Cohen Courtside: Magic vs. Cavaliers (3/23/12)

By Josh Cohen
March 23, 2012

In Cohen Courtside, Josh Cohen examines the state of the Orlando Magic after games this season. He will tackle sidebar storylines and focus on topics that stretch far beyond the box score. There will also be some analysis on league-wide subjects.


ORLANDO -- The Orlando Magic are 18-8 at home this season.

That’s not supreme, but definitely respectable.

But if you look inside that record a bit more comprehensively, you will detect something rather impressive.

The Magic have not suffered any letdowns at Amway Center during this compressed season. They have thoroughly thrashed and smashed every inferior opponent, including Cleveland on Friday.

Sure, Orlando has had its share of devastating defeats (Boston Massacre, Boston Collapse and lopsided road defeats to the lowly Hornets and Bobcats). But never has the "bullied" knocked off the "bully" on the Magic's home court.

In the eight defeats at home, Orlando lost to Chicago twice and Boston, Oklahoma City, the L.A. Clippers, San Antonio, Atlanta and Indiana once. The Bulls, Thunder and Spurs all have better overall records than the Magic, while the Clippers, Hawks and Pacers are all playoff-bound teams.

On the other hand, the Magic have trounced every non-playoff team at home and have won against Miami twice, the L.A. Lakers, Indiana, Houston and Philadelphia (all adversaries that would be in the postseason if it started today).

Most NBA teams endure unanticipated disappointments over the course of an NBA season. For instance, the Bulls lost to the Blazers at home recently, the Thunder slipped against the Cavaliers and Blazers at their building and the Spurs were destroyed in a contest at AT&T Center to the meager Kings.

Some of you may argue and say, well Josh, what difference does it make if the Magic can deliver knockout punches against weaker, more substandard competition?

My quarrel with that stipulation is that it’s very easy to walk into a game, be expected to dominate and at times underestimate or devalue a shoddy adversary.

This week was proof in the pudding, especially after such a frustrating and dismal performance against Chicago. Orlando rebounded to crush two noticeably weaker opponents, Phoenix and Cleveland at home.

By contrast, the Pacers, who the Magic could face in the First Round of the playoffs, was dealt an unforeseen loss to the Suns at their arena on Friday. Yes, the same opponent that Orlando pounded two nights ago.

The Magic have not had a real scare from any second-rate opponent this season at the AC. And in those eight home defeats, three of them went to overtime.

There is a popular adage in the NBA: Beat the teams you are supposed to beat and win a handful of the games that you know will be more competitive and complex.

Orlando has accomplished this thus far. It has never left Amway Center in shock. The Magic have never sent their fans home asking, “How in the world did that happen?”

Thanks to all the great fans that come watch the Magic, Amway Center is categorically one of the loudest, most enthralling arenas in the NBA. Many players talked about that during NBA All-Star Weekend last month.

As long as Orlando continues to deflate the fragile visitors, it will be in a very comfortable position at regular season’s end.

For now, the Magic will go on the road for a pair of games in Toronto and New York. And as we all know in the NBA, winning in a hostile environment is a far different chore than triumphing in the comfort of your own home.

We will find out if Orlando is up for the task.

How do you think the Magic will do on this upcoming two-game road trip?
How do you think the Magic will do on this upcoming two-game road trip?
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