to talk to the dastardly media again--I believe that this Magic team, as it is currently constituted, has a shot to make a playoff push.
For some odd reason, the NBA schedule-maker was good to us this year. I’m not quite sure why that is. I actually like the schedule. I don’t ever remember uttering those words before.
The Magic have just 13 back-to-back scenarios this season—the least amount of dreaded back-to-backs I can remember this team ever having.
I like the fact that the Magic have a chance, early in the season, to get their sea legs—with just two back-to-backs in the opening month of November.
As a matter of fact, nine of the Magic’s 15 games in November come at home.
I believe this team has the ability to sneak up on its opponents early. Why? Mainly because of the fact that Coach Jacque Vaughn’s offensive system, predicated on movement and screens away from the ball, is gonna be foreign to alotta teams’ scouting departments. Don’t forget, for the last five years, this team has played the same way—inside-out. That will change dramatically this season.
I think this team will have chances to outscore opponents as its defense develops.
Aside from the schedule early, this roster is not as bad as the critics say it is.
Look, you have some veterans on this roster (Jameer, JJ, Hedo, Baby) who have much experience. As all of us know, NBA games are won and lost in the fourth quarter. Those aforementioned guys are more than capable of leading in crunch time.
Of course, in a year like this when there are so many questions about the future—any and all of those guys may not be here in Orlando come the February trade deadline. So, you have to keep that in the back of your minds as well.
I like our center spot this year. We know Dwight Howard. Vucevic and Ayon are no Dwight Howard.
We were spoiled watching Dwight prowl the paint defensively. These two kids are not great shot-blocking defenders yet. However, they are skilled around the bucket offensively; they are big and take up space. And they are hungry.
Let’s tell it like it is…There will be some stretches this season when this team is gonna swoon. Get ready for it, because those 3-4-5 game losing streaks become very real in transition years like the one we are facing. But, I think with Coach Vaughn’s overall calm, cool and positive demeanor, those low points will be less severe with a coach who is going to remain upbeat and steady in his message.
Therefore, in looking at it as objectively as I possibly can, here’s my number:
Yup…I believe the Magic will win 35 games this season.
Will that be enough to get them into the playoffs?
Well, of course that depends on other teams in the East. How many surprise teams will there be? How will injuries affect those clubs?
Going back two seasons ago (lockout-shortened season last year), the Indiana Pacers claimed the eighth and final playoff seed in the East with 37 wins. That number may have to be higher this year because it looks as if the East has improved.
All in all, I think the Magic will be better than most people think this year.
That’s my number and I’m sticking to it.
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