Forget the East, Magic are 2nd-best in the NBA

What the Magic did last night was more than prove that theyʼre the second-best team in the East. They proved that theyʼre the second-best team in the league. With series sweeps over the Lakers and the Spurs, along with a now convincing win over Cleveland, the Magic men only take a backseat to Boston in the NBA. After a slow start that may have reminded Orlando fans of the Celtics game last Thursday (the Cavs kept a 5-10 point lead for most of the first half), the Magic finally stopped Wally Szczerbiak from getting an open three every time down the court and started hitting their shots as the second quarter came to a close. After a tightly contested third quarter, the Magic went on a 20-2 run in the first seven minutes of the fourth, and despite a 14-0 Cleveland run the last five minutes of the game, were able to close out a double-digit win and bring Stan Van Gundy closer to the 1-seed that would give him the rights to coach the East All-Star squad on Sunday, February 15. Obviously, it would have been a bit tougher of a game if Cleveland would have had starting center Zydrunas Ilgauskas and their best perimeter defender in Delonte West, but the Magic have had to play at less than full strength for virtually the entire season, so itʼs nice to have an advantage in the health area for once. Ilgauskas is the kind of center who can hurt Howard and the Magic. With a solid jump shot that extends out to 18-feet, Big Z can pull Dwight from the basket and give the Cavs a distinct rebounding advantage. However, one player, especially an average one, does not make a huge difference in a game that was decided at the beginning of the fourth quarter. If Orlando faces Cleveland in the playoffs, Iʼll take Orlando in five or six, with LeBron single-handedly carrying them to a win or two. The Magic are just a bad match-up for the Cavs, who better pray that they get the one seed and the Celtics get to Dwight and company first. On the All-Star issue, itʼs great to see the Magic getting some love and three of their four stars heading to Phoenix. Jameer Nelson crept up on people, but with the way heʼs played this year, heʼs well deserving of the honor and deserves a start in the game more than Allen Iverson. Rashard Lewis is heading to his second All Star game, and the 118-million-dollar-man has proven to be one of the most consistent players in the league along with perhaps the best 3-point shooter in the game today. When you combine the three All-Stars this season with Hedo, one of the biggest snubs of last season, and a rookie with a boatload of potential in Courtney Lee, the Magic may very well have the best starting five in the NBA.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily