Max Mandel's Blog

Max Mandel

Dec 19

Getting to know the opponent: Q&A with

By Max Mandel Posted in: Magic
When the Portland Trail Blazers face the Orlando Magic on Saturday night at Amway arena, it will mark the beginning of one of the most difficult road trips this team will face over the course of the season. After two consecutive thrilling victories in front of a packed Rose Garden crowd, the Trail Blazers will need to maintain the energy and effort level that proved so essential in the victories over Sacramento and Phoenix. In order to get a better sense for what to expect from the reigning Eastern Conference champions, we decided to check in with Daniel Savage, the Web Manager for the official website of the Orlando Magic.

I am a Trail Blazers fan: One of the big moves of the NBA offseason was the Magic acquiring Vince Carter as a replacement for Hedo Turkoglu. How has Carter meshed with this team since his arrival, and is his style of play as effective in the Magic system as Turkoglu's was?

Daniel Savage: First of all, the Orlando Magic would not have made it to the NBA Finals without the services of Hedo Turkoglu. But with that being said, any time you add an eight-time All-Star to the equation, you’ve dramatically improved your roster. Vince Carter has the ability to control the ball in the fourth quarter – much like Turkoglu did – and he also has the ability to be the go-to scorer down the stretch, something many media critics claimed the Magic lacked during last season’s Finals run.

I am a Trail Blazers fan: The comeback of Jason Williams is one of the most remarkable stories of the early NBA season. Was there a sense around the organization that Williams would be able to contribute, and even start games, at this high of a level?

Daniel Savage: The Magic made it very clear from the second they signed Jason Williams that they expected him to be able to come in and make a significant contribution. Obviously, he’s done a tremendous job filling in for All-Star point guard Jameer Nelson, since he went down with an injury. The one thing that’s impressed me the most from Williams is his phenomenal assist-to-turnover ratio, currently the fourth best in the league.

I am a Trail Blazers fan: While he isn't even close to a finished product yet, Dwight Howard is certainly one of the most physically imposing and dominating guys in the NBA. What growth and improvement have you seen in Howard's game since last season when he led the team to the NBA finals?

Daniel Savage: Magic All-Star center Dwight Howard continues to grow in a number of ways every day. There’s not a more dominant force in the league at patrolling the paint from both a defensive and rebounding standpoint. And the scary thing for the rest of the NBA is that he only continues to get better at both of those phases of his game. There’s always been media criticism in regards to his free throw shooting, but I assure you, there’s not a player in the NBA that works harder at improving that aspect of his game than Howard. And I think that will show as the season progresses.

I am a Trail Blazers fan: After making the NBA finals last season, it's inevitable that this edition of the Magic will be compared to the group from last season. In your opinion, how does this group match up both talent and chemistry wise to the team that won the Eastern Conference last season?

Daniel Savage: It’s really tough to make that type of comparison until the season is over, because ultimately this team will be judged on how far they go in the playoffs. However, I can say that this is a much more talented and deeper unit than the extremely impressive squad that reached The Finals last season.

I am a Trail Blazers fan: Who is one guy that doesn't receive much attention from the national media that Trail Blazers fans should keep their eyes on when these teams play tonight?

Daniel Savage: One guy to keep an eye tonight that doesn’t receive much media attention is Magic small forward Mickael Pietrus. He’s one of Orlando’s best perimeter defenders and is often dealt the daunting task of defending the opposition’s best offensive player. Offensively, he’s deadly shooting treys from the corner and has dramatically improved his aggressiveness at getting to the rim.


  1. good read as always, but I was curious to hear his take on the Marcin Gortat situation, because he wasn't happy with Orlando matching the Maverick offer and isn't playing hardly at all right now.
    Also, how is Brandon Bass working out for them?

    by DHawes22 on 12/19/2009 1:17 PM
  2. Gortat is a fan favorite and many understood his disappointment in not getting a starting job somewhere else. He is usually a very solid player off the bench which is good considering the usual foul trouble that we find ourselves in. He is averaging just under 15 minutes a game and we consider ourselves lucky to have him. Go Magic!

    by MagicFanDoglvr on 12/19/2009 2:56 PM
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