The East has too many storylines for the Orlando Magic to get any publicity. Perhaps it was a bit of a surprise that the Chicago Bulls won the conference, but now can they make that hold up? Or will it be the Big Three down in Miami? Or perhaps the Boston Celtics will create some magic once again.
Nobody seems to be talking about the Magic, who have one of the league’s most dominant players in Dwight Howard. Guard Jameer Nelson says that’s just find, because the Magic are always overlooked.
I’m not real sure that’s true, especially given the fact that Orlando has been in the conference finals each of the last two years, including the Finals two years ago. But this year just doesn’t feel the same for the Magic. If they get by Atlanta in the first round, however, they’ll have their chance to prove themselves against the league’s top seed.
Jameer Nelson joined ESPN Radio with The Scott Van Pelt Show to discuss the team being overlooked, how the team has sorted out each player’s role, how this team is different from previous years, Dwight Howard’s offensive improvement, Howard’s propensity to rack up technical fouls, Kobe Bryant’s $100,000 fine and the first-round matchup with Atlanta.
On the Magic being overlooked amongst the storylines in the East:
“The thing is, because I’ve been in Orlando, we’ve always been overlooked and that’s fine. The only people that have to believe in it are the guys on the court, the coaches and the organization, and obviously our fans in Orlando. Everybody else, we just continue to do what we do and try to win a championship.”
Have the roles all been sorted out now after the big mid-season trade?:
“Of course. Stan [Van Gundy] has done a great job of putting guys in situations that are successful for them. … Everything we do is basically going to end up for Dwight. But he’s done some catch-and-shoot things with Jason Richardson, giving Gilbert isos … other things for other guys as well. He’s done a great job of figuring things out for us.”
What is different about this team at the end of this year than last year or previous years?:
“We were still trying to figure things out toward the end of the season, putting in new plays and trying things defensively. Last year we were rolling .,. but I feel good about the playoffs going into it. I feel good about this team.”
How Dwight Howard’s offensive improvement helps this team:
“One, definitely late in games he’s making free throws, so that helps. And also he’s passing the ball a lot better. … Basically, when he gets the ball in the post, a lot of times he’s got to play point guard and just find guys and get it to guys for open shots. Offensively, with his shot, he’s done a great job.”
What has he said to Howard about racking up the technical fouls?:
“I know it’s frustrating the way he gets fouled at times. We just have to keep him calm as much as we can as teammates. I try to do it the most I can, but a lot of the time he gets his technicals when I’m on the bench. It’s tough.”
His reaction to Kobe Bryant’s fine:
“Guys say things on the court, not necessarily to you or in general, not even meaning anything by it. You just get caught up into the game and the heat of the battle and you say something that, obviously, you shouldn’t say. Like Raymond [Felton] said [earlier in show], and I’m quite sure a lot of guys feel this way, if that’s the case, a lot of guys would be getting fined. A lot of guys would be getting fined every day.”
On the first-round matchup with Atlanta:
“They’re a good team; we know they’re a good team. They’ve definitely improved. They’re really well-prepared by their coaching staff and … we have a lot of respect for those guys over there in that locker room. It’s going to be a good series. That’s all I can say. I’m not sure, I’m not making any predictions in terms of number of games or who’s going to win, but obviously I want my team to win and I think we can.”