5 Orlando Magic storylines to follow during the NBA Finals

The NBA Finals are here as the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks will battle it out for the Larry O'Brien Trophy. While the Orlando Magic are not playing, there is still plenty for them to follow.
The Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks took different paths to reach the NBA Finals. They both have a lot to teach the young Orlando Magic.
The Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks took different paths to reach the NBA Finals. They both have a lot to teach the young Orlando Magic. / Tim Heitman/GettyImages
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4. The right trade built a potential champion

Orlando Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman has been very patient with his roster.

He withstood calls to tinker with the roster last year and maintained virtually the same roster that won 34 games. Even at the trade deadline, the Magic sat just three games above .500 but resisted the opportunity to make major changes and stuck with the roster.

The plan worked. The group rallied to end the season and finished with 47 wins and the 5-seed in the Eastern Conference. It was a stunning and fantastic turnaround. It was proof that faith in a core group is meaningful.

That is where the Boston Celtics have been with star forwards Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. With years together as a duo—and five conference finals appearances since 2018—Tatum and Brown seem to know how everyone works. Boston has worked to build around that duo. That continuity has helped the Celtics establish themselves over several years. Even when there were calls to split up their star duo, they stuck with that crew.

Everything else has changed this year. And that might be the thing that has finally led to the Celtics' breakthrough.

Boston made major moves this offseason to try to complete the puzzle that left them short in the conference finals seemingly every year.

The Celtics made the controversial choice to trade their heart and soul in defensive ace Marcus Smart, acquiring Kristaps Porzingis in the process. They pounced when Jrue Holiday became available just before the season began.

While Porzingis has missed most of the playoffs (and is set to return for Game 1 in the NBA Finals, these trades have been vital to the Celtics' success.

The Mavericks too have taken advantage of timely trades to put themselves in the Finals.

Dallas acquired Kyrie Irving at the trade deadline last year and then further pushed some chips in to shore up their frontcourt with a trade for P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford at the trade deadline.

While both teams certainly would prefer stability on the roster, they understood that timely trades made the difference for their teams.

It is knowing the right time to make those deals. And that part is not easy. But as far as team-building goes, continuity has a limit. And to get over the hump when the opportunity presents itself, takes pushing the chips in on the right player and at the right time.

All those new players—Porzingis, Holiday, Washington and Gafford—will play a big role in the series ahead.

The Magic may not be there yet. They are expected to spend a lot in free agency this offseason to fill out the roster and boost their offense.