The Orlando Magic surprised nearly every basketball fan last season by cruising past the Cavs to reach the NBA finals. Not only did they beat the Cavs, but they knocked down a Celtics team that didn’t include Kevin Garnett in 7 games, though it was clearly still a tough team with the likes of Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen.
A wise basketball fan may have pointed to the fact that the Magic beat the Cavs in regular season play by a score of 3 to 1, but people were still surprised nonetheless. Many had the Cavs pegged to be the overall NBA champions last year, so the Magic were definitely a dark horse.
If you look at the team this year, they have more talent than they did last season. While they did lose Hedo Turkoglu and Courtney Lee, they’ve made a huge improvement with the acquisition of Vince Carter, not to mention the addition of some role players like Ryan Anderson and Brandon Bass.
The Magic currently sit near the top of the NBA’s standings, with one of the best records in the Eastern Conference. Should they be considered the favorite to make the NBA finals? Well, there are a few factors that may stand in their way. For one, the Cleveland Cavs now have the addition of Shaquille O’Neal. After stumbling out of the gates, it looks like they may have finally gotten things together, as the team is playing much better basketball at the moment.
Then, of course, there are the Boston Celtics, whose disappointing end to the 08-09 season had to do with the injury of Kevin Garnett, who was absent in the playoffs. Since Garnett is healthy now, it makes you wonder if the team can regroup to assert their dominance of the past.
Lastly, we can’t forget about the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks proved that they were no joke two seasons ago when they took the Celtics to 7 games in the first round of the playoffs. They built on this last year by reaching the second round of the playoffs before losing to the Cavs.
With one of the best regular season records in the Eastern Conference this season, one has to wonder if they’ll finally be able to break through. This is definitely another team that poses a threat to the Magic in their quest to reach the finals. So, should we expect to see Orlando in another finals or is this wishful thinking? It’s definitely possible, but they’ll have to work extremely hard to get there.