I just arrived in warm and sunny Orlando after a horrendous flight from DC but judging by today's Orlando Sentinel and an angry cab driver I just met, the local pro hoop squad is anything but hot. The Magic have been some people's trendy pick for a breakout team and they looked legit in opening the season with a 109-94 win over the Chicago Bulls but since then, Orlando has lost to Philly and Altlanta and looked dreadful doing so.
My cabbie - an older white dude with a fading Chicago accent and a huge tatoo on his forearm - obviously ins't impressed by what he's seen so far.
"You say you're going to see the Magic play?" he asked. "Don't you mean you are going to see them try to play?
They're terrible. I call 'em the tragic. Everyone's talking about how good they're going to be but I ain't seen it yet."
A mini-scouting report on the Magic via the world's angriest cabbie: "If the Howard kid gets blocked off, they've got nobody to grab a rebound and nobody to score. The Nelson kid (point guard Jameer that is), he needs to stop dribbling so (expletive)much and make up his mind. He's painful to watch. And didn't Grant Hill get hurt again yesterday? (He didn't) How much is he making? And they're talking about getting a new arena. Whatever."
Now, while the world's angriest cabbie was going off on this diatribe, the guy I shared the cab with started laughing. He's from Great Britain and didn't think we americans had such passion for basketball.
"Are all of you americans like this?" he asked.
"It depends," I said. "You should read my Wizards blog sometime. There are some angry fans up in DC right now, don't like the way the boys are playing defense."
Anyway, Great Britain was obviously intrigued because he said he has a night to kill and plans on going to tonight's game. "What should I watch for?" he asked me. "The team you cover is the Wizards? What are they like?" Great question.
"Just watch for number zero, Arenas, and the other two guys who are going to be shooting a lot, number three and number four," I said. "They score a ton of points but don't play great defense."
For a decent overview on the Magic, check out the story in today's Sentinel by beat writer Brian Schmitz.
Brian's also writing a blog so check it out for more inside scoop on the Magic. The thing that stood out to me in today's story was that Magic Coach Brian Hill is already talking about benching people. Orlando fell behind 22-11 yesterday at Atlanta and didn't look very inspired according to the coach.
"If it happens again, they won't be on the floor," Hill told the Sentinel. "I'll find five people who will play hard at the start of games."
This will be an interesting game for the Wizards because the Magic gave them problems down here last season - Orlando won both meetings - and the Wiz have three tough games coming against Indiana, Milwaukee and New Jersey.
Eddie Jordan and several players were visibly ticked off after allowing the Celtics to breeze their way to 117 points the other night. The defense remains a work in progress. Jump shots are one thing but the C's were getting easy drives for layups and dunks the other night. That's killer on the road.
I'll check back in later from the arena with some pre-game buzz.
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