(WARNING: OUTRAGEOUSLY LONG POST AHEAD)
Magic fan here, though fear not, I mean no harm.
I recently just came across Bobcats Planet. Though I may have arrived late to the party, I wanted to make several points regarding the series, and hopefully, this can be welcomed as an outside perspective as opposed to trolling.
From what I can derive, there seem to be a decent amount of 'doom and gloom' threads on the main page, namely, "trade felts/diaw/jax/etc." As a fan of a team that experienced an eerily similar playoff experience during the 2007 playoffs, I feel obliged to preach patience, Cats fans.
Throughout the 06-07 campaign, the Magic were hardly a threat to compete for a playoff spot. Coming off back-to-back 36 win seasons, it was safe to assume that they were primed to produce a similar record. The team went virtually unheard of throughout the season, though that was perhaps for good reason given that we took inconsistency to a new level. We rattled off impressive victories about as often as we caved against inferior talent, but despite the frequent ups/downs, it became apparent that the team had a future.
Once we were in position to claim a playoff spot, Magic fans like myself contemplated who we'd rather draw in the 1st round, and to no surprise, the overwhelming consensus was Cleveland (Go figure). We were 3-1 against them in our series, featuring one close loss and several blowouts, indicating that they were far and away our most favorable matchup of the top 3 in the East.
Sadly, to the ire of many Magic fans, we drew the Detroit Pistons in the 1st round, the worst conceivable matchup of any team in the East (or the league, for that matter). That team just flat-out had our number. We had only beaten them once in the previous seven meetings (sound familiar?), and they had an answer for seemingly every punch we gave them. They were simply our kryptonite, a team that presented a fantastic defensive front court and dynamite guard play, most notably from the PG spot.
No one predicted that series to go past 4 games, and as fate would have it, it didn't. At the time, the complexion of the Magic team was radically different than the one we currently have. We featured little to no outside shooting beyond inconsistent threats like Jameer and Hedo, whereas Detroit boasted a starting lineup with four outside threats (Chauncey, Rip, Tay, Sheed) and a defensive beast in Big Ben. Jameer, who had been solid for us all season, was taken behind the woodshed by Chauncey Billups, a far more experienced guard. Save for one game 3 explosion, Nelson was more or less thoroughly outplayed by Billups in nearly every facet of the game.
We may have lost 4-0, but the series was far closer than the sweep would indicate. We stayed, for the most part, toe-to-toe with the Pistons for much of the game, until they would inevitably pull away in the 4th like customary procedure. The team, the fans, and the franchise felt dejected and demoralized at our first playoff appearance since acquiring Howard/Nelson in 2004. Although most expected the result, Magic fans expected more out of our team, especially given that we had game 4 wrapped up and would up squandering the lead during the final two minutes of the game to a team that simply knew how to execute better. Naturally, most fans wanted a new look after that series, in which our stagnant/predictable offense let us down big time. Hedo was a chucker, Jameer was a shoot first point guard, you name it. Despite heavy demand to acquire new wing players, we maintained our core role players (Hedo, Jameer, Dooling) and approached the offseason looking to add a few acquisitions here and there. We did just that with Lewis/SVG, and promptly rose to the top of the East.
What I'm trying to convey through this insufferably long anecdote, is that your team has the right foundation. Wallace/Jackson are as devastating a wing combo, both offensively and defensively, as there are. Gerald is obviously the heart of the franchise, but I IMPLORE you to keep Jackson. Jax shot poorly, but the guy's a nightmare for opposing fans. I can tell you I wasn't the only Magic fan whose heart skipped a beat when he attempted the three during the waning seconds of the 4th quarter in game 3. The guy played the best defense on Vince that I've seen from a wing all season. He's still a fantastic two-way player. As for Felts, well, I can't say. The Magic never had a bright prospect like DJ Augustine backing up Jameer. It'd be sad to see him leave this team given how competitive he is, but I can see reasons as to why you'd favor his departure.
Admittedly, this Bobcats team is FAR better than our squad in 06-07. The offensive production is similar, but the defense isn't even close. Make no mistake, teams built around the principle of great defense advance in the playoffs. You guys just happened to draw a bad matchup. As a Magic fan, I'm glad we faced you early in the playoffs. Our two teams are practically interchangeable with regards to defensive efficiency, so knowing that we've already faced arguably the most prolific defense in the league, we know it can only get easier from here on out.
This team captured my attention the moment they threw the gauntlet down on Cleveland. I, like you, wish the Bobcats matched up with the Cavs, though perhaps for different reasons, but I digress...
The Cats (as if this post didn't imply it) became my 2nd team this season after I saw them run the Cavs out of the barn. I would have liked to have been here throughout our series to discuss basketball, but nevertheless, I wish you good luck in the future. With MJ and Larry at the helm, it seems all but evident anyway. I'll be acquiring league pass next season, so I look forward to joining the fray and (hopefully) offering my input on more than one occasion.
I'd also like to get some outside opinions on Orlando's chances against the Cavs (I feel confident against Atlanta, a team far softer than the Cats) this season.