Orlando Magic Practice Report: Friday, April 30th

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The Orlando Magic practiced for the second consecutive day on Friday.

Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy was very happy with Thursday’s practice but was not as impressed on Friday.

“I thought yesterday was really good,” Van Gundy said. “Not as good today.”

Van Gundy thinks once the Magic know who their opponent is and when they will play, their focus will be better.

On Friday, Orlando’s focus was on the Milwaukee Bucks because that is the only team the Magic have a chance to play on Sunday. The Bucks will host the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night at 7:00 pm EST with a chance to close out the series.

Van Gundy and the players are probably going to watch the game live, but Van Gundy says he prefers to watch the game on film. Although the Magic were a combined 6-1 against the two teams, he thinks this is a totally different Bucks team.

“We didn’t play Milwaukee though, not the team they have now,” Van Gundy said. “John Salmons has made a huge difference.”

I got a chance to ask Van Gundy why he thinks the Bucks are having so much success.

“I think that #1, which has sort have been overlooked, their defense is outstanding,” Van Gundy said. “In the regular season, they were third in the league in points per possession defensively, so they’re an elite defensive team. That’s the main reason.”

Van Gundy also keeps brining up what Kurt Thomas has done when he is asked about Bucks. He obviously has a lot of respect for Thomas and believes the veteran has made a huge impact on the defensive end for the Bucks.

“I don’t know if Scott would share this opinion or not, but my opinion is that their defense got even better with Kurt Thomas playing more minutes because Kurt’s an outstanding individual and team defender, so I think that’s where it starts for them,” said Van Gundy.

Van Gundy still makes sure to credit Andrew Bogut for his improved play and shot-blocking ability. He has also been impressed with Milwaukee’s guard play, believing they have fie very versatile players there.

“All of their perimeter guys can put the ball on the floor and create shots for themselves and their teammates and can shoot the ball with 3-point range,” Van Gundy pointed out. “There’s not that many teams who have that many perimeter guys who can do both of those things.”

The Bucks used this versatility to get excellent ball movement on offense.

“I told our team today I don’t think there’s a team in the league that plays with more offensive energy or moves the ball better than Milwaukee does,” Van Gundy said. “If you put that kind of ball movement and energy and the kind of skill they have on the perimeter with a great defense, you’re going to have success. And they’ve had it for a long time. They’ve been one of the best teams in the league since they made the trade so the fact that people are sort of surprised is surprising.”

Van Gundy said he upped Nelson’s minutes a “tad” in the first round because of how well he was playing but said he’s never thought about changing the rotation to keep Dwight Howard out of foul trouble.

“We need him to play,” Van Gundy said. “I don’t want to start messing around with him. Now you’ve got a guy out there at the beginning of the game and he knows he’s getting pulled on one foul. How do you play like that? Now you’re playing like you’re in foul trouble from the very beginning of the game. I don’t see how he or anyone else can play effectively like that. You might be able to keep him out there but if there’s no aggressiveness or no effectiveness I don’t even know why you’d want him out there.”

The issue of rust vs. rest came up again and Van Gundy made a very good point.

“I don’t know what you do anyway,” Van Gundy said. “Even if you thought you’d be better off continuing to play, what are you going to do, try to lose a couple of games? You’re not going to do anything differently. You go out and try to win games and deal with the schedule as it comes.”

“We’ll either start Sunday or we’ll start Tuesday,” Van Gundy added.

Practice Notes:

Should the Hawks win Friday night; the Magic will have the day off Saturday.

The Magic currently have a scout covering the Atlanta-Milwaukee series now and he will also be covering the Cleveland-Boston series once Atlanta and Milwaukee finish up.

Van Gundy talked about how much respect he has for Scott Skiles, saying he “does his best work when his team’s an underdog.”

Van Gundy had a funny quote when asked if Marcin Gortat gets frustrated with lack of playing time – “If you coach in the NBA, anywhere from six to eight of your guys are not happy with their role.”

A few weeks back, Van Gundy said the Spurs “would scare the hell out of him” if he was out west. Guess he was right.

When Van Gundy was told that Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich told his team that the next person to miss a free throw had to buy him a car during Thursday night’s Mavs-Spurs game, Van Gundy said, “We’re either last or next to last in free throw shooting so I could open a dealership if we played by those rules.”

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, a contributor on the Fansided Front Page and at Sir Charles In Charge. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Twitter to follow him daily and you can get the HTD app here).