Magic Influenced By Celtics?
The Boston Celtics have played in two of the last four NBA finals, winning the championship in 2008.
Despite defeating the Boston Celtics in the 2009 Eastern Conference semifinals, the Magic still don’t have the same pedigree as the Celtics. Not only are they lacking a championship banner, but the Magic were eliminated by the Celtics in six games in the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals.
Boston and Orlando has turned into one of the best recent rivalries in the NBA. The teams are usually pretty evenly matched and their games seemingly always come down to the wire.
Despite the chippiness of their rivaly, the Magic turned to Boston to improve their team this offseason, acquiring Glen “Big Baby” Davis and Von Wafer from the 16-time champions in exchange for Brandon Bass.
Davis is clearly the more highly touted of the two.
Davis has a nice history, winning an NBA title during his rookie season, but knows he’s proven nothing in a Magic uniform.
“There’s a question mark,” Davis explained. “We know what this guy did with the Celtics and Orlando gave him some money. He’s a fat guy, he’s out of shape, so what’s up?”
Due to the team success Davis had wearing green, he’s trying to implement tactics Boston used to that helped lead them to so much success over the last four seasons.
One of those tactics is being vocal from the bench and always being aware of what is happening in the game.
“If you’re on the sideline, you can help tremendously,” said Davis. “Hey, there’s a back cut! Hey, there’s a screen!”
Davis not only wants his teammates to be more vocal, but he wants them to be a close-knit group. On Davis’ first day of practice, he asked Orlando’s rookies to explain the meaning of family to the team.
“We want this to be a family atmosphere,” Davis said. “We want to have no weak links, we want to have a strong chain.”
Stressing the tightness of a team has always been paramount to the Celtics. It’s probably one of the reasons the Celtics have gotten into tifts with so many other teams and why they quickly became one of the most hated teams in the league. There may not be a player who’s earned a more negative reputation during that span then Celtics power forward Kevin Garnet, but that’s just fine with Davis.
“I owe a lot of credit to KG,” Davis explained. “The things that he showed me are priceless. That’s bringing your hard hat every day, being selfless and being about the team.”
“I owe him my career,” Davis added.
As much as people dislike Garnet, he is a first ballot Hall-of-Famer and could make a claim he was one of, if not, the league’s best player at one point in time.
Of course, Davis will never be able to take on the persona Garnet has. Davis loves to talk, but he in a completely different way – Davis likes to have fun with it, even comparing his celebration to Shamu after making a basket in Orlando’s 104-100 win over the Miami Heat in the preseason finale Wednesday.
“He’s one of those guys that has a motor, just going to be talk, talk, talk,” Quentin Richardson explained.
“He’s loud, very loud.”
Von Wafer Learns From Another Legend
Stan Van Gundy hasn’t heaped a lot of praise on his players during camp, but another former Celtic, guard Von Wafer, has impressed Van Gundy during camp. Van Gundy even singled Wafer out, along with Dwight Howard, as a player who’s been consistently good during camp.
Wafer didn’t see much time with in his only season with the Celtics last year, averaging just 3.2 points in 9.5 minutes per game.
However, that didn’t stop Wafer from learning from another future Celtics Hall-of-Famer
“Last year, playing with the Celtics with Ray Allen mentoring me, I just want to show everybody what he taught me – what I’ve learned and who I’ve become,” Wafer told ESPN Florida.
It appears as though Wafer will make the opening day roster. With Jason Richardson and J.J. Redick back in the fold and rookie DeAndre Liggins expected to make the team, Wafer’s role is undefined.
Liggins, Hughes Make The Team
The Orlando Magic were expected to keep second round pick Justin Harper. Not only did the Magic give up two future second round picks to acquire Harper, but they guaranteed the first year of his deal.
There were no such guarantees for fellow second round pick DeAndre Liggins and veterans Larry Hughes and Gabe Pruitt.
The Magic announced Wednesday night following their win over the Heat Pruitt would be waived. He was the only player not to appear in either of Orlando’s first two preseason games.
Hughes and Liggins fared better. Both are expected to make the team.
Liggins has the potential to be a solid defender, while Hughes’ experience and ability to play the 1, 2 and 3 gave him an edge.
Turk’s Just Fine
Hedo Turkoglu participated in practice Thursday and is expected to start Sunday’s opener against the Thunder in Oklahoma City.