Orlando Florida Orlando Magic
Cole Anthony could get a first taste of his new team when his team takes on the Houston Rockets on Friday night. Cole Anthony has been one of the Orlando Magic's most underrated players this season and could play a bigger role in their postseason - ending the injuries of Markelle Fultz and Nikola Vucevic. He joins Orlando after four seasons with the New York Knicks (2014-18) and the New Orleans Pelicans (2015-16).
The Magic used their selection to sign center Dwight Howard, who has spawned the minor dominance following the departure of O'Neal. With the Magic opening a new arena called Amway Center, they began to focus on how to make Howard happy in Orlando. The Magic made the switch, drafting Florida State's Jonathan Issac this season and previously losing Shaquille O'Neal.
The Magic started their new arena with a 112-83 victory over the Washington Wizards, with Dwight Howard scoring 23 points and 10 rebounds. Two nights later, Magic fans were treated to their team's first victory, as the Magic defeated the New York Knicks 118-110.
The Magic would miss their first ever NBA Finals victory if the series moved to Orlando. The Lakers would win the title, but not before the Magic's first win in a playoff series ever.
The Magic played their best game of the series, winning Game 2 in Orlando, but were stunned in Game 3, winning 113-92. Game four for Orlando went into overtime after the Magic trailed by 12 points after three quarters. The Magic led the 76ers to a 96-94 victory with two seconds left in the fourth quarter to regain control of the series.
Grant gave the Magic one of the best starting lineups in the NBA, while Shaquille O'Neal continued to prove he's the next big thing in the NBA as they won the Atlantic Division with a solid 57-25 record. Not even Michael Jordan could stop Shaq's magic in Game 4, as the Magic won 108-102 to advance to the Conference Finals.
O'Neal moved to the Los Angeles Lakers and signed a four-year, $50 million contract with the New York Knicks. The deal that saw LeBron James sign with Miami also left Orlando worried about their superstar Dwight Howard, who only had two years left on his contract. Orlando has left Orlando and he is now one of the best players in the league, if not the greatest.
The Magic replaced Hill and signed Billy Donovan, who had led the Florida Gators to two consecutive national championships. The Magic wanted a new head coach to hang on to in Florida, and they hired him. In a four-team deal that also involved the Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers, the Magic would send Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for a first-round draft pick and a second-round pick. That deal would let Rashard Lewis go to Washington for O'Neal while a draft pick went to Phoenix.
The Magic started December the same way they started the month, winning seven of 10 games to get to 12-13 and forget the one game below the .500 mark. Orlando won the Southeast Division and finished the year with six wins from its last seven games, including a victory over the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference finals. Then there were the late 2000s and 2009, when the Magic reached the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history, but only for one season.
In the playoffs, however, the Magic, who lost the division in the tiebreak, would face a setback. The Magic won five of their first six games, including a terrific 15-4 start, but lost in four games to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Orlando continued to struggle in February, going into the All-Star break with a 23-29 record. The last time the Lakers lost was in March, when Orlando lost 4-12 and was far from the playoff places.
The Magic appeared to be holding out against the Boston Celtics but had to go into a seventh game after Dwight Howard had his worst game of the season against the New York Knicks. Howard's future has put a dampener on the Orlando games, fans are begging Howard to stay, and the Magic are still trying to persuade him to stay or accept a swap with another team. Howard's future is forgotten. But they played much better basketball in the second half of this season, as it is a major reason they hold a 22-13 record and are heading for their second straight road to the NBA Finals.
For the spectators, that dream came true when they saw the Magic lose 111-106 to the New Jersey Nets. Orlando stunned Toronto when DJ Augustin hit a dagger to lead them to a 104-101 victory. The Magic notched an impressive win over the Cleveland Cavaliers and are now in the Eastern Conference finals as the Cavs made up for a 15-point halftime deficit led by Dwight Howard. They inflicted only their third loss of the season and second in a row against Toronto with a 107-106 victory in Cleveland.