Denton: Magic-76ers Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
April 11, 2011

The postseason doesn’t start until the weekend, but considering the way the Orlando Magic shared the ball, defended with passion and dismantled the much-improved Philadelphia 76ers Monday night, they look ready for the playoffs.

The Magic started the game off with some hot shooting and systematically dismantled the Sixers in a dominant and lopsided third period of a 95-85 rout of Philadelphia in the next-to-last regular season game.

The Magic (51-30) thrived on both ends of the floor and used a 33-10 run to break open a three-point game at halftime. With two-time Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard back in the lineup following a one-game suspension, Orlando held Philadelphia to 15 points and 27 percent shooting in the third quarter for the run-away victory.

Howard pounded the Sixers for 19 points, 13 rebounds and three blocked shots, while point guard Jameer Nelson had a big night (19 points, seven assists and five 3-pointers) playing before approximately 400 fans from his charitable foundation in nearby Chester, Pa. And Magic reserve power forward Ryan Anderson delivered his second stellar shooting performance in as many days, scoring 18 points, hitting three 3-pointers and grabbing 14 rebounds.

``We did a great job, we moved the ball, we played like a unit and we played great,’’ gushed Anderson, who was coming off a career-best 28-point effort in Sunday’s loss to Chicago. ``I think we’ve played great these last two games. We lost (Sunday) but we played a great game. We’ve been playing hard and that’s a key with us – our energy and effort. We’ve been doing a good job with that.’’

The Magic, who have been locked into the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference for a week, close the regular season on Wednesday at the Amway Center against the Indiana Pacers. Then, the Magic will host Games 1 and 2 against the rival Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the playoffs starting either Saturday or Sunday.

``I thought we did some good things and got some things accomplished,’’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. ``Our guys approached these games well and I was happy with the energy level and professionalism. They did what they can do in these games.’’

Orlando’s win meant that Philadelphia, one of the NBA’s most improved teams, will enter the playoffs as the East’s No. 7 seed and likely face the No. 2 Miami Heat. The New York Knicks are assured of the No. 6 seed and will most likely open against the No. 3 Boston Celtics.

Here’s a look back at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from the Magic’s final set of back-to-back games for the season: