Josh Cohen’s Analysis: From the renowned steal by Nick Anderson on Michael Jordan in Game 1 to MJ’s decision to switch his jersey number from 45 back to 23 to a seemingly improbable comeback victory in Game 6 to clinch the Magic’s historic playoff series victory in 1995, Orlando proved to be the only franchise in an eight-year span to beat Jordan in the postseason.
Cohen’s Analysis: While often remembered for including one of the most sensational and stirring playoff games in NBA history, which witnessed Rik Smits bury a buzzer-beating jumper, the 1995 Eastern Conference Finals was more about home-court dominance. In each of the seven contests, the home team prevailed and Game 7 in Orlando was an abolition of the highest degree.
Cohen’s Analysis: Tracy McGrady’s dazzling performance throughout the series mixed with his comments after the Magic took a commanding 3-1 series advantage (about finally being in position to advance to the second round) allowed Orlando’s 2003 First Round clash with Detroit to become unforgettable. The Magic, seeded No. 8, ended up losing the series in seven games to the top seeded Pistons.
Cohen’s Analysis: There was a drastically different mood surrounding Dwight Howard in 2008. Months after instantly transforming into a global fan favorite with his Superman dunk contest display, Howard’s interior ascendancy against the Raptors in the First Round of the playoffs resulted in three 20-20 performances and a series thrashing to advance. It’s remarkable the deflation in both performance and reputation for Howard among Magic fans now compared to then.
Cohen’s Analysis: There were some high expectations for the Magic in 2009. But after two late-game defeats in the first three contests against the Sixers in the First Round, there was some serious anxiety in Orlando. However, a Hedo Turkoglu game winning 3-pointer in Game 4 and a marvelous supporting cast exhibition with Howard out in Game 6 allowed this series to be a treasured one.
Cohen’s Analysis: Some playoff series are like highway driving – straight and steady speed. Other roads are winding, swerving and treacherous. Well, the 2009 conference semis against the Celtics were like a twisting and bending roller coaster. Momentum shifted seemingly on every possession. From Glen Davis’ game-winning jumper in Game 4 for Boston to a heroic, and completely unexpected, Magic blowout in Beantown in a decisive Game 7, that series is the perfect example of what constitutes a great playoff battle.
Cohen’s Analysis: It sure seemed before the Magic and Cavs started their series in 2009 that 99 out of 100 people predicted Cleveland would win. But rather, unforeseen comebacks on the road by Orlando, clutch baskets by Rashard Lewis throughout the series and a remarkable resilience to overcome LeBron’s historic game-winner proved more accurate than what the critics projected.
Cohen’s Analysis: Any time you can beat an opponent in a four-game sweep by an average margin of 25 points, you know you completely battered them. This is what Orlando accomplished in 2010 when it annihilated Atlanta in the conference semis. Everything went right for the Magic that series, including scorching long distance shooting and stifling defense.