Posted by Matt Moore
What a difference two years can make. Two years ago, the Magic entered the postseason as the underrated team with something to prove. They were ranked third in efficiency differential, and had a better defense than the defending champion Boston Celtics. Now? They've dropped to sixth in efficiency differential, and third in defense. They're stumbling to the finish line, having lost 3 of their last 5 games. Things look as remote for their championship chances as ever. But Dwight Howard has the answer.
You gotta believe!
From the Orlando Sentinel:
“We’re not perfect, we’re going to make mistakes, we’re going to miss shots, we’re going to make bad turnovers, bad decisions with the ball, but we just need everybody to believe in us,” Howard said. “We are going to continue to believe in ourselves and believe in each other, but we need our city to continue to believe in us.”via Dwight Howard to Orlando Magic fans: We need our city to believe (Video) – Orlando Magic BasketBlog – Orlando Sentinel.
This from a guy who's pretty much asking the same fans to believe he'll come back in 2012. Magic fans are smart fans. They know good basketball. And the kind this team has been playing lately isn't.
It wasn't a bad plan, the midseason trades. Jason Richardson has a gear and toughness Vince Carter doesn't. Earl Clark is a nice young player. But in key ways, it hasn't worked out. Specifically, the Magic's biggest weapon, which made them such a threat in 2009, their three-point shooting, hasn't come around. The Magic are still No.1 in made and attempted three-pointers, but are 12th in percentage. They were 3rd in 2010, and 7th in 2011.
But there's still hope. If the Magic shooters can catch fire, their system makes it nearly impossible for teams to counter their offense. They're set on defense. So the only real question is if that will happen.
But for Dwight, that development won't come from belief.