Josh Cohen’s Analysis: It’s evident that one of the Magic’s primary flaws is their struggle protecting the paint. Though it helps that Glen Davis is back, without a legit shot-blocker and intimidator inside, opponents have an easy time scoring down low. Dallas, for example, scored 40 points in the paint on Sunday and grabbed 10 offensive rebounds. It’s been a problem for most of the season. And it’s probably been the only thing missed from Dwight Howard’s contributions.
Cohen’s Analysis: While not quite in the same class or grade for that matter, Arron Afflalo is the junior varsity version of Kobe Bryant. His mid-range game, featuring an efficient turnaround jumper and fadeaway, rivals Kobe’s. Afflalo also is a proficient long distance shooter and slasher to the basket. By my account, Arron is currently the league’s fifth best shooting guard in the NBA (behind Kobe, Wade, Harden & Ginobili).
Cohen’s Analysis: It’s encouraging, on one hand, that practically every Magic loss is one that was decided in the last few minutes. It implies the team is playing with great effort and resilience. It’s frustrating, on the other hand, that Orlando has not been able to close out most of the thrillers it has competed in. Sunday was another example. If Darren Collison doesn’t bury that corner 3-pointer with 31 seconds left, it would have been the perfect opportunity for the Magic to try and finish off an opponent in the final seconds.
Cohen’s Analysis: This summer, everyone will have their eyes on the Mavericks, who will have a plethora of salary cap space. They struck out on Deron Williams last year, but hope to be big players in the market in 2013. Dirk Nowitzki recently voiced his frustrations with Dallas management choosing to take a step backward by not retaining most of the members from the 2011 championship team, including Tyson Chandler and Jason Terry. Most people believe that if Dwight Howard and/or Chris Paul decide to bolt L.A., Dallas would be their most likely destination.
Cohen’s Analysis: Dirk Nowitzki is 34 years old and just dealt with a serious knee injury. Any player – regardless of prior status – who is above 30 and is recovering from a major injury is in danger of never being the same. It seems to be happening with others such as Pau Gasol, Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire – all former All-Stars who aren’t at the upper echelon any longer. It’s very possible that Dirk is on the verge of being just a big name without the performance to defend it.