After Thursday evening’s NBA action, three more matchups wrapped up. The Los Angeles Lakers, the Dallas Mavericks, and the Atlanta Hawks will be moving on to round two, and the New Orleans Hornets, Portland Trail Blazers, and Orlando Magic (and soon-to-be free agent Dwight Howard) are going home.
No one really expected the Hornets or the Trail Blazers to move on, but certainly the Magic were the favorites to take their series, particularly given how thoroughly they smashed the Hawks in last year’s first round sweep.
Their loss this year is extra disconcerting because superstar center Dwight Howard has been hinting for a while now that he may not be pleased with the direction the Magic are heading in, and a first round loss definitely reinforces that it’s been the wrong direction lately. Orlando’s perplexing mid-season trade to re-acquire Hedo Turkoglu and acquire a useless Gilbert Arenas did not pan out. And now they owe both players a lot of cash.
So, fans in Orlando get to spend the summer worrying if the Magic front office has failed Dwight and encouraged him to step away from the franchise when he becomes a free agent in 2012. No one knows for sure what he will do, but the chances he stays have to be slim at this point. But that’s okay, because the Magic are already experienced in the art of losing a superstar center just entering the prime of his career.
In the second round of the NBA Playoffs, the Lakers will face the Mavericks and the Hawks will face the Chicago Bulls.